Chicago’s unofficial “fifth season” gets underway this weekend, a season that has more to do with long-term civic pride and devotion than anything remotely meteorological. It’s time once again for Chicago Bears football, of course, as the home team takes on the Atlanta Falcons to open the 2011 schedule with a noon kickoff Sunday at Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive.
Of course, the game itself is only one part of what should be a full weekend of excitement around the city. After all, given the fact that there’s only room for about 60,000 fans in the actual stadium, the remaining hundreds of thousands throughout the area have to find places to gather and cheer on their team. Luckily, they won’t have to go far for some great tailgating options around the city:
Look for game-day drink and appetizer specials alongside the year-round traditional Irish favorites and lively atmosphere at Emerald Loop(216 N. Wabash; 312/263-0200). For a Chicago tradition that rivals the Bears, head north to the Old Town neighborhood for the great vibe and even better barbecue at The Fireplace Inn (1448 N. Wells; 312/664-5264).
Finally, take in the game on TV or try to catch a glimpse of the stadium itself across Lake Michigan from a seat at the sports nirvana of Harry Caray’s Tavern (700 E. Grand; 312/527-9700). In fact, if you happen to have a ticket to the game, you can even board a Shoreline Water Taxi from the Harry Caray’s tailgate to the front gate at Soldier Field!