In this post, we set out to provide a guide to Streeterville for tourists and those new to or considering moving to the neighborhood.
Location & How To Get There
Streeterville is a neighborhood in Chicago located just north of where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan, sitting between the Magnificent Mile on the west and Lake Michigan, including Navy Pier, on the east. The northern boundary is Oak Street, just north of the John Hancock Center.
Technically, Streeterville includes Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile, but we’re not going to dive deeply into those in this guide because they’re both worthy of their own guides (we do mention them generally as things to do below).
Streeterville is one of Chicago’s popular neighborhoods that doesn’t sit right on any train line, but it isn’t far at all from the Red Line.
The nearest two L train stops are the Red Line’s Chicago and Grand stops. Chicago will put you about ten minutes walking from the northern end of Streeterville, and Grand about ten minutes from the southern end.
With Michigan Avenue and the Navy Pier bus terminal nearby, Streeterville is easily accessible via Chicago’s CTA bus system. We recommend using Google Maps to determine your best route into the neighborhood.
About the Neighborhood
Streeterville is defined by one thing above all others: location. It’s not the hippest neighborhood, it’s not the neighborhood with the finest restaurants, and it’s not the most glitzy neighborhood (it’s close, though), but it is surrounded by some of the best Chicago has to offer—from Navy Pier to Michigan Avenue to the Gold Coast.
For years, Streeterville has been at the heart of Chicago’s luxury building boom. The area’s long residential history continues today, with developments continuing to push the envelope. Projects like Optima and One Bennett Park set a high bar for the rest of the city.
Besides apartment and condo buildings, most of the square footage is occupied by Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a few Northwestern University buildings.
Streeterville’s ridiculous history will be part of a much longer series of posts on this site in the coming months. For now, we’ll keep it brief. Streeterville was “founded” in the late 1800s when Captain George Streeter ran his boat ashore from Lake Michigan.
At the time, the area was mostly just a shallow portion of lake. Even as sediment built up — particularly around Cap Streeter’s boat — the land went undeveloped because the millionaires who owned the shoreline were awaiting the extension of Lake Shore Drive from Oak Street to Ohio Street.
When the extension was finally approved, the efforts to remove Cap Streeter from the land began. For the next few decades the battle for the land persisted both in courtroom—where Cap Streeter presented every argument he could come up with, including by means of forging the President’s signature—and on the ground, where shots were perpetually threatened, often fired, and on at least one unfortunate occasion, fatal.
Though he was forcibly removed from the land in 1893, Streeter pressed his claims until his death in 1921, and his family pressed the claims for some years after that.
Food and Drink
Streeterville Coffee and Donuts
While Streeterville doesn’t have the coffee depth of some neighborhoods, it does have quality.
Dollop Coffee—one of Chicago’s top coffee roasters—has two cafes in Streeterville. Dollop is the go-to for quality coffee in Streeterville, and they also have small sandwich and salad menus, as well as a respectable pastry selection. Visit Dollop at 345 E Ohio Street or 860 N Dewitt Place.
For donuts, you can choose between two Chicago heavyweights—Do-Rite and Stan’s. Stan’s is a straightforward coffee and donut shop located in a hospital building at the corner of Fairbanks and Erie (259 E Erie, plus more locations in the nearby area).
Do-Rite has slightly more offbeat offerings. Besides their varied donut offerings, Do-Rite offers a variety of sandwiches that can be made on donuts, with their chicken being a claim to fame. Do-Rite is located at 233 E Erie.
Streeterville’s brunch scene is anchored by two staples of the meal—Yolk and Kanela Breakfast Club.
You can’t go wrong with either of these. Yolk is more popular and doesn’t serve alcohol. The address is 355 E Ohio, but the entrance is a block south on Grand.
Kanela Breakfast Club has been called the best breakfast in Chicago, though we’ve found the service at this location to be mediocre at best. It is further east, almost at Navy Pier. The address is 502 E Illinois.
