Hyde Park, the former suburb turned south side Chicago neighborhood, has been acclaimed as one of the most successfully integrated neighborhoods in the United States. It has been home to President Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Senator Carol Mosely-Braun, and Marshall Field, among others, and its family-oriented appeal makes it a prime pick for any visitors or prospective residents. You can eat fabulous Caribbean and Soul food and enjoy an outdoor chess match in Harper Court. The Promontory Point on Lake Michigan is a favorite spot for swimmers, dog-owners, and picnickers alike.
Besides being home to the University of Chicago, Hyde Park is packed with artistic and cultural destinations, among which are Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, and the Museum of Science and Industry. The university offers the Court Theatre (5535 South Ellis) for theater buffs and the Renaissance Society (Bergman Gallery, Cobb, Room 418) attracts more culture to the area through art and performance. The 57th Street Art Fair is also the oldest outdoor juried art fair in the Midwest.
There is more than enough for a visitor to see here, and devoting a full day to exploring Hyde Park can make for a fine itinerary. Architecture buffs will have their hands occupied by the many Victorian mansions and Prairie School houses; anyone with an intellectual bent should be delighted by Hyde Park's independent bookstores, overawed by the University of Chicago's terrifying intensity, and intrigued by the Oriental Institute; and just about everyone will enjoy a trip to the stimulating Museum of Science and Industry or taking a stroll and a swim along the Point and the beach.
El: Red Line to Garfield. Bus: 2, 4, 6, 15, 28, 55, 171, 172. For more travel information, visit www.transitchicago.com.