One great destination is Belmont Avenue, on the Brown line. Board the KIMBALL train at any station on the downtown el structure, ride about 20 minutes, and there you are! Look for the huge mural of St. Vincent as the train passes DePaul, the largest Catholic university in the U.S.
Belmont is a lively commercial street through Lakeview, a residential area. It’s lined w. restaurants, cafes, handbag shops, a used book store, dress shop, army and navy store, tattoo parlors and anything and everything else. Great people watching. Don’t miss Hollywood Mirror, a funky emporium featuring Betty Boop and Ratfink items, rubber snakes and spiders, outrageous wigs and masks, but also some very worthwhile used clothes. If you’re from France, definitely try a Dunkin Donut – we have yet to meet a Frenchman/woman who doesn’t love them. At Belmont and Halsted, look for Jack’s; this restaurant was once called Helmand, and it was owned by the brother of Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan. One block south, on Halsted, are Michael’s Craft Store, Marshall’s, the Designer Shoe Warehouse, and Sports Authority. Eat a Pita has surprisingly good and affordable food. North on Halsted is Nookie’s a moderately priced diner w. outstanding food, and also the Chicago Diner, one of the city’s best-known vegetarian restaurants. You’ll see an animal hospital, health club, and other everyday businesses used daily by locals.
Continue east on Belmont to Broadway for many other interesting shops. Look for Paciuga gelateria, Windy City Fruit and Nut Company, Unabridged Books, Chicago Coffee & Tea Exchange, the Gap, and the Melrose restaurant, open 24/7.
You can return south by re-boarding the Brown Line; alternatively, take the 146 at Lake Shore Drive: this express bus will get you to the Water Tower, Michigan Avenue or the Loop in a flash, affording you a look at Lake Michigan, Chicago’s beautiful beaches and Lincoln Park. A visit to Lakeview will show you that Chicago is more than just the Loop or Michigan Avenue, and give you a taste of day-to-day life of its residents.