Lincoln Park may be one of the wildest spots in Chicago with its swan paddle boat rides at its world-class zoo.

Lincoln Park may be one of the wildest spots in Chicago with its swan paddle boat rides at its world-class zoo (Photo for the Tribune by Warren Skalski)

Being bored is not an option in Lincoln Park, where the kinetic lifestyle verges on sensory overload.

With its potpourri of restaurants, shops, amenities and close proximity to downtown Chicago, it's no wonder the North Side neighborhood's unique character lures home buyers from all walks of life.

Encompassing just over four miles, Lincoln Park is a great neighborhood for those who want to be active right outside their front door.

A Saturday could start with a few hours in the neighborhood's namesake, Lincoln Park, which stretches along Lake Michigan. Options include a jog on the beach, a visit to the world-class Lincoln Park Zoo or farmer's market.

Lunch could range from sophisticated fare at the North Pond Cafe in the park to the $5.50 special at Noodles in the Pot a few blocks west.

Shopping treasures abound on every commercial thoroughfare, with one-of-a-kind boutiques lining North Halsted Street and West Armitage Avenue, while the chain stores cram into the North Avenue/North Clybourn Avenue corridor.

Whatever your taste buds crave for dinner, you're bound to find a restaurant within walking distance—whether it's pizza at Lou Malnati's or the cutting-edge gourmet creations of Alinea, so exclusive there's no sign out front.

Fine drama awaits at the Steppenwolf Theater, one of many live theater and comedy venues in the neighborhood.

If you're in the mood for drinking and dancing, an abundance of bars and nightclubs are in the area.

Stephen Fisher bought a townhouse in Lincoln Park last month because the neighborhood has just about everything he and his family desire: easy access to downtown and Wrigley Field, day care, parks where his 2-year-old daughter can play, shopping galore and convenient schools. Of 15 neighborhood schools, eight are private and seven public.

"I feel great about investing here," said Fisher, 39, who bought a two-bedroom with a den near the sandwich shop he owns on the 36-acre campus of DePaul University. "Once you get larger than two bedrooms in other neighborhoods, units are more expensive and designed more for entertaining than for families."

Housing

In recent years, Lincoln Park has become a prime address for super-luxury single-family houses.

In 2007, Forbes magazine named the block between Armitage, Willow, Orchard and Burling Streets as the most expensive in Chicago.

While its housing skews upscale, Lincoln Park has some modestly priced real estate, and values are solid at all price ranges.

Most of the housing is on serene, tree-lined side streets with a mix of vintage, renovated, teardown and newly-built houses.

From North Avenue to West Deming Place, there are historic sections that often require major renovation. From North Lincoln Avenue to North Halsted Street, a great deal of new housing has been built on teardown sites and west of Halsted to the Chicago River there is a mix of teardowns and new construction.

While sales volume is down and property sits on the market longer, values are still rising, said Jim Kinney, president of Rubloff Residential Properties.

Units on the market are priced from $149,500 for a studio to about $15 million for a 5-bedroom condominium at Lincoln Park 2520, a 40-story high rise overlooking Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan that's in development.

"More rentals are being put on the market by owners who can't sell, but demand is high among people who aren't buying now," said Robin Miner, a Lincoln Park broker for @properties. The average two-bedroom, two-bath leases for about $2,600 a month, up about 15 percent from two years ago, she estimated.