South Loop is the city of rebirth. In the last decade, the area has seen an exciting transformation into what has become a lively destination for art and culture, with endless things to do and see. South Loop is one of the three downtown areas in Chicago and is home to some of the most beautiful and massive museums, aquariums, and planetariums. On every corner, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, and jazz clubs.
While the district is bustling and growing with numerous high-rise apartment buildings, it is balanced with greenery, water, and open spaces. South Loop is bounded by the Chicago River to the north and west and Lake Michigan to the east. It is surrounded by gorgeous waterside views and not far from Northerly Island. For those who love to get outdoors, Grant Park—nicknamed “Chicago's Front Yard”—is a popular place for a stroll or run.
Although the area has been modernized, its rich history runs deep. Downtown Chicago was a manufacturing hub in the late 1800s, and steel mills were built to support the transportation system growing across the United States. People were drawn to the city for jobs; hard-working laborers, including immigrants from Germany, Poland, and Italy, played a role in constructing and shipping goods to the West Coast. You’ll find hints of the early printing industry in Printer’s Row and touches of the auto industry’s beginnings in the historic Motor Row. Historic buildings from both are still in existence, standing next to hip revitalized buildings.
South Loop is extremely accessible, with proximity to numerous sources of public transportation. The revamped neighborhood is a magnet for singles, couples, and young families alike. There are many high-rises, multi-family luxury apartments, and buildings with ample living space.
Residents love its vicinity to the river and parks and adore its combination of eclectic city vibes and neighborhood feel. Many appreciate the diversity in the area and its proximity to schools and universities. Though South Loop is constantly expanding, it manages to keep a small-city charm.
The South Loop neighborhood has a dynamic and delicious array of restaurants, bars, breweries, and cafes accompanied with excellent entertainment. At Buddy Guy’s Legends, enjoy amazing Louisiana-style cajun and soul food while watching one of the legendary musical acts, including the namesake himself. (Take a tour of Chess Records if you can’t get enough blues.)
If you’re craving an adult beverage, try Motor Row Brewery, where some of Chicago’s homegrown craft brews are featured, or pay a visit to The Spoke & Bird, a cozy and rustic American bistro and beer garden.
For warm and tasty cuisine, head to Opart Thai House, which has over 100 food items from which to choose. Flo and Santos is a hybrid pub and pizzeria with an industrial-style setting, making it a great spot for a casual, quick bite (their pizza and pierogies are heavenly). Acadia is perfect for a more upscale meal or date night, as it serves seasonal dishes inspired by coastal Maine.
Museum Campus in South Loop is a beautiful lakefront expanse that houses three of Chicago’s largest cultural institutions and overlooks the city’s skyline. See Sue, The Field Museum’s giant T. Rex, Shedd Aquarium’s 32,000 aquatic creatures, and Adler Planetarium’s laboratory and classrooms. The Campus also includes Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play football, fans host tailgates, and iconic artists come to perform.
Over at Motor Row District, you’ll find upbeat jazz clubs, fan-favorite restaurants, and spirited historic areas along South Michigan Avenue. The area that was formerly Chicago’s automobile manufacturing hub now has a brewery, theatre, and exciting dining options. Printer’s Row in northern South Loop is where former printing companies are now residences and art shops. There is even an annual homage to books and printing called Lit Fest. The charming Prairie Avenue District is lined with 19th-century mansions that belonged to Chicago’s elite and is famously known as “Millionaire’s Row.” Stroll through the historic Glessner House Museum, a landmark that pays homage to spectacular architecture.
McCormick Place is a massive entertainment complex that hosts conventions and events. You’ll find some of the country’s largest, most significant happenings here, including the Chicago Auto Show—the nation’s largest car show. And, of course, dropping by Millennium Park to visit The Bean is a must.
South Loop has several highly rated schools, including:
South Loop Elementary School, Public, PK-8
Jones College Prep, Public, 9-12
Columbia College, Private, Higher Education
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