Gold Coast: Things To Do This Weekend
Perched on the shores of majestic Lake Michigan, Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood has been one of the city’s most exclusive and architecturally impressive enclaves since the late 1880s. An eclectic mixture of mansions from different periods as well as elegant rowhouses make this the perfect place to peruse local landmarks with impressive histories. The area is also home to a diverse array of some of the city’s finest restaurants. As you pick and choose from among the following culinary and architectural highlights to create your own Gold Coast tour, be sure to leave time for a little retail therapy along the Magnificent Mile, which is within easy walking distance.
Gold Coast Restaurants
The 3rd Coast Cafe | 1260 North Dearborn Street
3rd Coast is an inviting coffee and dining outpost that will help you start a day of sightseeing and shopping off right. Choose from an inspired breakfast selection that includes omelets, breakfast tacos, Chicago-style smoked Polish sausage, coconut oatmeal, and Texas cut French toast. If you’re lucky enough to happen by on a weekend, indulge in the 3rd Coast brunch. Offered Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., it features a broader range of omelets as well as sandwiches, salads, and “Brunch Specialties” that include Eggs Florentine as well as Lox Eggs Benedict.
Chicago Q | 1160 North Dearborn Street
Chicago Q is the Midwest’s outpost for Southern barbecue par excellence. A Zagat-rated restaurant channeling the family-style tastes and luxurious pace of Savannah, Georgia, Chicago Q offers the Gold Coast the finest-quality meats with house-made dry rubs and an array of irresistible sides. Chef/Partner Lee Ann Whippen draws inspiration from the distinct flavors of Texas, Missouri, and Tennessee barbeque, making Chicago Q a welcoming destination for all. Stop by for lunch any day.
Nico Osteria | 1015 North Rush Street
Nico Osteria, an authentic Italian-inspired seafood restaurant, can be found tucked in the lobby of the Thompson Chicago hotel. Inside, the popular eatery is spacious and modern and boasts an energetic vibe. In addition to an expansive wine list, Nico Osteria offers incredibly unique and delicious options such as lobster lasagnette, salt-crusted branzino, and friulian-style ravioli. A nightcap can also be enjoyed at Salone Nico, the establishment’s connected bar.
Le Colonial | 937 North Rush Street
You’d be forgiven for daydreaming about the film Indochine while sampling the food at Le Colonial, where the tastes of Vietnam’s colonial period are alive and well (not to mention delicious). With it’s ultra-glam, 1920s-inspired decor, Le Colonial’s atmosphere perfectly mirrors its fusion of classical French cooking and bright Vietnamese ingredients, sauces, and spices. The bar at Le Colonial is an elegant and intimate space in which to unwind after a busy day of urban exploration, and in warm weather, the terrace overlooking Rush Street offers an oasis that’s perfect for people watching.
Gold Coast Chicago Architectural Gems
Lake Shore Drive
When Potter Palmer, a local dry goods magnate who was one of the first wealthy Chicagoans to buy land in the city’s north end, began building his mansion on Lake Shore Drive in the early 1880s, many industrialists followed suit. Though the Palmer mansion was demolished in 1950, many other expansive and ornate homes designed by the Gilded Age’s finest architects, including McKim, Mead, & White; Benjamin Marshall; Howard Van Doren Shaw; and Holabird & Roche, remain. Between the 1200 and 1500 blocks of Lake Shore Drive, you’ll find prime examples of Italianate and Beaux-Arts architecture in states of remarkable preservation thanks to the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois.
Named for New York real estate tycoon John Jacob Astor, Chicago’s Astor Street is a designated Chicago Landmark with beautifully preserved late-19th-century and early-20th-century homes lining its leafy thoroughfare. Highlights include the Cyrus McCormick Mansion at 1500 North Astor; the former home of Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, at 1525 North Astor; the 1929 Art Deco mansion at 1444 North Astor; and the Joseph T. Ryerson House at 1406 North Astor, which was built in 1922 and inspired by the hotels of Paris. Consider planning your tour of these gems to coincide with a guided tour at the impressive Charnley-Persky House described below.
Charnley-Persky House | 1365 North Astor Street
For fans of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Charnley-Persky House is a must-visit destination. Designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan, who was assisted at the time by junior draughtsman Frank Lloyd Wright, the Charnley-Persky House was completed in 1892. Unlike the Beaux-Arts, Gothic, and Renaissance-revival mansions and rowhouses that populate much of the Astor Street District, the Charnley-Persky House is animated by bold, geometric forms reminiscent of Japanese architecture. In time, this type of architecture would influence the emerging Prairie School style that would ultimately make Wright a household name. Located on North Astor at East Schiller Street, the Charnley-Persky House is the headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians. Guided tours are offered on Wednesdays at 12 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10 a.m.
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