If you think of this as a beer-and-brats kind of place, think again. Sure, Lincoln Square is a drinker’s dream, with nearly a dozen pubs along bustling Lincoln Avenue and Half Acre Brewery just to the south. But it’s also home to the beloved Old Town School of Folk Music, which offers classes and day camps for tots, and the North Shore Channel Trail, a leafy riverside gem for joggers and cyclists that runs all the way up to Evanston. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who lives just east of here with his wife and three kids, isn’t exactly a beer-and-brats kind of guy.

Check out Ravenswood Gardens, which contains some lovely old houses, and charming Budlong Woods, where a three-bedroom, two-bath brick Georgian along River Park was recently listed for $415,000. Starter houses “are really only present in the far northwest reaches [of Lincoln Square], away from transit,” says Eric Rojas, a broker at Kale Realty. Luckily, a developer is building 150 new apartments and townhouses right next to Metra’s Ravenswood stop. Look for them to hit the market by summer.