Snowball Crawl

  • When: Last Saturday in January
    • 2017: January 28
  • Where: Western Suburbs, starts/ends in La Grange
  • Metra Line: BNSF Railway
  • Cost: $8 Metra Weekend Pass
  • Hashtags: #YardSocial #SnowballCrawlBNSF

After last year’s successful winter Milwaukee District West Line train crawl that ultimately led to OktoberWest, a new pilot train crawl is being organized for January 2017 along the BNSF Railway. Similar to North by Northwest, the first stop will be a historic bowling alley, followed by pleasant little dive bars up and down Metra’s busiest line.

If you’d care to join us for breakfast, we’ll be at Blueberry Hill Café in downtown La Grange at 10am.



  • 10:00am: Breakfast at Blueberry Hill Café, La Grange
  • 11:30am: Tivoli Lanes, Downers Grove
  • 1:30pm: Orazio Pub, Naperville
  • 3:00pm: Uptown, Westmont
  • 4:45pm: Nels Old Time Inn, Lisle
  • 7:15pm: Palmer Place, La Grange

Transit Connections
The BNSF Railway is well-served by a variety of other transit options if you’re heading down to the corridor from elsewhere in the region.  Since the Metra $8 Weekend Pass is good on all Metra lines all weekend long, the simplest transfer opportunity is downtown at Chicago Union Station from other Metra lines.  However, based on your location throughout the region there may be other more convenient connections, including the following bus routes:

CTA Route #49 – Western Avenue – Runs 24 hours a day, every 8-15 minutes at most times
The Western Avenue bus is convenient for many city residents to access the BNSF Railway corridor, especially for trips back home since buses operate 24 hours a day. The #49 links the Western Avenue BNSF station to Metra’s Western Avenue MD-N/MD-W station as well as all five Western CTA ‘L’ stations on the Brown, Blue, Pink, and Orange Lines.

Pace Route #302 – Ogden-Stanley – Operates every 45 minutes from 6:40am to 6:30pm
Pace Route 302 is a convenient link directly between the LaGrange Road BNSF station and the CTA Pink Line at 54/Cermak. Heading to the Snowball Crawl, a westbound bus leaves Cermak/Cicero at 10:25am and arrives in LaGrange at 11:00am, just in time for our 11:06am departure out to Downers Grove.

Pace Route #307 – Harlem Avenue – Operates every 20-30 minutes from 5:45am-9:15pm, then hourly until midnight
Pace Route 307, which operates until midnight on Saturdays, is another convenient option to get to and from the Snowball Crawl.  Pace Route 307 connects Metra’s Elmwood Park MD-W and Oak Park UP-W stations to the Harlem Avenue BNSF station, as well as the CTA’s Harlem ‘L’ stations on the Blue (Forest Park branch) and Green Lines.

Pace Route #330 – Mannheim/LaGrange – Operates hourly from 5:30am to 8:45pm
Pace Route 330 is one of Pace’s westernmost north-south arterial routes that operates on Saturdays and runs right through the heart of LaGrange on LaGrange Road.  The northern terminus of the route is at the O’Hare Airport Transit System (ATS) station in Lot E, which provides for convenient connections to the CTA’s O’Hare Blue Line station.  The final northbound bus of the evening leaves LaGrange at 8:08pm.

Pace Route #331 – Cumberland/5th – Operates hourly from 7:30am to 6:30pm
Starting at the CTA’s Cumberland Blue Line station and terminating at the Brookfield BNSF station, Pace Route 331 can be a convenient option for crawlers heading to the BNSF from the Far Northwest Side or near western suburbs.  The line also links up with Metra’s River Grove MD-W and Maywood UP-W stations.  A southbound bus departs the Cumberland Blue Line station at 10:05am and arrives in Brookfield at 11:00am, just in time for the 11:03am westbound departure to our first stop in Downers Grove.

To open the map in a new window, click here.

Itasca St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Tickets are now available!

  • When: Saturday before or of St. Patrick’s Day
    • 2017: March 11
  • Where: Itasca and downtown Chicago
  • Metra Line: Milwaukee District West Line
  • Cost: $6.50 (reserved), $7.00 (day-of-event)

An Itasca tradition for decades long before The Yard Social Club got involved, the Itasca St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a two-block walk to the Itasca Metra Station where the group heads down to the Chicago Loop for the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on the Saturday before (or of) St. Patrick’s Day.  Since 2014, The Yard Social Club charters a private train car onboard the Metra to provide parade-goers with a more comfortable trip into and out of the city at discounted rates.  In 2016, we sold out of 75 discounted Metra fares, so definitely plan ahead for 2017.

