Humboldt Park, Chicago, was always one of those neighborhoods I didn’t explore much when growing up in the city. I lived in Avondale, just a few miles north, but Humboldt Park was a different world.
I blame my mother and her personal fear of the unknown.
As a tourist in my own city, I’ve been able to choose neighborhoods to base myself in that I hadn’t experienced much for whatever reason.
What I found was that the Humboldt Park community is vibrant, delicious, and home to one of the best green spaces in the city. Use this guide for all of the best things to do in Humboldt Park, including where to eat while you’re here.
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What makes Humboldt Park special?
Humboldt Park is special because of its rich cultural diversity, historical significance, and public art scene. It’s also a hub for delicious Puerto Rican food in Chicago. Locals know that this isn’t just an up-and-coming neighborhood.
It’s a place that has long since arrived as a destination for food, culture, and fun.
Where is Humboldt Park in Chicago?
Humboldt Park, Chicago, is on the west side of Chicago. Division Street and North Avenue are the main commercial streets that run through the neighborhood.
Humboldt Park is surrounded by Ukrainian Village and West Town to the east, Garfield Park to the south, Hermosa and Logan Square to the north, and Austin to the west.
What is Humboldt Park known for?
Humboldt Park is known for its namesake park and for being a base for the Puerto Rican community in Chicago.
Note: Many of the long-time residents have been displaced in recent years due to gentrification and rising housing costs in the area. There have been efforts by Puerto Ricans who remain to retain the city’s Puerto Rican heritage and culture for future generations.
10 Fun Facts About Humboldt Park
I’m from Chicago and many of these fun facts about Humboldt Park were new to me. Enjoy!
1. The green space of Humboldt Park was a living lab of sorts for landscape architect Jens Jensen, then superintendent of the West Park system. It’s thanks to him that the park offers features like inland lagoons, native plants, and winding stone pathways.
2. Jensen came from the school of thought that parks were for the people. They should be functional but visually striking, as well. The Humboldt Park Fieldhouse and the Humboldt Park Boathouse are the best examples of that blend.
3. The neighborhood itself was basically all marshland until the Great Chicago Fire. Development in the area exploded after the fire to include a variety of two flats and apartment buildings.
4. Humboldt Park is named after Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist. He had never been to Chicago, but the locals in the neighborhood were heavily German and Scandinavian at the time.
5. A statue of Humboldt was put up in the park in 1892. When the Poles arrives a little while later, they added an homage to Thaddeus Kosciuszko in the form of the military hero on horseback.
6. Puerto Ricans started to arrive by the 1950s, and they’ve remained the largest ethnic group in the neighborhood ever since.
7. Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican residents decided to make their own mark on the neighborhood in 1995. That’s when they renamed a stretch of Division Street “Paseo Boricua.” Two large Puerto Rican flags were installed to mark the beginning and end of the stretch.
8. Those double flags are 59 feet tall. They each weigh 45 tons.
9. Chicago is third on the list of largest Puerto Rican communities in the United States, behind only New York City and Philadelphia.
10. L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while living at 1667 N. Humboldt Blvd. in 1899. You can visit the spot and a real yellow brick road (or in this case, sidewalk) to this day.
Just keep in mind that it’s a private residence, so snap your photos, enjoy the whimsy, and move it along!
How to Get to Humboldt Park
To get to Humboldt Park, you need to get to Chicago, first. I use a variety of tools to find cheap airfare, but if you’re looking to book during a particular period of time, you should use Skyscanner.
It’s a great tool for when you’re more flexible, too, as it allows you to compare your Chicago travel based on length of travel, departure date, etc.
Once you’ve arrived in Chicago, you have a few options to get to Humboldt Park.
If you’re traveling from O’Hare International Airport, take the Blue Line toward Forest Park to the Damen stop. You can take the North Avenue bus (72) from there or walk if it’s a nice day.
Trips from Chicago Midway International Airport take longer. You can take the Orange Line toward the Loop to Western, then hop on the California Avenue bus (94) from there.
