Wicker Park is one of Chicago’s Northwest Side neighborhoods that has seen great transformation in the past couple decades, changing from a more bohemian setting to a fully gentrified community. The transition coincided with a boom in new condo construction and business establishment. It has resulted in a strong local economy and healthy development of commercial and entertainment markets. Now Wicker Park is on the map as a destination for exciting city life with top-rated dining and weekend hotspots.
Even though Bucktown and Wicker Park are known as twin neighborhoods, they both have distinct histories. Bucktown got its name from its original inhabitants in the 1800s who raised goats here. The area was once considered to be Little Poland in the Chicagoland area. Then in the 1990s, artists began sweeping into Bucktown making it the hip and trendy area to live in Chicago today.
Wicker Park was founded by brothers Joel and Charles Wicker. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, many Chicagoans were displaced and looking for a new place to call home so they came to the area and started building. Wicker Park continued to grow with the creation of the Metropolitan West Side Development Line (also known to Chicagoans as the ‘El’). Around World War I, the neighborhood became home to the working class. From then on, the migration through this area has been extremely diverse. Similar to Bucktown, the 80s brought in the artists who made Wicker Park the creative community is it today.
The Bucktown/Wicker Park area is bordered by the Chicago River on the east, Western Avenue on the west, and Division Street on the south.
Things to Do
If you’re the active type, stop into WhirlyBall (1880 W. Fullerton Ave, 773-486-7777) where you can enjoy a game that is a mix between bumper cars, lacrosse, and basketball. Or you can play a game of laser tag, billiards, or foosball. You’ll find venues for music and comedy all over the place and one such hot spot is the Gallery Cabaret (2020 N Oakley Ave, 773-489-5471). Whether it’s a live band or comedy show, you’re sure to have a good time. If you have the theatre bug, you’ll love the hilarious and provocative shows at Gorilla Tango Theatre (1919 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-598-4549) and the imaginative stories at Trap Door Theatre (1655 W Cortland Ave, 773-384-0494).
For a fun day of shopping with great deals, come by the Wicker Park and Bucktown Summer Sidewalk Sale. During the last weekend of July, the shops in the neighborhood take their goods to the sidewalk and sell them for lower prices. The sale also gives you the chance to take a stroll down the street and discover what all the local businesses have to offer.
As one of Chicago’s creative communities, Wicker Park/Bucktown puts on an art festival every year. The Bucktown Arts Fest takes place every August and brings to together painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, artists, poets, and all types of creative minds.
The Wicker Park Fest is more of like a summer celebration with music, food, and craft activities. It’s one of the most popular street festivities in Chicago so come early and stay late.
Dining & Nightlife
Looking for a night of high-end dining? Schwa (1466 N Ashland Ave, 773-252-1466) is one of the best places to go. The cuisine is experimental and the cocktails are fabulous. If traditional American cuisine is what you’re looking for, then check out Bristol (2152 N Damen Ave, 773-862-5555). Let’s not forget about dessert. Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (1747 N Damen Ave, 773-489-1747) has some of the most delectable desserts in the area.
The Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood delivers when looking for a quality night on the town. Start your evening at Lemmings (1850 N Damen Ave, 773-862-1688) where you can either get a board game going with friends or play a some pool. After a couple of drinks, head to Nick’s Beergarden (1516 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-252-1155). Open until 4am, you will have a great place to continue to the party you started.
A great place to accessorize is the Broken Cherry Boutique (1736 W North Ave, 773-278-4000). This little shop carries the best names – from Betsey Johnson to Fred Perry. Stop in to find something special for your night out.
For those low key nights at home, try Brainstorm Movies, Comics and Gaming (1579 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-384-8721). Here you can rent a movie or pick up a game.
Wicker Park/Bucktown might cater to young adults but they didn’t forget about the kids. The Red Balloon (1950 N Damen, 773-489-9800) carries an array of knick-knacks and clothing that the little ones will enjoy.
Places to Stay
A great place to stay in the area is the Wicker Park Inn (1329 N Wicker Park Ave, 773-486-2743). A trendy little bed and breakfast, the Wicker Park Inn accommodates guests with wonderful pastries, coffee, and other breakfast favorites.
Provided by Wicker Park Real Estate