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Chicago. The Windy City. Chi-Tow n. Second City. City of Big Shoulders. Shitcago. No matter what you call it, the pizza is deep and the hotdogs are covered in salad. Oh, and this guy, Michael Hadley, co-owns a tattoo shop with two other ECS Members. It is just a short train ride into the south suburbs. Please contact me ASAP if you are interested in getting tattooed while you are here, our artists are loading up on blue and green pigments, but appointment spots are limited!

GETTING THERE

AIRPLANES

Chicago O’Hare is the world’s biggest cluster-muff, so I would absolutely recommend flying into Midway if possible. O’Hare, however, is the hub for American and United, and “focus city” for Frontier and Spirit (discount airlines). Midway is a “focus city” for Southwest, and isn’t that far from stadium in Bridgeview. 

I’m not going to pretend to be an airline whiz, but it’s Chicago. There are a ton of flights from a bunch of places that all come to Chicago in one way or another. You’re going to pay around $200-$300 for airfare, unless you can snag sweet deal on Frontier or Spirit. My wife and I flew for $172 total, combined, roundtrip, on Frontier. There are no frills there, but it can be done for cheap if you’re on a budget.

DRIVE

From Seattle, it sucks. You can do it but…fly. From anywhere in the Midwest, if you can connect to I-55, I-90, I-94, I-80, I-65, or I-57 from where you are, it’s a straight shot to somewhere around the city. If you’re staying in the city proper, you’re going to want to park and keep your car there if possible, many places won’t give you in-and-out privilege. More on that next…

GET AROUND

BY CAR

Like any major city, rental cars are all over the place. Uber, Lyft, and taxis are ALL over the place. Driving can be a major pain in the butt, especially finding parking and/or dealing with rush hour (3pm-7pm Monday-Friday). If you’re going to drive, or want to use your own car, I recommend staying outside of the Loop (downtown) area and in a neighborhood around the city. That way you can take city transit around into downtown if needed, then have your own car for other things away from the insanity that is Chicago proper.

CITY TRANSIT

Chicago has their mass transit group (CTA) like any city, with an extensive rail and bus system to get you just about anywhere you want. The “L” (elevated trains) run all throughout the city, from the Loop (downtown) to all the major neighborhoods, including O’Hare (Blue Line) and Midway (Orange). All-told, the city has eight different train lines to get you around. There are tons of busses as well, but if it’s me, I’d stick to the trains.

SEE/DO

List of Things to Do

Note: Chicago is a World Class city. And if you’re bored around here it’s your own damn fault. The possibilities are quite literally endless no matter where or for how long you’re staying. From the world class museums to world class shopping, there is honestly TOO much to do. For your reading pleasure, I’ve broken it down by name and by a few awesome neighborhoods rather than just listing a couple of things. 

Millennium Park & The Bean, Crown Fountain, etc., Shedd Aquarium, Willis (SEARS.) Tower, Field Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Park or Brookfield Zoo, Museum of Science & Industry, Grant Park (Married with Children fountain), Adler Planetarium, Wrigley Field (Cubs), Chicago Children’s Museum, John Hancock Center & Skydeck, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Lakefront Trail, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago Theater, Riverwalk, National Museum of Mexican Art, Nature Museum, Chicago History Museum, International Museum of Surgical Science, DuSable Museum of African American History, Pullman National Monument, Garfield Park, Driehaus Museum (fashion) and finally my favorite, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. Yes, I’ve done these, and yes, they are all worth it.

Neighborhoods/Suggestions (Alphabetical)

Note: These are just a few that stick out as “you should go here” type places. For a complete list of neighborhoods to visit, use Google.

Hyde Park – Metra Stop 59th Street (U of Chicago)

Remember when we had a guy named Obama as president? Once you’re done sobbing, this is where he is from! The University of Chicago is nestled in this park-filled neighborhood, rounded out by the Museum of Science and Industry. Major attractions also include Washington Park, Jackson Park (on the lake), the Oriental Institute Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Frederick C. Robie House, and plenty of coffee shops to relax in.

Lakeshore East – Blue Line Stop Washington

For the Bougie Supporter, Lakeshore East is where some of the poshest restaurants are located. Mastro’s Steakhouse, RPM Steak, Joe’s Seafood, and Girl & The Goat highlight this area, along with 4- and 5-Star hotels like the Langham and LondonHouse. 

“Magnificent Mile” aka Michigan Avenue District – Tons of Stops, All Forms of Transit

The Magnificent Mile is prettier in the winter time, but MUCH EASIER TO WALK AROUND during the late spring. If you are looking to go full-tourist, this is the place to be. Listing all the attractions, restaurants, hotels, and shopping you can find here is basically impossible, but check out the interwebs for a complete list. 