How to Get Around Humboldt Park
Humboldt Park is compact enough to navigate on foot. We like getting our steps, so had no problem getting ourselves to neighboring Logan Square and West Town during our stay without getting in the car.
As far as public transportation, bus access is best in and around Humboldt Park. Bus routes 70 (Division ), 72 (North), 82 (Kimball/Homan), and 94 (California) all pass through Humboldt Park.
It’s a hike to the train from here. If the weather’s nice and you don’t mind a long stroll, the Damen Blue Line Station is about a mile and a half of the park itself. The Logan Square stop is a little bit further.
Do you feel like being more active? The city of Chicago is fairly bike-friendly. Just make sure you lock up your bike with a bike lock once you’re done. You can also rent one of the thousands of Divvy bikes available at sites throughout the city.
Want a map of all the incredible things I’m going to highlight here? Click on the link below:
Things to Do in Humboldt Park, Chicago
There is plenty to do to fill up a full day in the Humboldt Park area, especially if you visit in the warmer months and can take advantage of the park itself. Our stay was in the winter months, though, and the neighborhood was still a good time.
Explore Humboldt Park.
I’m not talking about the neighborhood here, but the park itself. Enjoy access to food trucks that will entice you with smells of Puerto Rican food and fried chicken. Walk through an urban bird reserve, or get your sweat on with miles of jogging and biking trails and tennis courts.
Humboldt Park even has its own seasonal beach!
Can you swim in Humboldt Park? You can swim at Humboldt Park, specifically at Humboldt Park Beach. Before you take a dip, though, check the Chicago Park District website.
The beach is only open in the summertime for water activities, and when the bacteria levels are too high, you’re not invited for a swim. Summertime is also the best time to explore the park’s inland lagoons and rent a swan to float around from the Humboldt Park Boathouse.
We visited the park daily with our pup during our two-long stay in this part of the city. I could not get enough, especially with the changing fall leaves.
Visit The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.
This free museum is inside Humboldt Park itself close to the intersection of Division Street and Sacramento Avenue, but it deserves a mention of its own. You’ll find a modest art exhibit inside and a second space on the history of the park and its architect Jens Jensen.
Fun fact: The Humboldt Park stables here were designed by Jensen in 1895.
Depending on when you visit, you may be able to check out additional art exhibits in their warehouse space and on the second floor. The top floor was a work in progress during our own trip, but the temporary work in the large art space was an evocative work called “The Immortal Plena.”
Walk the 606.
If you’re itching for a good urban hike, walk the Bloomingdale Trail, better known as “The 606.” The 2.7-mile elevated trail runs along an old rail line, and it’s become a fixture of the neighborhood for locals who want to get a jog in or a more scenic route for their trip home.
You don’t have to do the whole thing if you don’t want to.
Note: It’s 2.7 miles each way.
You’re able to get off in a number of spots to explore fun neighborhoods below. Pass through Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square in addition to seeing Humboldt Park from above.
Stroll the Paseo Boricua.
The Paseo Boricua is Humboldt Park’s commercial strip and known as the city’s Little Puerto Rico. You’ll know you’re there in a pretty big way. This section of Division Street is bookended by two large Puerto Rican flags.
This is where you’ll find the heart of Puerto Rican culture in the city. Don’t miss La Casita de Don Pedro, a walled garden meant to resemble the Puerto Rican flag from above, and the colorful murals up and down Division Street as you walk.
Side streets like Rockwell Street also boast mural art, and it’s often politically charged. Don’t miss the sidewalk art, a fairly new addition to this vibrant section of the neighborhood. It was all done by local Puerto Rican artists as a celebration of Puerto Rican culture.
For a more in-depth look at the neighborhood’s historic sites, especially along the Paseo Boricua, check out the tours with the Paseo Boricua Tour Company.
See the flower show at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
It’s not in Humboldt Park, but this year-round spot is almost walkable and a jewel of the city. I love this place, especially in the winter when the fern room has all of that humidity going at full blast and the snowmen are up in the winter flowers exhibit.
