One of the city's hottest areas, the South Loop is seeing tremendous growth. It starts where the Loop ends and extends to Chinatown (Cermak), and the east-west boundaries are Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.
The South Loop experienced many transformations over the years. This neighborhood was formed in the 1800s when Irish immigrants settled along the Chicago River and wealthier citizens developed the areas along Michigan and Wabash. The railroad industry made its claim on the South Loop in the 1850s and during the Chicago Fire of 1871, the neighborhood was mostly untouched by the flames. So most Chicagoans from north of the Loop came into the area to settle.
Unfortunately, a fire in 1874 destroyed most of the residential characteristics that were developed. When 1900 hit, the neighborhood was still a railroad dominated area, even with the decline in popularity of passenger trains. During this time, museums and parks were built that formed the neighborhood’s culture. Today, the South Loop is reclaiming its roots as a residential area with the continuous construction of residential buildings all over the neighborhood.
The South Loop’s border is not as clear as some other neighborhoods. But its boundary lines are approximately the Stevenson Expressway on the south, the Chicago River on the west, LaSalle Street on the north, and the Metra railroad tracks on the east.
Things To Do
You can see the stars in the South Loop by heading over to the Adler Planetarium (1300 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-922-7827). Observe the night sky and don’t forget to see the shows and special exhibits.
If the deep sea is more your thing then you will love the Shedd Aquariam (1200 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-939-2438). With so many aquatic species and exhibits at the Shedd, the aquarium has become one of the top attractions in Chicago.
The Field Museum (1400 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-922-9410) is another fun-filled place to spend a day. Here you can get a glimpse of Sue, the 13 foot T-Rex skeleton in the lobby of the museum. There’s always a fun special exhibit to see, but you can always enjoy many halls of permanent gems year round.
And that UFO-looking thing? That’s Soldier Field (1410 Museum Campus Dr, 312-235-7000). Here you can catch one of the legendary games of the Chicago Bears or grab tickets to the next big rock concert.
Chicagoans love good music, food, and entertainment, so there’s nothing better than the Bash on Wabash (1400 S Wabash, 773-665-4682). The food is provided by local restaurants in the area, giving guests a taste of Chicago cuisine. If you plan on bringing the kids, not to worry, there are plenty of activities just for them.
Grant Park allows visitors to get their groove on at Chicago SummerDance (601 S Michigan Ave, 312-742-4007). You can either dance on your own or enjoy watching some of the professionally choreographed performances.
The McCormick Place (2301 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-791-7000) holds some of the major events that happen in the city. In February, you can look forward to the annual Chicago Auto Show (630-495-2282), March has the International Home and Housewares Show (847-692-0100), in April you can catch the Green Festival (828-254-4287), and all the other months always have something going on.
Dining & Nightlife
The South Loop has plenty of places for breakfast to start your morning. The Bongo Room (1152 S Wabash Ave, 312-291-0100) features a contemporary breakfast menu with wonderfully delicious classics such as pancakes. Another restaurant to get a hardy breakfast is Yolk (1120 S Michigan Ave, 312-789-9655). Here you can find any style egg dish you can think up.
Pizza favorites in the area are Lou Malnati’s (805 S State St, 312-786-1000), which serves up some of the best deep dish around, and Pat’s Pizzeria (628 S Clark St, 312-427-2320), who is known for their delightfully thin crust.
For a side of history with your meal, check out Chicago Firehouse Restaurant (1401 S Michigan Ave, 312-786-1401). This place was originally built as a firehouse back in 1905 but today serves some delectable cuisine.
If you’re looking for drinks after dinner there are plenty of neighborhood favorites in the South Loop. A place where you can get a bang for your buck is the Wabash Tap (1233 S Wabash Ave, 312-360-9488). A trendy location that specializes in dessert-like drinks is the M Lounge (1520 S Wabash St, 312-447-0201). You will enjoy their delicious specialty drinks and relaxing atmosphere.
From fashionable boutiques to craft stores, you’ll find it all in the South Loop. For vintage goods, check out Florodora (330 S Dearborn St, 312-212-8860). You never know what you might find in this unique little shop. The crafty person will enjoy the Artist & Craftsman Supply (828 S Wabash Ave, 312-583-9900). This place has everything you need for your next project.
Places to Stay
If you want to stay in luxury then you should check-in at the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel (636 S Michigan Ave, 312-447-0955). This magnificent building is close enough to the best tourist sites in Chicago but provides visitors with quality service and a unique and colorful atmosphere.
Another place that might interest you is the Wyndham Blake Chicago (500 S Dearborn St, 312-986-1234). Elegant and cozy, the Blake hotel will spoil you with an in-room spa and state-of-the-art fitness center.