It’s no secret that Chicago’s most affordable housing can be found on the south side, and the South Shore neighborhood offers some of the best. In addition to high-rises, vintage condos and redbrick buildings, the South Shore community boasts some of Chicago’s most laidback recreational spots and a slew of eateries specializing in serious comfort cuisine.
As the core of Chicago’s south side, it only makes sense that this neighborhood is home to the historic South Shore Cultural Center. This 65-acre plot originally opened as a posh country club in 1905. Since then, the center has been stripped of its elitism and donned with a beach, walking trails, a bird sanctuary and fitness classes for kids and adults of all ages. Some things never change, though, like the ground’s nine-hole golf course, which is still in use today. For even more activity, South Shore locals head to Rainbow Beach where there is a softball field, basketball and tennis courts, jogging paths, and water sports. Of course, the sandy lakeside beach does attract sun-loafers, too, but for the most part, Rainbow is packed with lively outdoor enthusiasts. And, Chicago’s bitter cold winter months don’t seem to slow anyone down. Instead of at the beach, you’ll find residents swimming laps in the heated indoor pool at South Shore’s Don Nash Community Center, a former YMCA facility.
Enough about winter, let’s get back to Chicago’s gorgeous days of summer. During warm weather months, the South Shore neighborhood is full of outdoor family-friendly activities, including Monday Movie Nights at both the South Shore Cultural Center and Rainbow Beach. Pack up the picnic basket with your favorite snacks – not sure whether to make fruit salad or tomato sandwiches? Head over to the South Shore Farmers Market beforehand and find culinary inspiration. These open-air vendors offer the freshest fruits and veggies in town and are only here from mid-June through late October, so snatch up the good stuff while it lasts!
Don’t worry if you’ve missed the market, though; South Shore is crammed with quirky little restaurants and mom-and-pop kitchens. Rather than the haute cuisine you’ll find in the Chicago Loop, this neighborhood prefers its fare down-home style. A good example of South Shore’s comfort cooking is 5 Loaves Eatery, where patrons can get a hearty breakfast or a Po’boy sandwich for lunch. With Helen’s Restaurant right around the corner, it’s a tough call on where to grab a bite. This classic diner serves up simple southern staples with flavors that trump those fancy plated presentations of high-end establishments. While family-owned diners are the heart and soul of Chicago’s South Shore dining district, you can still splurge at the Parrot Cage. Located in the Cultural Center, this upscale restaurant offers divine international dishes and beautiful views of the lake.
It’s easy to fall in love with the low-key, neighborly vibe of Chicago’s South Shore community. And the affordable property makes it even more appealing. For just under $100,000 you can nestle into a small condo of your own. For a little extra space (perhaps a two-bedroom unit) home buyers can expect to see prices in the low to mid $100,000s. Three-bedroom condos and single-family detached homes average around $180,000. If you’re the type to frequent the Parrot Room, you may want to check out the new constructions located just minutes from the beach on South Shore Drive. These digs are decked out with designer interiors and top-of-the-line amenities like granite countertops, hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances – easily the most exclusive lots in the South Shore neighborhood.