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The River North neighborhood of Chicago is in the middle of everything. Named for being north of the Chicago River, it’s just past the Loop (the business district), and also a stone’s throw from the Magnificent Mile. River North is home to some of the highest-end real-estate in the city, so you’ll have easy access to some of the best bars and restaurants. This neighborhood is also home to one of my favorite hotels, the Langham Chicago; check out why here.
Check out the gorgeous network of bridges connecting the Loop to River North. Walk along the Chicago River and see the architecture.
How to Get to River North in Chicago
From Midway Airport, you can take the Orange Line downtown to the Clark/Lake stop and then either a short Lyft or a short walk just past the river. From O’Hare Airport, take the Blue Line downtown to the Clark/Lake stop. Or, simply grab a taxi or Lyft from either airport.
I recommend walking or taking Lyfts rather than renting cars, as parking is both difficult and expensive in River North. The good news is, everything is at your fingertips in this neighborhood, so you’re within a 15-minute walk or a $7 Lyft from the Loop or any of these locations.
Where to Eat in River North, Chicago
Three Dots and a Dash // Sip delicious tiki cocktails out of coconuts and skull mugs in this hotspot. 3 Dots serves island-inspired bar snacks too, but the drinks are the highlight. If you can, get a reservation, even just for drinks on a weekday.
Xoco // Rick Bayless is one of the most famous chefs in Chicago, and Xoco is his casual, downmarket, lower-priced restaurant. No reservations accepted, just walk in. Xoco serves authentic Mexican tortas and caldos, and the bean-to-cup Mexican hot chocolate is amazing.
Centennial Crafted Beer & Eatery // Big fan of craft beer? Come here. Centennial has over 80 beers on its menu, around 20 of which are on tap at any given moment. Many are local brews, like the Gummypocalypse from Noon Whistle Brewing in Lombard, IL. The food menu is typical but well-done gastropub fare. The low-key atmosphere means you can almost always walk in and grab a table too.
Tanta // Tanta Chicago serves trendy, authentic Peruvian food in a modern, swanky atmosphere.
Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf // Bring the expense account to this independent, French-inspired steakhouse. The 42 day, dry-aged steaks start around $60 apiece, but non-carnivores will love Bavette’s too. Try the multi-tiered, chilled shellfish platters or the truffle mac & cheese. Don’t miss their luscious bone marrow.
Things to See in Chicago’s River North at Night
EBC // East Bank Club is like an exclusive country club located in the middle of the city, and you can purchase a one-time guest pass for $30. (This is a steal given their normal monthly dues and initiation fees!) Open til 11:00 pm on weekdays, you can choose from 50+ daily fitness and yoga classes; swim in the indoor and outdoor pools; eat, drink, and people watch at the restaurants (Barack Obama has been spotted here); enjoy the saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs; go to the spa; or hang out on the fabulous roof deck in the summer.
21c Museum Hotel // It’s both a museum and a hotel in one. Whether or not you’re staying there, walk through the public areas of the hotel and see contemporary art.
Walk Hubbard Street // Hubbard Street is where a lot of the city’s nightlife happens, and it’s a great place to barhop and people watch. Start at State and Hubbard and work your way West towards the Merchandise Mart.
Merchandise Mart // One of the world’s largest buildings from a square footage standpoint, the Merch Mart is home to hundreds of galleries, boutiques, and design showrooms. Many of the galleries close around 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm, but because the Merch Mart has its own indoor train station, you’re still able to walk through and at least window-shop after 5:00 pm. Plus, it’s not unusual for a gallery to host a cocktail hour open to the public on a weekday.
3 Greens Market // Just past the Merchandise Mart, 3 Greens Market is a large, multi-use space: Part coffee shop, part restaurant/bar, part indoor ping pong. Above all, it’s a place where you can chill out in the comfy leather armchairs. Open till 8:00 pm on weekdays. Free wifi.
Also check out:
- River North, Chicago After 5:00 pm
- Chicago’s Gold Coast After 5:00 pm
- Chicago’s Lincoln Park After 5:00 pm
- Chicago After Five: Explore the Windy City at Night