Uptown Chicago has long been renowned on Chicago’s north side as a busy retail, nightlife, and entertainment destination. This one-of-a-kind neighborhood drew throngs in the roaring twenties and continues to amaze Chicagoans far into the twenty-first century. Spend the day discovering Uptown’s rich history, lively ethnic diversity, and dizzying array of eating options.
From hot jazz and cool cocktails in a Prohibition-era bar to steaming bowls of Pho soup, there’s so much to do in Uptown!
Uptown’s diverse population includes the largest concentration of East-Asian restaurants outside of Chinatown. The neighborhood’s many Vietnamese restaurants are mostly located on or around Argyle Street and include the delicious and generous Pho dishes. Pronounced like the word “fuh”, the beef and noodle soup is served with fresh herbs and vegetables on the side, so you can add what you like to the hot broth, noodles, and meat. Try a bowl of Pho at restaurants like Tank Noodle, on the corner of Argyle and Broadway.
The Aragon Ballroom, designed as an elegant Spanish courtyard and finished in 1926, was one of Chicago’s largest concert venues for big bands throughout the 1940s. It is now a concert arena for rock, pop, and electronic dance music artists. The Aragon Ballroom is one of the most renowned and surely one of the most unusual performance places in Chicago, with convenient access to and from the El.
The Aragon Ballroom on Lawrence Avenue near the Lawrence Red Line “L” stop, originally opened in 1926 as a venue for ballroom dancing and was subsequently dubbed the most beautiful ballroom in the world. Now a popular music venue, you can still enjoy the castle-like décor inside its cavernous main floor, or climb up a flight of stairs for a great view of the band and the crowd below. Catch The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Owl City and others at the Aragon this summer.
Uptown Chicago is gifted with broad and sandy beaches due to its location right on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, much to the surprise of people who are not from the Midwest. Chicago has some of the nicest beaches on the Great Lakes, and Montrose Beach is no exception. It’s also officially dog friendly, so dog owners and lovers will feel right at home throughout the year.
The Green Mill
The Green Mill’s neon green sign with dancing white bulbs can’t be missed if you’re cruising around the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence. Cozy up to the bar inside or join your friends at a comfortable table to enjoy live jazz most nights of the week, and poetry slams on Sundays. This classic bar was a former speakeasy back in the Prohibition days, but there’s no bathtub gin behind the bar now — only great cocktails with a garnish of fresh entertainment.
Though it no longer attracts the same number of filmmakers as it once did, the Green Mill has been seen in dozens of films, notably High Fidelity and Prelude to a Kiss, cementing it as one of Chicago’s premier attractions.
Tour the graves of Chicago founding fathers: Graceland Cemetery is filled with famous Chicagoans like Armour, Palmer, Burnham, and Marshall Field. This Victorian-style cemetery contains large, ornate monuments that were designed by artists as famous as the person resting below, and visitors can obtain maps of notable graves at the gatehouse upon entering. But be careful! Don’t get locked in the cemetery after hours! Take care to note the closing time when you enter, and exit through the gate with time to spare.
Enjoy yourself at the Annoyance Theater: The big golden clown horn on its sign should be a signal that the Annoyance Theater is into having a bit of fun with its audiences. Known for its subversive pieces, the Annoyance Theatre first appeared in Chicago over 25 years ago and continues to push the boundaries of improv, comedy, and exciting theatrical pieces every year. Want to get involved? They even offer classes on improv, acting, and writing for all skill levels.