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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Your perfect weekend: Bronzeville

Our guide to a perfect weekend jam-packed with new discoveries, delicious cuisine and lakefront fun, all within Bronzeville

Written by
Grace Perry
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Yes, Chicago, we love you as a whole, but let’s take a moment to really zero in on one of the city’s best areas: Bronzeville. The South Side neighborhood home to some of the best jazz and blues clubs in Chicago, stunning beaches and a whole lot of local (and national) history. Here’s how to spend an unforgettable, quintessentially Chicago weekend without ever leaving Bronzeville.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete Bronzeville neighborhood guide

Friday

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Grand Boulevard
  • price 1 of 4

Get an official welcome to Bronzeville at this family-owned rib house. Bring a hungry crew, stake out a table and order up a couple of slabs of meaty, tender spareribs, a whole mess of rib tips and a plate of hot links. If you’re still hungry after the main event, juicy smoked chicken and crispy catfish should round things out.

  • Art
  • Public art
  • Douglas

Bronzeville is packed with historically significant spots. Take a tour of Bronzeville's impressive monuments, starting with the Stephen A. Douglas Tomb and Memorial, a 46-foot marble column on Lake Michigan. Head down 35th Street to the Victory Monument, honoring an African-American unit from Illinois that fought in World War I, then finish up at the Monument to the Great Northern Migration.

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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Grand Boulevard
  • price 2 of 4

Dine at Creole-influenced soul-food joint Pearl's Place. You'll likely have to be patient with the long wait, but the pepper-flecked fried chicken and delicious collard greens are well worth the wait. If you're not full after that, finish your meal with the fluffy, caramelized sweet potato pie.

 

Saturday

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Douglas

Get a taste of Bronzeville's rich artistic tradition while perusing the latest exhibition at Gallery Guichard. Founded in 2005, the gallery specializes in art from the African diaspora. Gallery Guichard features a new artist every six to eight weeks, so there's always something new to see. 

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2pm: 31st Street Beach
  • Things to do
  • Bronzeville/Oakland

It wouldnt be summer in Bronzeville without a trip to 31st Street Beach, one of Chicago's most beautiful beaches. This South Side beach features amazing views of the Chicago skyline in addition to a harbor for small boats. A nearby park includes a picnic area and a public fishing dock. 

6pm: Yassa
  • Restaurants
  • Senegalese
  • Douglas
  • price 2 of 4

Dig into Senegalese cuisine—including spicy lamb stew and sautéed shrimp—at BYOB-friendly Yassa. The chef at this eatery uses slow methods of cooking mingled with the flavors of West African spices to make Old World, yet innovative, dishes. 

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  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Kenwood

Soak up South Side tradition at timeless jazz club, Room 43. Though it sits on Muddy Waters Drive, this South Bronzeville/North Kenwood club is far more bop than blues. It plays host to the Hyde Park Jazz Society on Sunday nights ($10, students $5), an under the radar option for traditionalists. 

Sunday

11am: Ain't She Sweet Cafe
  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Grand Boulevard
  • price 1 of 4

Pop into Ain't She Sweet Cafe and pick up Da Steve, a deliciously simple turkey sandwich that always hits the spot. But you can't go wrong—with sandwiches, wraps, salads and smoothies abound to pick from, you can create your own or pick from their lineup.

  • Things to do
  • Literary events
  • Douglas

Head to the Illinois Institute of Technology to tour modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's buildings, including the spectacular S.R. Crown Hall. Meet inside Perlstein Hall (10 W 33rd Street) to tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Grand Boulevard
  • price 2 of 4

Close our your weekend in Bronzeville with a pick-me-up at neighborhood café Sip and Savor. After that big lunch and lots of walking, you may need a little extra caffeine. With ample tables and Wi-Fi available, find a spot to sit or belly up to the bar and pick your favorite latte (the shop's specialty). Our favorite? The chai tea latte.

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