Food-wise, Chicago is known for deep dish pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Delicious, but not-so-healthy fare. Fortunately, some of Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods are also very high on walkability, meaning it’s easy to walk to your favorite restaurants – and there will be plenty to do afterward if you choose to walk off your heavy meal.
Using Walk Score, we put together a list of Chicago’s 10 most walkable neighborhoods and asked our Redfin real estate agents for the inside scoop.
1. West Loop – Walk Score 96
It doesn’t get much hotter than the West Loop, with its trendy Restaurant Row, hip bars and plenty of grocery stores. Shoppers have their choice between specialty, organic and conventional grocers, and with Google’s Chicago campus moving in, there will soon also be the opportunity to walk to work.
Throw in a transit score of 100, and you have a neighborhood where owning a car is definitely optional. Though, buying in may be tough: homes for sale stayed on the market only 9 days, fastest in the city. “A well-priced home here won’t last long and will often have multiple offers,” said Redfin real estate agent Alex Haried.
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2. Near North Side – Walk Score 96
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This is a classic walkable Chicago neighborhood, composed of several smaller hoods, notably River North, Streeterville and the Gold Coast. “One of the things that my clients love about searching for a home in River North is that most of them will get to walk to work in the Loop,” said Redfin agent Jenn Kim. “You’re within 15 minutes walking of almost anything – the business district, the shopping district, grocery stores, bars and restaurants and even the Chicago Water Taxi.”
3. East Village – Walk Score 96
This neighborhood’s restaurant and retail offerings have increased over the last several years, most notably along Chicago Avenue, which is quickly becoming one of the hippest areas to spend a night on the town. People are noticing. “Buyers now covet the East Village,” said Redfin agent Al Medina. “Prices have caught up to the more well-known Wicker Park, and we’re seeing lots of sales here.”
4. Wicker Park – Walk Score 94
Once a bohemia that nurtured the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt and Liz Phair, Wicker Park has long since become one of Chicago’s most well-known and mainstream-trendy neighborhoods. Featuring numerous brunch spots, well-maintained vintage greystones and plenty of over-trendy condos, residents will find a weekly farmer’s market, plenty of shopping, bars and restaurants.
5. Lincoln Park – Walk Score 94
Adjacent to the well-known park of the same name, Lincoln Park features high-rises with spectacular views of Lake Michigan to the east, and historic, late 1800s brick row homes to the west of the neighborhood. Residents also have access to plenty of green space, the El’s Brown and Red lines, and nightlife along Lincoln Avenue.
With a median home price of nearly half a million, Lincoln Park is the city’s third most-expensive neighborhood – but those who live there get a lot.
6. Noble Square – Walk Score 94
One of the city’s lesser-known neighborhoods, Noble Square benefits from the popularity of nearby Wicker Park and East Village. “Noble Square is seeing a lot of new construction, as developers take advantage of the neighborhood’s burgeoning popularity and its in-fill possibilities,” said Redfin real estate agent Al Medina. “Historically it had been priced at a discount compared to its neighbors, but that’s changing in many areas.”
Touching upon sections of commercial corridors along Milwaukee, Chicago and Grand Avenues, Noble Square offers a cross-section of area nightlife, easy access to the expressway and the Blue line.
7. The Loop – Walk Score 93
Contrary to popular belief, many people live in the Loop. Approximately 14,000, in fact. With spectacular views, luxury penthouses and easy access to the Art Institute, Millennium Park, and a variety of high-quality restaurants, living among skyscrapers has its benefits.
“The convenience of living in the Loop can’t be beat. Most buildings have doormen and luxury amenities, which appeals to buyers who value concierge services and a high-end touch,” said Redfin real estate agent Jacqueline Colando.
8. Ukrainian Village – Walk Score 93
Known for its relaxed residential character, Ukrainian Village is well-located for walkability: next to Wicker Park and East Village, the neighborhood also has its share of restaurants along Division and Chicago Avenues, as well as a Mariano’s grocery.
However, as walkable as it is, Ukrainian Village has a transit score of only 69, the lowest of any neighborhood on the list – it’s also the only neighborhood without at least one El stop. “More people who live here rely on a vehicle,” said Redfin real estate agent Al Medina, “but the neighborhood does have great bus routes.”
9. Fulton River District – Walk Score 92
Once a center of industry and shipping, the Fulton River District is growing in popularity. “Buyers here will find a combination of new construction condo buildings and converted lofts and warehouses,” said Redfin real estate agent Niko Voutsinas.
Served by three El lines, the Ogilvy Transportation Center, and near to River North, the West Loop and the Loop, it’s very well-located. A growing bar and restaurant scene makes it even more walkable for residents, plus there’s always cocoa wafting through the air, thanks to the Blommer Chocolate Factory.
10. South Loop – Walk Score 91
At the heart of a high-rise building boom, expect the South Loop to get even more walkable in the next ten years, as more retail and food options come to a neighborhood already near the lakefront, museums, Millennium Park, Soldier Field and downtown.
“After being hard-hit by the real estate crash in the late 2000s, the South Loop is once again the focus of increased development,” said Redfin real estate agent Jenn Kim. “With its dense urban environment, and close proximity to downtown, it’s once again top-of-mind for buyers who want an easy commute to work.”
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