Located about seven miles south of the Loop, Hyde Park is one the gems of Chicagoland. Anchored by the legendary University of Chicago at its center, this neighborhood and community area is steeped in history. The area is full of lovely parks, stunning architecture, fantastic restaurants and shops, and plenty of great properties to call home.
What should be on your “must-see” list? Here are ten experiences that highlight the very best of Hyde Park:
1.) Visit the Site of the Columbian Exposition
The World’s Columbian Exposition, held right here in Chicago in 1893, is arguably one of the most important events in modern world history. This festival brought together millions of people from more than 40 countries, to celebrate some of the most remarkable achievements by humankind. The event introduced modern Chicagoland to the world stage in many ways, and made our area iconic, thanks to standout displays like Daniel Burnham’s “White City” architecture, which was one of the centerpieces of the fair. Most of this wonderful historical event took place in Hyde Park, and you can retrace the footsteps of fairgoers by strolling through Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance today.
For more information on Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance, their official Chicago Park District sites are available here and here.
2.) Experience the Museum of Science and Industry
There’s always something new to discover at Hyde Park’s Museum of Science and Industry. The largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, the Museum of Science and Industry is full of inspiring displays and exhibits perfect for visitors of all ages. This museum stresses interactivity and hands-on experiences, and offers the chance to try a little bit of everything, from exploring an authentic submarine, to creating miniature weather events, to feeling what it might be like to travel in space.
Want to see what else this iconic Chicagoland destination has in store? You can learn more at the Museum of Science and Industry’s official site, available here.
3.) Stroll the Grounds at the University of Chicago
You don’t need to be a student to see some of the inspiring architecture and stunning landscapes available on the University of Chicago campus. A few special spots to keep in mind? The Main Quadrangle is a sprawling centerpiece of the campus. This area is full of amazing gardens and offers a great view of the University’s signature Gothic-style architecture. Nearby, the Botany Pond is a lovely, secluded spot to experience some amazing plant life.
For more information on visiting the University, please visit the school’s official site, here.
4.) Visit the DuSable Museum of African American History
The DuSable Museum is a Hyde Park institution. This independent museum has grown and grown over the years, and is now one of the single largest collections of African American art and cultural artifacts in the United States. In addition to its impressive permanent collection, the museum also plays host to temporary exhibits, movie screenings, literary meetings, and events for children.
To learn more and plan your visit, the DuSable Museum’s official website is a great resource, available here.
5.) See Architectural History at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and Heller House
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most influential modern architects in history, and some of his most impressive and distinctive works are still standing in Hyde Park. Pay homage to one of Chicagoland’s favorite sons — and get some serious house envy — by visiting the Frederick C. Robie House, which is open for public tours thanks to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. While it’s a private residence today, visitors can also take a peek at the Isidore H. Heller House, which was one of Wright’s earliest efforts in the style that we now know as “Prairie” architecture.
6.) Enjoy the Magic of Live Theater
Chicagoland is one of the biggest hotbeds for great live theater and comedy in the nation, and Hyde Park is a big part of the reason why. Whatever you’re looking for, there’s a Hyde Park venue sure to be just the ticket. Hyde Park’s Court Theatre, for instance, is a beautiful playhouse, delivering high quality productions of cutting edge and classic plays near the University of Chicago campus. Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood to laugh, Hyde Park is also home to The Revival, a gorgeous comedy and music club that hosts hilarious local performers, and which has also been known to showcase famous drop-ins from all across the country.
7.) Savor the Legendary Flavors of Medici on 57th Restaurant
Medici on 57th is a true Hyde Park classic. Wearing three hats as a restaurant, a bakery, and a delicatessen, the Medici got its humble start as a bookstore coffee shop more than 50 years ago. Today, Medici on 57th is one of the neighborhood’s largest restaurants, serving up its eclectic fare to hungry students, families, and visitors every day of the week — and yes, it’s still brewing some pretty outstanding coffee. Swing by to grab food for a picnic in a nearby park, or dine in for an intimate, rustic experience you’re sure to remember.
For menus, hours, and more, check out the Medici on 57th official website, right here.
8.) Take in the Skyline at Promontory Point
The Chicago skyline is one of the most iconic sights in the world — and there are few better places to get a glimpse than at Promontory Point. Designed by Alfred Caldwell, this man-made peninsula at the edge of Burnham Park offers a lovely view of the cityscape, as well as plenty of natural charms of its own. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the view, be sure to explore the rest of Burnham Park, which also features a popular skate park, a bird and butterfly sanctuary, and ample beachfront space.
To learn more about Burnham Park and Promontory Point, please visit the Chicago Park District’s official website, available here.
9.) Eat Like a President at Valois Cafeteria
Before he moved into the White House, President Barack Obama called Hyde Park home for many years. One of this favorite spots was Valois Cafeteria, a diner serving up delicious American comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even without the presidential seal of approval, Valois has been welcoming hungry locals and tourists for years now. But if you do want to eat just like a former POTUS? To make it easy, Valois offers a specials menu complete with some presidential faves, including steak and eggs, pancakes, and a vegetarian omelette.
To take a peek at this spot’s mouth-watering menu, you can visit the restaurant’s official site, available here.
10.) Browse the Stacks at 57th Street Books
Cookbooks, science fiction, mystery, history, politics — no matter what you’re passionate about, you’ll find something great to read at 57th Street Books. An independent bookseller catering to Hyde Park locals, 57th Street is a wonderful place to browse for a new literary favorite. Boasting an enormous general interest collection, an amazing children’s literature department, and a friendly and enthusiastic staff, 57th Street Books is a unique and wonderful spot to while away the afternoon.
To learn more about 57th Street Books and its sister store, the Seminary Co-op, you can visit the shop’s official site, available here.
Want to keep exploring Hyde Park? Be sure to check out our guide to this wonderful community’s housing market, available here.