The Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years last year, and TVs around the world showed fans celebrating (and crying tears of joy), in Wrigleyville, the North side neighborhood that’s home to the Cubs’ ballpark, Wrigley Field. While Wrigleyville is a hard-partying area filled with bars and rowdy fans, there are still fun things to do with kids there. It’s gonna get even more family-friendly soon, because the Cubs owners plan to add an ice rink and family movie nights.
Wrigley Field is where the Chicago Cubs play, and the north side neighborhood around it is affectionately known as “Wrigleyville.” Here are some family-friendly things to do there:
Take a photo in front of the famous Wrigley Field marquee
This is a must-do. The red sign, on the corner of Clark and Addison, has been on this historic ballpark since the 1930s.
Bring chalk and sign your name somewhere
After the Cubs won the World Series, people covered Wrigley Field with chalk signatures, drawings, and memorials to loved ones who did not live to see the historic victory. It was a moving sight to behold. They closed down the wall in mid-November 2016, because Wrigley Field is undergoing renovations this winter. But a lot of people still sign the sidewalks and buildings nearby. Bring some chalk and let the kids sign their names, or write “Cubs are #1!”
Take a tour of Wrigley Field
Before games, or when the Cubs are out of town, you can go on a 75-90 minute tour of “the friendly confines,” as the ballpark is known. The tour includes all sorts of history and fun facts, and takes you into the press box, the visitor’s clubhouse, the bleachers, and onto the field. See this link for details.
Go to a Cubs Game
Going to a Cubs game is by far the most fun – but the most expensive – thing to do in Wrigleyville with kids. It’ll no doubt be even more expensive now. But it’s worth it to go to the Cubs game and:
- See the 102-year-old ballpark’s manually operated scoreboard in center field and the ivy-covered brick walls in the outfield.
- Listen to a live organist play rally chants,
- Sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (often led by a celebrity) during the 7th inning stretch.
- Keep score the old school way – with a paper-and-pencil scorecard.
- Eat hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack (or my kids’ favorite, the chocolate malt cups, sold by the vendors walking through aisles).
- Run the bases, which kids ages 13 and under can do following Sunday afternoon games.
Tips for going to a game
- Save money by bringing in your own bottled water and snacks, like pre-purchased bagged peanuts, which can be purchased from vendors outside Wrigley on game days.
- You might be able to get autographs from players if you go early, during batting practice. Go to the Club Box wall on the outfield-side of the dugouts. Batting practice ends 45 minutes before the game begins.
Go to Sluggers batting cages
The second floor of Sluggers sports bar, a block from Wrigley Field, is filled with skeeball, batting cages, popa-shot and arcade games. Kids are allowed up there, although I wouldn’t recommend it on game day.
Shop – and then Fly the W
There’s great shopping at the huge souvenir shops across the street from the ballpark. The most popular item to buy this season is the white “W” flag, which is the Cubs “win” flag. In pre-cell-phone days – and when most baseball games were played in the afternoon – Wrigley Field would raise a W flag on the scoreboard. That way, people commuting home on the Red Line (which runs right past the ballpark) could see if the Cubs had won that day. It’s very old school – and very Chicago.
Where to eat in Wrigleyville
There are many good restaurants around here, but not all of them are kid-friendly. One of my favorite Wrigleyville restaurants for kids is Uncommon Ground. Their organic “contemporary comfort food” is excellent, and it’s in a friendly, cozy, coffee shop-like setting.
Just on the outskirts of Wrigleyville are two other great family restaurants, Crosby’s Kitchen and Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed. Milt’s – an upscale, kosher barbecue place – donates all of its proceeds to local charities.
For candy, nuts or a tin full of Chicago popcorn (a cheese and caramel mix), go to Nuts on Clark. They have special World Series tins available now.