Blake Walsh

21 Best Things to Do in Hyde Park, Chicago

  • Published 2023/03/08

The 41st neighborhood area in Chicago will bring out the outgoing part of you.

As early as the 21st century, Hyde Park was home to the University of Chicago.

The former US President Barack Obama served as a senior lecturer at the Barack Obama Presidential Center.

Hyde Park has become a popular attraction among famous individuals who made a great name in history.

This place was the focal point of social life among its neighboring communities, especially Hyde Park House’s famous hotel.

Like any other famous place in America, Hyde Park is also rich in history that you don’t want to skip.

In 1861, Hyde Park was started as an independent town, which remained so until 1889.

The city of Chicago annexed the area that year.

Here are the best things to do in Hyde Park, Chicago:

Bask in the Sun at Promontory Point

Stone steps near the waters of Promontory Point

Kim Scarborough, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Start your adventure by getting a tan at Hyde Park’s sought-after Promontory Point.

You can sunbathe and swim while eating fruits and grilling!

In 1937, Alfred Caldwell built this artificial peninsula to help him landscape the region with native plants and stones.

People walking along Promontory Point's paved pathway

TonyTheTiger at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The old stone field house, erected in the 1930s, is a great place to take an Instagrammable photo.

It’s also a favorite wedding venue.

Since its construction in 1937, people have been swimming off Promontory Point’s limestone revetment.

During the summer, the Northside of the Point becomes a rock beach with shallow water and a sand lake bottom, a great swimming spot for families.

Scenic sunset over Promontory Point

LoRo /

See Different Bird Species at Jackson Park

Aerial view of Jackson Park

Jes Farnum /

The southeastern side of Hyde Park is also worth exploring.

It’s a lovely, tranquil spot to enjoy nature and escape the city chaos.

You can find over two dozen bird species and a massive population of beavers in the park.

You can get some fresh air and a cup of tea at the lagoon just inside the park to experience a Japanese garden.

Daisies at Jackson Park's entrance

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The Obama Foundation has chosen Jackson Park as the location for its soon-to-rise Obama Presidential Center.

This is a very convenient place to visit because it is adjacent to the famous Hyde park destinations.

Jackson Park is in Hyde Park on Chicago’s south side, between Lake Michigan and the main campus of the University of Chicago.

Grab a Book Buddy at Powell’s Books

Exterior of 57th Street Books

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you need a book, buddy?

Head to the 57th street in Hyde Park to find the books you need to read.

Find the city’s beloved Powell’s Books Chicago on this street.

The street also hosts 57th Street Books, the old seminary bookstore.

After getting a book, grab a snack somewhere nearby.

While reading with a friend, stop by the Medici Restaurant and Bakery to taste their best-sellers.

Visit the DuSable Museum

Exterior of DuSable Museum

The original uploader was TonyTheTiger at English Wikipedia. (Original text: en:User:TonyTheTiger), CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The DuSable Museum of African American History is an excellent venue to learn about African-American culture.

The museum’s founders sought to honor black culture from the dawn of time.

Although this location is not as old as one might believe, it houses some of the oldest literature and relics.

Founded in 1961, The DuSable Museum was once the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art.

It became a repository for African-American history and culture and a center for activism.

This museum has seen plenty of political fundraisers and other activities benefiting the black community.

This museum was not just a home to history but also a sanctuary for people who worked for a brighter future and equality.

Think like a Scientist at the Museum of Science and Industry

Exterior of Museum of Science and Industry

Henryk Sadura /

The Museum of Scientific and Industry in Hyde Park, Chicago, is one of the most famous museums in the country.

It draws nearly five million visitors every year.

Don’t skip this attraction because it offers a unique museum experience.

Interior exhibit in Museum of Science and Industry

Hendrickson Photography /

In 1933, the museum opened as part of a municipal development plan.

This plan included new parks and highways that connected the city to Lake Michigan.

The museum was once the “Palace of Fine Arts.”

After World War II, they renamed the place the “Museum of Science and Industry” to accommodate the place’s growing collection.

German WWII boat displayed in Museum of Science and Industry

ImagineerInc /

Learn the Basics of Art at the Hyde Park Art Center

Bring out your creative side at the Hyde Park Art Center, formerly Chicago’s Fifth Ward Art Center.

Since its opening in 1939, the center has offered art mentorship to the community to encourage them to improve their artistic sides.

The founders were initially artists who wanted to turn the area into a community of art, exhibiting and developing under-recognized local artists.

There is no permanent collection at the Art Center since many people buy the pieces.

