Wicker Park-Bucktown, a Chicago Neighborhood Guide

An area of exceptional artistry and character, Wicker Park neighborhood has emerged from an artist’s haven into one of the hippest places to live and play in Chicago. With its heart at Damen and Milwaukee avenues, Wicker Park is bound by North and Division, and Ashland and Western avenues.

Location & Area

  • North Boundary: 1600 N North
  • South Boundary: 1200 N Division
  • East Boundary: 1600 W Ashland
  • West Boundary: 2400 W Western
  • Primary Zip Code: 60622

Wicker Park Sports & Recreation

Nature and public parks are abundant within the Wicker Park neighborhood, and many residents enjoy the break from the big city. Wicker Park is a four-acre park with an ornate cast-iron fountain and tall shade trees. With room for organized sports including softball, access to nearby Clemente High School’s pool, and a fenced dog area, Wicker Park has something for everyone to enjoy.

Wicker Park Art & Theater

Well known for its artistic roots, Wicker Park continues to emphasize art, music, and theater. With a variety of independent art galleries, residents and visitors enjoy the entertainment that can be found in Wicker Park every day of the week.

One of Chicago’s most famous art festivals, Around the Coyote Arts Festival, takes place each September throughout the Wicker Park neighborhood. Art of all kinds, including film, dance, live performances, and kids programs can be found throughout Wicker Park, including within galleries, storefronts, lofts, public buildings, and private spaces.

Shopping

The Wicker Park/Bucktown shopping scene is, simply stated, bustling. With boutiques and shops specializing in everything from apparel and jewelry to crafts and home furnishings, you can find paper goods handmade in Chicago or wooden masks hand-carved in Africa. Stroll the sidewalks of this neighborhood and shop till you drop!

For women’s clothing, try Nanette Lepore, Tangerine, Jade or Clothes Minded for one-of-a-kind apparel. Untitled and Scoop NYC, both popular chain stores, can also be found in the area. For the fashionable future-mommy, try Belly Dance Maternity. Saffron is a good choice for clothing with a more exotic influence.

Of course, men will find stores that cater to them, as well. Try Him, Detail by Akira and Apartment Number 9, all boutiques with fashionable, upscale men’s clothing.

If you are looking for other wares, Wicker Park/Bucktown certainly delivers. Silver Room carries jewelry while Stitch is the perfect destination for leather goods. Try Renegade Handmade and Virtu for handmade crafts or Paper Doll for paper goods and trinkets. Furnish your home in exotic finds from faraway lands at Fenway Gallery, or hunt for one-of-a-kind antiques at Embelezar. Discover the latest underground music at Reckless Records and end your shopping experience by customizing your own t-shirt at T-Shirt Deli.

Restaurants

With nearly 150 restaurants studding the streets of Wicker Park/Bucktown, even the most discerning palate is easy to please. There are several Thai and Asian choices, such as Rodan, Spring, Pot Pan, Su-Ra and Thai Lagoon. For noodles try Zen or Penny’s Noodle Shop. The increasing fascination with sushi can be witnessed by the number of sushi bars opening up all over the area; some good ones are Papajin, Aki Sushi, Mirai Sushi, Blu Coral and Bob San.

If you are in the mood for something less exotic, try Piece or Crust; both serve up excellent pizza. Mexican food is also abundant in the area: 2 Amigos and Adobo Grill are good options. For Middle Eastern food, the informal Sultan’s Market has delicious food at low prices, while La Brochette offers Moroccan fare with a French twist.

Le Bouchon is a fine French bistro and Club Lucky is a friendly place with traditional Italian fare. For vegetarians there is the Earwax Café; for meat-eaters, there is the Boundary Grill. Other restaurants with simple yet satisfying American food include Feast, Chaise Lounge and Café Absinthe.

Since no meal is complete without dessert, Wicker Park/Bucktown has several places that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Try Margie’s Candies for a soda shop experience or Sweet Thang for French pastries. Visit Café Wicked or Hot Chocolate for some of the best cakes and tarts around!

After your sugar fix, you will have plenty of energy to stay out all night, and this is the place to do it. The nightlife in Wicker Park/Bucktown rivals that of other neighborhoods. With dozens of bars scattered throughout the neighborhood, you can find precisely the ambiance you desire. Marie’s Rip-Tide Lounge is a throwback to the 60’s complete with a jukebox in the corner. Pint is an Irish sports bar, while Subterranean, Phyllis’ Musical Inn and Handlebar are good finds for those who want to hear live music as they enjoy their drinks. The Wicker Well has dance parties on weekends, as well as open mic and karaoke during the week. Other popular nightspots include D’Vine, Swig, Small Bar and Plan B.

Community

Wicker Park/Bucktown is full of architecturally interesting walkups and brownstones that have been renovated or restored to their original beauty. There are plenty of newly constructed walkups as well. With the combination of quiet residential streets and a dynamic commercial scene, the neighborhood attracts young professionals, yet is still affordable enough for families and students.

There is much to do in Wicker Park/Bucktown for visitors as well as locals. Art lovers, music aficionados, film buffs, theatergoers, children: this neighborhood has something for everyone.

