The North Side of Chicago — the city’s most densely populated residential section — is home of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, the second-oldest ballpark in the MLB. Also home to renowned Puerto Rican and Eastern European neighborhoods, the North Side boasts several public gathering spaces like Lincoln Park and miles of beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Here are some of the best places to visit on Chicago’s North Side:
Puptown at Margate Park
WHERE: N Marine Drive and W Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640
Located inside of Chicago’s Margate Park, Puptown Dog Park is the ideal place to take your dog before or after your longer, leashed walk together.
The park features lots of space for your furry friend to explore in the largely asphalt play area, with a large tree in the center and places for humans to sit while watching their dogs. But please be warned if you have a smaller dog:
The area is enclosed by a small mesh guard, and smaller dogs can wiggle through to escape if they want to get to the other side.
And while you’re at it, check out some more off-leash dog areas in the Windy City.
WHERE: 2021 N Burling St., Chicago, IL 60614
Set within the Lincoln Park community, parents and children alike can enjoy a visit to Oz Park, which showcases a “The Wizard of Oz” theme.
Families can admire the beautiful flowers within the “Emerald Garden,” and kids can explore “Dorothy’s Playlot,” which includes outdoor equipment that they can climb or swing on.
Visitors can take photos with statues of the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man, along with Dorothy and Toto. Oz Park also includes basketball and tennis courts, as well as baseball, soccer and football fields.
Big Joe’s Turtle Races
WHERE: 1818 W Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
Participating in one of Big Joe’s weekly turtle races should be considered a rite of passage for all Chicagoans. Located at Big Joe’s 2 & 6 Pub, beginning at 9 p.m. every Friday, the bar places a special ring on top of a pool table. Patrons will earn raffle tickets for each pitcher of beer they purchase, and the lucky winners will be assigned to one of the racing turtles.
Once the buzzer sounds, and the turtles start racing, and everyone starts yelling and cheering. The first turtle that reaches the outer ring wins, and the person assigned to that turtle wins a free T-shirt. The races occur roughly every 15 minutes, and you can get an idea of what it’s like by watching this YouTube video. And don’t worry if you don’t win — the bar takes pity on the last-place turtle, giving the assigned patron a free beer as a consolation prize.
The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.
WHERE: 1276 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Formerly known as “The Boring Store!,” The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. says that their mission isn’t much of a secret at all. The space is a storefront for 826CHI, a non-profit children’s writing workshop and tutoring center attached to the store.
The store boasts every type of gadget a secret agent could possibly desire, including voice modulators, carrier pigeons and secret disguises.
The Secret Agent Supply Co. seeks to inspire creativity in students, and to raise funds for 826CHI’s free programs. So while the store is certainly for secret agents, the only part of it that’s somewhat secretive is its noble literacy-based community outreach.
WHERE: 1513 W Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
The Woolly Mammoth staff describe the store as “a curiosity cabinet of odd, amusing and eclectic items resurrected from the past.” Started by a young couple in 2010, the store showcases various unusual items, such as vintage and antique taxidermy, anatomy items, medical stuffs, books, toys, charts, maps, tools and even specimens.
While the store is littered with skulls, bones and similar morbid items, Woolly Mammoth also offers unique knick-knacks like a Boy Scout’s handmade wooden journal from the 60’s. Many Chicagoans regularly rummage through the store’s shelves to find unknown treasures — and the store even offers taxidermy classes.
Click here to read more about Woolly Mammoth, and how it came to be.