It takes a lot to make a city an epic sports city. Massive crowds cheeering in unison from
Wrigley Field on hot summer nights. The comraderie throughout neighborhood sports bars and tailgating lots before a Bears kick-off.
Never-ending sing-alongs of the celebratory anthem after a Blackhawks goal. A
city's willingness to live and die by their team.
So it is no secret that Chicago is a vibrant
and passionate sports town with unrivaled tradition. Some of the most legendary
and internationally recognized sports teams in the world thrive in
Chicago, so no visit to Chicago would be complete without attending a professional game.
But if spectating isn't the only thing you're into, Chicago has a plethora of
physical activities to choose from that will keep you moving and sweating 365
days a year.
Spring & Summer Sports Activities
With two of the most historic franchises in Major League
Baseball, no visit to Chicago in the spring and summer months would be complete
without tickets to the "ole ball game".
Nestled within the Lakeview neighborhood on Chicago's North Side sits the second oldest ballpark in America - Wrigley Field, home of the
Chicago Cubs. In 2014, Chicago
celebrated Wrigley Field's 100th Birthday, and 2016 marks 100 years of the Cubs organization playing at Wrigley. New renovations to
the ballpark have been underway as well, taking the fan experience to the next level. Before heading to this beloved mecca for a game - or a stadium tour - get your pre-game drink on at the sports bars that line Clark,
Addison and Sheffield avenues in Wrigleyville. Grab a beer and a burger at Rockit Burger Bar
or Murphy's Bleachers. Outside visit the statues of baseball legends Harry Caray, Ernie
Banks and Billy Williams, and of course, get the prerequisite pic with the bright red marquee.
On Chicago's South Side sits another one of the most storied
franchises in Major League Baseball and winner of the 2005 World Series - the Chicago White Sox. The Cell, aka U.S. Cellular Field, sits
just south of the downtown Loop in the Bridgeport neighborhood, where local standbys offer great eats and cheap drinks. Prior
to the game, pay a visit to Ricobene's
and get ready to bite into what has been deemed "The
Best Sandwich in the World" by USA Today
- the breaded steak sandwich. Or grab a drink at legendary taverns such as Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar
or Schaller's Pump
- one of the oldest pubs in the city.
Chicago has always been known as an international city, but
what would an international city be without a pro soccer team? The Chicago Fire are
one of the most popular Major League Soccer franchises in the United States and
the team calls Toyota Park in
Bridgeview, Illinois home. Located about 12 miles southwest from downtown, get there via the team's Pub to Pitch
roundtrip game-day shuttle service. Soccer fans can avoid the hassle of driving
and easily hop on a bus to a Chicago Fire match after enjoying a pre-game pint - game ticket included!
If you're looking to get off the bench and get into the
game downtown, go rock climbing at Maggie
Daley Park or roll out your mat and stretch-out at a free yoga during Summer Workouts at Millennium Park. For even more fun
in the sun, take advantage of the city's 18
miles of lakefront trail, perfect for biking, jogging or rollerblading with
the expansive Chicago skyline as your backdrop. Along the lakefront trail you
will find numerous beaches
that dot the coastline. Rent a volleyball net and grab some friends for a game
of beach volleyball at North Avenue Beach
or rent jet skis, kayaks or flyboards for an adventure on Lake Michigan with Chicago Watersport Rentals.
Fall & Winter Sports
Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you've probably
heard about the Chicago Blackhawks...
you know, the 6-time NHL Stanley Cup Champions? How about the 6-time NBA World
Champions Chicago Bulls? Now that we've
got the bragging about our sports dynasties out of the way, let's talk
logistics for watching our winning NHL and NBA teams. The Blackhawks and Bulls
call the United Center home and its
convenient Near West Side location near downtown has a number of spots to watch the action. Whether you have tickets to the game or not, head to "the UC" early to get pictures in front of the iconic statues of
Blackhawks legends Bobby Hull and Stan Mitka, and #23 himself - Michael Jordan.
Find fellow fans in the area at The Ogden, Kaiser Tiger,
The Crossroads Bar & Grill or the legendary Billy
Goat Tavern. After the game, make a pit stop at the new Goose Island Taproom
for an exclusive craft beer selection that you won't find anywhere else in the
city, or go for a nightcap along Restaurant Row, the hip stretch of Randolph Street filled with bars, lounges and award-winning eateries.
In the words of the great Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka:
"If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn't have given us arms". When
the summer season begins to wane and the leaves turn red and gold, there is one
thing on the minds of every Chicagoan - football, American football that is,
and one of the NFL's most iconic franchises begins to fill the seats at Soldier Field faster than almost any
other team in the league. If you're lucky enough to snag a ticket, you won't be
disappointed. Before the game begins, tailgating in the Soldier Field parking
lot is a weekend ritual that wouldn't complete the experience. You will see
people cooking hot dogs, cracking open beer and raising their cans to the
"Monsters of the Midway" aka da Bears! If you're in town on a weekday, you can
take a behind
the scenes tour of Soldier Field and learn about the historic and
modern-day "stadium in a park" that also serves as a landmark dedicated to the
men and women who served in America's military.
For visitors coming to Chicago during the winter months,
there are plenty of indoor activities to get your sports fix. The Chicago Sports Museum
is filled with iconic memorabilia from some of the most defining
moments in Chicago's sports history including the famed Bartman Ball and Sammy
Sosa's corked bat. If you are looking for a workout, pay a visit to Brooklyn Boulders - a 25,000
square foot facility with giant climbing walls, yoga classes, a weight room and
cardio equipment. Or if gaming is on your mind, For The Win Chicago is an adult arcade
filled with over 130 interactive games that covers everything from basketball
and football challenges to a six-hole mini golf course! More interactive fun awaits at SPiN (an underground ping pong social club and lounge) and Pinstripes (both bocce ball and bowling are on the menu here).
When you're ready to
eat, make a reservation at these sports-fan favorites: Michael
Jordan's Steak House , Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse (the statue of the famed broadcaster is a celeb hotspot) or Ditka's Restaurant for a classic Chicago steak.
Photos courtesy: Steve Green/Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Fire, Adam Alexander, Chicago Bears, Pinstripes/Matt Kirouac, Harry Caray's