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The Chicago Old Town Art Fair: An Art Lover’s Dream

Take to the streets of the Windy City to explore the Chicago Art Fair. If you love to peruse paintings and sculptures, you won’t want to miss a chance to visit this iconic event. 

But with so much to see and do, it can be stressful to make the most of this big event. 

Today we’ll get you the information you need to appreciate the art.

Let’s hit the road!

About the Chicago Old Town Art Fair

Over 200 artists line the streets of Chicago every June to participate in the Old Town Fair, one of the oldest in the country. They show things they’ve made with glass, metal, and paint. Almost every artistic medium will be on display for the weekend. Whether you’ve been looking for a new painting or jewelry, you’ll find it at this event.

The fair has no shortage of things to do. Plant lovers can stroll around to see some of the area’s most artistic gardens. You can also pick up a snack or catch live music during the festival. If you travel with kids, the event also has a craft space for them to enjoy. 

Pro Tip: Unsure if a visit to Chicago is right for you? These are 5 Reasons to Avoid Chicago.

Chicago skyline
Chicago is known for many things, including the Old Town Art Fair.

Where Is the Old Town Art Fair?

This event occurs in the historic Old Town triangle district of Chicago. German immigrants first settled in the area around 1850, but a fire in 1871 destroyed the entire village. When residents rebuilt their homes, they used brick and stone instead of wood to prevent future disastrous fires. 

In the 1940s, the city recognized the neighborhood as a historic area and began preserving it. Today you can wander the triangle between Ogden Avenue, Clark Street, and North Avenue to marvel at the narrow, tree-lined streets. The buildings have a distinct architectural charm that we think anyone would love. 

What Is the Gold Coast Art Fair?

Those with busy schedules will be happy to hear you can explore more quality craftsmanship in Chicago the weekend after the Old Town Art Fair. 

The Gold Coast Art Fair, which takes place in mid-June, will celebrate its sixty-fifth anniversary in 2023. 

This event will welcome over 200 artists to display their work in Grant Park this year. You can get to the event located along the shores of Lake Michigan, south of Navy Pier, by taking public transit. Parking is available in a nearby garage. 

Enthusiasts from across the country love to shop for all kinds of handmade goods at this event. You can even bring your gently-used art to donate to the Chicago Furniture Bank. The nonprofit provides decor and furnishings to shelter residents who have found permanent housing.

Other Fun Things To Do Near the Chicago Art Fairs

Not everyone enjoys art fairs, so we compiled a list of other things to do in the area. After visiting the artists, consider checking out some of the city’s other attractions to ensure your whole family enjoys themselves!

Visit the Art Institute of Chicago

Reviewers on TripAdvisor have named this museum the number one attraction in Chicago. If enjoying classic works by masters like Monet and Picasso sounds like your idea of a good time, you can’t miss a chance to visit the Art Institute. 

The museum offers daily tours, or you can download their app to take a self-guided tour. Take a look at their website to see which exhibitions are on display during your visit. You should book your ticket online in advance to make sure you get in.

Explore Navy Pier

Another favorite attraction in the Windy City is Navy Pier. It juts out into Lake Michigan, giving you panoramic views of the city’s skyline. The pier has several options for both casual food and fine dining. 

If you travel with little ones, they’d probably love to ride the Ferris wheel or visit the children’s museum. Adults in the group might take a dinner cruise departing from the pier or grab a drink at Offshore, the nation’s largest rooftop venue. 

Check Out the Riverwalk

Take a stroll or a jog along riverwalk for an opportunity to get up close and personal with the city’s skyscrapers. You can also take a boat tour or rent a kayak if you’d rather be on the river than next to it. 

Along the riverwalk, you can find and enjoy public art. History buffs shouldn’t miss a chance to stop into a riverfront museum like the Chicago Architecture Center or the River Museum. You’ll also want to leave time to grab a bite to eat at one of the area’s many restaurants.

Pro Tip: Chicago ranks as one of the 5 Worst Cities for RVingCan you guess what other four cities also made the list?

Walking through arts festival
After exploring Chicago’s art scene, check out all the other sites the city has to offer.

Best Places To Stay Near the Chicago Art Fairs

If catching some of the nation’s best art fairs sounds like your idea of a good time, you’ll want to head to Chicago this summer. We’ve collected some of the best places to stay nearby. 

Indiana Dunes State Park Campground

You won’t have much luck parking your RV, let alone driving it, in downtown Chicago. If you do decide to camp, bring a vehicle to get around or take public transit.

Indiana Dunes State Park is about an hour southwest of the Windy City. This area has over 130 sites with electric hookups perfect for a motor home of any size. It does reach capacity during the summer months, so book your spot early. 

Villa D’Citta

For a quaint bed-and-breakfast experience, look no further than Villa D’Citta. This historic mansion offers guests access to a yard with a jacuzzi and a shared kitchen. Its location, less than a mile from the Old Town Art Fair, makes it optimal for those interested in attending. You can find several restaurants and parks within walking distance of this boutique hotel. 

Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk

Fans of staying in a traditional hotel will love the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk. It sits on the river less than a mile from Navy Pier, the home of the Gold Coast Art Fair. 

You can hop on the riverwalk from the hotel for a stroll or head about a mile south to see the city’s famous reflective bean sculpture, Cloud Gate, in Millenium Park. You can hit all the tourist attractions easily from this hotel because of its central location.

Is a Road Trip to the Chicago Old Town Art Fair Worth It?

Culture vultures should certainly make the trip to the Chicago Old Town Art Fair, but if you miss it, consider going for the Gold Coast event the following weekend.

This city has no shortage of finery to experience between the fairs, public art, and museums. It also offers tons of delicious food and arguably the best pizza in the country. We encourage you to get out there and check it out!

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