More than a sub-neighborhood of Uptown, Buena Park is a full-fledged, self-sufficient community that has perfected the art of active lakeside living. A waterfront golf course, public beach, off-leash dog park and protected boat harbor are all within walking distance of your front door, not to mention amazing restaurants, happening bars and reputable theaters. Of course the warmer weather months are when things are really swinging in Buena Park. Folks can't resist Lake Michigan's draw — sun, sand and surf — a relaxing vacation spot located right in Chicago. But even when the wind bites at your nose and the beach is deserted, Buena Park bumps up the coziness with lots of comfy coffee houses, belly-warming eateries and welcoming neighborhood pubs.
Buena Park Facts
Location: 5.5 miles north of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Lakeview East, Uptown, Graceland Cemetary
Boundaries: Montrose Avenue to the north, Irving Park Road to the south, Lake Michigan to the east and Sheridan Road to the west
Then and Now
Although many lump Chicago's Buena Park neighborhood in with Uptown, Buena Park is considered a neighborhood all its own-a small residential nook located within the larger umbrella region of Uptown. It has its own unique identity and history and, in fact, the development of Buena Park actually predates that of Uptown.
The area now known as Buena Park originally began as a suburb of Chicago when wealthy Chicagoans started building homes there during the 1870s. One of those wealthy residents was Robert A. Waller, a prominent real estate developer. Waller contributed to the expansion of the suburb in 1887 when he subdivided his considerable property and offered it up for residential growth. For his role in Buena Park's progression, Waller is considered the neighborhood's founder.
In 1889 Chicago annexed the developing area. The Northwestern Railroad came to Uptown a year later, bringing with it the development of large apartment buildings and an influx of people to a region that had previously been only sparsely populated by immigrant farmers. While Uptown continued to flourish for the next three generations as a popular entertainment destination, Buena Park thrived as a residential haven for middle and upper classes seeking proximity to Uptown's spotlight, while staying out of its harsh glare.
After the economic boom of the 1920s came the bust. The aftermath of World War II led to a severe housing shortage and as a result Buena Park's stately houses and apartment buildings were broken up into small, inexpensive living units. The area was in severe decline until it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Since then, efforts have been made to restore Buena Park's former architectural glory through upscale renovations and restorations.
As a small lakeside community, Buena Park is an excellent location for those who relish an active lifestyle merged with a quaint residential setting.
The sprawling 1,208-acre lakefront park and beach system of Lincoln Park (the park, not the neighborhood) stretches up here and residents of Buena Park-which borders the lakefront from Montrose Avenue to Irving Park Road-have access to miles of walking trails, biking and jogging paths, numerous athletic fields and a public beach and harbor. Some even hit the hills for sledding during the winter (bundled up in layers of course).
For those of us who like to enjoy the outdoors without the hindrance of several layers of clothing, the warmer months in Buena Park present an abundance of ways to enjoy the sunshine, get exercise, have fun or just relax. Montrose Beach (4400 N. Lake Shore Dr) is an ideal place to catch some rays and dip our toes in the lake. Make a day of it by packing a lunch - with the Chicago skyline on one side and the waterfront on the other, it's the perfect backdrop for a picnic. Located on the northwest corner of the beach is the Susan Kimmelman Off-Leash Dog Beach. Here, it's a dog's world and we're just living in it, as canines are permitted the freedom to frolic without restraint.
Bird watchers flock to Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary (Montrose Ave and Lake Shore Dr). This 15-acre haven attracts 300 different species of migratory birds stopping for rest, food and shelter. 'The Magic Hedge,' a 150-yard stretch of shrubs and trees, 'magically' draws an extraordinary number of birds, including purple martins, brown thrashers, red-winged blackbirds and yellowthroats.
Buena Park Real Estate
Although it's officially been part of Chicago for more than 100 years, Buena Park hasn't entirely lost its suburban feel. The residential enclave consists of tranquil, leafy streets lined with turn-of-the-century Georgian and Prairie School mansions and single-family homes nestled comfortably on spacious lots-many of which have their own driveways.
Buena Park's Hutchinson Street was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1977. The street, originally called Kenesaw Terrace, is home to one of the city's best collections of Prairie-style residences, many of which were designed by famed architect George W. Maher. Other distinct designs found up and down Hutchinson Street (and the rest of the neighborhood) include Classical Revival, Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque. For the architecture buffs, this north side Chicago street offers a unique perspective on residential construction from 1890 through 1920.
