The Chicago area is famous for its robust and eclectic music scene. For generations, some of the greatest musicians around have called Chicagoland home. From the city to the suburbs, our area is a hotbed for rock and roll, jazz, blues, and hip hop.
Does your dream home put you in walking distance of an amazing concert hall or a jazzy lounge? Want to live in a spot where you can rub elbows with local musicians, hone your craft, or pick through crates of vinyl records?
Grab your headphones, plug in your amps, and read on. Here are seven Chicagoland communities perfect for music lovers:
Highland Park & Highwood
Located just a short trip north of the city, Highland Park and Highwood are communities with a deep musical legacy.
For starters, Highland Park is the home of the world-famous Ravinia Festival, which bills itself as the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States. Every year from June to September, concertgoers from across Chicagoland flock to Ravinia Pavilion to see more than 140 diverse acts, which range in style from Top 40 pop to classical.
In addition to its open air venue, Ravinia is also the site of Bennett Gordon Hall, a 450-seat recital hall that hosts an ever-changing roster of musical performances all year round.
Just a bit further north, Highwood is home to a school devoted to the art of rock and roll, as well as Club 210, one of the North Shore’s favorite destinations for live entertainment. Looking to find an instrument of your own? Make time to check out The Music Gallery, one of Chicagoland’s most popular stores for guitars, gear, and music lessons.
Uptown is one of Chicago’s most vibrant neighborhoods, full of great eats, amazing architecture, lots of nature — and some of the city’s most dynamic spots for live music.
Conveniently nestled in the heart of Uptown, the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is one of the area’s best places to enjoy Chicago’s rich jazz tradition, with shows on every night of the week. Nearby, Uptown Lounge is a go-to local spot for live music, DJs, and karaoke.
The Uptown neighborhood is also home to some of the city’s most popular music halls, including the enormous Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, as well as the intimate, energetic Riviera Theater. Both of these venues have a rich history, and play host to some of the country’s biggest touring acts as well as local DJs and dance parties.
For decades, music lovers of all stripes have gotten into the groove in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Lincoln Park is home to an eclectic assortment of concert venues, many clustered close to each other on a long stretch of Halsted Street. This area is where you’ll find two of Chicago’s favorite blues clubs, the legendary Kingston Mines and the always-entertaining B.L.U.E.S. Also on Halsted is one of Chicagoland’s most popular venues for reggae, The Wild Hare & Singing Armadillo Frog Sanctuary. Close by, musically minded spots like Elbo Room and Tonic Room host performances on a regular basis.
Elsewhere around Lincoln Park, Lincoln Hall is a popular venue for indie and alternative artists from across the country, while the Apollo Theater and Park West each host musical acts and comedy performances with a side of retro atmosphere. Looking to pick up an instrument? Lincoln Park is home to one of the outposts of Chicago’s popular Old Town School of Folk Music. For serious collectors, the neighborhood is also a go-to stop for vinyl, thanks to classic shops like Dave’s Records and Gramaphone Records.
Wicker Park & Ukrainian Village
Located on the western side of the city, the neighborhoods of Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village have long been a popular launchpad for artists, creators, and musicians. As a result, this area is where you’ll find some of Chicago’s most interesting musical venues.
A Wicker Park icon, Subterranean is home to two performance spaces that help showcase emerging performers from across the region. Located in a former auto body shop, Chop Shop is a multi-use space that hosts a sustainable restaurant in the front, and a live music venue in the back. Wicker Park is also home to one of Chicago’s favorite spots for retro sounds, Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret.
Meanwhile, Empty Bottle is a local institution, known for high energy musical performances and dancing in a cozy space. Located in a largely industrial area, The Hideout is another Chicago treasure, which hosts comedians, musicians, and other entertainers in a pleasantly off-kilter space.
Looking to keep the music going? Wicker Park is also a prime destination for buying your favorite albums, with Reckless Records, Dusty Groove, Shuga Records, and The Exchange all calling the neighborhood home.
Evanston, Illinois is known as a college town, but this northern suburb has an attitude and energy all its own.
For fans of live music, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more intimate or interesting venue in Chicagoland than Evanston SPACE, which hosts acts from all over the country in a dynamic and immersive setting. The facility is also home to a recording studio, and shares a space with one of the neighborhood’s favorite pizza places — perfect for satisfying those post-show munchies.
Not too far away, Evanston Rocks houses three venues, including a brassy speakeasy and a dynamic concert hall, while Studio5 in Evanston is a cozy, state-of-the-art spot for musical performances from talented local artists.
And don’t forget to see who’s playing at Northwestern University! Home to the Bienen School of Music, Northwestern’s campus hosts performances and events throughout the year in such beautiful venues as Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Galvin Recital Hall, and Cahn Auditorium.
Logan Square is one of Chicago’s most popular destinations for restaurants and nightlife — including live music!
Just steps away from the Illinois Centennial Monument, Logan Square Auditorium is a cavernous hall that plays host to a wide range of live events and performances throughout the year. For big sounds in an impressive space, Concord Music Hall is a go-to, while Gallery Cabaret is a popular spot to see up-and-coming performers in a casual environment.
Logan Square is also home to Rosa’s Lounge, a legendary venue for experiencing the power of the blues. For modern sounds, music aficionados flock to Burlington Bar or The Whistler, a unique musical destination which combines a performance space, gallery, bar, and record label in one location. Ready to start playing your own tune? Logan Square’s Evolution Music is a popular Chicagoland spot for purchasing new and used instruments and equipment.
Lakeview is one Chicagoland neighborhood that has always been known for having a rhythm all its own. This vibrant neighborhood north of the Loop is a music lover’s dream, thanks to iconic musical venues like Metro and its downstairs neighbor Smartbar, a popular spot for dancing to music from around the globe.
Nearby, the stretch of Lakewview commonly known as Wrigleyville is full of fun performance spaces, while the legendary Wrigley Field itself transforms into a massive concert venue throughout the spring and summer.
A little further south, The Vic Theatre is a beloved neighborhood theater, known for its impressive lineup of touring musicians and local favorites. Schubas Tavern is another intimate spot, perfect for seeing the next big stars of country, folk, pop, and rock live and in person.
Looking to Live In the Heart of It All?
Looking to find a home in one of Chicagoland’s most musical neighborhoods? We get you. At Baird & Warner, our agents are hyperlocal experts who can help you find the spot that hits the right note, while making the buying process easier at every step of the way. And with mortgage and title services in-house, our one-stop-shopping approach takes the hassle out of closing on your new home, so you can get back to your favorite tunes in no time.