If you’re looking for the chance to spend some money and dine with a view, The Signature Room At The 95th is what you’re looking for. Sitting on the 95th floor of 875 North Michigan (The John Hancock Center), the views make The Signature Room one of Chicago’s big name restaurants.
For Chicago-style pizza, visit Gino’s East at 162 E Superior. With a history dating back to 1966, Gino’s is one of Chicago’s oldest pizza establishments. The Streeterville location is a reopened version of the original location.
For quality modern dining, try Beatrix at 671 N St Clair. The combo coffee bar / cocktail bar / restaurant puts “taste over trend” with crafty cocktails and a straightforward menu including steaks, burgers, salads, and pastas.
Navy Pier has several restaurants, too, from sit-down, to Chicago-style pizza, to fast food.
There is chain fast food aplenty, and you’ll find Potbelly, Chipotle, Epic Burger, and Blaze Pizza all on Ontario. There are several Starbucks cafes in the neighborhood, but most are built into hotels or stores.
As a mostly residential neighborhood, Streeterville eschews the more lively bar scenes of River North to the west (across Michigan) and Gold Coast to the northwest.
The Signature Lounge At The 96th is the lounge counterpart to The Signature Room at 875 North Michigan (the John Hancock Center), and a favorite for those willing to pay for a view.
Timothy O’Toole’s, 622 N Fairbanks, is a large, underground American-Irish pub. It’s a neighborhood favorite and includes a bar, dining room, and plenty of televisions. It’s usually open until 3AM or 4AM.
For cocktails, head over to Drumbar the 18th floor of the Raffaello Hotel, 201 E Delaware. Just mind its limited hours.
If it’s a nice day out, consider a visit to Navy Pier, where there’s ample space for outdoor drinking.
As we said at the beginning of this guide, Streeterville is more about location than its own unique activities. We’ll start with the big two perks of this location before talking about some other activities in the area.
Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most visited tourist destinations, but you’ll often hear locals (including us) bemoaning its lack of depth. This is…maybe wrong.
The pier is about a half-mile long and contains indoor/outdoor shops, restaurants, and a few activities—ferris wheel, carrousel, fun house, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Children’s Museum, etc.
Here’s the thing. Don’t go to Navy Pier just to go to Navy Pier and without planning to spend money. Navy Pier makes pretty much every list of “free” things to do in Chicago, but the truth is if you don’t spend money it really isn’t worth visiting. (There are plenty of opposing views on this; we’re just giving our take.)
Besides restaurants and shopping, there are a ton of lakefront and Chicago River cruises that depart from Navy Pier. We’re big fans of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, as well. If nothing else, be sure to ride the Ferris Wheel, one of the largest in the country ($18 adult, $15 kids, save $2 online).
Michigan Avenue (Mag Mile)
There are a few restaurants, several spots of historical note, and lots of examples of Chicago’s great architecture, but the Magnificent Mile is really about one thing to most people—shopping. We have a full guide to the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue, including a walking tour that takes you past highlights from north to south.
If you love shopping or like the buzz of a crowded shopping street, then a walk down the 0.8-mile long Magnificent Mile between the Chicago River and Oak Street is for you.
360Chicago (about $25) is the observation deck at 875 North Michigan (the John Hancock Center). While the Willis Tower’s observation deck is higher, 360Chicago is generally considered to have the best views of the city because of its location.
Looking north and east you get stunning views of Lake Michigan, Lake Shore Drive, and Lincoln Park (including its beaches), while the southwest direction contains most of downtown.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of Streeterville’s bigger attractions. It serves as a complement to the Art Institute of Chicago, which focuses more on classical art. Admission is a recommended donation of $15, and the museum has pretty limited hours (usually 10AM to 5PM). The address is 220 E Chicago.
