1. DO: ULTIMATE BEARS TAILGATE
Football fans or not, groups can join in on Bears game-day revelry — and they don't even need a ticket. The Bears Ultimate Tailgate is free and open to the public for the first four games of the regular season, every year. Along with beloved beverages and food samples, the tailgate also features giveaways, autograph sessions and all-around awesome fandom. Begins two hours before each game. Details.
2. DISCOVER: NATIONAL ITALIAN AMERICAN SPORTS HALL OF FAME
Rocky Marciano's World Heavyweight Championship Belt. Swimmer Matt Biondi's 11 Olympic medals. Vince Lombardi's coat worn in his last game as coach of the Green Bay Packers. It's all here at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Little Italy (where else?). In addition to these cultural artifacts, you'll also find state-of-the-art technology, like a five-screen, 25-foot panoramic tribute, video presentations and crisp audio. Details.
3. DINE: MIKE DITKA'S RESTAURANT
Steak, seafood and chops reign supreme at this Gold Coast eatery. The menu includes everything from jumbo lump crab cakes to baby back ribs with signature BBQ sauce to bone-in filet mignon. Bonus? "Da Coach" himself is often spotted at the restaurant, greeting and acknowledging his guests. Details.
4. DRIVE: CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY
NASCAR fans and first-timers each find excitement at the Chicagoland Speedway, where race weekends mean fierce competition, driver appearances, live entertainment, autograph sessions, kid-friendly entertainment, pit crew simulations and packed grandstands longer than two John Hancock Towers laid end to end. Details.
5. DWELL: WRIGLEY FIELD TOUR
Give groups a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the National League's oldest baseball park. On the daily guided tours, stops may include the Cubs' clubhouse (non-game days), press box, Cubs' dugout, the baseball field itself and more. Details.
6. DRINK: HARRY CARAY'S TAVERN, NAVY PIER
On Bears home games each Sunday, head to Harry Caray's on Navy Pier for a unique way to get into the sporting spirit. Get to the tavern at 9am for a tailgate party brimming with brunch items like steak & eggs, French toast and appetizer platters with football favorites, plus Harry's Bloody Mary Bar. After eating, board the Shoreline Water Taxi located directly in front of the restaurant and take a 15-minute scenic cruise to Museum Campus, just a short walk from Soldier Field. (The ride is discounted for Harry's guests.) No tickets to the game? Stick around Harry Caray's for football viewing on its 30 HDTVs located throughout the bar, dining room and patio. Details.
More for travel professionals
Sign up for the monthly newsletter for travel professionals