Buena Park real estate also has several large, vintage apartment buildings housing people of all walks of life, from single young adults to new families to retirees. Along Marine Drive-the neighborhood's prime stretch of property-high-rise condominiums, townhomes and single-family houses offer residents beautiful views of the lakefront.
Check out our Buena Park home sales statistics to get an idea of the real estate market trends in this neighborhood.
What's on the Menu?
With all the activity that takes place in and around Buena Park, it's easy to work up an appetite. What's trickier is picking a place to chow down. The neighborhood's commercial streets-Sheridan Road, Irving Park Road, Montrose Avenue, Clarendon Avenue and Broadway-are fully stocked with great restaurants, each featuring a mouth-watering array of culinary tastes.
If you're a vegetarian, a vegan, or just curious, consider trying Loving Heart (838 W Montrose Ave, 773-561-5399). The menu boasts healthy, tasty options everywhere you look: everything from a hearty bean wrap to picobello with coconut milk down to raw chocolate cake. If you go, you'll definitely want to try the nachos, which are somewhat lamely described on the menu as "nacho chips, two types of hummus" but many attest to being "out of this world."
Egg roll fanatics dig their chopsticks in at Hunan Egg Roll King (4204 N. Broadway St, 773-883-2647) where - big surprise - egg rolls are the specialty. In fact, they're so delicious that several other Chicago area Chinese restaurants get their rolls from this Buena Park culinary fixture. The small, family-run restaurant also dishes up standard Chinese takeout favorites like chow mein, Mongolian beef, Kung Pao chicken and fried wonton.
For a taste of Thailand, Thai Aroma (4142 N. Broadway St, 773-404-7777) fills our stomachs with savory tom yum soup, chock-full of vegetables. This place is good at cramming lots of taste into a little cup of broth-the same way it packs lots of tables into its small, sunny dining space.
Another great option is Asian Mix Cafe (3945 N Broadway, 773-857-0989), offering a fresh take on Asian classics and putting the best of the Asian cuisines together. Diners rave about the Thai Iced Tea, calling it "the best Thai Iced Tea I've ever had." Other favorites are the Pork Fried Rice and the Pad Kee Mao.
For deep dish Chicago pizza, we get takeout from Buena Park's BoJono's Pizzeria (4185 N. Clarendon Ave, 773-404-9700). Order up a pie with all your favorite toppings or indulge in a selection of pastas and sandwiches from the Italian menu. There are a few tables if you just can't wait until you get home to have a slice - we don't blame you.
Gamers get their play on at Michael's Pizzeria and Grill (4091 N. Broadway St, 773-929-4149). This pizzeria has more than 30 TVs with cable and satellite sports coverage plus pool, Golden Tee, Silver Strike Bowling as well as video and board games. A quick look at the menu shows pizza prepared with fresh dough, family recipe tomato sauce with secret herbs and spices, and select premium cheeses. Our favorite is the taco pizza topped with refried beans, ground beef, salsa, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, black olives and sour cream served with a round of beer. There's also a selection of pastas, burgers, steaks, sandwiches, wings and salads.
If you're hungry morning, noon or night, check out Jakes Pup in the Ruf (4401 N Sheridan Rd, 773-728-1188). Known for good, hearty comfort food, Jake's menu boasts favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers and fried chicken. These classics paired with a clean, friendly place to eat with a TV and lots of people watching. Jake's also delivers locally throughout Buena Park for those mornings when getting up and out is just too much to handle.
Dollop Coffee Co. (4181 N. Clarendon Ave, 773-755-1955) is a haven for Buena Park caffeine addicts. In the tradition of modern coffee houses, Dollop is equipped with free Wi-Fi, comfy couches, intimate tables, and shelves full of books-everything we need to set up shop with our laptops or plop down with a good read. But the homey exposed brick, wood trim and warm colors only serve as backdrop for the real stars of the Dollop show-the beverages. The menu consists of lattes in scrumptious flavors like chocolate chip and white chocolate, plus coffee freezes, hot steamers, and an assortment of light bites.
At Corona's Coffee Shop (909 W. Irving Park Rd, 773-529-1886) offerings
include a variety of chocolate and coffee beverages in addition to wraps,
paninis and salads plus a tempting assortment of cookies, brownies, muffins and
biscotti. While minimal seating is available inside, there's an outdoor patio
for when the weather's nice. Or bag it to go and take a short walk to a
lakeside grassy knoll.
Best Shopping Stops
Buena Park isn't known as a great shopping locale, but we don't let that discourage us. There's plenty of shopping to be had in nearby Uptown and Lakeview and some of the country's best shopping can be found on Michigan Avenue, located only 20 minutes away.
