To explore the park, start at the Chicago Historical Society, located at Clark
Street and North Avenue. You can pick up a walking path behind the building
and pass through a pedestrian tunnel that takes you underneath a busy street and
into the heart of the park. You'll have company on the wide gravel path—jog-
gers, bikers, and dog walkers make good use of this route. Veer right coming out
of the tunnel and walk past the baseball fields to the pedestrian bridge. If you
cross the bridge going over Lake Shore Drive, you'll wind up on North Avenue
Beach, Chicago's busiest beach. In the summer this is beach-volleyball central.
Take your shoes off, dig your toes in the sand, and check out Lake Michigan's
water temperature. ( Warning: It will be cold, even in Aug!) Your kids might
want to explore the beach house, designed like a real boat, and you can pick up
some ice cream and cool drinks inside.
Now that you've seen the park, it's time to check out the neighborhood of the
same name. The trapezoid formed by Clark Street, Armitage Avenue, Halsted
Street, and Diversey Parkway contains many of Chicago's most happening
bars, restaurants, retail stores, music clubs, and off-Loop theaters. One manage-
able area to explore on foot is the Armitage Avenue area, which starts at the
intersection of Halsted Street and Armitage Avenue. Strolling west on Armitage
Avenue, you'll find a string of charming boutiques, featuring shoes and clothing
for kids and adults, outdoor outfitters, home decor, and more. Should you
choose to go north on Halsted from Armitage Avenue, you'll find more shops,
including GapKids and other chain stores. Going south from Halsted on
Armitage, you will find restaurants and the nationally acclaimed theater, Step-
penwolf Theatre Company.
This formerly Scandinavian neighborhood stretches several blocks along North
Clark Street immediately north of Foster Avenue. Today, a burgeoning commu-
nity of gays and lesbians makes Andersonville their home, and immigrant
groups have moved in. You might want to have lunch at Ann Sather at 5207 N.
Clark St. (p. 138) and walk the meal off by strolling up and down Clark Street
for an hour or two.
Clark Street going north from Foster is a very walkable small stretch that
includes the Swedish-American Museum Center (p. 177), a pair of Scandina-
vian delis, a Swedish bakery, and two good Swedish restaurants. Since the wave
of Scandinavian immigrants ended over 100 years ago, new immigrants have
moved in. You'll find excellent Middle Eastern restaurants, including a northern
branch of Reza's (p. 126), and delis with barrels of olives, figs, and other Mid-
dle Eastern delicacies. Make sure to stop at Women & Children First (p. 227),
a wonderful bookstore for kids (and women). Stop for a bite at stroller-friendly
Kopi Café, where you can get a mean mango smoothie, or at Ann Sather, where
you can get gooey fresh-baked cinnamon rolls (plus free advice for moms from
the very motherly owner).
7 Bucktown/Wicker Park
Home to the third-largest concentration of artists in the country, this neighbor-
hood is rapidly gentrifying. Over the past century the area has hosted waves of
German, Polish, and, most recently, Spanish-speaking immigrants (not to men-
tion writer Nelson Algren). Heading north on Damen Avenue, you'll pass hot
new restaurants, stores featuring the latest in alternative culture, and loft-dwelling