Living in River North, Chicago: Neighborhood Guide

Located in the North Side of Chicago is the ultra-hip, urban community known as River North.

Located in the North Side of Chicago is the ultra-hip, urban community known as River North. Renovations have made this old manufacturing and warehouse center into the bustling community it has become. River North is a mix of modern art and historic buildings. It is considered a hotspot for young professionals. The borders run from the Chicago River on the eastside to Michigan Avenue on the west, with Chicago Avenue on the north end and the Chicago River running along the southern edge as well. 

The Community

River North has a vibrant art community and trendsetting neighborhood built around restaurants, nightclubs, and young people to enjoy themselves. Modern architecture pairs with historic building design to make every corner of River North upscale contemporary.


The economics of River North are slightly higher than average for Chicago, and centralized in the city makes River North one of the safer Chicago community areas. 

As a hotspot for nightlife and dining, most of the crime in River North is related to intoxicated individuals causing public nuisance issues such as fights outside a club. While the overall crime in Chicago is higher than the National Average, it is much lower in River Walk than the city’s average, making River North a safe place to live. 

An additional security measure is that police work hand-in-hand with the community and private security services for most retail and housing units in River North, serving as a deterrent for violent crime.

The Schools

Like most of the community areas of Chicago, the public schools in the Chicago school system aren’t the highest-rated options. Instead, many of the private and charter schools are the focus for families that have that type of access. 

The exception is highly rated Ogden International School for students from K-12. At the same time, the non-profit Marwen School functions to provide high-quality education to the underserved in the River North community. For a more parochial education, The Frances Xavier Wade School offers elementary education through high school with a dual-track religious focus on Catholic and world religions. 

The Culture

Limitless opportunities to work, shop, and play are the defining characteristics of River North. Stylish and contemporary design meets with history in River North. With shops, restaurants, art galleries, and nightclubs all within walking distance of each other, River North is a significant draw for people to come at any time, day or night. 

The Lifestyle

Sophisticated and young define the area of River North. With the most significant amount of art galleries outside of Manhatten, the tenor of River North is one of the young professionals enjoying all the finest things in life, from art to food to nightlife. River North is a community that is best served for the young and single.

Most residents have an easy time getting from their homes to their local eateries and watering holes making River North a very foot-traffic-heavy community. With public transit nearby, the area can be packed with people coming into River North to shop and enjoy themselves on any given day. 

Here are a few of our favorites

The Hampton Social in River North is one of the top places to kick back and enjoy yourself. If you’re looking for a cocktail suggestion, then check out the giant shell cocktail for two (or more) or the Hampton Frose – a frozen Rose served with a spoon. Known for its “Rose All Day Lounge,” The Hampton Social is known for lively cocktails, incredible coastal-inspired cuisine, and live music, all in a contemporary, hip ambiance. 

River North was, at one time, thought of as Little Sicily. With that Italian influence, you know that there have to be outstanding Italian eateries, and the best of the best is Ciccio Mio. Specialties include the Braised Beef Cheek served in a red wine demi-glace, polenta, and glazed vegetables make this entree one of the best in Chicago. If you’re looking for a pasta dish, try the Black Truffle Torchio, or if Gnocchi is calling you, then the Lamb Sugo Gnocchio will surely hit a home run for you. 

Like most metropolitan areas, there can be multiple cultural influences that shape the cuisine. In River North, the food is inspired by places all around the world, including Mexican food. If you’re looking for something more than pizza and pasta, then you need to check out The Diver, located at 601 North Wells Street. With Mexican and Latin American influenced fare with a tropical twist, the array of fresh seafood will delight. 

A mix of Italian comfort food and nightclub is precisely what you find at Tree House. A nature-inspired bar and restaurant specializing in high-quality ingredients for Italian-style comfort food such as Neapolitan-style pizzas, pasta, and burgers for the less adventurous. The Tree House can get crowded early and often, so get there early with plenty of time to wait or consider a reservation ahead of time.  

Hidden inside the Acme Hotel is a little local gem of a nightspot that is amazing for small groups. If exclusivity is what you’re looking for, then check out the Bunny Slope. After descending into the basement of the Acme Hotel, you’re immersed into the bar and dance floor that is perfect for any evening or weekend release. You can also reserve the hot tub to enjoy the ideal ski vacation vibe minus the mountains! 

One of the most historic buildings in River North is The Merchandise Market, an eclectic mix of retail and businesses all within the same building. At one point, the 4 million square feet of The Merchandise Market was the largest commercial building in the world. That statistic alone makes checking out “The Mart,” as locals call it, a trip worthwhile. 

Real Estate

A mix of mid-rise turn-of-the-century lofts combines with modern high-rise condos that offer magnificent skyline views for the lack of detached single-family units in the area. 

Prices for condos and lofts in River North can vary widely based on the level of floor you’re unit is located on. The skyline may be magical, but it doesn’t come cheap. 

The average starting point for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo close to the ground floor will cost around $400,000 for roughly 1300 square feet.

Newer construction units at the higher floors may run as much as $1.4 million for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath with skyline views. 


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