There’s a large parking lot for you to park at if you’re driving. Otherwise, the Green Line has a dedicated stop for the conservatory. I’d recommend driving if you can. The neighborhood is in a higher crime area, but we had no issues leaving our car in the lot for our hour of exploration.
Humboldt Park Bars
Humboldt Park’s bar scene has quite a bit of variety for whatever you’re after. Check out my picks for the best Humboldt Park bars and spots to grab a drink.
This bar on California Avenue is the oldest bar in Humboldt Park, and you better believe the California Clipper plays off of those retro vibes. Order a Chicago Handshake if it’s your first time doing such a thing. That’s a pour of Old Style and a shot of Malört.
Will you regret it? Likely. Will you laugh about it later? Maybe.
Expect live music no matter when you’re here.
Enjoy fun cocktails and seasonal beers in the artsy space of Ørkenoy. If you need a nosh, their menu is full of Nordic-inspired small plates that are perfect for the pescatarian.
The Smørrebrød was probably our favorite thing. It was essentially an open-faced sandwich with fried fish, crunchy cabbage, and capers. Gimme gimme.
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar
This neighborhood wine bar is a Humboldt Park favorite for its loungey vibes and intimate atmosphere. Wine is the highlight here, and you can choose from reasonably priced wines by the glass or bottle.
They have a menu of small bites and a gourmet burger that gets rave reviews, too. I haven’t tried it, but it comes slathered in a bacon aioli. That has to be a good thing.
Split-Rail has a full menu of eats that includes whatever crab gravy is and fried chicken, but you’re here for the craft cocktails. Order a Let It Linger, a vodka and aperol concoction with a horseradish salt rim, or a Party Time! The exclamation point is theirs and signals excitement for their blueberry- and lavender-infused gin.
Scofflaw is a neighborhood bar that takes its cocktail program very seriously. The focus here is gin, but if you think gin tastes like pinecones (that’s me!) they have a variety of yummy alternatives.
They have a full dinner menu, too. I haven’t tried the food just yet, but I would absolutely devour a beet Reuben if I found it in front of me. Reservations are highly recommended.
Best Restaurants in Humboldt Park
Humboldt Park is known for its Puerto Rican food, and you should definitely eat it all. There’s also quite a bit of variety, too. Love starting the day off at a cute cafe? The Humboldt Park neighborhood has you covered. Interested in a fancy night out? It has that, too.
Check out my top picks for where to eat in and around historic Humboldt Park. I’ll include a few from surrounding West Town and Ukrainian Village, as there’s quite a bit to nosh on within walking distance of Humboldt Park.
All Together Now
I’m cheating with this one as it’s actually in nearby Ukrainian Village, but when I try one of the yummiest cheese boards in the city, I have to share it with you. If you’re in need of more dairy, add their goat cheese curds to your order. They’re perfectly shareable, or not.
We weren’t there for arepas at ArePA George, although they get high marks from fans of this casual Colombian spot. We were there for their empanadas, which I highly recommend.
Diners who want to avoid meat and gluten won’t be disappointed by this spot. They have all kinds of veg options, and their arepas are by definition gluten-free.
Aztec Dave’s Cantina
Aztec Dave’s started as a beloved food truck in the area, but it has since taken over a brick-and-mortar spot on California Avenue. Try the loaded papas if you’re having that kinda day, or one of their bowls if you haven’t given up just yet. The cantina side has a variety of beers and cocktails for you to pair with your grub.
Boeufhaus is on the border of Humboldt Park and Ukrainian Village. It’s definitely special occasion dining, especially if you like your meats. Choose from a daily menu of fresh cuts of steak or a small plate menu that I’d argue is even more delicious. We took my mom here for a birthday and the short rib beignet and fried perch appetizers were highlights.
They have a fantastic wine list, too. Make reservations for this one.
This coffee shop is run by a husband and wife team, and the focus here is on bringing quality coffee to Humboldt Park locals. Watch their social media for special events like storytime hours for the littles in the cold months or holiday markets supporting local vendors.
The community vibes are strong with this one.