Comedians You Should Know
One of Streeterville’s hidden gem activities is Comedians You Should Know. This weekly standup show at Timothy O’Toole’s Pub (622 N Fairbanks) is an excellent value (around $10 to $15) with a highly local feel.
AMC River East 21
The AMC River East 21 is our favorite large-chain movie theater in the city. With 21 screens highlighted by the Dolby Cinema screen, there’s always a deep, packed movie lineup.
Ohio Street Beach
Ohio Street Beach is, first and foremost, a swimmers’ beach. With a perfect half-mile of lakefront trail to swim along, there’s hardly a moment during the summer when you won’t see a swimmer getting their mile in.
That said, even though it’s smaller than Oak Street and North Avenue Beaches, it has a great location just next to Navy Pier and its own (admittedly mediocre) restaurant, Caffe Oliva.
To reach the beach. Take Ohio Street, Grand Avenue, or Illinois Street east. The latter two streets pass under Lake Shore Drive, and you’ll turn left (north) to reach the beach. Ohio Street ends at Lake Shore Drive, but a pedestrian underpass connects you to the beach.
Grocery & Essentials
The Whole Foods at Grand and Columbus/Fairbanks (255 E Grand) is the go-to grocery store in the neighborhood. There’s also Bockwinkel’s at 320 E Ohio and a Trader Joe’s in River North at 44 E Ontario.
The Streeterville Target at 401 E Illinois has a smaller grocery section and isn’t the size of a regular target, but should have most essentials. The John Hancock Center (875 N Michigan) has a Best Buy if you need a larger electronics selection.
Fashion & Malls
The Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue from the river to Oak Street) is the shopping capital of the city. Visit Oak Street, just west of Streeterville, for more high-end shops. The Barney’s at the west end of Oak Street is at 15 E Oak.
Where To Stay When Visiting
Is Streeterville a Good Place to Stay In Chicago?
We think Streeterville is one of the best places for tourists to stay in Chicago. You’re centrally located near major tourist destinations, have easy access to Chicago’s CTA bus system, and should be about 10 to 15 minutes walking from the L train system.
River North—literally right across Michigan Avenue—is going to have more energy at all hours of day and night, so if you want to be in the middle of things, you might want to pay a bit more to stay there (this also cuts down on your walk to the L train system).
Streeterville is one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, though being downtown and between two major tourist hubs means it will see more crime than completely residential neighborhoods in wealthier parts of the city.
Hotels in Streeterville
Airbnb in Streeterville
Airbnbs are a good option in Streeterville, but you’ll need high standards and you’ll pay a high price. Read reviews carefully with a particular eye toward check-in procedures to try and sort out whether it looks like the building actually allows Airbnb.
Most buildings in Streeterville prohibit short-term rentals, and even if you’re fine breaking the rules, you don’t want to book an Airbnb months in advance only to have it cancelled later when the host decides they’re done breaking the building’s rules.
Where To Live
Is Streeterville a good place to live in Chicago?
This is one of the neighborhoods we can testify to personally. Yes–Streeterville is a great place to live in Chicago…for the right type of person. Living in Streeterville puts you near lots of things but in the middle of nothing.
You can walk across Michigan Avenue to River North for some of the city’s better nightlife, but if you’re looking for hip culture you’ll have longer treks to go and visit places like Wicker Park or Hyde Park.
Where to Live in Streeterville
As we said, Streeterville is the heart of Chicago’s luxury rental boom. You won’t find a list of top buildings in Chicago that doesn’t include at least one building in Streeterville.
Here are five Streeterville buildings to consider (ordered alphabetically):
Streeterville is a part of downtown Chicago, and as such is surrounded by a lot. The Museum Campus is two miles south (along the lakefront), with Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain on the way.
For more restaurants, bars, and nightclubs head across Michigan Avenue to River North. For Chicago’s highest-end shopping, turn off Michigan Avenue and onto Oak Street. Head two miles north through Gold Coast to eventually reach Lincoln Park and Lincoln Park Zoo.