Lincoln Park is a large family friendly neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. There is a wide range of things to do in Lincoln Park including visiting the city’s largest park, a free zoo, a popular beach, the lakefront trail, and the city’s best farmers market.
Lincoln Park is the name of both a neighborhood and Chicago’s largest park. The park named Lincoln Park is partially located within the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Some maps show mark the southern border of Lincoln Park as North Avenue. Other maps show Old Town extending all the way to Armitage Avenue. We are including this debated section of Old Town/Lincoln Park in both this guide and our list of things to do in Old Town.
Last updated: April 2022
Read More About Lincoln Park
The Best Restaurants in Lincoln Park
Where is Lincoln Park?
Table of Contents
How to Get to Lincoln Park:
Lincoln Park is a larger neighborhood and it has multiple el (train) stops. You can take the Brown Line to Armitage, Fullerton, or Diversey. Or you can take the Red Line to North/Clybourn or Fullerton. Or you can take the Metra to the Clybourn Station which is just across the river from Lincoln Park. (Note: this station is different from the Red Line Clybourn stop).
Parks and Outdoor Activities:
Note: Lincoln Park is the name of both a park and a neighborhood.
Spanning over 1,150 square acres, Lincoln Park is Chicago’s largest park. The park runs along the lakefront from Ohio Beach in Streeterville, through the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Uptown, and all the way to Ardmore Avenue in Edgewater.
Lincoln Park runs the entire length of Lincoln Park from North Avenue to Diversey Parkway and along the shore of Lake Michigan. The Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are all located within the park. Additionally, the park has many walking and biking trails, athletic fields, gardens, and ponds.
The Lincoln Park Zoo is free and open 365 days a year. It’s fun for people of all ages, and Chicago parents bring their children here for a fun and free activity. The zoo is home to animal species from around the globe including monkeys, camels, giraffes, zebras, polar bears, hippos, flamingos, and penguins. There is even a Farm-in-the-Zoo that has a dairy barn with goats and cows. This is a place where children can learn about taking care of farm animals.
The zoo hosts a variety of annual events including major happenings like Zoo Lights, Easter Egg hunts, craft beer tastings, food truck socials, and a wine festival. Plus there are weekly events for children.
A large farmer’s market that takes place outside in Lincoln Park from May to October. The market is held on both Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 am to 1 pm during these months. It can be very busy on weekends, so I recommend either going on Wednesday or going early on Sunday. The market has dozens of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meat, fresh flowers, and ready to eat meals. They often have entertainment for children too.
During the colder months (November-April) the market is held inside at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Saturdays.
The Lakefront Trail is a 18.5 mile long trail that runs along Lake Michigan. The trail is shared by joggers, walkers, bikers, and skaters and offers incredible views of the lake and city skyline. Chicago has a bike share system called Divvy with several stations near the trail – riding a Divvy bike along the trail is a lovely way to spend a sunny day.
North Ave Beach
North Avenue Beach is located right off of North Avenue (a pedestrian tunnel that goes under Lake Shore Drive will take you there). This is a big hub of activity in the summer. There are volleyball courts, plus paddle boards, kayaks, and bikes for rent. Volleyball leagues are very popular in Chicago and lots of people play after work in the summer.
This large park gets its name from the Wizard of Oz themed sculptures throughout the park. The park has biking and walking trails, basketball courts, tennis courts, and playgrounds. During the summer the park hosts some Movies in the Park.
The Biograph Theater was designed in 1914 as a movie theater. It became infamous twenty years later when bank robber John Dillinger was shot dead outside after seeing a gangster movie.
Today the venue is called the Victory Gardens Theater and is devoted to producing new live theater work and contributing to American theater. Even though the name of the theater has changed, the front of the lighted marque remains the same.
Chicago History Museum
This museum focuses on sharing the history of Chicago in ways that appeal to both adults and children. See dioramas that depict what the city looked like before the Chicago Fire and browse special exhibits that cover topics like fashion, famous Chicagoans, and Chicago history.
