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Sporty

By Patricia Szpekowski

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Major League Baseball occupies a big space of Chicago’s fanatic sports landscape. North Side, South Side… toss a ball in the air, and you’ll have avid fans across the city cheering on their favorite MLB team.
 

Whether it’s a long-standing family tradition or a conscious choice, fans of the National League’s Cubs and the American League’s White Sox are loyal and passionate. If you’re in the mood for a baseball game, you’re in luck, as at least one of the teams will likely be playing in town on any given week during the regular season.
 

The Cubs’ and White Sox’s ballparks are roughly equidistant north and south from downtown, and both can be accessed by bus or train. While you might prefer one team over the other, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy games this summer at both clubs’ ballparks. Each features various fan-friendly amenities that elevate the baseball experience to another level.

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Historic Wrigley Field has been called “the Friendly Confines” for decades. Built in 1914, the North Side venue is the second oldest ballpark in the majors, behind Boston’s Fenway Park. 

Diehard Cubs fans will tell you there is nothing like being at a ball game in Wrigley Field where its ivy-covered outfield walls burst into a vibrant green as summer approaches. Spend a carefree day in Wrigleyville, eating a hot dog, drinking a beverage of one’s choice and soaking in the ambiance of the venerable park. During the 7th inning stretch, join the crowd and a well-known guest in the broadcast booth singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” followed hopefully by the triumphant “Go Cubs Go” played after a Cubs win.

 

After a 108-year drought, the Cubs finally won a World Series in 2016, and fans have been hungry for another championship ever since.

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Hitting the Green in the City

As a world-class city, Chicago maintains its greatness through culture, history, shopping and top-rated restaurants. But wouldn’t you know that golf is a local recreational favorite as well, attracting residents and visitors to break out their irons, get outside and sharpen their game? The city proper is home to 11 public golf courses offering a variety of terrains, views and challenges. These include the Billy Caldwell, Edgebrook and Indian Boundary golf courses north of downtown, each of which has 18 holes and are operated under the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Chicago Park District also offers different opportunities to play golf or practice at eight city locations. These courses are ideally suited for novice or seasoned golfers, and while some can be challenging, all are welcome to partake in the game’s grace.
 

For fees, availability, tee time bookings and equipment rentals at the Park District’s courses, visit cpdgolf.com.
 

Robert A. Black Golf Course

This nine-hole course offers options for golfers who like the challenge of shorter holes. It features elevated tee boxes, greens and tucked-in sand traps, and it is also suitable for kids to learn and play.
2046 W. Pratt Blvd.

 

Columbus Park Golf Course

This links-style golf course promises wide-open fairways beautifully lined with trees and receptive greens. Located near the West Side, the par 35 layout challenges the lower handicap player.
5701 W. Jackson Blvd.

 

Douglass Park Golf Course

This historic regional park offers a free three-hole learning course with artificial greens and tees. It’s the perfect spot to practice your game and enjoy fun with the family.
1401 S. Sacramento Dr.

 

Jackson Park Golf Course 

Jackson Park boasts 500 acres and hosts the city’s only 18-hole Park District golf course. Large greens and mature trees line the course, with par 5s reaching 550 yards and par 3s extending to 200 yards. The course is located on land that once held the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, opening for golf in 1899.
6401 S. Richards Dr.

 

Marquette Park Golf Course 

This impressive nine-hole golf course is the perfect place to challenge and conquer your game. It provides players with well-maintained greens, fairways and bunkers. Lagoons located throughout the park also bring “the drink” into play on seven of the nine holes.
6700 S. Kedzie Dr.

 

South Shore Golf Course

Experience the luxury of par 3 golf and enjoy the views of this landmark course on the shores of Lake Michigan. The course previously belonged to the private South Shore Country Club that operated on the grounds from the early 1900s until its closure in 1974. Today, the public relishes the opportunity to enjoy the course, the land and the lake — all at once.
7059 S. South Shore Dr.

 

Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course

Golfers covet this beautiful course, and you too might be enthralled by the views of Lake Michigan, the area’s harbors and downtown’s majestic city skyscrapers. Previously named Waveland Golf Course, it’s an ideal location north of downtown off DuSable Lake Shore Drive.
3701 N. Recreation Dr.

 

Diversey Driving Range

It’s pure practice at this state-of-the-art, modern golf range on the lakefront. The two-tiered range has covered and heated stalls, synthetic target greens, putting greens and 18 holes for miniature golf.
141 W. Diversey Pkwy.

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Pickleball Craze
Sweeps the City

It’s no secret that pickleball has become the fastest-growing game in the nation, and the craze has likewise taken Chicago by storm. In early 2024, the massive 42,000-square-foot Social Pickleball Fun (SPF) opened in the heart of Lincoln Park. 
 

Don’t worry about the weather; this beautiful tropical-themed indoor pickleball center offers many creature comforts that bring summer vibes to Chicago all year. The main goal at SPF is for guests to be social, play and have fun, and those who come away having a good time can sign up to be members.
 

The space includes eight dedicated indoor pickleball courts with instant replay technology, a grab-and-go food and coffee bar, as well as guest amenities including spacious locker rooms with saunas and showers. Guests can also take advantage of additional games and activities, including an indoor turf field, cornhole, air hockey and more. The space includes plentiful courtside and table seating, and reservations are not required to enter the facility to play field games, enjoy a drink at the bar or have a bite to eat.
 

Good food is front and center at SPF, with a coffee bar and café featuring family-owned Kikwetu Coffee for fueling up. In addition, favorite Chicago chefs and restauranteurs include celebrated Chicago-based Chef Tom Carlin and Honey Butter Fried Chicken, a popular eatery in the Avondale neighborhood.
 

Those looking to get the most out of the fun and action at SPF can join the waitlist for Club SPF, a membership program that provides exclusive access to courts, amenities and discount perks. 

More pickleball courts are available citywide at gyms and public parks, with enthusiasts playing at places like Jackson Fieldhouse, Gompers Park, Brooks Park, Margate Park Fieldhouse and Warren Park. Playing is free but you must bring your equipment.
 

Eight dedicated pickleball courts are also planned for construction in Grant Park thanks to a generous donation from C3 Presents, the concert production company of Lollapalooza. Presently, pickleball is played at various Grant Park tennis courts.

In 1991, Guaranteed Rate Field succeeded Comiskey Park, which was previously baseball’s oldest stadium. Located between the Bridgeport and Armour Square neighborhoods, Guaranteed Rate is surrounded by seven parking lots that provide the ultimate baseball tailgating experience before games (a lot on the stadium’s north side is where Comiskey Park previously stood). Once inside the stadium, fans can access various family-friendly zones and entertainment options.
 

The friendly spirit of Chicago’s South Side is easily found throughout Guaranteed Rate Field. When a White Sox player smacks a home run, fans are treated to a celebration of fireworks coming from the centerfield scoreboard. The park also has some of the finest food concessions in baseball. Burgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches are favorites. Still, there are plenty of new choices like the “home run” sandwich (made with corned beef, roast beef and other fixings), spinach empanadas and a s’mores-like milkshake made with chocolate, graham crackers and toasted marshmallows.  

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