I don’t think you can have too many options for cafés when exploring a new neighborhood, especially when one serves up Puerto Rican sweet treats. Café Colao is known for its Puerto Rican pastries. Start with the pastelillos de guava y queso, a puff pastry stuffed with guava and cheese. I know, right?
Big ol’ sandwiches await at Diana’s, Humboldt Park’s comfort food hub. Brian loved his Cubano with a perfect mustard and pickles ratio. It’s definitely large enough to share if you’d like to try something else, too.
As it was winter, I had their delicious chicken stew. It was the perfect warmup. If you like a little kick with your food, ask for their spicy Boss Sauce.
Retro, super casual Feed is known for its chicken. If you’re rolling deep, order a whole rotisserie chicken to share with sides like fried okra, beet salad, or their bean of the month. If you’re not feeling that aggressive, go with the chicken wings or a BBQ pulled chicken sandwich.
You’ll be licking your fingers no matter what you order.
Flying Saucer is a cash-only breakfast and lunch favorite that serves up classic diner food in a fresh way. Expect grass-fed meats in your burrito and plenty of options to make plates vegetarian. You can feel good about hitting that ATM to dine here.
Fun fact: If you love antiquing, one of the neighborhood’s best shops for that hobby is right next door at Vintage Quest.
This gastro pub in between the park and Logan Square is perfect for special occasion dining. Expect seasonal tastes in the form of pasta dishes, blintzes, and reasonably-raised grilled meats. While the flavors are big at Giant, the space is not. It’s best to arrive with reservations at this one. Book those online.
Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar
You know I had to point you to some Eastern European dining if I could. This one approaching Ukrainian Village makes my heart sing with options like prime rib pierogi, radish and beet salads, and several varieties of roe served up with homemade bread.
If you’re on a quest to taste-test all of the best sandwiches in Humboldt Park, Humboldt Haus should be on your list. It looks like a liquor store if you’re just strolling by, but don’t do that thing where you’re judging a book by its cover.
Getting inside means generous deli sandwiches, melts, and a variety of decadent desserts. If you’re into meats, their roast beef is a favorite. Order “The Beast” if you really want a case of the meat sweats. That one includes turkey, pastrami, roast beef, ham, mortadella, and salami.
This sushi spot in between Humboldt Park and Ukrainian Village is known for its omakase experience, so we went for it on our visit. It was also my Christmas gift for Brian at the time, so it felt extra appropriate.
If you’d like to order à la carte at Kai Zan, that’s perfectly fine. We didn’t have a bite that we wouldn’t have eaten a full portion of, and I get a little weird about certain sushi textures. The omakase menu is one of the most affordable I’ve seen, though. If you’re able to throw down a little extra, you won’t be disappointed by leaving it up to the chef.
Lucy’s has two locations in the city, one in Uptown and the other in Humboldt Park. The Humboldt Park location is the original, so it’s the best place to try their signature fried chicken.
Try it in sandwich form topped with bacon jam if you’re celebrating something…or just because you’re down with bacon jam. It’s known as one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city.
Nellie’s is the neighborhood’s best option for a traditional Puerto Rican breakfast. Come for their weekend breakfast buffet for a little bit (or a lot) of everything, or go simple with a bowl of their coconut oatmeal. It sounds basic but it’s anything but. They sell this stuff by the gallon.
Reservations are recommended, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend. You don’t need to be throwing elbows for those breakfast jibaritos.
It’s barbecue with a global twist at the highly-rated Offset BBQ, a casual meat shop just north of the park. If you’re not sure where to start, go for the Offset Platter. You get 1/4 pound each of pork and chicken with your choice of two sides like smoked sweet potato, huli huli green beans, or elote.
Their wings are also a delight. They’re marinated, smoked, then fried and tossed with sauce. Reservations aren’t required but are recommended, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend. Book them online.
Papa’s Cache Sobroso
Beach-themed Papa’s Cache Sobroso is meant to remind you of island life on Puerto Rican itself. They get pretty close, especially once you try their jibaritos. That’s a sandwich made with fried plantains instead of bread. Carb counters, rejoice!
