Chicago Nightlife Bars Clubs

It’s Saturday night. You’re tired from a long day of sightseeing, but you’re determined party it up with ‘real’ Chicagoans. But, since you’re not familiar with the area, you’re a little perplexed as to what area/bars to go to. Thanks to the hotel conceierge, you end up in a little area known as ‘Rush and Division’. This is where a majority of Chicago visitors go wrong. To people living in the city, this cluster of bars is also dubbed the ‘Viagara Triangle’. (No explantion needed). The area is usually filled with either men older than 40, girls younger than 18 and the unfortunate tourists who think Rush and Division is the hot spot to be. It’s not. At all. It’s trashy, filthy and just plain gross. Do NOT waste your time here. Yes, the bars will entice you with ‘free shots’. But, those free shots are usually of some weak liquor (i.e., amaretto or shnapps) in a tiny shot glass. Chicago offers such a wide variety of nightlife that it shouldn’t be limited to places called ‘Mother’s’, Leg Room and Bar Chicago. Yuck. Just the thought of those bars make me cringe.

So where to go then? Try out the different areas within Chicago and you’ll be SURE to be party with people actually from the 606XX zip code. River North, which is close to downtown, offers many upscale bars and clubs, if that’s what you’re looking for. Drinks are a little pricey in River North and parking is usually hard to come by, so plan on cabbing it and dropping a lot of moola on drinks. But, the places tend to stay classy, which is good. Lincoln Park and Lakeview are northside neighborhoods which is known as ‘yuppie’ neighborhoods. The crowds tend to be a little younger here (early 20’s to late 20’s) and there are plenty of fun bars located within close proximity to another. So, if you’re not happy where you are, just check out one of the billion on the same block! Drinks in LP and Lakeview tend to be more reasonable than River North. However, Wrigley Field is located in Lakeview (specifically, the stretch of Clark dubbed “Wrigleyville”), so keep that in mind if you’re heading out here during one of the summer months. Wicker Park/Bucktown is a little south and west and is one of the most recent neighborhoods to switch over from ‘run down’ to ‘amazing’. There are plenty of bars on Milwaukee/North/Damen area as well as along Division street. Usually, people in their mid 20’s to mid 30’s hang out here. It’s less fratastic and more mature (in some ways) compared to Lakeview and Lincoln Park. There’s a wide variety of dive bars, swanky bars and clubs here, so you just might have to come check out this area to find your niche! Logan Square, which is located on the semi-West side of the city, is currently in the process of transforming its image from the once gang ridden area to a more safe, hipper neighborhood. I think the process is working, though, as many new bars and restaurants have popped up. There is no pretentiousness in this neighboorhood, that’s for sure, but you might get looks from the ‘hipsters’ who rule this ‘hood if you look like you don’t belong.

Cabs are always accessible in most of these areas. It might be a little harder to get one from Logan Square, but, eventually, the cabs will start coming by! If you’re feeling adventurous and want to take the CTA to these neighborhoods, remember that the Blue Line serves Wicker Park/Bucktown and Logan Square. The Red and Brown lines will hit up Lincoln Park/River North/Lakeview.

So, Chicago visitors, for the sake of my sanity, keep these tips in mind! If someone tells you that Rush and Divison is where the party is, remember that they’re lying….or clearly delusional! I want you to have a GOOD TIME in Chicago so you can rave about the awesome experience you had to all your friends. I just don’t see that happening if you end up somewhere on Rush and Division, though…Stay away!