The Buena Park area is not completely devoid of shopping destinations, however. A few fun, eclectic stores pepper the area, and give you a reason to break out your wallet. For all things bike, check out A Nearly New Shop (4075 N Broadway St, 773-525-0692). This is a Buena Park great spot to buy a new two-wheeler or bring your old one for a tune up. The staff brings in recycled bikes and fixes them up so they are like new. These are offered with a 60-day warranty if you chose to buy one.
For the tobacco aficionado, there is Roots Smoke & Vapor Shop (4006 N Sheridan Rd, 773-327-6666) offering something for every kind of smoker. The store stocks cigarettes, cigars, RYO tobaccos, hookah supplies, e-cigarettes and vaporizers. Offering an in-house vape lounge, where you can check out some of the products in a comfortable, casual environment. Owned by a brother/sister team, they will make sure you get what you are looking for.
If you want a change of interior scenery without spending major bucks, Ace Furniture (4027 N. Broadway St, 773-248-5066) is the place to go in Buena Park. We score inexpensive furnishings for everything from bedroom and bathroom to living and dining room at this IKEA-esque superstore-but without the insane IKEA crowds.
A final Buena Park business is Goldie's Flowers (903 W Irving Park Rd, 773-388-3137). A Buena Park institution, Goldie has had her little shop on Irving Park Road for 16 years. Known for her great service and her beautiful flowers, Goldie takes the time to listen to her clients, and her clients are thrilled with the gorgeous bouquets and arrangements that come from the shop.
Night on the Town
Buena Park is known for its casual neighborhood hangouts and arguably the most popular (and as close to a hip nightclub as Buena Park gets) is Holiday Club (4000 N. Sheridan Rd, 773-348-9600). This hot spot is decked out in Rat Pack memorabilia and vintage movie posters. Hipsters swing dance to the jukebox while sipping classics like dry martinis, Tom Collins and gimlets. If old-school swing isn't your thing, check out the second bar and dance floor that spins modern music to a crowd of 'bumpers' and 'grinders.' The kitchen is open late dishing out daily specials, and there's a much-appreciated Sunday brunch to cure our hangover from the previous night.
For that casual, neighborhood feel where locals gather for beer, sports, and late-night dining, head to Bar on Buena (910 W. Buena Ave, 773-525-8665), or the BOB as Buena Park locals call it. The BOB is a social sports lounge covered in rich handcrafted woodwork and serving up gourmet bar fare-like Cajun shrimp penne pasta and spicy chicken wraps-as well as a selection of drinks that include more than 17 kinds of scotch, 50 bottled beers, and wine by the bottle (or glass). Patrons young and old gather around the retractable big screen to watch Chicago sports games, or prop up on a stool next to the bar. For warm weather carousing BOB has an outdoor seating area, and the lounge's large windows open wide to create an outdoor ambience indoors.
Driftwood (1021 W. Montrose Ave, 773-975-3900) is a local, Buena Park spot that is warm, inviting, and casual. A pool table, darts, and a low-key crowd that might include a few pooches make this a comfortable spot to throw back a few. TVs make sure you don't miss a play, and cheap bottled beer keeps drinkers happy.
Want to fill your night with a bit more culture? Buena Park has one theater company putting on daring, cutting edge plays. Profiles Theatre (4147 N. Broadway St, 773-549-1815) is a not-for-profit professional theater company, where the goal is to bring fresh ideas to Chicago with an innovative crew of playwrights whose performances highlight the determination and resiliency of the human spirit.
Mark Your Calendar
If you're someone who likes to plan ahead, get out your calendar and mark these not-to-be-missed Buena Park neighborhood events.
This small community is all about bonding. One such affair is Buena Bunnies. This annual Easter basket-making contest takes place the Saturday before Easter. Residents craft their own baskets and fill them with candy and toys. The baskets are then donated to St. Mary of the Lake Church and given away to neighborhood families.
Every Halloween, there is the Buena Pumpkin Neighbors Safe Trick-or-Treating. Residents take their Halloween very seriously, and neighbors try to outdo each other with decorations, scary costumes, and the haunted Buena Circle Play Lot. Volunteers patrol the street to keep things safe, so everyone gets to have a scary good time.
To keep the neighborhood looking good, residents get together once in the spring and once in the fall for a Clean & Green. The Buena Park community spruces up the neighborhood, plants, cleans and clears shared spaces. And once the work is done, the group heads to a local spot for food, drinks, and bonding.