A natural history museum with a live butterfly house with 200 species of native and exotic butterflies. Visitors will also discover a collection of taxidermy animals, nature walks, and a reptile exhibit. This museum is geared towards children of all ages with lots of hands on activities.
This museum located on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus is open to the public and holds a collection of international modern and contemporary art. In addition to its large permanent collection, the museum hosts several temporary exhibits each year.
Things to Do in Lincoln Park:
A botanical garden within Lincoln Park. The conservatory has four houses which display exotic plants, orchids, and plants needed for the gardens within Lincoln Park. Admission is free and this is the perfect place to escape the Chicago cold while spending time in nature.
Chicago History Museum Tours
In addition to offering tours through the museum itself, the Chicago History Museum offers neighborhood walking tours.
A smaller concert venue located in a theater that was built in 1916. Park West hosts a mix of bands, comedians, and other events.
One of the best blues bars in Chicago. Like at all blues bars in Chicago, expect to pay a cover. Live music usually starts at 8 pm and goes as late as 2:30 am.
A concert venue with an in-house bar and restaurant. The building has been around since 1912 and the theater is known for showcasing emerging talent.
An ensemble theater that puts on up to 16 plays and up to 700 performances on their three stages each year. The theater company was founded in 1974 and has produced several plays that have gone on to win Tony Awards including August: Osage County. The theater’s commitment to working with playwrights sets this theater apart as a place to see new plays.
A historic theater with views of Lake Michigan, Theater on the Lake is a summertime theater venue with a restaurant that is open all year.
This is one of the most iconic comedy clubs in America and seeing a show here is a must when you are in Chicago. The club has multiple stages with different shows, so check their website for listings and pick what interests you! The shows at Second City usually feature an ensemble cast and are focused on improv – meaning each show is unique.
ComedySportz improv group that is now performing at Piper’s Alley (the same building as Second City). Their signature show is a 90 minute interactive show where two teams complete for laughs.
Shopping in Lincoln Park:
There are lots of locally owned boutiques located on Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street.
A locally owned store that specializes in clothing for babies and children. They also offer a series of parenting classes and weekly music events for children.
A boutique with a mix of gifts, jewelry, clothing, and home goods. It’s the type of store where you find things you won’t see anywhere else.
This shop specializes in men’s accessories and shirts. It’s an affordable place to buy ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, and more.
Buy luxurious and unique chocolates at this shop. The caramels, truffles, and toffee are all exceptional. This is a great place to buy gifts.
You can create your own perfume at this store on Hasted Street. Custom scents range in price from $30-$60.
This shop sells gifts, invitations, and stationery. It’s a great place to shop for wedding and shower gifts.
The sneaker brand known for their cozy washable sneakers has a flagship store on Armitage Street.
A furniture store that sells one-of-a-kind vintage finds, custom furniture, lighting, home accessories, plants, and more. I like that they include both more modern and traditional styles in their inventory.
Annual Events in Lincoln Park
During the holiday season, the Lincoln Park Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of lights. While entrance to the Lincoln Park Zoo is usually free, Zoo Lights is a ticketed event.
An annual 21+ event at the zoo where guests can taste more than 150 craft beers.
The zoo’s Easter event with several Easter egg hunts for different age groups, photos with the Easter Bunny, and games.
This block party has moved from Lakeview to Armitage Avenue (at Sheffield). The event takes place in May and kicks off the summer street festival season and features food, drinks, and live music.
A summertime street festival that features food and drinks from neighborhood restaurants and live music.
A three-day summertime festival with authentic Greek food, music, and dancing hosted at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
Sheffield Garden Walk
One of Chicago’s most well known street festivals, the Sheffield Garden Walk combines guided tours of Lincoln Park architecture and over 80 gardens with food, live music, and family activities.