West Town is an expansive neighborhood northwest of the Chicago Loop. It is bounded by the Chicago River to the east, Humboldt Park to the west, the Union Pacific railroad tracks to the south and the former railroad tracks on Bloomingdale Avenue to the north. This area was once largely considered Chicago’s Polish Downtown, and its home to the same-named park and community area, Pulaski Park.
Today, the neighborhood is still considered a cultural melting pot and has an artsy, eclectic vibe. It’s home to an array of museums, laid back watering holes, great vintage spots, and an array of art galleries.
West Town Restaurants
Many of the neighborhood’s best eateries are on or around Chicago Avenue, so that’s a great place to start exploring. The array of cuisines here reflects the many waves of immigrant cultures that have influenced the neighborhood. There’s Indian, Korean, Puerto Rican, and German. Of course, you can get a house-made pierogi at the reliable Polish deli, Delightful Pastries.
Sportsman’s Club was once an old Polish dive bar, but it was transformed by Heisler Hospitality in 2013 to highlight the city’s cocktail culture. Feeling even fancier? Temporis was the only new Chicago restaurant to get a star in the 2019 Michelin Guide. There’s also botanical brewpub Forbidden Root and the bohemian trendy spot Beatnik.
West Town Attractions
Thanks to its diverse history and culture, there are many unique museums in this nabe. Visit Inuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, the Polish Museum of America, the Ukranian National Museum, and the Ukranian institute of Modern Art.
All museumed out? Get hands-on at Ignite Glass Studio and see a live glass blowing demonstration. For a slower pace, take the afternoon to relax at the Aire ancient baths.
West Town Architecture
Due to its Polish and Ukranian history, the neighborhood is a wealth of beautiful antique churches. The Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral is one of the two churches designed by Louis Sullivan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Adorned with artwork and gilded walls, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Holy Trinity Polish Catholic Church is a prime example of Polish Cathedral Style in opulence and scale, as is the St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish. And you may recognize the St. Nicholas Ukranian Catholic Cathedral by its brass domes and finials.
West Town Shopping
The best shopping in this nabe can be found in Wicker Park. Start along Milwaukee Avenue between Paulina Street and Wabansia Avenue to find trendy bike shops, an Adidas Originals boutique, and a Levi’s Store. There’s also great vintage shopping at Moon Vintage and unique secondhand found at Crossroads Trading and Ragstock.
If you prefer new fashion, there’s also an Urban Outfitters and Free People. Or, dig through the vinyl at Reckless Records, an old-school record shop.
West Town Theater
West Town has a unique independent theater scene, largely concentrated along the Chicago River. There’s Chopin Theater, an independent performing arts theater hosting music, film, and literary events. Or, stop by The Den Theater to catch a classic and contemporary play. In Pulaski Park, Free Street Theater offers an array of lively shows. For musicals and drama, there’s always something on display at the 299-seat Vittum Theater.
West Town Festivals & Events
It’s no surprise this cultural hub hosts an array of exciting festivals and community events each year. There’s the Do Division Street Fest, West Fest Chicago, and Chicago Brewing District’s Dancing in the Streets. You can also attend the Renegade Craft fair in September, West Town Art Walk in the fall, and Grand Design Days Showcase & Market in October.
This nabe doesn’t slow down in cooler months. Enjoy a community trick or treat for Halloween and the West Town WinterFest come December.
West Town Parks
At the western border of West Town, you’ll find Humboldt Park. This 207-acre gem has been open since the late 1870s, and it features some of the city’s earliest architectural wonders. There’s the 1907 Prairie School Boathouse, used today as a seasonal cafe. At the east end of the park, find formal garden gates guarded by a pair of bronze American Bison. There’s also a turf soccer field, fitness center, tennis courts, and baseball fields.