This article covers three things you need to know before you decide to move to the River North neighborhood in Chicago. But before I get into those three things, I’m going to share with you some information about the neighborhood, as well as some fun things it offers.
River North Location
River North lies north and west of the Chicago River. When you look at a map, it’s directly above the Loop. It’s bordered by the magnificent mile to the east, and Chicago Avenue to the north.
River North is a little over three square miles in size, and home to an estimated 27,000 people. It is definitely a walkable neighborhood that is home to some big brand corporate headquarters such as Groupon, Yelp, Motorola Mobility, and Conagra. The area is also easily accessed by Chicago’s extensive metro network, along with other public transportation.
River North Past & Present
This chic and artsy neighborhood wasn’t always quite so glamorous. In fact, in the early 20th century, the area was known as Smoky Hollow because of the thick smoke that billowed from the many factories.
This neighborhood has grown so much, but some of Chicago’s oldest buildings still stand as symbolic reminders of the city’s rebirth after the great Chicago fire in 1871. The bridges and Riverwalk offer incredible perspectives of these soaring iconic structures, so when you’re walking down the city be sure to look up for a moment and take it all in.
The River North neighborhood is full of high-end art and design studios, dining establishments, and nightlife spots. The area offers a unique aesthetic of sleek art galleries tucked away into former warehouse buildings, and features the Chicago River promenade. There are also a wide selection of luxury shops, high-end cocktails and classy restaurants.
River North Local Attractions
The first is Navy Pier which is an absolute staple in Chicago. Navy Pier is actually located just to the right of River North and Streeterville but still extremely close. Here you can enjoy a wide range of family activities and take in the Chicago skyline. Parking is easy and convenient. Highlights here include the Chicago Children’s Museum, the new and improved Ferris wheel, tons of shops, restaurants, a food court, and drinks on the Pier. They also have boat tour launches, including the Sea Dog.
Some popular restaurants include Margaritaville, Harry Caray’s and Billy Goat. Navy Pier is where you go in Chicago all year round for events, free public programs, attractions, culture, dining, and so much more.
One of my family’s favorite attractions at Navy Pier, offered during the winter months, is the Winter Wonderland. This indoor amusement park runs from December through the first week of January. They’ve got jumpy houses, Ferris wheels, games, food, and it’s something great to do in the middle of winter when it’s too cold to be outside, and you really need to get out of the house and have some fun.
Another great place is Ward A. Montgomery Park. This park was designed to emphasize the Chicago River and features the famous Chicago Riverwalk promenade. There’s a fantastic dog park if you have a puppy, a children’s playground, and plenty of benches along the river, so you can grab a coffee, relax and take it all in.
Last but not least, the Chicago Riverwalk offers a host of family-friendly outdoor activities to enjoy in the warmer months. Check out kayak rentals, boat tours, bike rides, architectural walking tours, and many more.
Now let’s talk about those three things you need to know before you move to River North.
1. River North Transportation Hub
River North is known as a transportation hub. It’s set half a mile from downtown Chicago and borders the magnificent mile. You’ll have access to all the city offers by taking easily accessible River North highways, riding a train to another part of the city, or just enjoying other areas of River North.
River North is easily accessible from both the Kennedy Expressway and Lakeshore Drive, and whether you have your own car or you need a cab or Uber, you can get to your destination in no time. In fact, in this urban district, there are almost as many taxis on the road as there are regular cars so, finding a ride is always easy.
Even with convenient access to highways, you don’t need a car in River North. You can take public transportation via your choice of the three CTA routes, six bus routes and two metro routes. Although 49% of River North residents primarily walk to get where they need to go, many do use public transportation to get in and out of the city.
There are two CTA brown line and two CTA red line stops accessible within the limits of River North. You can also access the Chicago neighborhood with CTA bus number 22, 36 and 29, on Clark, Broadway and State Street. CTA bus routes run east-west or north-south giving extra options during peak commuting.
2. River North Work & Education
With so many major corporate headquarters, and a focus on attracting more businesses, River North is a prime location for career-oriented individuals who want an environment to work, live and play in.
