Lincoln Park is the largest park in Chicago, and it flanks the whole of North Avenue Beach, the city’s hottest stretch of sand.
When considering where to visit in the neighborhood, those Lincoln Park attractions get a much-deserved share of the attention. But to retreat from the lakefront, among the brownstones and graystones that give Lincoln Park addresses their charming cache, is not to retreat from things to do in Lincoln Park.
Alinea is one of the great restaurants in the country. The Chicago History Museum is the oldest cultural institution in the city. Oz Park has statues of Dorothy, Toto and the rest of the gang. That’s merely scratching the surface.
Marge’s Still, in the Old Town Triangle at the southern edge of Lincoln Park, has been serving drinks since 1885 — yes, through prohibition — and is the city’s oldest continually running tavern. Much about the place has changed over the years, but the original bar remains. But the Lincoln Avenue corridor is remarkable for its concentration of and diverse takes on the classic Chicago neighborhood tavern, including:
- Delilah’s: Punk roots and attitude, and recently celebrated its 9,000th consecutive day of being open (that’s 24 years-plus). It carries more than 800 kinds of whiskey and 200 kinds of beer.
- Lincoln Avenue Social: A big, late-night, sports-bar kind of joint that has the nerve to bill itself as Chicago’s Cleveland Browns bar.
- Red Lion Pub: Dark woods, soft leather, a library feel, and a place where the food and drink menus serve the conversation.
In a city celebrated for its blues tradition, few spots are more celebrated for upholding that lineage than these venerable Lincoln Park attractions:
- Kingston Mines: Live music is featured seven nights a week at this club, founded in 1968. Billed as the oldest continuously operating and largest blues club in Chicago, it features two stages and regularly hosts local favorites and national acts.
- Chicago B.L.U.E.S. Bar: Just up the block on the other side of Halsted Street from Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S. is a smaller, louder joint heavy on locals that has been around since 1979.
Brunch at the Brauer … and Beyond
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point to the park for some things to do.
- Café Brauer sits in a historic Prairie School-style landmark structure overlooking the pond at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk. Views of this restored, natural prairie ecosystem and the Chicago skyline are unparalleled from the Patio at Café Brauer, where lunch and dinner hours run through Oct. 30, but Saturday and Sunday brunch (9 a.m. – 2 p.m.) remains especially popular.
- Lincoln Park Conservatory is a greenhouse on steroids, constructed starting in 1890, and features four display houses laden with exotic plants that keep green going even in harshest winter.
- Lincoln Park Zoo is free, open 365 days a year, and has been around since 1868. Big cats, polar bears, gorillas and reptiles are among its more than 1,000 animals.