A local guide to River North neighbourhood, Chicago

Whether you’ve already got your trip to Freehand Chicago secured, or have been itching to get it booked in for some time, it’s never too early to start planning all the wonderful things that you’ll do when you get there.

Freehand Chicago is a classic 1927 building in Chicago’s vibrant River North neighbourhood – an area which is known for being the home of some of the city’s best art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and Chicago culture.

If you want to live like a local, and make the most of your time in Chicago from the moment you arrive, you’ll want to keep reading, for our local guide to the River North neighbourhood.

The Location

The River North lies north of the Chicago River, and is bordered by the Magnificent Mile to the east and Chicago Ave to the north. Overall, the neighbourhood is very walkable, so it is perfect for tourists.

The River North neighbourhood draws attention from a lot of tourists, because of its historic architecture, views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, and endless opportunities for entertainment.

Attractions and Shopping

Although we’re sure you’ll pretty much want to eat and drink your way around Chicago, there is still plenty more fun to be had when it comes to local attractions and shopping. Movie theatres, arcade bars, unique museums, and so much more are just around the corner from Freehand.

Some of the best attractions and shopping spots the area has to offer are:

Navy Pier

Tourist attractions

The Navy Pier is a hotspot for tourists, with an IMAX cinema, shops, eateries, and a whole bunch of sightseeing boat tours taking place. There’s even a little fairground, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and plenty of live entertainment taking place.

House of Blues

Music Venue

The home to some of the best national and international acts, the Chicago House of Blues has a tonne of options when it comes to entertainment, and each Sunday, the venue hosts a Gospel Brunch.

After-Words Books


Over two floors, more than 70,000 titles of books, both new and used, live here. You’ll sometimes find events or readings happening here, and you’re bound to find a book that you love when there are so many options.

The Comedy Bar

Comedy shows

Local headliners rule at this downtown stand-up space, seven nights a week. Along with the performance stage, there is an outdoor rooftop terrace, and delicious food from Gino’s East, featuring their famous deep dish pizza.

‘First Fridays’ at Museums

Art lovers rejoice. On the first Friday of every month, there is a party, where many of the local galleries stay open late.


With River North being one of the popular nightlife destinations in Chicago, there are plenty of great options when it comes to drinking – from bottomless brunch to a quiet glass of wine.

Some of the best bars the area has to offer are:

The Broken Shaker

Bars and Pubs

It may be located in our hotel, but you’ll find The Broken Shaker on many ‘must-visit’ lists. The comfortable spot is home to the list of 15 cocktails, which are packed with balanced, unusual ingredient drinks, along with classics.


Bars and Pubs

This lofty lounge pairs globally inspired cocktails with eclectic small plates. Their Traveling Old Fashioned menu puts spins on the classic cocktail, so make sure to try it out.

Radio Room

Bars and Pubs

Radio Room offers up to 400 guests, across four unique spaces, a go-to venue for everything they could want, from game day watching, to late night jam sessions.


When it comes to dining, there is a huge variety of options, from classic Chicago pizza, to celebrity chef pop-ups, there is something for everyone, no matter whether you want casual or fancy.

Some of the best restaurants the area has to offer are:



Decked out with jazz era decor and brassy music, this touch on the French steakhouse by Brendan Sodikoff is delightful. Expect something special to drink, and an unbelievably gorgeous pie to end your meal. You’re bound to leave with a full stomach!

Parlour Pizza Bar


Expect delicious Neapolitan-inspired pizzas, prepared in house, using wood-burning Pavesi ovens, and topped with fresh and local ingredients. It would be criminal to visit Chicago and not try out some pizza – plus this joint also offers dessert tacos!

Shaw’s Crab House


Shaw’s Crab House stands as a monument to fish and seafood, and is sure to be a special visit during your time to Chicago. For a real treat, try the Nantucket Bay Scallops if they’re on the menu.