Getting around Buena Park is fairly easy. As a small community, most places are within walking distance or are just a short car, cab or public transportation ride away. Because it's a residential neighborhood, cabs aren't exactly plentiful, except at main intersections like Sheridan and Irving Park Roads and Montrose Avenue and Marine Drive. Along these busy Buena Park street corners you'll also find multiple bus stops and the CTA Red Line train (what Chicagoans fondly refer to as the 'El') is also accessible from a stop on Sheridan Road.
If you have a car, driving is a viable option for getting around, as Lake Shore Drive runs right through Buena Park neighborhood making it quick and easy to shoot through town or head downtown. Just know that parking for non-residents can be difficult as most of the street space is permit parking only.
School's in Session
Families find that Buena Park has many public and private schools to choose from. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Brennemann Elementary School - 4251 N. Clarendon Ave - (773) 534-5766
Disney Elementary Magnet School - 4140 N. Marine Dr - (773) 534-5840
Lycee Francais de Chicago - 613 W. Bittersweet Pl - (773) 665-0066
Prologue High School - 1135 N Cleaver St - (773) 935-9925
We've compiled a sampling of some of the places you can get your bare necessities in Buena Park, from coffee beans to conditioner, furniture to Fruit Loops.
Jakes Pup in the Ruf - 4401 N. Sheridan Rd - (773) 728-1188
CW Napkin - 1011 W Irving Park - (708) 655-5776
KFC - 4150 N. Broadway St - (773) 281-5366
BoJono's Pizzeria - 4185 N. Clarendon Ave - (773) 404-9700
Fornello Trattoria - 1011 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 404-2210
El Palmar - 1008 ½ W Irving Park Rd - (773) 404-5969
Mr. Salso 1026 W Montrose Ave - (773) 880-0355
Hunan Egg Roll King - 4204 N. Broadway St - (773) 883-2647
Thai Aroma - 4142 N. Broadway St - (773) 404-7777
Asian Mix Cafe - 3945 N Broadway - (773) 857-0989
Tac Quick - 3930 N Sheridan Rd - (773) 327-5253
Hong Kong Chef - 4104 N Sheridan Rd - (773) 388-8646
Corona's Coffee Shop - 909 W. Irving Park Rd - (773) 529-1886
Dollop Coffee Co. - 4181 N. Clarendon Ave - (773) 755-1955
Block Party Belle - Plaine Ave
Buena Pumpkin Neighbors Safe Trick-or-Treating
Buena Park Neighbors Holiday Giving Program
Clarendon Food Market
Incorporated - 4183 N. Clarendon Ave - (773) 404-3990
GNS Food & Liquor - 4092 N. Broadway St - (773) 248-8642
Jewel-Osco - 4355 N. Sheridan Rd - (773) 342-3410
Lakeview Foods - 4106 N. Sheridan Rd - (773) 477-7053
Gyms/ Wellness Centers
All Strength Training - 4117 N
Broadway - (773) 868-6656
World Gym - 909 W. Montrose Ave - (866) 471-8870
Windy City Adventure Boot Camp - (773) 899-1960
Chicago Public Library Uptown Branch - 929 W. Buena Ave - (312) 744-8400
PharmaciesWalgreens - 953 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 935-6414
Sutcliffe Pharmacy - 801 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 525-0081
Ace Furniture - 4027 N. Broadway
St - (773) 248-5066
A Nearly New Shop - 4075 N Broadway St. - (773) 525-0692
Roots Smoke & Vapor Shop - 4006 N Sheridan Rd - ((773) 327-6666
Anthony's Electronic Service - 4007 N Broadway St - (773) 529-1788
Salvation Army 4315 N Broadway - (773) 348-1401
Goldie's Flower Shop - 903 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 388-3137
Profiles Theatre - 4147 N. Broadway St - (773) 549-1815
Chicago Transit Authority - (888) 968-7282
There's a lot of mystery involved in searching for a new home, it starts with the property and expands outward to encompass the street, the block, the neighborhood, the entire city! Every little thing matters from the color of the walls to the attractions of the town. That's why a guide like this one on Buena Park is so helpful to potential homebuyers. Without leaving the comfort of your desktop computer or laptop, you've got an extensive pool of information on all of Chicago's neighborhoods that includes first-hand descriptions of dining, entertainment, shopping, bars, and events, in addition to lists of schools, hospitals, post offices, and gyms. We've done all the research to carefully craft this one-stop online spot, and create your hub for the real deal on Buena Park. So as soon as a Chicago loft, condo, townhome or house catches your eye, you know where to come for the low down on the digs around that prime piece of real estate.