Day tripper
    The Boring Store. Photo by Emily Chow / North by Northwestern.

    If you’re looking to get into Chicago more often but don’t know where to start, try exploring Wicker Park, a neighborhood abuzz with hipster activity. The Damen stop on the Blue Line will put you within walking distance of some of the coolest shops, stops and restaurants around. Wander around aimlessly or check out some of our favorites.

    The Boring Store
    1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    The Boring Store window assures passersby that it is “indubitably, most certainly not a secret agent store.” Don’t let them fool you; the shop is full of clever spy-themed novelties. It also houses 826CHI, our city’s branch of Dave Eggers’ nonprofit that offers homework help and writing workshops for local young’uns.

    Flat Iron Arts Building
    1565 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    If art’s your schtick and the local museums are getting old, the Flat Iron Arts Building boasts an unbelievable number of tiny studios and galleries. Best of all, it’s free. You’ll walk in, then spend hours feeling vaguely like you’re trespassing and imagining yourself as a rat in a maze — but the maze has really pretty things on the walls, so it’s OK.

    Earwax Café
    1561 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    Even on a street with as many creative storefronts as Milwaukee Avenue, it’s hard to miss Earwax. Garishly covered in brightly-colored decorations recalling old-timey freak shows, you’ll stop in out of curiosity and stick around for the delicious, affordable food. Earwax specializes in vegan and vegetarian fare, but they’ve got something for everyone.

    1854 W. North Ave.

    To call Quimby’s a comic book shop would be to egregiously pigeonhole it — the store carries all manner of miscellany (bookshelf labels include “Cryptozoology & Lore,” “Travel for Weirdos” and “Sk8 or Die”). There is a focus on carrying zines and works from small presses — one gets the sense that Quimby’s is helping to keep subculture alive.

    Myopic Books
    1564 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    One of the first things you’ll see upon entering Myopic Books is a medical mask attached to a plastic bag setup in a glass case. It’s advertised as Charles Bukowski’s dying breath, on sale for $18,000. This is a place where you can truly find anything. The store has three floors, on which every available surface has been filled with shelves of used printed matter.


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