River North is a hot spot for tech companies, who occupy over a fourth of the neighborhood’s office space. The area also has countless options for co-working spaces, office spaces, coding schools, and tech meetups. A significant chunk of Chicago’s tech is located within a single iconic River North building, known as the Merchandise Mart.
If you’re a student this place has a lot to offer when it comes to amazing universities. River North is conveniently close to Northwestern University, Moody Blue Institute, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and also the Erickson institute. If you’re looking for a great place to study and work, you may want to consider moving here to the River North neighborhood.
3. River North Lifestyle & Entertainment
River North is a great neighborhood to move to alone or with a family, especially if you’d like to be within walking distance to the city. In the last few years, it’s seen a huge influx of new construction apartments, and there are many options depending on location, availability, features, and amenities.
Here are a few of the best high-rise apartment buildings that are now leasing.
The Marlowe was completed in the summer of 2018, and offers unique floor plans with custom built-in nooks and high-end finishes. From the stunning mail room to the rooftop pool with skyline views, all building amenities are thoughtfully designed.
Next is the Amli River North, located on the lively corner of Hubbard and Clark Streets. Amli River North raised the bar for downtown rental living with on-site concierge, who will help buy show tickets or make reservations. Residents are pampered with a private library, theatre room, yoga and Pilates studio, fitness center, and a rooftop deck that spans over 22,000 square feet.
Next is the Wolf Point West building, offering one-of-a-kind views of the city and water, with an expansive range of amenities from the indoor dog run, up to the fitness center and resident lounge on the 46th floor. Residents have easy access to the Riverwalk and quick commutes to the business district in the Loop and Fulton Market.
Last is the Jones Chicago, 220 West Illinois Street, the first development from Gertie and Eldon in the city, and named after Chicago’s first fire warden Benjamin Jones. These modern, eco-friendly River North apartments are LEED gold certified and feature NEST Learning Thermostats. They come with 9.8-foot concrete ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, dark hardwood floors, high gloss cabinetry, and sleek cabinet fronted appliances.
These are just a few examples of top-notch options for high-rise living or apartments in the area, and there’s a lot more. They’re all conveniently located within walking distance to restaurants, coffee shops and stores.
Restaurants, Clubs & Bars
Some standout restaurants include Beatrix, which offers contemporary and health-conscious American fare with a trendy ambiance, and Big and Littles (featured in Guy Fiore’s Diners’ Drive-ins and Dives), which is a funky fast-food joint serving some of the best dishes in the city. Try Joe’s Seafood if you’re in the mood for some steak or crab.
When it comes to bars and clubs, one of the city’s mainstays is Chicago’s House of Blues which has been open since 1992. It’s a must-see for music lovers and an intimate venue for bands of all genres. If you’re looking for great live music and dancing, check out the House of Blues. Right now, shows may be on hold so keep an eye on their website or their social media pages.
River North Green Space
Though River North is a small neighborhood and has a limited number of parks located in the western part of the neighborhood, the good news is for dog owners that all of them are dog-friendly. As mentioned, Ward A Montgomery Park that sits on a 3.10-acre parcel that stretches along the north branch of the Chicago River, offers a large playground and adjacent dog friendly area. The Larrabee Dog Park is a fenced-in gravel dog park where dogs can run off the leash, and Ohio Place Dog Park is a concrete dog run where you can connect and network with other dogs and their owners.
Just north of River North, within a few blocks of Chicago Avenue, are three additional green spaces including Durso Playground Park, Washington Park and Seneca Playlot Park. If you find yourself in the northeast part of River North, take a longer walk to discover Oak Street Beach.
The Best of Chicago
River North has successfully established itself as a sought-after Chicago neighborhood for both work and play. The area is an exciting playground for grown-ups to take in some culture, work hard and play even harder.
On top of great food, local’s benefit from the area’s location, and well-connected transport system, high quality grade schools, and beautiful riverfront.
If this is the type of neighborhood you’re looking for, we’re here to help make your moving process smooth. Give us a call, shoot us a text, or send an email. We’ve got your back when it comes to moving to Chicago, Illinois.