The thought of uprooting and moving to a different state can seem daunting. Moving to Arizona from Illinois, for example, is moving to a very different climate and culture. It’s about as big a contrast as you can get. While you probably won’t miss having to shovel the snow off your drive in the winter, it’s still possible to get a little homesick and need a reminder of where you came from.
If that’s the case, then there are cures for that homesickness. Lots of people from Illinois and other Midwest states have moved out to Arizona and its numerous 55+ retirement communities. Many of these communities have social clubs where people from different parts of the country get together to share both their backgrounds and their new-found homes and interests. For example, Sun City is the largest retirement community in Arizona, and it has an active Illinois Club. Also, if you’re an alumnus of the University of Illinois, there are clubs in both Phoenix and Green Valley in Southern Arizona.
Illinois in Arizona
One great advantage of such clubs is that they’re a quick and easy way to meet people and make new friends in your new home. You immediately have a shared interest and background, and you can pick up helpful information and tips from people who may have moved to Arizona from Illinois a long time ago.
Chicago Cubs in Arizona
Cubs fans are in for a treat because the team does its spring training at the 15,000-seater Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona’s third-largest city and part of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Sloan Park opened in 2014 and it’s the largest stadium to host a Major League training facility.
Training takes place in late February and goes through late March, and whether you live in Illinois or Arizona, you can book various ticket packages, some of which include dinner with some of the players after the game. If you’re outside Mesa, you can also get your hotels and car rental included. Alternatively, if you live in Mesa, you can of course just buy single-game tickets.
Moving from Illinois to Arizona doesn’t mean you lose your loyalty to your home-town team. After all, you can grow to support the Arizona Diamondbacks as well as the Chicago Cubs… except when they play each other, of course.
Chicago Bears and Beers
The Chicago Bears don’t do their spring training in Arizona, but they have lots of fans there, especially in and around Phoenix. When it’s game-time, it’s time to get together with your fellow Bears fans at any of the several sports bars that screen Bears games. The clue’s in the name at the Half Moon Windy City Sports Grill in Phoenix, where there’s a Windy City meet-up group on game days.
In Chandler, the Hob Nob Sports Bar and Grill is a dedicated Chicago bar and eating place. Not only do they show Chicago games they have a menu with Chicago classics like Italian beef and a Chicago Dog.
If you’re a fan of the Mexican food at El Hefe Restaurant and Nightclub in Chicago, you won’t have to give it up if you move to Arizona. The only restaurant branches outside of Chicago are in Tempe and Scottsdale.
Portillo’s and Pizza
Portillo’s may be mainly a Chicago and Northern Illinois chain, but if you like their Italian beef sandwiches, you can still enjoy them out in Arizona. They have branches in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Avondale, just outside Phoenix.
You can satisfy your deep-dish desires in any of several Phoenix-area branches of Lou Malnati’s, over 1,700 miles from their Chicago roots. You can pick up a pizza at two branches in Phoenix, one in Scottsdale, and another coming soon to Glendale.
Tucson and Chicago
In Tucson, there’s live music almost every night of the week at the Chicago Bar. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s a friendly, old-fashioned bar inside. If you’re a musician yourself, head downtown to find one of the city’s main music stores, the Chicago Music Store, which has been in business for over a century.
After you’ve finished browsing the Chicago Music Store and before you head to the Chicago Bar, you can check just how authentic the pizzas are at Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria. Here, you can build your own Chicago-style pizza, including both a deep-dish and a stuffed pizza. It’s just what the doctor ordered to transport you from Arizona back to Illinois and cure that Chicago homesickness.