The biggest downside of this historic lakefront area may be its sheer popularity. Last year the median sales price for houses here was higher than anywhere else in the city except the Near North Side (which includes the mansion-packed Gold Coast). No wonder, with the combined riches of the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, North Avenue Beach, and the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

Education is a huge draw too. Lincoln Park High School ranks among the city’s 10 best public high schools, according to a 2012 Chicago analysis, and Lincoln Elementary among the city’s 15 best public grade schools. Next year, the latter will open a classroom annex with a playground-topped roof—“great for the school,” says resident Kathy Baggs, who has one child there.

For good deals on enticing real estate, visit the Clybourn Corridor at Lincoln Park’s western edge. It bursts not only with big-box retailers but also with relatively affordable condos. At presstime, a two-bedroom duplex loft there was listed at $310,000; a townhouse in Terra Cotta Village, a gated neighborhood just east of Clybourn, at $355,000. And housing options will soon grow. A mixed-use development at Clybourn and Halsted called New City will add 200 new apartments and 360,000 square feet of shopping and entertainment by late next year.