The best of Chicago
Bob and Dad visit the Windy City

Well… I had a chance to experience a slice of baseball heaven this year. To start the season off, Dad and I got to go to Opening Day at Fenway Park. And then to add to the thrilling year, we had the good fortune to get tickets to two of the three games Boston played against Chicago at Wrigley Field. The details of the trip are coming soon, but to get things started I want to offer a huge thank you to Chicago. What a great city! Clean, friendly people, easy to get around… even with construction and special events directing traffic into different places. We had a great time and left with a fantastic opinion about the city.

So here… to kick things off… is a column letting you know a few of the best things we experienced. To approach it a bit differently, I’ve divided it into People… Places… Things… sections.


One of the walls inside The Cubby Bear... one of the best sports bars in the country... and they absolutely love the Cubs

Jennifer (at The Cubby Bear) ~ Dad and I decided to head over to the Wrigley area after we arrived on Thursday, thinking with no game for the Cubs that day we might have a chance to look around while it was quiet. The idea worked perfectly. We had planned all along to head over to The Cubby Bear at some point, so we went in for dinner that first night. Jennifer took care of us there and she was absolutely fantastic. Not only did she score huge points by arriving with a refill on several occasions before I could put down a single empty glass, but she took some time to go shopping with me. Maybe that deserves a bit more explaining… I had wanted to get Tigg a present or two on the trip. Thought a T-shirt from “The Cubby Bear” would be one perfect gift (and I was right). Well, the place was preparing for a show that night, so the stand where they sold things was closed. Jennifer got the ok to bring me over to the stand, then took the time to go digging through items to find the right sizes for me. Great attitude, very friendly. Go visit her, say hi for me, and leave a great tip.

Clay (at First Express Parking, conveniently located at 3344 North Halsted Street) ~ Dad and I were driving around on Thursday, considering our parking options for Friday and Saturday. The major problem… a flight time Saturday night that basically dictated if we were staying for the full game, we needed to be absolutely certain we could get out of the lot and into the expected traffic as quickly and smoothly as possible. On Friday morning we arrived early and found Clay opening up the lot on Halsted. We were the first ones there. We talked to him about our needs for Saturday, and when we arrived the next day he remembered who we were and helped us out. Great guy… pleasant and easy to talk to. Seriously… when was the last time you parked your car in a paid lot and had a good few minutes of conversation with the attendant? See? Clay will take care of you.

Megan ~ Runs the web site Write On, Megs. (* I removed the link. The site is still up... but the postings are not current.) I want to pass along a thank you to her because she offered some great insight about Chicago to me when I was putting together details before I left. I always found her site an enjoyable read, so if you are so inclined, do a search and take a look around.


The famous sign at the corner of North Clark and West Addison... (yes, I was thinking about Jake and Elwood for a moment or two)

Wrigley Field ~ Not much I can say about Wrigley Field here that does it justice… some of it I’ll cover when I get to the trip diary in a few days… some of it would just be telling you the great things you are likely already aware of. But to not mention it along with the other best things from our trip would be wrong. Beautiful park, beautiful setting.

The Cubby Bear ~ The food was fantastic, and I already mentioned our waitress, Jennifer. We got a bit cute on this one and cheated a bit… we visited the place on a day off for the Cubs to try and stay away from the potential nightmare crowds caused by Red Sox fans taking in the sights. It worked like a charm for us… because we had a great meal, a great time, and not one problem with a crowd. Check out their web site, because they also offer some things we didn’t stay around for, like live bands.

Do I have good timing or what? The Sears Tower as the sun goes down... yes, we were at the top just before sunset...

Sears Tower ~ Cost of parking… $12 in the lot the Tower web site directs you to, since we got there for the special evening rate. Cost of the tower… $23.90, the total of two adult admissions. And it was worth every penny. Not only are the views fantastic… and we didn’t have a perfect day, with visibility of only 10-15 miles… but the set up is wonderful. Now, to be fair, much like The Cubby Bear, we hit the tower when it wasn’t busy. No line for tickets… no line for the elevators… no crowd at the top.

The city of Chicago from the observation area on top of the Sears Tower.


A Saturday game at Wrigley Field... Red Sox vs. Cubs... Few things get any better. Hard to notice in this picture, but (1) those are seats on top of the buildings in the outfield, and they are on the other side of Waveland Avenue, and, (2) that red roof is perhaps the greatest act of brand marketing in sports, the Budweiser Roof.

Wrigleyville ~ Having been to a few baseballs stadiums, one of the good things I can tell you about Shea Stadium is that it has great parking and easy access to the highway. I actually have enjoyed just about every trip I’ve made to Shea. The funny thing is, I have been there several times in recent years, and yet I couldn’t tell you a thing about atmosphere just outside the ballpark. Why? Well… there is none. I can’t recall a souvenir shop… a restaurant or a bar… heck I can’t even recall a sausage cart that was outside the stadium as you walked to it. And since I grew up with Fenway Park, I thought every place had souvenir stores, restaurants, bars and the terrific smells of sausage, onions and peppers just outside the gates. Nope. Not every place. But Wrigley does. From great places like The Cubby Bear to other bars, shops and such, this neighborhood was hopping on game day. And as every good baseball stadium and its surrounding neighborhood should, it has some unique features as well. The house with the Budweiser roof…. stands built on the tops of buildings across the street… an unfathomable “Welcome Red Sox Nation” sign on a building just a short walk from Wrigley.

Would you have been expecting a “Welcome Red Sox Nation” sign?

Lake Shore Drive ~ Wow. Never expected something like this on our trip. Bordering on the exact, perfect use of the word breathtaking. I can’t even describe it… you simply have to experience it. Easy to get on… easy to get off… (at least for us)… and visually, just incredible.

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