10 Things We Love About Living in Bucktown

10 Things We Love About Living in Bucktown

Bucktown is one of Chicago’s quintessential melting-pot neighborhoods, a place where hipsters and yuppies ride elbow to elbow on the Blue Line, artists and tech entrepreneurs belly up to the bar at the decades-old The Charleston, and 100-year-old worker’s cottages stand alongside contemporary multi-million-dollar homes. Though it has changed a lot, especially in the last 30 years, the neighborhood is still characterized by trendy storefronts, tree-lined streets and a strong community feel. And even if Bucktown’s namesake former residents (i.e. goats that used to graze in the front yards) aren’t around anymore, this Northwest Side neighborhood is always bustling. From its thriving restaurant scene and excellent transit options to its wide range of fun recreational activities, it’s hard to pinpoint just 10 things we love about Bucktown. But if we had to choose…

1. The 606

The 2.7-mile linear park, known as The 606, is a hidden gem that runs along an old, elevated rail line through four of the city’s coolest neighborhoods – Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park and Bucktown. The 606 is open every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., making it a perfect spot to check out the sunrise or sunset.

There are plenty of access points (with ADA-accessible ramps) at major intersections, and you can walk, jog or bike. You can also rent bikes from one of the city’s Divvy bike-sharing stations. As you stroll the 606, you’ll pass art installations, parks and places to stop and grab a bite to eat.

2. Festivals Aplenty

Image credit: Block Club Chicago

Bucktown is no stranger to food, art and other cultural festivals. For starters, Bucktown Arts Fest is one of the most beloved arts celebrations in the city, with over 160 participating artists. This popular two-day event has been a summer staple since 1984. You can also get to know your neighbors at the Bucktown Garden Walk or peruse secondhand finds as well as fix your own items at the RE: Fest, an eco-friendly event centered around reclaiming, repairing, and reusing goods.

3. Get Artsy

The sky’s the limit for artists looking for inspiration in Bucktown. Dozens of public art installations line the streets between Bucktown and its close neighbor, Wicker Park (they share a chamber of commerce).  One of the most popular works is a mural at @properties Christie’s International Real Estate’s own Bucktown office at Damen and Cortland. Designed by Chicago-based artist Mathhew Hoffman in 2015, the mural reads “love” – @properties No. 1 core value – in Hoffman’s signature script font. It has been a backdrop for marriage proposals, holiday cards and ad campaigns for national brands.

The neighborhood is also home to several galleries and artists’ studios, none more famous than the Flatiron Building (technically in Wicker Park), which houses workspace for dozens of artists. On Damen just north of Armitage, check out Firecat Projects, a gallery where local Chicago artist Nate Otto recently began an exhibition entitled natte Otto: HOME SWEET HOME.

4. An Array of Eats

Image credit: Eater Chicago

Trendy restaurants, cocktail bars, and traditional eateries are a big part of Bucktown’s identity. Here, you’ll find everything from Le Bouchon, a casual French Bistro that has served Bucktown for over 20 years, to Pompette, a wine bar and cafe that was recently added to Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list for its rotating selection of seasonal specialty dishes.

Other favorites: margaritas at Manchamanteles, a Sunday afternoon brunch at Allez Cafe or famous Chicago Dogs at Redhot Ranch. Pro tip: Redhot Ranch is cash-only.

5. Trap Door Theatre

Image credit:borderlessmag.org

Chicago has over 250 theater companies. In Bucktown check out the Trap Door Theatre, a favorite in the city’s avant-garde scene. Since 1990, Trap Door has produced complex and buzz-worthy shows that have captured the attention of both locals and the global theater scene. Nana, a play about nineteenth-century Parisian high society, just wrapped up its season at the Trap Door Theatre, and Antigonick is next, with shows starting in early June.

6. Music Everywhere

Image credit: Block Club Chicago

Music fans are in for a good time with venues like Gallery Cabaret, Concord Music Hall, and the brand-new The Outset in Bucktown. Even after the show, Bucktown’s horror-inspired Graceface Chicago record store keeps the music rolling.

Bucktown Music is also a local go-to for people who want to get in on the action. This music school offers classes for musicians of all ages, from little drummers to old-school rockers.

7. Whirlyball

Image credit: Whirlyball Chicago

If you’ve ever thought of combining bumper cars, lacrosse, basketball and beer…well, WhirlyBall beat you to the punch. Fortunately, you can still play at WhirlyBall Chicago in Bucktown. Experience this unique-to-Chicago game while digging into gourmet bar food and a full cocktail, wine and beer selection. After you’ve smashed your bumper car into your friends or co-workers for a while, test out your skills at laser tag, billiards, and classic video games, all onsite.

8. Easy Commuting

Bucktown is one of the best-served neighborhoods in the city in terms of public transportation. Blue Line stops at Damen Avenue, Western Avenue and California Avenue take commuters into the Loop or out to O’Hare International Airport. The trip to O’Hare takes about half an hour. Meanwhile, main arteries like Milwaukee, Western, Damen, Fullerton and Armitage offer multiple bus routes. Metra’s Union Pacific North and Northwest lines stop at Clybourn Station on Bucktown’s eastern edge and reach Ogilvie Transportation Center in just eight minutes. And if you prefer to drive, the Kennedy Expressway runs through the neighborhood.

9. Terrific Neighbors

There’s no shortage of things to do in Bucktown. But if you need a quick change of scenery, its three neighboring communities are happy to welcome you. You’ve got Logan Square to the West, Wicker Park to the South, and Lincoln Park to the East. All three neighborhoods are highly walkable, with plenty to do and green spaces to enjoy.

If you’re in search of fun things to do in these neighborhoods, check out our helpful guides:

10. Trendy Local Businesses

Image credit: Time Out Chicago

Boutiques are big in Bucktown. In one afternoon, you can geek out at Challengers Comics + Conversation, grab chic clothing at Robin Richman, and accessorize at Moth. Many of these boutiques can be found on Damen Avenue, which extends down into Wicker Park as well.

And if you’re looking for something on the quirky side, check out Sideshow Gallery, an art gallery that doubles as an occult and oddities store. At Sideshow you’ll find anything from cool prints and handmade jewelry to skulls and taxidermy.  They also host art classes, pop-ups, markets and other events throughout the year.

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