“Museum Campus” – Green, Orange, Red Line Stop Roosevelt

This is the best place to go in Chicago if you’re a nerd like me. My wife and I have a membership to Shedd, one of the world’s best aquariums, and we can go from open to close and still rush through the last few displays as we’re chased out. The Field Museum displays Sue the T-Rex, in addition to exhibits from Egypt to the Hall of Birds (hi Kyle!) and the Hall of DNA. Rounding out the campus is the Adler Planetarium and its star (HA) attraction, the Doane Observatory, one of the only research-active, public urban observatories in the world. All three of these incredible facilities are on the same 57-acre plot of land, and are extremely easy to access from anywhere.

Wicker Park – Blue Line Stop Damen

I’ve only recently become acquainted with this area, but it’s a nice little part of town! Nothing too flashy, filled with small bars, secondhand stores, and great food like Devil Dawgs (if you don’t get a hotdog while you’re in Chicago, why did you even come??) or the Taco Bell that serves beer. There are a few great bars here, too, including one, Emporium, that is also a huge arcade.

Wrigleyville – Blue Line Stop Belmont

Focused around, you guessed it, Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville is an upper-middle class neighborhood filled with slightly overpriced bars that are always full of 20- and 30-somethings. There’s not much shopping around, but it’s perfect for walking around before and after a Cubs game, which I STRONGLY recommend if you are at all a fan of baseball. 

Also Visit: Boystown and Lakeview

EAT/DRINK

PIZZA

Unless you’re Tom, Chicago Style Pizza is a must-have while you’re in town. Chicago Style Pizza is basically the size of four pizzas stacked on each other, starting with super thick and fluffy crust topped FIRST with cheese and whatever else you get, then sauce last. It’s huge, it’s pie, and it’s fantastic. Giordano’s, Gino’s East, and Pizzeria Uno are all over the city, plus there are tons of smaller joints like Pequod’s (Lincoln Park & Morton Grove locations) and Lou Malnati’s (River North) you can try. This list from Thrillist is perfect for finding a Chicago pizza pie.

HOTDOGS

Chicago Style Hotdogs have a neat story behind them, and you can get them from just about anywhere and they’ll be awesome. A proper Chicago Style Hotdog has yellow mustard, neon green relish, fresh chopped onion, two tomato wedges, a pickle spear, two sport peppers, and celery salt, all on a poppy seed bun. There are quite literally thousands of places to get hotdog from, of any kind, just don’t ask for ketchup. Some places don’t even have it. My new favorite hotdog place is Devil Dawgs in Wicker Park (but there are multiple locations), where I get the Bull Dawg. 

OTHER PLACES

I promise I’m not being lazy when I say this: You basically can’t go wrong with food in the city. From Al’s Beef to Stan’s Donuts, if it’s remotely local, it’s going to be good. Why do you think we’re all so fat around here?? It’s the food. It’s heavy and delicious. 

SLEEP

Being such a major city, there are hotels everywhere. But, in all seriousness, unless you must stay near Midway (the stadium is close to that airport), I would spend the extra money and stay closer to the city proper, or a neighborhood you identify as somewhere you’d enjoy. The area around Midway isn’t the best, and you’d be better off getting to know the actual city itself. If you are flying into O’Hare, the area (Rosemont) there has some pretty good chain restaurants, in addition to plenty of lodging and a huge outlet mall.

MEMORIES

Chicago Away 2010 was the first match my wife and I ever went to, way back when I had a mohawk (see photo). It was nasty out, and my wife told Matt Gashk she had to pee about 15 times, but Blaise Nkufo (remember him??) scored the game’s only goal in the 88’ which led to a very happy beer shower in our section. We were hooked, and never looked back, and have joined so many of you already here in Chicago for games. 

More personal memories include meeting Blyan for the first time, joining up with the Heartland Horde for the first time (while we were members of SSE living in Pennsylvania), and taking our English friends to their second football game in the states. 

Overall, games in Chicago are a blast. We always have a HUGE turnout, and because Section 8 (their supporter group) just says FIRE over and over (no, seriously…) we are always the loudest group in the stadium. As usual for away days, we are always stuck around kids and families, but it never matters. 

HISTORICAL RECORD

AT CHICAGO: 3W 2D 1L … FORM: D W D W W L

(2009) 1-1 Draw…SSFC (Tyrone Marshall, 74’)

(2010) 1-0 Win…SSFC (Blaise Nkufo, 88’)

(2011) 0-0 Draw…No SSFC Goals

(2012) 2-1 Win…SSFC (Chi. Own Goal, 39’ + Eddie Johnson, 67’) **EJ’s first SSFC goal**

(2014) 3-2 Win…SSFC (Obafemi Martins 31’ + 38’ + Lamar Neagle 78’) **Oba red card game**

(2015) 0-1 Loss…No SSFC Goals