There are more than 200 named Chicago neighborhoods, so chances are good that you won't get around to all of them on one vacation. The neighborhoods in Chicago are not always strictly defined, which can lead to a little confusion, but making sense of this large city is fairly easy. The central downtown neighborhood, which is also known as the Loop, is at the heart of things and is easy to find thanks to all the soaring skyscrapers. The Loop is home to such lofty buildings as the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the Aon Building. Heading just north of the Loop, high-rises including the Hancock Building and the Trump International Hotel and Tower extend the Chicago skyline, eventually giving way to the smaller Near North Side neighborhoods in Chicago, which include Streeterville.
Should you head west of the Loop, West Side neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Pilsen, and Little Village beg to be explored. You will also find the United Center west of the Loop should you need to head there for a concert, sports match, or other event. These Chicago neighborhoods, together with the United Center, arguably hold the most interest when it comes to the West Side. You can bet that quality restaurants await you in these neighborhoods, and you might be surprised to know that some good shopping opportunities can be also be found in these hangouts.
Heading south of the Loop, the vast South Side begins, and if you are looking for interesting Chicago neighborhoods to visit on this end of things, you might start with Chinatown and Hyde Park. Chinatown might not be a large neighborhood, but it is an exciting one, and stopping in Chinatown to peruse the goods at the local shops and grab a bite to eat makes for an interesting afternoon. As for Hyde Park, it is where the renowned University of Chicago can be found. Other Hyde Park attractions include the Robie House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Museum of Science and Industry, which is one of the best Chicago museums. Hyde Park is without question among the best Chicago neighborhoods on the South Side.
Should you head east of the Loop, you will quickly arrive at Lake Michigan, so it suffices to say that there aren't any East Side neighborhoods in Chicago. Moving back up to the North Side, neighborhoods such as Old Town, Lincoln Park, and Wrigleyville figure among the very best Chicago neighborhoods. In Old Town, you will find the finest collection of Victorian-era homes in the city, so walking tours are recommended for anyone interested in architecture or history. Up in Lincoln Park, part of the 1,200-acre Lincoln Park grounds are yours to enjoy, as is the Lincoln Park Zoo, among other attractions. In Wrigleyville, the famous Wrigley Field can be found. Even if you're not a fan of the teams that are playing, a baseball game at Wrigley Field is always a special treat.
Other spots among the best Chicago neighborhoods are Bucktown and Wicker Park, which can be found northwest of the Loop. These neighborhoods, which border one another, are home to hip bars, trendy shops and galleries, and plenty of interesting people. The entire North Side of Chicago is home to an array of good neighborhoods, and it is arguably the safest area of the city. As such, many Chicago visitors spend a lot of their time on the North Side when they're not exploring the Loop. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't explore the West and South Sides, however, as they boast some of the most culturally rich neighborhoods in Chicago.