North Center is rich with fantastic attractions and things to do. Even though it’s smack dab in-between Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village, and Wrigleyville, you don’t have to leave the ‘hood to experience the best of Chicago. With some of the best places to see improv in Chicago and fantastic craft breweries, you’ve got no excuse to be bored in North Center. Take advantage of this family-friendly, Brown Line neighborhood with our guide to the best things to do in North Center.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to North Center
Attractions and things to do in North Center
Timber Lanes in an intimate, old-school bowling alley with an authentic Chicago vibe. Boasting eight classic wood lanes packed into an unassuming corner tavern, it's the perfect spot to spend an evening. Come ready to score your own game by hand (we weren't kidding when we said it was old-school).
This rather plain, midsized space once hosted big names such as Wilco, Los Lobos and Bernie Worrell, but in recent years has exposed Chicago to a wealth of jazz-fusion, world music and jam acts. Weeknight specials on beer, pizza and empanadas make it an easy place to kill an evening.
After nearly a decade serving up LOLs in Schaumburg, a second location of this comedy theater focused on short-form improv (based around games like those on Whose Line Is It Anyway?) has opened in North Center. Early-evening shows are family-friendly, while late shows can get blue.
Hop into nature for an hour or a whole afternoon with a kayak trip along the Chicago River's north branch. Chicago River Canoe and Kayak offers boat rentals and tours for both individuals and groups. Take a guided sunset nature trip, or, in the fall, paddle to see the Sandhill Crane migration.
Seven years into his transformative tenure as American Theater Company's artistic director, during which he pissed off many longstanding ensemble members (who left to re-form under their original name, American Blues Theater) but expanded a commitment to diversity and new work onstage, PJ Paparelli was killed in an automobile accident in May 2015. Interim artistic director Bonnie Metzgar is now at the reigns and guiding the company.
Strawdog, after a year in residence at the Factory Theater in Rogers Park following the loss of their longtime East Lakeview home, signed a lease in the spring of 2017 on the former home of Signal Ensemble Theatre in North Center. Strawdog will kick off its 30th season there in the fall, and will also rent the space to other companies, including Red Theater Chicago.
With 40 lanes, programmable bumpers, two bars, a billiards area, a children's movie theater and a restaurant, Waveland Bowl is easily the largest bowling alley in Chicago. It's the perfect spot for a birthday party or event. Sign up for a bowling league, or just drop in for a night of blacklight Cosmic Bowling.
This busy neighborhood park offers a host of sports leagues for folks of all ages, from soccer to volleyball to rugby, in addition to its four outdoor tennis courts and baseball fields. Revere Park offers Park Kids, an afterschool program that runs from 2–6pm every weekday with activies for children under 5.