Otherwise, another museum takes them.

You can find the works of Roger Brown, Ruth Duckworth, and Juan Angel at the center.

It also features performances inside Juan Angel Chavez’s Speaker Project, a performative sound installation.

Explore the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art

Building sign of Alfred Smart Museum of Art

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Hyde Park is equally proud of another museum that houses over 15,000 permanent collections.

The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art on the University of Chicago campus offers free admission to the general public.

Interestingly, its original name was the Smart gallery, which later changed in 1990.

Interior of Alfred Smart Museum of Art

EQRoy /

This museum opened in the 1960s, believing that the university could also hold the entire school’s complete art collections.

However, construction only began in 1971 after the university received a donation.

Edward A. Maser was the museum’s first director.

He had a mission of serving the broader community through educational outreach activities.

The grounds of Alfred Smart Museum of Art

EQRoy /

Appreciate Prairie Structure at the Frederick C. Robie House

Exterior of Frederick C. Robie House

EQRoy /

You’ve never been to Hyde Park if you didn’t visit the renowned Frederick C. Robie House.

Construction on this famous landmark inside the University of Chicago campus began from 1909 to 1910.

This landmark only became a National Historic Landmark in the 1960s.

Entrance door of Frederick C. Robie House

EQRoy /

If you haven’t heard of the Prairie School Design, this house is the best example.

Prairie structure highlights the usefulness of a particular design rather than its beauty.

This House has a pyramid-type roof and a good chimney that extends from both sides of each level window.

Books displayed in Frederick C. Robie House

EQRoy /

Shop and Dine at 53rd Street

Hyde Park offers a variety of shopping districts and streets, each offering a local shopping experience.

While most people think of Hyde Park as a residential neighborhood, it includes several shops and restaurants.

You can while away the afternoon wandering the neighborhood.

The 53rd Street shops and restaurants provide a local dining experience and an alley of fashionable boutiques and handcrafted goods.

Sit with a beer in the afternoon while speaking with your friends about your entire day in Hyde Park.

Since it maintains the original Hyde Park feel, the neighborhood is full of characters.

Don’t worry about spending Valentine’s Day here because every restaurant and company plans something special for lovers.

The farmers’ market also draws summer crowds.

Stop by the Hampton House

Exterior of Hampton House

TonyTheTiger at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hampton House, locally known as the Hyde Park House, is a residential condominium constructed in 1918.

The Hampton House is another place to visit and appreciate the architecture of Hyde Park.

The four-story house was a popular summer respite for visitors who wanted a different type of ambiance.

This place hosted Prince Albert Edward of Wales during his 1860 visit to Chicago.

The House is just a few minutes from the Illinois Central Railroad, which means you can conveniently visit nearby attractions.

John Troutbeck constructed this hotel near the planned rail depot, introducing travelers to a new suburb that provided escapes from the cities.

Wander the University of Chicago

Aerial view of the University of Chicago

Jacob Boomsma /

Don’t miss a visit to the University of Chicago.

In the Hyde Park district, the main campus regularly ranks among the most excellent universities globally.

The university has eight professional schools for all fields of study.

Welcome sign of the University of Chicago

EQRoy /

Likewise, they have campuses worldwide, including India and Hong Kong.

So, why should you visit this university?

This school developed the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear reactor, and it has the largest university press in the country.

Beautiful grounds of the University of Chicago


Watch Movies and Eat Snacks along 55th Avenue

Look no further than 55th Street in Hyde Park if you seek delicious ethnic cuisine!

The restaurants in the region offer a full menu of international cuisines, including Thai and Korean cuisine.

You can stay in your hotel and watch TV while sampling Walgreens’ French menu.

Grab a souvenir from one of the nearby shopping centers offering high-quality and affordable products.

There are also movies and snack spots, such as the Bonjour bakery, where you can spend a romantic afternoon.

Experience Japan at the Osaka Garden

A small arched footbridge at Osaka Garden

Jill Battaglia /

The Osaka garden features a pavilion, bridge, and a Shinto gate.

Hyde Park was popularly known as the Garden of the Phoenix before they changed it to Osaka Garden.

This is not just a place for visitors to enjoy.

Lush greenery surrounding the waters of Osaka Garden

Erika Kirkpatrick /

It also symbolizes the friendship between the US and Japan for over a century.

Initially, the pavilion only had a small garden; it underwent restoration in the 1930s and was used as a tourist attraction.

Each spring, the cherry blossom or sakura trees in Jackson Park bloom for around 6 to 10 days, an ideal time for a hanami experience.

