Plan the perfect rugby weekend in Chicago

This November Irish rugby is set to return to Chicago’s Soldier Field, the unlikely location of one of Ireland’s great sporting moments. Two years after recording an historic victory over the mighty All Blacks, Joe Schmidt’s men will once again travel to America; this time with Italy on their mind. A familiar foe in the NatWest 6 Nations, Ireland’s match-up with Conor O’Shea’s Italy is only one of the many reasons for you to consider this trip to one of America’s most beautiful cities.

THE RUGBY WEEKEND

The Ireland-Italy showdown will be only one in a triple-header of games at Soldier Field on 3 November. As part of ‘The Rugby Weekend’, you’ll also see a women’s international between the USA and New Zealand’s world champion Black Ferns, and a men’s game between the US Eagles and the Maori All Blacks.

A rugby extravaganza that will have something for everyone, the ultimate selling-point here is that you’ll find yourself in Chicago when all that entertainment takes place – go for the rugby, stay for the city!

Rugby Weekend Irish Rugby

WHAT TO DO

From Millennium Park to the Navy Pier, the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzger Pavilion to the Cloud Gate, Chicago has a whole host of sights for you to see during your stay.

HEAD UNDERGROUND: With the weather likely to be on the chilly side during your November stay, Chicago’s underground Pedway is the perfect way to explore the city. This underground walkway system allows you to escape the cold temperatures and move around beneath the city.

Linking more than 40 blocks in the city’s Central Business District, the Pedway connects a whole range of different shops, hotels and bars. With cafes and bars to stop and take a break, the Pedway also has 22 beautiful stained-glass windows that are well worth a look.

Chicago Pedway
Chicago Pedway

TAKE A CRUISE: If architecture is your thing, and you fancy taking a slightly different approach to sight-seeing, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises has you covered. Taking you on a 90-minute guided tour, you’ll explore the city’s skyline from the vantage-point of their river cruise. With indoor and outdoor seating, the cruise also provides a fully-stocked bar on board. Each and every skyscraper has a story to tell. From a perspective you simply couldn’t experience at street level, First Lady Cruises is spectacular, insightful and one not to miss.

SKY HIGH VIEWS: For a bird’s eye view of the city, take a trip to Chicago’s Sky Deck instead. Rising 1,353 ft into the sky, visiting the Sky Deck involves stepping inside a transparent elevator that lifts you up the side of the building. Heading up the eighth-tallest building in the world, this might not be for the faint-hearted. If you do make it up, however, you are guaranteed views you can scarcely imagine.

Chicago Sky Deck
Sky Deck, Chicago

AMERICAN WRITERS MUSEUM: As the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler and many more of America’s favourite writers, it’s only to be expected that Chicago offers a wonderful museum in honour of the country’s greatest authors. With its graphic displays and interactive activities, the museum’s key exhibit is undoubtedly ‘A Nation of Writers’.

For any fans of Bob Dylan, your November visit will allow you to witness first-hand a temporary exhibition dedicated entirely to the 2016 Nobel Prize winner. Charting the writers and musicians that have influenced, and were influenced by Dylan, the highlight of this exhibit undoubtedly is the Fender electric guitar that Dylan played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 – a genuine piece of rock’n’roll history.

If you want to explore a legitimate part of Chicago’s literary past, the house in which Ernest Hemingway was born is available to visit; and only a short 30 minute trip on Chicago’s green line.

HARRY CARAY'S 7TH INNING STRETCH
Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch on Magnificent Mile.

A SPORTING TOWN: If all that rugby doesn’t satisfy your need for top-level sporting entertainment, Chicago is not short on local teams that you can get behind during your stay. The Chicago Bulls (basketball), Chicago Bears (American football), Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox (baseball) are all likely to be in action during your visit.

If you can’t quite fit in a trip to a game, head to one of the city’s famed sports bars and experience the contest among the locals. Take a walk down Chicago’s ‘Magnificent Mile’, and you will find any number of great sports bars to catch the action.

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

ART OF PIZZA: Chicagoans love their food, and after your visit you’re sure to understand why. Between pizza, hotdogs and Italian beef, this city has its own take on them all. Home to a whole range of different pizza styles, the deep-dish is perhaps the best known of all. Offering you almost a meal in a slice, one notable Chicago food-blog names the ‘Art of Pizza’ as the place you need to go to experience Chicagoan pizza at its best.

AL’S BEEF: If pizza isn’t your thing, Al’s Beef calls itself ‘home of the great Chicago sandwich.’ On the go now for eighty-years, Al’s appropriately stands in the city’s ‘Little Italy’ district. If you’re really seeking authenticity, the original Al’s is still operating out of Taylor Street. Cash-only and no seats on the premises, it is genuinely great food on the go.

The Gage
The Gage

THE GAGE: This luxurious, yet affordable, bar and restaurant is easily my favourite place to eat, drink and be merry in Chicago. The Alaskan halibut is a must-try and the old reliable fish and chips is a winner too.

The Gage attracted a large crowd of Irish fans following the 2016 New Zealand game, and it promises to be a hive of activity following the Italy game. What’s more, you can stop by for brunch the next day – the Irish Breakfast is the perfect cure.

GREEN MILL COCKTAIL LOUNGE:  Operating now for more than 100 years, what was once Pop Morse’s Roadhouse is now the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. Once frequented by Chicago’s infamous gangster, Al Capone, things have certainly changed since then.

This is the place to go in Chicago for an evening of drinks and live music. The venue has played host to some of the most well-known jazz musicians over the years. With its ‘sophisticated informality’, the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge has a wonderful atmosphere that will take you all the way back to the 1930s.

Book now: Fly direct to Chicago.

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