10 Things We Love About North Center

North Center has all the hallmarks of a vibrant neighborhood. Whether you’re in search of live entertainment, great restaurants, local hangouts and events, or a tight-knit community, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this aptly named neighborhood located near the center of Chicago’s North Side. There are plenty of things we love about North Center, so be our guest as we show you 10 of them.

A Square in the Center

Nestled between Lincoln and Damen Avenues, Northcenter Town Square provides a large pedestrian area that allows the community to come together and enjoy planned events, green spaces, and a play area for children. Unveiled earlier this year, the exquisitely landscaped space takes advantage of a large cul-de-sac space that was previously unused. The Town Square is in the heart of North Center near plenty of shopping and dining venues and has already been utilized for outdoor exercise classes, entertainment, and the weekly farmer’s market.

Photo by PORT Urbanism

Fresh Finds at the Seasonal Farmers Market

The weekly farmers market is one of the oldest on the North side of Chicago and draws a large variety of vendors each year. Running every Saturday morning from mid-June through the end of October, guests will enjoy a cornucopia of fresh produce, as well as pastries, cheeses, fresh herbs, and flowers. This year, the annual market has been able to take full advantage of the new Northcenter Town Square, allowing for a more centralized location, as well as ample space for shoppers and vendors alike. Covid-19 protocols are strictly followed, ensuring a safe and socially distanced environment for all.

Food, Family, and Fundraising

For over 20 years, North Center has been home to Ribfest, a community event that draws more than 50,000 participants and benefits local schools and nonprofit organizations. While this summer’s event was cancelled in the wake of Covid-19, they expect to be back in 2021. Next year’s festival is slated for the weekend of June 11 and will be held at Lincoln Avenue and Irving Park Road. With dozens of culinary vendors, the event draws foodies from all over the country and over the years has raised more than $400,000. The festival also includes plenty of live music from premier touring bands, as well as a variety of kid-friendly activities.

Photo by Martyrs’

Live Music at Martyrs’

Built from a dream and love for independent bands, Martyrs’ is a beloved local concert venue, restaurant, and bar established by four friends nearly 30 years ago. Since its inception, the now renowned Martyrs’ has featured thousands of artists and bands, many going on to gain worldwide fame including Beck, The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, and Wilco. Many featured shows can be enjoyed for free, and in addition to the indoor stage with state-of-the-art audio, the venue also features an outdoor patio for dining and entertainment. Truly a community establishment, Martyrs’ enjoys continued support from North Center residents while drawing music fans from around the country.

Landmark Lanes

In another nod to community-owned businesses, North Center is home to the largest bowling alley in Chicago. Since 1959, Waveland Bowl has been locally owned and operated and offers 40 lanes of fun. Whether you’re an avid bowler or just looking for a night out with friends, Waveland Bowl offers leagues, glow-in-the-dark ‘Cosmic’ bowling, birthday parties, and family nights. Guests can also enjoy billiards and a full bar. Reservations are required.

Photo by Waveland Bowl

Community With a Cause

While North Center is unquestionably urban, the sense of small-town community can literally be found on every corner. In addition to locally owned businesses, there are many non-profit organizations offering assistance and social services to residents, while also providing a place for community members to give back. Both the Friendship Center Food Pantry and Common Pantry serve thousands of local families each month with food donations and other resources. Volunteers within these organizations are largely North Center residents and their services have become increasingly important during the pandemic.

Recreation for All Ages and Furry Friends, Too

Local parks offer an oasis for individuals, children, and even the family dog! The community’s largest park is Clark Park, which features a boathouse with Chicago’s premier rowing center, along with canoe and kayak rentals and a public dock available during park hours. Clark Park is also home to Kerry Wood Cubs Baseball Field, a community garden, football and soccer fields, and extensive bike trails. Hamlin and Revere Parks offer a fieldhouse with various park district classes, as well as tennis courts, football, and soccer fields. Additionally, Hamlin Park offers an outdoor community pool and designated dog park, while Revere Park has an outdoor theatre. Fellger Playlot Park is not to be missed for those with small children. A large playground is accompanied by a water spray area, perfect for hot summer days.

Hops Galore

A veritable hub for one of the most current trends, North Center is home to several craft breweries and beer gardens. Half Acre Beer Company creates various beers available year-round, including local favorite Daisy Cutter. You can purchase your favorite libation at the brewery or enjoy their Balmoral Beer Garden. Begyle Brewing and Taproom also offers a diverse selection of quality beers and has become a neighborhood staple, as well as a destination for beer lovers from all over. The Globe Pub features a full menu but is known best for its brewery of the month, with local brews and IPAs from Chicago and surrounding states.

Schools Hit the Mark

North Center is home to some of the most coveted schools within the Chicago Public School system. Coonley, Bell, and Audubon Elementary Schools are all located within community boundaries, as well as Lane Tech College Prep High School. Private schools like North Park Elementary are also in the area, and additional public and private schools are close by.

Plentiful Real Estate Options

Real estate in North Center can be considered some of Chicago’s most desirable. It is one of the city’s top locations to purchase a single-family home with no shortage of well-appointed renovated and new construction options, but also a great place to consider a loft or condo. Modern new construction blends in with classic Victorian homes throughout the quaint neighborhoods, and there are plenty of options that align with a range of budgets.

North Center is conveniently located along the CTA’s Brown Line offering easy access to downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. With plenty of things to do year-round, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon or evening out, and a uniquely diverse place to call home.

Written by @properties
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