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All Sections / Chicago's 9 Coolest Murals

Haven’t made it to a museum exhibit in a while? Fear not: You live in Chicago, where your walk to the L, your stroll to your kid’s daycare or even your morning run is like touring a really cool, free art gallery. Beautiful murals and street art are everywhere in this city, and here are 9 of the best and brightest right now--whether “arty” or creatively commercial.

Murals 1 1

“You Know What You Should Do” by Jeff Zimmermann

Spot this beauty as you walk up the ramp to Oak Street Beach on the east side of LSD. It was commissioned to make people think about their actions while enjoying the lakefront--but to us, it just feels like summer.

1000 N. Lake Shore Dr.; jazim.com/youknow.html

Murals Tola

Cafe Tola

Café Tola in Lakeview--aka home of the best empanadas in the city--frequently updates the mural on the side of its adorable, pink-and-purple building, which was inspired by the colorful Coyoacán neighborhood where Frida Kahlo lived in Mexico City. Kahlo is a frequent subject of the murals, and the artist will appear as a Blackhawks fan in a new version going up this weekend. 

3612 N. Southport Ave.; 773-687-8428 or cafetola.net

Murals 3

“Luna Negra” by Ed Paschke

How can you look away? This large-scale reproduction of a 1998 painting by the famous Chicago artist was applied like a big iron-on patch to the exterior of the Jefferson Park building that houses an art center honoring his legacy.

5415 W. Higgins Ave.; 312-533-4911 or edpaschkeartcenter.org

Murals 606

Graffiti Garden at The 606

Chicago's just-opened elevated recreation trail includes a street-level Graffiti Garden with work by more than 70 Chicago artists, including this section by Max Sansing. 

Bloomingdale Ave. from Sawyer Ave. to Central Park; the606.org 

Murals 4

“Promise 2 Be” by Ben Marcus

Strolling around the Gold Coast? Duck into the Thompson Hotel and ask at the front desk to be directed to this “secret stairwell” mural installation by a group of local artists. Shown here (center) is a short comic about self-projection by Ben Marcus. 

21 E. Bellevue Pl.; 312-266-2100 or thompsonhotels.com

Murals 5

The Gallery Cabaret

This Bucktown bar has had an artistic soul since it opened in 1988--there are gallery shows and free comedy and music every night--and recently, a group of local artists banded together to update the huge mural on the outside of the building.

2020 N. Oakley Ave.; 773-489-5471 or gallerycabaret.com

Murals 6

Hebru Brantley for Nike Running

The fitness giant commissioned Chicago artist Hebru Brantley--famous for his signature action-hero "flyboy" kids--to create a running-themed painting on the side of its Damen Avenue store. Watch a video of him working on it here

1640 N. Damen Ave.; 773-278-1095 or nike.com

Murals Soho House

Czr Prz at Soho House Chicago

The West Loop social club hosts a rotating graffiti series on corner of its building; right now, see this painting by local street artist Czr Prz and start looking for his tag on other stunning installations around the city. 

113 N. Green St.; 312-521-8000 or sohohousechicago.com

Murals 81

“Increíbles Las Cosas Q’ Se Ven” by Jeff Zimmermann

Pilsen is filled with remarkable murals, including this famous one by Zimmerman that touches on religious, political and social issues and features his signature photo-realistic style. To see more in the neighborhood, tour 18th and 19th streets between Loomis St. and Wolcott Ave.

19th St. at Ashland Ave.

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