Oh, wait. Plantains have carbs. Whatever, folks. Live a little.
If it’s a nice day, enjoy your treat on the covered patio in front. This one is BYOB, so feel free to bring beverages along if you want something stronger than a Coco Rico. That’s a coconut-flavored soda. Yum.
Roeser’s Bakery is the oldest family-owned bakery still in its original location in the city. You’ll know you’re there when you see the flashing lights outside the shop entrance. The doughnuts were the highlight, so I’d recommend you start there.
Flavors rotate by season, but I found that the simpler the recipe, the more complex the flavor. It’s funny how that works. They do quite a bit of business creating beautiful specialty cakes, too, if you’re planning something festive.
I was able to taste-test this cafe twice, once for giant savory breakfast buns and teacakes and then again for their pies on Thanksgiving. I’d do it all again to try slices of Napoli-style pizza and craft sodas. That’s how good it is.
They can get a bit of a line on weekends, so head over early.
Taco El Jalisciense
There’s quite a big of competition for delicious eats on this stretch of Chicago Avenue. I’ve already mentioned Feed and Heritage Restaurant. If you have a craving for tacos, this counter-service spot is beloved by fans of carne asada in all of its forms. You’ll likely have to squeeze in if you’re dining in, or take your tacos to-go if you’re nearby.
Casual fusion spot Zoku Sushi actually serves up quite a bit more than sushi. You can pair your favorite maki with Thai noodles and warming curries if you’d like, or keep it simple with fresh plates of nigiri. This is a popular to-go spot, but the friendly staff will make you feel right at home if you’d like to dine there.
Humboldt Park Events & Festivals
Plan your visit around Humboldt Park events if you want to see the neighborhood come alive, or plan your trip to avoid them if you don’t like the extra traffic. I support you either way! I’ll include a few within a short drive of Humboldt Park, as the neighborhood itself is best known for its Puerto Rican Festival.
Fiestas Patronales Puertorriqueñas
Experience Humboldt Park’s biggest event at the annual Puerto Rican Festival. The two-day festival has been happening for over 40 years now, and it’s open to all who want to celebrate everything that gives Puerto Rican culture its vibrancy.
The family-friendly event kicks off with the Annual Puerto Rican Day People’s Parade on Division Street, or “Puerto Rico Town” as its known during the event. From there, sample the best Puerto Rican treats, dance to the beats of the best local Puerto Rican musicians, or watch people duke it out in the annual domino tournament.
Riot Fest has moved to nearby Douglass Park after several years in Humboldt Park, but that’s still just a 15-minute drive from Humboldt Park proper. The three-day punk rock event is one of the city’s best-known live music festivals, with the biggest names in each genre headlining each night.
Expect big names like My Chemical Romance, Nine Inch Nails, and Ice Cube if you want to plan travel around this time. You should also expect jumps in prices for airfare and accommodations in the days leading up to and just after the event. I told you this was a big one.
West Humboldt Park Arts & Culture Festival
This cultural festival put on by the Cook County Assessor’s Office features live music, a farmers market, family-friendly arts and crafts, and informational booths with local officials to allow residents to address comments and questions. It’s a way to get to know this often-ignored part of the city and the people within.
Wicker Park Fest
Wicker Park Fest was always one of my favorite events while Brian and I lived in the neighborhood. At just about a mile-and-a-half from Humboldt Park, this one is easy enough to walk to if you don’t mind the stroll. There’s an expected donation of $10 per person if you go, but you’ll get a big dose of the best of Wicker Park for the effort.
Expect a variety of live musical acts — most years they have over 50 acts on four different stages over the long weekend — and delicious food from neighborhood eateries to start.
Winter Flower Show
I’ve already highlighted the Garfield Park Conservatory as an excellent stop just south of Humboldt Park. If you visit Chicago in the winter, you can attend the conservatory’s Winter Flower Show. See the place dressed up for winter with winter flower displays and gardens covered in “snow.”
It’s not real. The foliage will do just fine.
Make reservations online before you go, even if you miss out on the show. It’s free to visit, but they do approach capacity on busy weekends.
