Murphy’s Bleachers, The Ivy, The Cubbies & The Wrigleyville Tap’s Pen
A few of my fellow travel bloggers were Tweeting about Chicago the other day and I mentioned one of the best things about traveling there in the summertime is going to a Cubs game.
But I don’t think they quite understood the full scope of it because going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field is simply not walking into the stadium and watching a little baseball. It is an entire experience, a pre-game, during-game and post-game activity that makes it a – if not THE – highlight of any trip to the Windy City.
It’s like going to a Jimmy Buffett concert in that the scene happening around the event is bigger than the event itself.
And the best time to get this experience is a day game. Ideally on a Saturday.
You arrive at least two hours before the first pitch via the El train. It stops right by the stadium and people pile off of it and into Wrigleyville. No matter the opponent, you get a big-game feeling as the atmosphere is electric.
Then you make your way to one of the old neighborhood’s bars. There are plenty of them – hey, Chicago is a fun town! – but the liveliest one is Murphy’s Bleachers. It’s crowded but you’re drinking daytime beers with true long-time Cubbies fans and it’s almost like being in the bleachers in Wrigley, minus the, well, Cubbies.
It’s been a while since I’ve been myself but a local friend tells me the Captain Morgan bar is another fun pregame drinking spot.
Now you’re perfectly primed for the game. Walking into Wrigley Field, one of those great old American ballparks that was constructed around the existing neighborhood. Built in 1914, it’s a brick building and when you walk inside and up and down the ramps it’s as if you’re transported back into the earliest days of baseball.
You take your seat, a concession guy comes around and you grab one of Chicago’s own Old Style beers (okay, I’m living a bit in the past but hang with me here) and a mobile oompha band moves through the stands playing old-style music.
I like to be near the outfield bleachers because I can get a close-up view of the famous ivy-covered outfield wall and be near the most hard-core Cubs fans, who throw the ball back onto the field when an opponent hits a home run.
Ideally, the Cubbies win (which happens a lot more now than in the past and the downside to this is that getting tickets is difficult and expensive).
After the game, the bar to be at is the Cubby Bear, but I also like to wander around to some other watering holes. One favorite is Wrigleyville Tap, a dive that has cool souvenir fountain pens stating “This Pen Stolen From Wrigleyville Tap.”
So you see, with all this going to a Cubbies game at Wrigley Field is not just going to the ‘ol ballpark. It’s a full-day experience that you’ll remember for a long time.