Thanks to our Team Harris Ambassador, Tiffany Kwak (MPP'18), for this post! 

Chicago is a world-class city that is made up of 77 (!) different neighborhoods. The University of Chicago has called the neighborhood of Hyde Park its home since 1890, and it’s safe to say a lot has changed in the area since then. As a love letter to Hyde Park, here are some of my favorite spots throughout the historical neighborhood:

Best Place to People Watch

Promontory Point

An essential part of Hyde Park, the Promontory Point can host all of your favorite outdoor activities: weddings, picnics, campfires, kite flying, soccer matches, swimming, and more! It provides direct access to the iconic Lakefront Trail, so it’s easy to take a stroll around the Point and then hit the Lakefront Trail to jog down south along Jackson Park, or go all the way up north to Edgewater. It’s also a great place to watch fireworks during 4th of July, as you get a direct view of downtown Chicago and Navy Pier from the north side of the Point.

Best Coffee

Grounds of Being - Divinity School Cafe

There are many wonderful coffee spots in Hyde Park (U of C students are a well-caffeinated bunch), but I have the biggest soft spot for the this cash-only cozy spot. Not only is the coffee spectacular, but their food offerings are just as affordable and vast.

Best Brunch


Nothing beats a satisfying, inexpensive brunch at Valois. Plus, President Obama has his own table here. Enough said.

Best Place to Work on a Problem Set

Harper Memorial Library

Dubbed the “Harry Potter Library” by some, it is not only a great place for a photo opportunity, but also to get a lot of work done because it is unusually quiet here at all times. The only drawback to this study spot is that it is always super warm temperature-wise, which is great for your REM cycle but potentially bad for that problem set you have due in 3 hours.

Best Place to Get Your Bike Fixed

Blackstone Bicycle Works

Blackstone Bikes is an amazing and inspiring community bike shop that takes a very cool concept and turns it into an education opportunity for neighborhood youth. Blackstone Bikes is a vital community institution, and the perfect place to stop by for a quick tune up before your biking adventures around the city.

Best Non-Chain Bookstore

All of them!

With a small handful of bookstores to choose from, it’s hard to definitively say one bookstore is the “best”. And yes, it’s true - most Hyde Park residents take their reading lists very seriously (and no two lists are likely to be the same), so it’s important to have a little bit of variety when it comes to book-browsing. The Seminary Co-Op and 57th Street Books operate as a partnership, and Powell’s Books is a great source for used books. All three bookstores are relatively close to each other, so I highly recommend checking out all three if you’re ever in Hyde Park.

Best Sandwich

Hyde Park Produce Deli Counter

The deli counter at Hyde Park Produce has changed very little over the years, and the combination of a sandwich and a bag of chips or fruit is an amazing deal compared to some other options in the area. My staple is the caprese sandwich here - everything about it is juuuust right, and it’s easy to take with you whether you’re biking to campus for a talk at the Seminary Co-Op or heading to a picnic at the Point (See what I did there? It all comes full circle!).

Want to learn more about our Hyde Park neighborhood? Check out more information here