So you’ve decided to make the trek to Evanston, home of the Northwestern Wildcats, but you need some help getting around and where to go before and after a game? You’re in luck! I can help you out.
Getting to Evanston for a game.
The easiest way to get up to Evanston is to take public transit.
Via the Metra
If you’re in downtown Chicago, the absolute fastest way to get up Evanston is to take the Metra’s UPN line from Oglivy station and get off at the Central street stop. You only have to sit through five stops, and you’ll get dropped of roughly a half mile west of the stadium. Lucky for you, Central Street in Evanston has a places you need to drop by before the game.
You’ve got a few choices once you get off at the Central street Metra stop:
1) You can pick up some beer at Beer on Central, and then carry it over to one of the Ryan Field parking lots to drink with some friends.
2) There’s a few cafes and restaurants open just west of the Metra stop.
I haven’t been to any of these places, but one day I’ll check these out
If you feel like getting some Northwestern apparel, and believe me, everyone looks good in Purple, then drop on by Let’s Tailgate! I always pick up some new clothing at least once a year from this place.
Via the CTA
You can also get up to Ryan Field by taking the red line from Chicago, and then transfer to the Purple line. If you don’t want to stop off in downtown evanston, then you need to get off at the Central Street stop and follow the throng of visiting fans west to Ryan Field.
Fair warning: the red line makes stops what seems like every four or five blocks. It will take you an hour or so from downtown chicago to get up to Evanston. Also, the transfer from the red to purple at Howard isn’t immediate.
If you know Chicago well, you’d know that the Purple line runs express service from Howard to a mid-north side stop called Belmont, and then to downtown. You might be wondering, LPW, why cant we take this and avoid all those red line stops? Unfortunately, the purple line express only runs on weekdays, and during morning and evening rush hour :(
Yeah, that’s bullshit. The purple line should run on gamedays!!!!
If you’ve got some time before the game, you can explore downtown Evanston and go to a few nifty places. My favorite place pre-gaming in downtown Evanston is World of Beer! If you want it, they most likely have the beer of your choice.
If you’re in downtown Evanston and want to get to the game quickly, then you can hop into a shuttle bus that runs from downtown to Ryan Field. Yeah, you’re literally plopping yourself into a school bus, but it’s fun and fast. Ryan Field is a mile or so off campus and from downtown Evanston.
If you have to drive, you can park in some of the on-campus lots. Parking in the lots just east and west or Ryan Field are reserved for as an option for season ticket holders. You can also try your luck street parking around the stadium, but be mindful of parking restrictions. I’ve been ticketed once or twice.
If you’re up for tailgating, you can do it in a few spots:
- You can bring some beer over to the West or East Ryan field lots
- You can drink beer in the on-campus parking lots
- And you can drink beer on Wildcat Alley, the grass fields north of the stadium.
At the Game
Ryan Field has some decent food. Alcohol is not served in the stadium, and you can’t consume it openly. Be discreet if you’re going to bring it in.
Remember, the concourses are small, so you’ll have to time bathroom visits carefully.
There’s a big food court on the east side lower stands, and if you’re in the west side, there’s a nice grill near Gate M that serves burgers.
I’ve only scratched the surface of places to go in Evanston, and I’ve been a season ticket holder for almost 20 years. I hope you find this guide to visiting Evanston informative.