City Guide / Chicago

Chicago Neighborhood Guide: Downtown Chicago

By Kailey Hansen | Oct 18, 2021
Skyline view of Downtown Chicago

If the hustle and bustle of the big city makes you feel alive, Downtown Chicago is the perfect fit to rent an apartment. A hub of arts, culture, architecture, and award-winning food, this neighborhood offers an exciting lifestyle with plenty to explore. Living in one of Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods (such as River North, Streeterville, or West Loop) puts you in the heart and soul of the third-largest U.S. city. 

Whether you want to walk along the famed Chicago River, wine and dine at a Michelin star restaurant, shop along the Magnificent Mile, or watch a live symphony play in Grant Park,  Downtown Chicago has it all!

If you’re thinking about renting an apartment in this neighborhood, here’s what you need to know:

Where to go out to eat

Foodies will find their paradise in Downtown Chicago. There’s no shortage of any cuisine in this neighborhood, with hundreds of diverse, locally renowned hole-in-the-wall eateries, as well as some of the most upscale dining in the country. 

Where to begin? A good place to start is wandering through the Fulton Market district, also referred to as “Restaurant Row.” This dazzling and trendy industrial block located in the West Loop is home to some of Chicago’s best and most popular eats, such as:

  • Girl and the Goat, which offers unique dishes and fun cocktails
  • Au Cheval, which is the king of all burger joints
  • Bar Siena, which is a local favorite serving Italian fare
  • BomboBar, which offers some of the most Instagrammable sweets in town

If you are dining out in Chicago, you won’t just get a good meal. Enjoy some of the best ambiance, wine, and small plates at Quartino, or celebrate something special at the La Storia Italian Restaurant located in downtown’s historic Gold Coast area that residents love.

Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to serve up Chicago-style deep pizza (Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, Gino’s East—take your pick!) and Chicago-style hotdogs (Portillo’s or the Superdawg Drive-in). Residents will argue which deep-dish pizza is best, but you can make that decision for yourself!

Where to get groceries

Walk outside your apartment and wander a few blocks in any direction to fulfill your grocery needs in this neighborhood. Mariano’s, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Jewel Osco are all available in Downtown Chicago. Specialty stores include H Mart, Potash Markets, or Eataly Chicago for fresh produce and deli items.

Where to get coffee

In November 2019, Chicago became home to the sixth Starbucks Reserve Roastery globally. Spanning 35,000 square feet, the five-story world-class roastery is located along Chicago’s iconic Magnificent Mile and showcases the coffee roasting process, hosts a bar and eatery, and, of course, provides a place to sip your favorite Starbucks beverage.

Need a mode of transportation but also want to grab a latte? Hunker down at one of the Heritage Bikes & Coffee locations, a Chicago cafe that also functions as a bike shop! 

Enjoy a pastry and cup of joe at Goddess and the Baker, play ping-pong in between sipping your drink at Sawada, or relax at a cozy Dollop Coffee location.

Outdoor attractions

On a beautiful day, you can stroll along the Riverwalk, bike or jog down the Lakefront Trail on Lake Michigan, or get your steps in exploring some of the city’s outdoor spaces like Millennium Park, home to the iconic “Bean” sculpture!

Experience city views in a new way with the Wendella Architecture Boat Tour or by kayaking along the Chicago River. Good weather also makes for a perfect day to walk around the famous Navy Pier, home to a massive Ferris wheel, the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and plenty of outdoor dining.

Local gyms

Did you know that you can rock-climb in the Windy City? There may not be mountains, but this neighborhood is home to several rock climbing gyms, including Brooklyn Boulders and First Ascent. Maggie Daley Park, a public space, also features an outdoor climbing wall amid the bustling “Loop” business district.

Premier health clubs such as East Bank Club, Equinox, and Fitness Formula Clubs offer personal trainers, an array of workout classes, wellness services, and more. There is also no shortage of mainstream gyms in the neighborhood, with staples like XSport Fitness and Planet Fitness available downtown. 

You can also get your hot yoga on at Corepower Yoga or join a cycling class at SoulCycle or Cyclebar.

Live music and nightlife

Experience city nightlife at its best, no matter your taste. If sophistication is your scene, grab a glass of wine and enjoy sweeping views on the rooftop of LondonHouse or Joy District

Have a competitive edge? Check out Emporium, a retro arcade bar. Dreaming of the tropics? Grab a drink at Three Dots and a Dash, a tiki-themed establishment. Need a haircut? Go to the Blind Barber, a full-functioning barbershop that doubles as a speakeasy tavern after business hours.

If live music strikes your fancy, you’ve stumbled into a neighborhood that loves to jam! Residents can snag tickets for a show at the rock-and-roll venue House of Blues or enjoy dueling pianos at the Howl At The Moon nightclub.

For those interested in the performing arts, Chicago is one of the largest epicenters for live theatre. Catch a Broadway musical, presented by Broadway In Chicago, a concerto performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, an opera at the historic Lyric Opera House, or a play at The Goodman.


While Chicago is widely regarded as a city that’s both car- and public-transit-friendly, the downtown neighborhood is most efficiently traveled on foot, by bus, or using the city’s “L” subway system. Whether you’re zipping from your apartment to a museum, commuting to work, or adventuring out of downtown to the city’s other exciting neighborhoods, the “L” weaves throughout the entire city with trains available every few minutes.

For those who want to venture outside of city limits, Downtown Chicago is also home to two major commuter railway stations, located at Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center. Train lines run through the suburbs, and Amtrak is also available for longer-distance travel.

Chicagoeans who prefer to stay active can rent a Divvy bike from any one of the 600+ stations scattered throughout the city!

Honorable mentions

Sports fanatics will find quick access to major league games with the Chicago Bears’ NFL stadium, Soldier Field, located in this neighborhood. A few blocks away lies the city’s renowned museums for arts and culture lovers, such as: 

Land a great apartment in Downtown Chicago

If you like the idea of moving to Downtown Chicago, Landing offers fully furnished Chicago apartments with flexible lease terms, concierge services, seamless transfers, and all the amenities you need. Browse our available apartments in Downtown Chicago or contact us to learn more about renting an apartment from Landing.

Still looking for the right Chicago neighborhood for you? Browse our other Chicago neighborhood guides, including:

Kailey Hansen

Kailey Hansen is a freelance writer and communications professional based in the land of deep-dish pizza. She has lived in both the city and the suburbs of Chicago and enjoys writing about the amazing things the Windy City has to offer. When she's not dishing about the best places to grab a slice of deep-dish, you can find her writing (and obsessing) about binge-worthy TV shows for BuzzFeed and why cats are the best (and absolutely outlandish creatures) for Rover's blog, The Dog People.