There are two annual festivals held in the area. One of these, the Wicker Park Fest, is a music festival with an average of 28 bands performing on two stages. This festival lasts two days and is held in July. Food and drinks are available, provided by local restaurants and bars. The second annual festival centers on art; it is called Around the Coyote and was first held in 1989. Its mission is to give local artists and galleries a way of exposing their art to a wider audience and achieving more prominence. Usually held in autumn, it is one of Chicago’s most well-known art festivals.

Galleries

Wicker Park/Bucktown has a very large number of art galleries. A few of these include the AllRise Gallery, which features contemporary art, and the David Leonardis Gallery, which has had several genres of art adorning its walls. 4Art Inc creates a bond between the artist and the audience by letting each artist actually create art at his/her opening. Gallery 203 and the Heaven Gallery both encourage new artists by providing a place where their work can be exhibited. Art can also be viewed at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art; this display works by Chicago artists and artists of Ukrainian descent.

Theatre

If you are in the mood for a live performance, several theaters vie for your attention. There is the Chicago Children’s Theater, which features music lessons for kids and adults. The Comedy Sportz Theater is the place to go for improvisational comedy sketches. The Chicago Dramatists Theatre is dedicated to developing new plays and encouraging playwrights, while the Chopin Theater hosts a variety of live performances, including dance and drama. For edgier performances, check out the Gorilla Tango Theater.

The Adventure Stage Theater, formerly known as the Vittum Theater, focuses on young audiences and strives to celebrate diversity and promote honest dialogue. Redmoon Central brings theater to non-traditional venues, such as the streets of Chicago. In doing so, they are able to bring their art to a much wider audience and make each performance much more integrated and interactive. Other theaters featuring live performances are the Keyhole Theater Company and the Wing & Groove Theater Company, both committed to bringing a fresh approach to classic dramas as well as introducing new and original works.

The music scene in Wicker Park/Bucktown is alive and well. The Double Door and the Empty Bottle, music venues that also serve bar food and drinks, are excellent places to discover new bands and enjoy tried-and-true favorites. Small and intimate, these venues allow the music lover to get up close and personal to the bands on stage. If you want to make a little music of your own, check out the Chicago Center School of Music, which offers lessons for adults and children in a variety of instruments.

If, after attending a festival, viewing some art, catching a show or catching some tunes, you are still looking for something to do, try a game of bowling at the Diversey-River Bowl. Or learn to point your toes and pirouette at the ARCC Ballet. For a different type of class, visit the Nature Yoga Sanctuary. Learn about the Polish population of Chicago at the Polish Museum of America. If you have children, check out the Fantasy Kingdom, a large indoor playground. The Wicker Park District has endless activities for children and adults as well.

It is clear that Wicker Park/Bucktown is much more than simply a neighborhood; it is a dynamic, culturally-rich community that welcomes its inhabitants and its visitors to take hold of all that life has to offer.

Current Trends and Facts of Wicker Park Chicago

It offers a remarkable mix of small businesses, chic boutiques, galleries, and trendy restaurants. The result is a vibrant, dynamic destination for visitors and residents alike. Thanks to its bohemian and European heritage, the Wicker Park neighborhood is one of the city’s most desirable destinations for culture and entertainment.

The neighborhood of Wicker Park maintains an emphasis on performance art, music, and theater, and attracts an offbeat crowd on any given day or night. It also has many independent art galleries, particularly in the Flat Iron Building, a beehive of sculptors, painters, and mixed-media artists.

For commuters (many of whom do not need a car), the CTA’s Blue Line and the train are only a few blocks away giving them 10-minute access to the Loop, as well as easy access to O’Hare International Airport and the suburbs.

Each September, the Around the Coyote Art Festival gives hundreds of artists a chance to open their doors to display and sell their work. Beyond private galleries, the festival has art displayed in storefronts, loft spaces, public buildings, and private spaces.

Bucktown

The area’s rejuvenation was started by local artists, once attracted by cheap rents and accessibility to the Loop (10 minutes away) and expressways. During the past decade, it has been transforming from its earlier blue-collar, primarily Polish roots into a conveniently located, upscale-artsy neighborhood. Poles have largely been replaced by a Mexican community, especially at the western side of the Bucktown neighborhood. Today, artists are reluctantly giving way to a trendier crowd, but their creative force left a lasting impression.

Wicker Park-Bucktown Neighborhood Map of Chicago

Chicago's Wicker Park Bucktown Neighborhood Map

Location & Area

  • North Boundary: 2400 N Fullerton
  • South Boundary: 1600 N North
  • East Boundary: 1600 W Ashland
  • West Boundary: 2400 W Western
  • Primary Zip Code: 60647

With borders that are often confused with Wicker Park’s, Bucktown is a neighborhood filled with character and art. It lies just to the north of Wicker Park, between North and Fullerton avenues, and from the Kennedy Expressway (routes 90/94) west to Western.

Current Trends and Facts of Bucktown Chicago

The central art district is bordered by Milwaukee, Damen, Wabansia, and North avenues. Their many galleries in and above storefronts and the historic Flat Iron Building houses galleries of many established and up-and-coming artists. Bucktown neighborhood is also the location of the annual Bucktown Arts Fest, every August, and the Round the Coyote art festival in September.

Small neighborhood bars can be found on just about every corner. North and Damen avenues boast smoky late-night music clubs (such as the famous Double-Door and the Blue Note) and cosmopolitan clubs, boutiques, and restaurants. Bucktown neighborhood also contains several remarkable churches, the legacy of early Polish immigrants.