Over the years, there’s been a wind of change taking over Chicago, and the old meatpacking district of River West is no different. Battered up warehouses converted into luxurious lofts, contemporary art galleries and trendy restaurants and nightclubs set the ideal scene for Chicagoans and tourists alike searching for a bustling community near downtown. If you’re the type of person that prefers to go off the beaten path, here are just a few of the many things you can do in this up-and-coming neighborhood.
Bring out your inner artist
River West’s reputation as a distribution hub ultimately led to low cost rentals appealing mostly to artists trying to get their big break in the Windy City. Abandoned warehouses became the perfect blank canvases to set up art galleries and studios, attracting waves of new artists eager to learn about alternative movements. River West provides a haven for those who don’t seem to align with mainstream trends at Intuit, The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Art enthusiasts can have a chance to get a closer look at the life of Chicago’s most notorious outsider artist, Henry Darger, or check out some of its temporary exhibits. Artists visiting to gather inspiration for their own work can also dive into Intuit’s comprehensive library on outsider art upon reservation.
Dive into River West’s nightlife
Art in River West isn’t only limited to galleries and museums. Just take a look around and you’ll be able to see why this place has been such an inspiration for the seventh art. Whether you’re in the mood for a cocktail at an upscale lounge or for a cold pint of beer while watching the game, there’s always a bar for you. And if you want to immerse yourself in a movie set, Emmit’s is the place for you. Drink in this Irish pub’s history as a gangster bank during the Prohibition and as the venue for dwarf-tossing tournaments.
Breakfast is without a doubt the best meal of the day –if it weren’t, why were brunch and brinner even invented? So after a night out on the town, the best thing to do is go to any of River West’s cafes and fuel up for a day of sightseeing. The best part is that no matter the time you wake up –or come back from partying– there will always be a place open, ready to serve you some Eggs Benedict, the ultimate hangover cure according to its creator, Lemuel Benedict.
If you can’t seem to decide whether you want avocado toast or pancakes, go to Stax Cafe and have them both! Most of the entrees at this Michelin Guide cafe come with a side of toast, pancakes or waffles, so you can cater to your savory and sweet teeth. One of Stax’s other perks is that they only use fresh, locally-grown ingredients without any antibiotics which makes them an appealing eco-friendly and healthy option.
A new lease of life
Modern-day River West is a fairly new neighborhood that has seemed to reinvent itself by giving new life to its buildings while maintaining their industrial charm. These forgotten factories and warehouses now converted into high-end residential buildings with spacious lofts have made River West top the list of prime real estate in Chicago. Ditch bland hotel rooms and try staying in one of these luxury lofts to truly immerse yourself in the River West experience.
Renew mind, body and soul
In River West, renovation is not only limited to buildings; you can also have the chance to revitalize yourself at AIRE Ancient Baths Chicago. Wash away the stress from your modern-day routine with ancient Roman, Greek and Ottoman rituals. Dive deeper into your soul or connect with your soulmate on another level with our unique couple’s massage, specifically designed to release any built-up tension. Escape together to a different time while sipping on freshly-made natural juice.
And, as the saying goes, the early bird gets… extra bath time! You’ll be able to indulge an extra 30 minutes if you book any of our experiences from 9am to 1pm from Monday to Thursday. Just let that soak in.