NFT Chicago South Loop / McCormick Place

South Loop / McCormick Place

In the summer, joggers and bicyclists crowd the lakefront trail and soak in the sun in Burnham Park. Once temperatures reach a friendly sub-zero reading in December, Bears fans turn parking lots into 6:30 a.m. Sunday Funday spots. Throughout the year, McCormick Place looms over the neighborhood to welcome meetings, trade shows and business gatherings of all kinds.

Though many Capone-related landmarks became casualties of '90s gentrification, the art and architecture of the Prairie Avenue Historic District still attracts history buffs. Chef Luciano serves inventive dishes at good prices. Old schoolers toss back suds at Wabash Tap.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Biking Chicagoland

By Katie Murray
Can Mayor Daley turn Chicago into a city of bikers? Only time/Katie Murray will tell.

Chicago's Amazing Parks

By Kelly Pucci
Aren't public parks the darndest things? Open, available and lush with wildlife. To think there was a time when common laborers knew not such things... Please, allow Kelly Pucci to give you a guided, arboreal tour of the jungle, not the concrete, because this isn't a Bob Marley song. This is real life.

The Resurgence of Architectural Design in Chicago

By William Moy
Glass and steel, columns and parks; Chicago architecture has it all! Don't believe it? Why would you? William Moy is prepared to forcibly educate you.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Jamie Smith
Photo:  Courtesy of Field Museum

The Field Museum
Local museums are showing some love to Chicago residents this month by offering extra discount days and reduced prices. Admission to the Art Institute is free for February and tickets to the special Edvard Munch exhibit are half-price. General entry to the Shedd Aquarium will cost you nothing February 16-20 and on the 23rd and 24th. You can also buy discounted passes to their normally expensive special galleries on those days. Sue, the world's largest T. Rex, will be on display for a very small price at the Field Museum on February 18, 19, 25, and 26. Admission at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Adler Planetarium will be gratis on the 17th and the 24th. Finally, don't forget that the Freedom Museum is, fittingly, always free.

Posted By:  Elissa Pociask
Photo:  Elissa Pociask

Prairie Project
The moment you realize you have actually memorized the 16-part car alarm that always goes off across the street, do yourself a favor and walk/bike/rollerblade/Segway your way down to the prairie just south of 12th Street Beach. You will experience instantaneous sonic relief as you enter the expansive botanic project, flanked by swaying prairie grasses and speckled in pretty little flowers, all native to the pre-Soldier Field terrain. You can jog or bike through the area without your lungs feeling like the inside of a bus exhaust pipe; you can impress your date by discussing the juxtaposition of socio-economic progress and nature; you can even just sit and do nothing at all. Just be wary of those golf ball-sized bees.

Posted By:  Max Minor
Photo:  Max Minor

Every so often, three already great things come together to make something so superbly awesome, it’s almost impossible not to crap your pants. First there was pizza (crust, sauce, cheese), then there was Point Break (Reeves, Swayze, Busey), and now, this: a stand-up comedy/air guitar contest/ $1 Taco-palooza. Reggie’s music joint, a new rock club near Chinatown that looks like the foot soldiers’ headquarters in TMNT 1, this holy trinity of awesome will feature cheap microbrews, crazy mind-altering face-melters, and performances by Max Minor, Brendan Mcgowan, Junior Stopka, and Katt, four of Chicago’s funniest stand up comedians (and did I mention the $1 tacos?). Sign up starts at 7 for the Air Guitar contest, and the festivities begin at 8. Drink. Laugh. Win Prizes. Rock.

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

When you walk into Opera, it’s like walking into another world. The walls are drenched in a variety of colors, the doorways are draped in velvet and the ceilings are adorned with colorful chandeliers. Influenced by the orient, this stylish restaurant located in the south loop has an insanely creative menu. The food is separated by that which is found on land, in the sea, and in the sky. They even have a vegan section! This is the kind of restaurant where you’ll wish you had two stomachs. They seriously serve that much food. Opera also offers a beautiful array of eclectic cocktails and interesting beers. Don’t forget to make reservations though because this place gets packed.

Posted By:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen
Photo:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen

Cuatro is the hot spot in the South Loop. If you don't know that yet, you've got to get yourself together. They boast strong, sexy drinks doused with freshly pressed sugar cane juice. The entrees feature spicy Latino and Caribbean fare. The flavors melt in your mouth and it’s an absolute caveman haven for the meatlovers. They have delectable meat selections that you can't even pronounce like their filete jibaro (filet mignon) and chuleta en mole de platano macho (sweet porkchops). Go here for brunch and you won't go anywhere else. They have the best chilaquiles in Chicago and pancakes filled with coconut milk, pineapples, mangoes, and pecans that let you know that you've entered a tropical heaven. Ask for a side of the fresh berry medley to top it off and you will have a fruity, orgasmic experience on the spot. Every night, there’s something sizzling at Cuatro from open mics and live jazz to house music all night long. All this and no cover. Ask for the owners, Matt and Sara. They are both certified hotties. There's no better way to top off a sultry Chicago summer.

Posted By:  Bathsheba Birman
Photo:  Nathan Runkle

Framing Mode
Already a bleeding heart without any help from Cupid’s arrow? Then wear red to this second annual event benefiting Mercy For Animals ( The aptly named organization is dedicated to fighting animal cruelty, particularly factory farms, which slaughter 9 billion animals for human consumption yearly in the U.S. Mercy For Animals’ solution? Promoting a veggie diet. In addition to DJ beats and an open bar of beer and wine, the bash features vegan desserts and raffle prizes. Still jonesing for a burger? Watch the “Meet Your Meat” segment narrated by Alec Baldwin on Mercy For Animals’ companion website, then check out their online vegetarian starter kit.

Posted By:  Brian Diebold
Photo:  Brian Diebold

Soldier Field
Located just south of the downtown area on south Lake Shore Drive is a rather odd looking building. In fact, most passers by claim that it looks like a flying saucer that landed inside what was once a football stadium. Well, after undergoing major renovations during the 2002-03 seasons, Soldier Field does tend to look like a flying saucer. Originally known as Municipal Grant Park Stadium, the park opened officially in 1924. One year later the name was changed to Soldier Field. There have been years of fabled teams and stars that have graced the gridiron here. Names like “Papa Bear” Halas, Dick Butkus, Gayle Sayers, and Walter Payton bring a tear to pro football and Chicago fans as they relive the glory days. This year, new life has been breathed into the legendary stadium as the Bears seem to be back on the road to glory. A fantastic start has fans hoping that this will be a repeat of the 1985 and other glorious years past. Only time and the second half of the schedule will tell. As a season ticket holder all I can say is “Bear Down!”

Posted By:  Tommy Newcomb
Photo:  Tommy Newcomb

Max Adler, a senior officer and stockholder for Sears, invested much of his fortune in this planetarium for the benefit of fellow Chicagoans. Due to his generosity, the Adler Planetarium became the first planetarium in the western hemisphere in 1930. The planetarium hosts many hands-on exhibits to educate people about our place in the universe. It also has an IMAX theater and a decent cafeteria. I highly suggest seeing an IMAX movie— the theaters are incredible and are usually the highlight of a visit to the planetarium. The Planetarium hosts special events throughout the year—check the website for a list of events. I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by NASA’s Mars Rover team one evening, where they displayed pieces of a Mars rover for show and tell. The Planetarium is enjoyed most by kids under 16 and astronomy lovers. Free admission days are usually Monday and Tuesday from September to February

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