Baseball season is here, and a family trip to the old ballgame makes for a memorable day out. We just got back from taking our 18-month-old to his second Cubs game (he waited so long for that championship), so I did some research on how to make a trip to a baseball game with kids as smooth as possible.
1. Decide where you’re going.
Die-hard loyalties and generational allegiances may decide this for you. But if you don’t have a particular affinity for the area teams, you can decide what kind of an outing you’d like. A Kane County Cougars minor-league game is usually a smoother trip, with cheaper tickets and parking. Guaranteed Rate, where the Sox play, is known for being more family-friendly, and it’s an easier drive to see major league play. Wrigley can be a pain to get to, and the tickets will generally cost you the most, but it’s also a historic ballpark in the heart of the city (not to mention the home of the defending world champions).
2. Consider a Sunday.
At Wrigley, Sunday afternoon home games are Kids Sundays. The first 1,000 kids 13 and younger can run the bases after the game (be sure to get a special wristband when you enter the park), and on six select Sundays, there are kids’ giveaways, too. At Guaranteed Rate, Sunday day games are Family Sundays. Kids can run the bases after the game or participate in activities set up throughout the concourse, and there are special rates on tickets and parking.
3. Plan your parking.
It’s pretty straightforward at Guaranteed Rate field: parking in official lots is $20 every day except Sunday, when it’s only $10. For a Kane County Cougars game, you’ll pay $5 for general or handicapped and $10 for preferred parking.
Parking at Wrigley is tougher. On our most recent trip, we paid $25 via SpotHero to park in a lot that was about 15 minutes away, which is pretty par for the course. You can also take the Metra downtown, and then take the CTA Red Line to the Addison stop, or park near a stop and then take the CTA train or bus. Check out the Cubs’ transportation page for more info.
4. Pack wisely.
Pack lightly, but prioritize gear that keeps you comfortable—sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, sweaters, you know the drill. Chicago can be significantly cooler than the suburbs, especially if you’re sitting up high. And the weather can change quite a bit throughout the course of a baseball game.
You can (and should!) bring a sealed plastic water bottle to the game. Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate allow you to bring in food, too, with the latter requiring snacks to be in a small clear plastic bag. (The exception is Kane County Cougars games, where you are only allowed to bring water if the temperature is 90º F or above, and can only bring in food if you have a special need, such as a medical condition, allergy, or pregnancy.) If you aren’t planning on buying food at the game, having a special snack or a plan to grab treats after the game can help stave off begging for pricey concessions.
You’re welcome to bring a lightweight, umbrella-style stroller into any of the fields. At Wrigley, you can claim check strollers at the Bike Valet next to the Addison CTA stop. You may want to consider whether you can do without, though, since it will add an extra hassle. For littler ones, consider a baby carrier instead; the first time we brought our son to a game, he actually slept in the carrier for two innings!
5. Find your escape hatches.
Depending on your kids’ ages and personalities, you may or may not expect them to sit through an entire baseball game. It’s good to know what options you have in case the kids start getting restless.
The Kane County Cougars have a special KidZone play area with inflatables, playground equipment, and more. Tickets are a little extra, but it’s a really nice option if you’ve got a kid who can’t sit still through a whole game yet.
At Guaranteed Rate Field, kids under 13 can head to the 15,000-square-foot XFINITY Fundamentals area to practice batting, base running, and more. (Note that kids must be wearing athletic shoes.)
New this year at Wrigley field, The Park at Wrigley is only open to ticket-holders during games. It includes a big stretch of lawn where kids can get their wiggles out. The game is always playing on a giant screen. I told my husband that next time, we should ditch our nosebleed seats, bring a blanket, and just watch on the lawn!
Check out our giant list of outdoor fun for more things to do with your kids.