As part of our NBA road trip in February we flew in to Chicago and took in one game before heading off to the next state. We then ended our trip back in Chicago so that we could take in NBA All Star.
We have been to the United Center before, but the first night of our trip was the first time we had driven to the venue. We went there straight from the airport which meant that we got there not long after doors opened, so the traffic wasn’t too bad at that time. We were able to park really quickly and managed to get a spot that allowed for relatively easy exit. The parking lot was just a short walk to the venue (which I really appreciated in the cold Chicago winter). We got dinner in the venue, but we weren’t too hungry as we had been eating on the plane. We opted for walking tacos (pictured below), mainly because we had never heard of that before. It’s basically a packet of chips (crisps in the UK) with taco filling.
The United Center is a nice venue, which a strong history. Having been there a few times I don’t think there are any really bad seats in terms of view, but the first row of the upper bowl are possibly the least good for view as you have a barrier in front of you. However, it didn’t impact too much of my enjoyment of the game.
Getting out of the car pack after the game was quick, but getting back to the Interstate took a while due to the volume of cars all leaving at once.
When we returned to Chicago for All Star we did not have a car so we used public transport to get to the United Center. There is a bus that runs on game days from downtown to the venue. This is an efficient way of getting to the game, but it can mean hanging around for a while to get the bus in Downtown and then when you leave the game there is a rush for the buses and the buses are all packed.
We decided this time to use the ‘L’. We had a choice of two destination stations and on a normal day I don’t think there is much in it, however for All Star there was increased security around the venue meaning that we had quite a long walk from the Illinois Medical District stop on the first night. After that we used Ashland and found it much easier. The United Center has dedicated pick up/drop off points for Uber/Lyft services making it easier to use them as well.
One of the reasons I was looking forward to this All Star is because I love Chicago. Chicago in winter is really cold, so you do need to make sure you take layers and you might want to limit how much time you are outside. However, the transit system is easy to use and relatively frequent so you can easily get around the city.
One thing that is a must do in Chicago is to get authentic Chicago pizza. We usually go to Gino’s East but this time we decided to check out Giordanos. Be warned, this chain gets really busy so you should expect to wait to be seated. However, they will let you order while you wait to reduce the time you will wait once at the table. All their pizzas are made to order and you should expect about a 40 minute wait between ordering and receiving the pizza. Pizza in Chicago is on a different scale, so two people can share a small and you might still struggle.
My top three things to do in Chicago are – go to Navy Pier, check out the view from 360 Chicago (and try Tilt if you are brave enough – where you are tilted toward the ground from 1030 feet up) and Lincoln Park Zoo. But if you go during baseball season you need to go to Wrigley Field!