10 Bucket List Things to Do in Lincoln Square

When was the last time you took a look at Lincoln Square?

This northwestern Chicago neighborhood has been a center for art, culture, and food in the city for well over a hundred years. But what should be on your bucket list of things to see, eat, and do in this historical community?

Here are ten of the “can’t-miss” experiences that make Lincoln Square so unique:

1.) See a Piece of World History Firsthand

Tucked in the Western Brown Line CTA station is a monumental slice of world history. A large section of the Berlin Wall stands at this unassuming L stop, with a plaque describing its historical significance. Donated to the city in 2008, and rededicated in 2017, the wall monument is a tribute to Lincoln Square’s rich cultural history, and speaks to the role that Chicago area residents played in helping to reunify Germany and Berlin.

For more information on this unique landmark, you can visit the monument’s dedicated Facebook page, here.

2.) Experience Old World Charm in Giddings Plaza

Giddings Plaza has been called the “heart of Lincoln Square.” Nestled between North Lincoln Ave. and Giddings Street, this public square has ample space to sit and take in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, including Lincoln Square’s large and lovely fountain. During holiday seasons, this area is decorated extensively, and there are always events happening nearby, including summer concerts, community gatherings, and more.

For more on this charming Lincoln Square outdoor space, the plaza’s Facebook page is available here.

3.) Learn a New Tune at the Old Town School of Folk Music

A vibrant hub of music and art, the Old Town School of Folk Music has been helping Chicagoland sing its song since the 1950s. Today, this music school has something for everyone. Music classes are available for both kids and adults, and for players of all experience levels. The Lincoln Square school also sells instruments, hosts free jam sessions, sponsors community events and festivals, and puts up local and national acts in its world class concert hall.

To get an earful of everything that the Old Town School of Folk Music has to offer, you can visit its official website, here.

4.) Have a Meal on the Roof at Gene’s Sausage Shop

If al fresco dining is on your bucket list, then the rooftop beer garden at Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen has you covered. This spacious outdoor bar and restaurant, located above the Lincoln Square market, offers a delicious menu of German and Polish dishes, perfect to pair with your favorite brew — not to mention an unbeatable view of the area.

For more on this hidden gem, including its seasonal schedule, you can pay a visit to Gene’s official site, here.

5.) Find a New Favorite Record at Laurie’s Planet of Sound

Located on North Lincoln Ave., Laurie’s Planet of Sound is the perfect record store for vinyl devotees and newcomers alike. With an extensive collection of LPs and EPs, plus a well-curated stock of books, CDs, DVDs, and more, Laurie’s is a great place to browse to your heart’s content — and maybe even score a treasured new addition for your home library. Known for its knowledgeable service and the great tunes always playing overhead, Laurie’s Planet of Sound has been recognized as one of the top record stores in Chicagoland by Thrillist, TimeOut, and The Vinyl Factory.

Want to see what the groove is all about? You can check out the shop’s official website right here.

6.) Feast on Film at the Davis Theater

Spend any time in Lincoln Square, and you’ve probably had the Davis Theater’s large, iconic sign catch your eye. Recently renovated, the Davis Theater is home to three top-quality movie screens, playing a rotating collection of new release movies, classic films, and festival favorites. Even better? The Davis is also home to the Carbon Arc restaurant and bar, which serves a bountiful menu of upscale cuisine and comfort classics, most of which you can carry with you right into the theater. How’s that for dinner and a movie?

To see what’s playing and start planning your next trip to the movies, you can find more information on the Davis Theater’s website, here.

7.) Discover New Health and Beauty Secrets at Merz Apothecary

Since its founding all the way back in 1875, Merz Apothecary has been helping Chicagoland residents stock their pantries with the best health, beauty, and grooming products from around the world. Today, visitors from all over the region and across the country flock to Merz for its unique and extensive selection of soaps, fragrances, herbal remedies, and more, all served up in a charming storefront positively bursting with local history.

To explore the story of the Apothecary, plan your visit, or see what’s in stock, Merz Apothecary’s official website is available here.

8.) Have an Authentic Dutch Breakfast at Famous Dutch Pancake Huis

You may have heard of Belgian waffles — but what about Dutch pancakes? This European breakfast staple, also called pannenkoek, is on the menu at this hidden gem in Lincoln Square. Served with savory or sweet toppings, this thin and flaky breakfast dish is hard to find anywhere else in Chicagoland, which makes this “huis” well worth a visit for all of the brunch aficionados out there.

For photos, hours, and more information, you can visit this unique restaurant’s official website, here.

9.) Enjoy Nature in a Lincoln Square Park

Looking for a prime spot to start up a baseball game, play with your dog, or just kick back and enjoy some sunshine? Lincoln Square is home to several wonderful parks, including Welles Park and Winnemac Park. Welles plays host to several well-maintained baseball fields and basketball courts, and is famous for its large and striking gazebo, which has made a star turn in a few movies and TV shows over the years. Winnemac Park, meanwhile, sits on more than 40 acres of land, offering ample space to set up a picnic or take in the sights and sounds of nature.

More information on Welles Park is available here. You can find out more about Winnemac Park here.

10.) Build Your Pop Culture Collection at a Lincoln Square Collectibles Store

Whether your thing is comic books or board games, superheroes or Star Wars, you’re bound to find new and vintage artifacts to astonish at one of Lincoln Square’s cool collectibles boutiques. For the comic book fans out there, Dark Tower Comic Books & Collectibles offers an extensive collection of new and classic reads, as well as tons of cool gear worth checking out. Quake Collectibles, meanwhile, offers up everything from kitschy vintage toys to cutting edge collector’s items. Who knows what nostalgic goodness you’ll find?

Dark Tower’s official website is available here. You can learn more about Quake on the store’s Facebook page, here.

Want to keep exploring Lincoln Square? Be sure to check out our guide to this iconic neighborhood’s housing market, available here.

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