It's that time of year again. The time when we put aside our North and South side allegiances and come together to support those Monsters of the Midway, the Chicago Bears.
Football fanatic families-and you know who you are-should consider taking one of Soldier Field's stadium tours. They're a chance to get into the historic stadium for a fraction of what you'd spend on game day and to explore some typically inaccessible spots.
The stadium itself is a fascinating place: a futuristic "spaceship" plopped onto some ancient-looking Roman columns. You'll pick up some interesting trivia related to the stadium's nearly 100-year history and its renovation in 2001. And in honor of the stadium's name, you'll get the chance to see some medals that belonged to those who have served and the famous Doughboy Statue that used to be in Garfield Park.
A trip up to the Colonnades-those imposing columns seen from afar-is a lesson in architecture and gives some great views of the city.
But the real thrill comes from walking in the footsteps of football greats, from George Halas to Walter Payton to Devin Hester. The kids on my tour couldn't suppress their awe at standing on the sidelines of the field. And although the Bears' locker room is off-limits, you still get to see where some pretty famous football players have suited up (or mourned a loss) in the visitors' locker room.
I also enjoyed getting to see how the other half lives with a brief stop in the Skyline Suite, an expansive box that gives a bird's-eye view of the field (and costs $900).
Although my tour was populated by plenty of people wearing blue and orange, you don't have to be a diehard to enjoy the experience. And since it's less than an hour long, even young kids won't be too bored.
I'd recommend taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings and spending the day (also better bang for your buck, parking-wise) in the area. Soldier Field is in the middle of a lovely park and next to some of the world's finest museums. You could even bring along a pigskin and have a toss.
What better way to celebrate fall's favorite game?
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.