Is Humboldt Park safe?
The area around Humboldt Park itself is generally safe.
Crime overall in the neighborhood is higher than in other parts of the city, but I never felt unsafe walking in the daytime and at night. That said, be street-smart when you’re out solo anywhere in the city. Don’t flash your valuables or leave things on the seat of your car.
Much of the crime in neighborhoods like this one is crimes of opportunity or related to gang violence in these communities.
Humboldt Park, Chicago: FAQs
Does Humboldt Park have parking?
Humboldt Park has street parking and paid lots. I’ve never had a problem finding free parking in Humboldt Park, but pay attention to street signs. Some streets are permit-only, while others have close for street cleaning or snow removal. It’s one of the fun quirks of driving around Chicago.
Is Humboldt Park a nice area?
Humboldt Park is a nice area for the most part. Gentrification has introduced more small businesses in Humboldt Park, but that typically comes at the expense of affordable housing for long-time residents.
Is Humboldt Park being gentrified?
Humboldt Park is being gentrified. Prices in the traditionally Puerto Rican neighborhood have skyrocketed, which has meant the displacement of long-time residents. Local leaders have pursued initiatives to maintain Humboldt Park as a cultural district.
Where to Stay in Humboldt Park
We stayed in Humboldt Park for a full two months on our last visit. Shorter stays mean I’m likely hanging out at my mom’s place or bunking with friends in town. That doesn’t mean I don’t have recommendations for you.
You won’t find traditional hotels in Humboldt Park, but here are a few options nearby from my preferred hotel site Booking.com:
- The Hotel & Athletic Club at Midtown: This super popular hotel in Bucktown is part of the Midtown Athletic Club. Enjoy free parking and easy access to Humboldt Park.
- Hyatt Place Chicago Wicker Park: This hotel isn’t cheap by any means, but it’s much less expensive than accommodations downtown. That’s because you’re in the thick of it in Wicker Park.
- Wicker Park Inn: I’ve stayed at this lovely property in Wicker Park for an event. It feels luxe while retaining those bed and breakfast vibes.
- This centrally-located apartment in Bucktown is more budget-friendly than hotels in the same area with two bedrooms to split costs even further.
- Stay in trendy Logan Square at this two-bedroom option. This one was also featured in a Hallmark holiday rom-com just in case that does something for you.
- This pet-friendly urban gem in Logan Square is perfect for travelers visiting Chicago with their pups. Enjoy two full bedrooms, laundry access, and free parking at this one.
Is Humboldt Park Worth a Visit?
Humboldt Park is absolutely worth a visit. It’s home to one of the best green spaces in the city and some of Chicago’s best eateries. On your next trip to Chicago, use this Humboldt Park guide to explore a side of the city you may not have otherwise. Delicious things are waiting!
Ready for Chicago’s Humboldt Park?
Your Flight: I use a variety of tools to find cheap airfare, but if you’re looking to book during a particular period of time, especially during busy times like the winter holidays, you should use Skyscanner. It’s a great tool for when you’re more flexible, too, as it allows you to compare travel based on length of travel, departure date, etc.
Deals to Chicago are definitely easier to come by in the off-season, as the weather isn’t ideal. Another strategy is following the major airlines to catch good deals that may come up for your city.
Adventurous folks may love subscribing to Going, formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights. You’ll get all kinds of deals in your inbox throughout the year. I can personally vouch for lots of deals in and out of Chicago.
Your Accommodations: Scroll up for tips on where to stay while visiting Humboldt Park Chicago. Generally, I use Booking.com as my top choice, then comparison-shop on Hotels.com. Prefer something Airbnb-like? Try Vrbo, instead. Hostelworld is also great for the budget-conscious.
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Interested in exploring more Midwestern travel? Check out the posts below:
- Baseball Fans, Visit the Real Field of Dreams
- Go Off the Beaten Path in Bay City, MI
- Visit the Nature Refuge of Cuyahoga Valley
- A Guide to the Best of Cleveland, Ohio
- Take a Cruise Around the Apostle Islands
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