Flyers fans will remember with admiration that 2009-10 team that was able to back their way into the playoffs in the last game of the season (in a shootout, nonetheless). That team fought their way all the way to the Stanley Cup final, then took the Chicago Blackhawks six games before falling in overtime in that sixth game. Now, whenever the Flyers play those Hawks, memories of that team return. Their December 11 tilt in the Windy City at the United Center will be no exception.
If nothing else, it gives you Philly fans an excuse to come to one of the greatest cities in our country again to see your team play. Chicago has already been chronicled in our prior article when the Phillies visited the Cubs, and it is worth being profiled again to refresh your memory, just in case you couldn’t see or do everything you wanted. A lot that was discussed before will be noted again, just in case you have more time to spare in Chi-town this time around.
As was stated before in my prior ode to Chicago (and the baseball cathedral known as Wrigley Field), there is tons to do in the Windy City to fill your days and nights when you are not watching the teams battle. And no matter where in the city you choose to stay, the Chicago El system gets you to within walking distance or a short bus ride of the United Center. The Chicago train system has a stop at O’Hare Airport, meaning that you spend your entire Chicago stay without once getting into a car.
There are many must-visits when in Chicago, but if you want one of the best views that America has to offer, you can start by going to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and experiencing Skydeck Chicago, especially if you couldn’t make the trip if you were in town for the Phillies visit. It’s located on the 103rd floor and on a clear day, you can see four different states. For an even bigger rush, step out onto The Ledge, which is a glass-enclosed balcony that allows you to look directly down on the city of Chicago.
If you are looking to combine some exercise and do some Chicago shopping, make sure to hit the Magnificent Mile. It is literally a mile full of shopping and dining that is very uniquely Chicago. This is especially true this time of year as you can knock out all your holiday shopping in one fell swoop. If you are a Christmas Vacation fan, you know what holiday shopping in Chicago looks like, as Clark Griswold’s visit to the city to shop is one of the more memorable scenes in the movie.
You can follow that up with a trek to the famous Navy Pier on the shores of Lake Michigan. Complete with its famous Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, the Navy Pier is also a destination for shopping and restaurants. It has a cool atmosphere with beautiful lakefront scenery, even as the weather gets colder (and the wind picks up). Make sure to bundle up if you head there but know that the chill only adds to the festive holiday atmosphere.
If you came to Chicago before and didn’t indulge in its fantastic regional food, you HAVE to do it now. If nothing else, it is an absolute necessity to indulge in the city’s mainstay food: the deep-dish pizza. Chicagoans argue over what is the best deep-dish joint, so why not find out for yourself? There are too many to name, so we’ll leave it to two that get mentioned quite a bit by locals and tourists alike: Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s. The latter also has a Famous Stuffed Pizza which make you feel like you’ve died and gone to cheese heaven. No joke.
The United Center (the "Madhouse on Madison"), home to the Blackhawks and the Bulls, opened in 1994, replacing the fabled old Chicago Stadium. It is a very nice facility that holds its own to the other newer arenas even as it approaches its 20th season. One of the coolest, most unique traditions in sports that takes place here is during the National Anthem. During this time, all of the fans stand up and cheer loudly during the entire anthem. It's a time-honored Chicago Blackhawks tradition that revs up the atmosphere for both American pride and excitement for the game that is about to happen.
The holiday season is fast approaching and you can feel it in the air. An impromptu trip for a few days to the Midwest to watch your Flyers play in a great holiday city might be what you need to get (or keep) yourself in the holiday spirit. The Flyers are playing excellent hockey right now and the Blackhawks are now a perennial powerhouse, so it is bound to be cutthroat hockey at its best.