A gazebo on the grounds of Osaka Garden

Thomas Barrat /

See Shows at the Court Theatre

Interior of the Court Theatre

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Court Theatre is another fun destination at the University of Chicago campus.

The theatre aims for intellectual engagement and community involvement.

This beautiful place should enhance your Hyde Park experience.

The place relives and performs the masterpieces of the African-American theatrical canon.

Likewise, enjoy the art shows.

Since its opening, the theater remains committed to immersing its audience in rich cultural heritage through performances.

Try Private Dining at the Mesler Chicago

Are you looking for a spot to grab dinner with your closest pals?

Whether you’re searching for brunch, lunch, supper, or simply a cup of coffee, Hyde Park’s Mesler Chicago has you covered.

The Mesler Kitchen has a 14-seater dining area with access to a firepit.

They created this restaurant to encourage diners to converse.

You can rent their private dining room if you want a little privacy while eating supper with your family.

Rewire Your Thoughts at the Silver Room

The next stop is possibly the strangest attraction in Hyde Park.

The Silver Room attempts to increase community inclusivity by allowing members to express themselves freely.

Eric Williams, a cultural and art enthusiast, founded this institution.

The university is putting its hands on valuing and promoting opportunities.

This place may seem to be a little bit odd, but it offers a therapeutic arrangement of goods, sounds, and displays.

Listen to Live Music at Hyde Park Jazz Fest

In the Hyde Park community, there’s always a reason to celebrate.

Hyde Park Jazz Fest makes sure of this.

This annual event started in 2007 but plans for it began in 2006.

Its first festival was a hit—many came by to watch jazz performers in various locations and attractions within the district.

Several years later, the festival has transformed into a Southern Chicago staple.

Listen to tunes from local artists and bands for free at this one-of-a-kind festival!

To get to the center of the festivities during Hyde Park Jazz Fest, head over to Midway Plaisance Park.

Go Ice Skating at Midway Plaisance Park

Midway Plaisance Park stands at over 1,000 acres of maximum fun and multi-purpose facilities.

This park comes with an 83-acre ice skating rink and a warming center.

Many come by this site in every season, but mostly during winter, to glide around the expansive rink.

Its fields are ideal for impromptu games and sports practice sessions.

Come by the 2005 Allison Davis Garden and marvel at the blooming perennials.

Midway Plaisance Park is also the venue for many annual events, including a summer concert series.

You can find this park on Midway Plaisance North.

Discover Ancient Relics at the Oriental Institute Museum

Entrance to the Oriental Institute Museum

EQRoy /

For a unique historical discovery, make a stop at Oriental Institute Museum.

Founded in 1919, this museum features collections and artifacts relating to ancient civilizations.

The civilizations the museum touches on are Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria, and more!

Included in its objects for display are photographs, tablet examples, records for excavation, and unpublished materials not sent to the University yet.

Exhibit in the Oriental Institute Museum

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The museum has five sections with each dedicated subject.

These include Conservation, Archives, Museum Registration, the Research Library, and the renowned Tablet Collection.

The University of Chicago is home to the Oriental Institute Museum on East 58th Street.

Building details of the Oriental Institute Museum

EQRoy /

Buy a Musical Gift at Hyde Park Records

Looking for a souvenir to bring home with you from your Hyde Park vacation?

Hyde Park Records is your best bet.

Opened in 2012, this music store has some of the widest music collections and memorabilia.

From CDs to vinyl records, you’ll have a blast strolling down memory lane of music through the years.

Its featured section introduces you to new CD inventories for as low as a dollar.

And best of all, the music scope is endless and different each time you visit.

If you’ve got records of your own, you can also sell them to the shop!

You can find Hyde Park Records on East 53rd Street.

Opt for a Quick Swim at 57th Street Beach

A beach house at 57th Street Beach

Paul R. Burley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

All year round, Hyde Park always has a gift for its residents in the form of beaches.

And one of them is 57th Street Beach.

While swimming is only allowed every beach season, this public beach is accessible to everyone no matter the month.

Since 1899, this beach is a go-to spot for bathing and promenading.

With a beach walk and grilling areas, this public space is great for family and group outings.

57th Street Beach is inside Jackson Park on South Lake Shore Drive.

Final Thoughts

If you’re seeking activities that will keep you engaged and active, Hyde Park is the place to go.

At Hyde Park, you’ll find activities that will boost your participation in the community.

Hyde Park is a great spot to channel your inner extrovert and enjoy various activities like art, theater, reading, and even partying!

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