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Play ball: Perfect baseball outings in Illinois

By Erica Abdnour

See Major League all-stars and small-town sluggers: Here are the best spots in Illinois to catch a few innings of America’s Game.

Minor League Peoria Chiefs Baseball Dozer Park
Credit: Illinois Office of Tourism

Nothing says spring quite like a day at the ol’ ball game! The city of Chicago is home to two heavy hitters of Major League Baseball, the Cubs and White Sox, and towns all over Illinois boast minor-league teams all their own.

Whether you’re planning a day trip to catch a game, or filling out a family vacation with a day at the park, there is a baseball experience for the whole family. Check out the best outings on deck with this guide to Illinois baseball.

Chicago Cubs

Take a trip to the Friendly Confines to see one of baseball’s oldest sports venues.  From the iconic Cubs marquee to the Budweiser Bleachers, Wrigley Field makes for a unique experience among America’s ballparks. The stadium is smack dab in the middle of the bustling Wrigleyville neighborhood, where plenty of restaurants, bars, and lodging options turn a day at the park to a night on the town.

On days when there isn’t a game to catch, reserve a spot in a guided Wrigley Field Tour to explore the stadium and hear all about its storied history.

What’s nearby: Head to Brickhouse Tavern to grab a pre- or post-game bite and bask in the nostalgia that lines the walls, or walk down Clark Street to Sluggers for a beer and a swing in the second-floor batting cages. Stay conveniently in the area at the brand new Hotel Zachary, just steps away from the stadium and a variety of newly added restaurants like Smoke Daddy and Big Star Taco. Looking to see more of Chicago? Hop on the Red Line at Addison—part of the city’s extensive public transportation network—to get from Wrigleyville to downtown and other neighborhoods.

Chicago White Sox

Pledge your allegiance to Chicago’s south side sluggers at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the American League’s Chicago White Sox. From inventive in-park attractions—root, root, root for the fireworks that follow every win—to a creative assortment of food, the former Comiskey Park has a full slate of modern amenities. Families can check out the Xfinity Kids Zone, a fully interactive baseball-themed experience with base-running, wiffle ball games, and batting practice. Looking for an adult beverage? The Revolution Tap Room offers interactive games and activities as well as a prime spot to snap a #SoxSelfie.

What’s nearby: Located in the Bridgeport neighborhood off of the Red Line, Guaranteed Rate Field is close to spots such as ChiSox Bar & Grill and Fat Fish Bar & Grill. Bar favorites are served up with local brews and an enthusiastic vibe, perfect for getting you pumped for the first pitch.

Peoria Chiefs

For a more relaxed, family-focused day at the ballpark, you can’t do better than the minor leagues. Head to Peoria to see the Peoria Chiefs, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class-A affiliate, at Dozer Park. Each game features a new promotion (such as Taco Tuesdays, NASA Day, or Education Day), making for a whole new experience every time.

What’s nearby: Stay at the Mark Twain Hotel, conveniently located close to Dozer Park, and within walking distance to the Peoria Riverfront Museum and historic GAR Hall. For a great dining experience, check out Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery—a renovated church with locally brewed beer, great food and a patio space complete with bocce ball.

Kane County Cougars

A Kane County Cougars game is a true summertime delight. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Class A affiliate plays at Northwestern Mutual Field is a mainstay in northern Illinois. Each game features a fun and unique promotion, often with interactive elements like letting kids run the bases. And Northwestern Medicine Field entertains families with activities such as skee-ball, speed pitch and a bounce house.

What’s nearby: While planning your Kane County Cougars getaway, treat yourself to a stay at the Herrington Inn & Spa. And with a variety of restaurants and nightlife close to the property, you will have no problem finding a delectable dinner or brunch. Check out Bien Trucha, Graham’s 318 Coffeehouse and Barrel & Rye.

Southern Illinois Miners

The resident team of Marion, Illinois, the Frontier League’s Southern Illinois Miners are the city’s first baseball team since 1948. Both chair and lawn seating are available at the park, which also features everything from a mini golf course to an inflatable Fun Zone. Visitors to Rent One Park will not only be treated to an exciting baseball game, but also have the opportunity to participate in fun promotions like “Hit the Truck,” where entrants can win season tickets if a Miners player hits a Toyota Tundra parked outside of the stadium.

What’s nearby: There are plenty of convenient places to stay, such as Best Western Marion Hotel and Country Inn & Suites. But you can’t leave the area without checking out Illinois Made maker 17th Street Barbecue, a popular restaurant among locals that serves up flavorful brisket, ribs, and more.

Chicago Bandits

Let’s not forget the ladies! The Chicago Bandits, a team in the National Pro Fastpitch league, is a championship-winning softball team based out of nearby Rosemont. The team defends the diamond at Parkway Bank Sports Complex, where guests can partake in game-day experiences like on-field batting practice, a pre-game catch on the field and more.

Rosemont is also home to the Chicago Dogs, the newest member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. Named after Chicago’s iconic food, the Dogs play out of the state-of-the-art Impact Field, which was designed to put the the fan experience front and center. 

What’s nearby: Located a quick Blue Line’s ride away from Chicago — and within spitting distance of O’Hare International Airport—it’s easy to make a whole weekend out of Rosemont. Stay at one of the airport hotels like aloft Chicago O’Hare or Crowne Plaza Chicago-O’Hare. Take a shopping trip at destinations like Fashion Outlets of Chicago, or unwind at places like Rivers Casino and Zanies comedy club. For dining, head to one of the many restaurants and bars in the area like Bub City or Hofbrauhaus.