If you’re looking to explore Chicago like a local, then stay in the gorgeous neighborhood of the Gold Coast. Just north of the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue and downtown, the Gold Coast is rich with Chicago history, tree-lined streets, swoon-worthy mansions and upscale shopping. Here are the must-see spots to visit when visiting.
Walking through the Gold Coast, you can’t help but admire the luxe and historic mansions that fill the neighborhood. Two that are particularly well-known are the Charnley-Persky House Museum and the Original Playboy Mansion. The Charnley-Persky House was designed by Louis Sullivan and his junior draftsman, Frank Lloyd Wright—making it quite the architectural landmark. Tours are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays or by appointment.
Not far away, sits the Original Playboy Mansion that Hugh Hefner lived in. While the mansion serves as condominiums today, you can still take in the lavish beauty from the sidewalks.
Oak Street Beach
The Gold Coast is nestled right by Lake Michigan and the popular Oak Street Beach, the hottest beach spot in town when the weather is nice. Head over to soak up the sun, take a dip in the lake, watch a beach volleyball tournament or walk the Lake Shore path. This little stretch is full of locals, tourists and lots of people watching.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Chicago’s MCA is one of the world’s largest contemporary art venues. Founded in 1967, the museum has been a source of inspiration for visionaries and art lovers alike. Check out their innovative exhibitions, performances and even museum space. Plus, the attached restaurant Marisol is also a vivid and modern dining experience that is sure to delight—sister restaurant to award-winning Lula Cafe in Logan Square.
Oak Street District
Referred to as “Chicago’s Luxury Destination,” Oak Street District is filled with designer boutiques and upscale dining. Pop in or window shop at stores like Prada, Jimmy Choo, Tod’s, Versace and more. Afterward, enjoy a delicious meal at Spiaggia or Chicago’s iconic spot, Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse. For those looking to stay in the heart of this district, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is a perfect, luxe retreat.
Dating back to 1887, the Newberry Library was started as a free, public library (in a different location) and eventually turned into a research and education center. It boasts special collections, rare books and scholarly literature that draws readers and researchers from all around the world. If interested, you can even attend their free events or catch their annual book fair in July.
Washington Square Park
Right across from the Newberry Library is this historic landmark. Started as an assembly spot to discuss community issues, Washington Square Park is one of Chicago’s oldest small parks that still exists today. While a bit plain-looking compared to other parks in the city, the real treasure is being a part of the site’s history and all those who have stood there before you!
Step into a world of Restoration Hardware and get swept away in the beauty of 6 levels and 70,000 square feet of home furnishings. This retail concept turns the store into an artistic gallery and immersive experience highlighting products and interiors from their RH Modern, RH Baby & Child, RH Teen and RH Outdoor lines. In addition, you can dine at the 3 Arts Club Cafe or pick up a coffee to sip on as you drool over all the interiors.
While not technically in the Gold Coast, the beloved Magnificent Mile is just a short walk away—or a quick ride on public transportation. There you’ll find your favorite brands, multi-level stores and flagship shops. Plus, you’ll also find one of our go-to attractions for traveling guests, the Chicago 360 Observation Deck at the John Hancock Center. This 94th-floor observatory gives you a full view of the city but for those over 21, the Signature Lounge has the same views for the price of a drink.
Whether you’re visiting Chicago or just moved here, the Gold Coast and its many must-see spots are the perfect way to fill your weekend. From taking a step back in time to admiring the beauty of today, this neighborhood has something for everyone!