If you’re looking to move to River North, chances are you already know about many of the places to go in what is perhaps Chicago’s liveliest neighborhood.
But events in River North aren’t just visits to Andy’s for Jazz, Uno’s for deep dish, the House of Blues for big stars or the corridor formed by Ontario and Ohio Streets for all sorts of touristy fun.
River North Community Events can be about just that — community.
Establishing a feeling of community in River North can be as easy as contacting the River North Residents Association or visiting the Ohio Street Dog Park — one of the pet-friendliest spots in the city. Then there’s Montgomery Ward Park, three acres of green space along the North Branch of the Chicago River, plus a riverwalk offering plenty of shade long with river and skyline views.
Of course, organized events in River North are plentiful. Here are some of our favorite River North community events:
Summer Cruise: June 27, McCormick Bridgehouse. Friends of the Chicago River’s annual fundraiser benefits the Bridgehouse — a five-story landmark at Michigan Avenue which houses the gear room that raises and lowers the Michigan Avenue bridge, and a museum that drives home the deep connection Chicago’s history has to its river. Food, drink and entertainment come with the ticket.
Midsummer Art Walk: July 13. River North rebounded from vast blocks of abandoned warehouses when artists, lured by the large spaces and low rents, began moving into the area. Still possessing the highest concentration of art galleries west of Manhattan, River North shows that off with its annual art walk. Twenty galleries participate in this free event, which includes exhibition openings, street entertainment, and drink and food specials.
Windy City Smokeout: Technically in River West, this July 13-15 grubapalooza along the west bank of the North Branch features barbecue, country music and special events ranging from a tequila mixology class to a crawfish boil. More than two dozen artists — national acts and up-and-comers — will perform, 20 of the best pit masters from Chicago and around the country will serve the BBQ, and dozens of craft beers will be on tap.
Taste of River North: July 20-22, Kingsbury and Erie (the corner of Ward Park) streets. Everything from Brazilian steakhouse fare to specialties from Pink Taco — with its Vegas take on humble Mexican grub — plus 13 bands over three days. The East Bank Club is hosting morning workouts if you want to check out one of the biggest health clubs in the country while working up an appetite.
Chill: Nov. 8, Merchandise Mart. Normally the province of industry-connected interior designers and the like, the Merchandise Mart throws a party for the public in cooperation with Wine Spectator magazine. Billed as an International Wine & Culinary Event, Chill wines from around the world pair with creations from renowned Chicago chefs amid the world’s largest collection of high-end home building and renovation shops.