Chicago – My kind of town

Sweet home, Chicago. Ahhh…summers on the lakefront, deep-dish pizza, the blues and the wonderful world of Windy City sports.

The only thing better than summertime in Chicago might be the fall sports season. Baseball wraps up just in time for the first hockey puck to drop in the United Center. (As a lifelong, die-hard Cubs fan, I learned long ago the realities of the post-season.) The Bears are in full swing while the Fire are winding down. And the anticipation of a promising Bulls season is on the horizon. Seriously – could it GET any better than this? Toss in a Portillo’s Italian Beef and a beer and you’ve got pure magic.

In fact, configuring the perfect Chicago weekend is merely about some strategic planning.

Take the weekend of November 15 and 16, for example. The Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks are all playing at home. Talk about hitting the trifecta!

Only about five miles separate the United Center from Soldier Field. Depending on which way you go, those five miles are a cornucopia of all things Chicago. The food, the excitement, the culture…go just a bit farther up Lakeshore Drive, maybe take a stroll over the LaSalle Street bridge and you’ve got the makings of a marvelous marathon weekend. (Who needs sleep?)

People-watch at Grant Park and weave among the modern, mirrored sculptures in Millennium Park. Window shop on Michigan Avenue. (Personally, I’m not much of a shopper, but who doesn’t love The LEGO Store? And Nike is just cool whether you’re a sports fan or not.)

Then there is a trip to the top of Willis Tower, with awe-inspiring views of the city.

Don’t get too caught up in the sights and smells to forget why you’re there – at this point, it’s probably time to head toward the United Center. Billy Goat Tavern & Grill is nearby for a burger and a beer if you’re hungry. A true Chicago “joint,” it’s not the original location, but the legend of the Billy Goat Curse lives on and it’s a must-visit for any true Chicago sports fan.

Hopefully you’re an early riser, because there’s nothing like Lakeshore Drive on an early Sunday morning, when the city is still sleeping. Sip a hot cup of coffee. Listen to the waves of Lake Michigan lap the shoreline and appreciate the dramatic architecture of the Chicago skyline. Perfection.

Once you get closer to Soldier Field, get your game face (and your parka) on, because Bears fans don’t play. From tailgating to post-game parties, win or lose, we bleed blue and orange. Especially on game day.

Then, it’s back to the United Center to wrap up the weekend with some hockey. What better way to end a couple days in Chicago than hanging out with the boys? And by “the boys” of course I mean Sharp, Kane, Seabrook and Toews.

Whew! All that and not even a mention of Lincoln Park Zoo, any of the rockin’ blues joints (Kingston Mines is my favorite) or a trip to Wrigleyville. Oh well.

Until next time, Chicago.

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