While the Itasca “parade” and the group train ride is not restricted to a particular age group, this event is recommended for an 18+ age group and the bars downtown are strictly 21+. Check out the “Side Excursions” section below for all-ages event ideas. Also, a reminder that alcohol is not allowed on Metra trains on Saturday, March 11.



Metra tickets for this year’s trip are now available! Tickets cost $7, or $6.50 if you pay before the event. We’ve purchased a block of 75 tickets, which include travel on the 9:23am inbound train from Itasca and the 4:30pm outbound train from Chicago Union Station. Since these are discounted fares, these tickets are only good between Itasca and Chicago Union Station on trains #2706 (9:23am inbound) and #2715 (4:30pm outbound). Additional free tickets are available for travelers who have monthly Metra passes.

Register for your tickets by filling out this Google Form. Your tickets are not officially reserved until payment is received, and we do sell out of discounted tickets every year, so plan ahead!


  • 8:30am: Private pre-party
  • 9:00am: Parade begins at Maple and Grove Streets, Itasca
  • 9:15am: Parade arrives at Itasca Metra Station
  • 9:23am: Inbound train #2706
  • 10:20am: Arrive Chicago Union Station
  • 11:00am: The Berghoff
  • 12:00pm: The Bar Below
  • 1:30pm: Kitty O’Shea’s or Cactus
  • 3:00pm: O’Neil’s on Wells*
  • 4:15pm: Arrive Chicago Union Station
  • 4:30pm: Outbound train #2715
  • 5:12pm: Arrive Itasca Metra Station
  • 5:15pm: Tree Guys Pizza Pub

* Schedule note: The Shannon Rovers Irish pipe band will have a live performance at O’Neil’s on Wells at 2:30pm. Some members of our crawl will head over to that bar around 2pm. There is usually a cover charge at O’Neil’s.

Side Excursions

Maybe bars aren’t for you. Maybe you want to try something a little different and explore the city a bit. By all means, blaze your own trail and take in more of what downtown offers! Here are some  of our recommended excursions.

  • Sail on the Green River. The Chicago River is famously dyed green every St. Patrick’s Day. While our usual schedule has us arriving too late to see the actual dyeing of the river, the river stays that neon-green color for quite awhile. But the Chicago Water Taxi, Wendella’s fleet of big yellow boats, sails on St. Patrick’s Day! Board water taxis just north of Madison Street and at Rush Street, one block west of Michigan Avenue.
  • Check out the new Riverwalk. If ye be a landlubber who hasn’t found your sea-legs yet (or you’d simply rather not pay for the Water Taxi), Chicago’s newly-extended riverwalk puts you right at the water’s edge from Lake Street to Lake Michigan.
  • Don’t forget about the real Parade! It’s a running joke that we go downtown “for the parade” and haven’t seen a minute of it for decades, but you can go check out the performers and floats yourself! The Parade runs on Columbus through Grant Park, starting at Balbo at noon and heads north to Monroe.
  • Take a bike ride. If the weather’s decent and you want to burn off a few calories while expanding what’s in your reach of Chicago, $10 buys you a 24-hour pass for unlimited half-hour rides on any Divvy bike at any Divvy dock. Protected bike lanes on Clinton, Dearborn, Randolph and Washington will let you criss-cross the Loop in safety and style.
  • When in doubt, there’s always Navy Pier. While “true” Chicagoans would go to Navy Pier no sooner than they’d put ketchup on their hot dog, recent upgrades have shed much of the Pier’s old carnival atmosphere in favor of something a little more sleek and 21st Century. Plus the newly expanded Ferris Wheel might be the best place to check out the city from above.

If you do choose to choose your own adventure, check Metra’s schedules and plan accordingly. Our group rate tickets are only good between Itasca and Union Station and only on the two indicated trains, so you may find it more valuable to buy a Metra $8 Weekend Pass instead and have more flexibility.

To open the map in a new window, click here.


  • When: Saturday after Labor Day
    • 2017: September 9
  • Where: Western Suburbs (starts/ends in Itasca)
  • Metra Line: Milwaukee District West Line
  • Cost: $8 Metra Weekend Pass
  • Hashtag: #OktoberWest

A new tradition begun in 2016, OktoberWest lines up with the annual Itasca Oktoberfest street festival held just north of the Itasca Metra Station.  This year we’re supercharging the lineup with a full day of fun, starting bright and early in Hanover Park, working our way to the city (barely) and back to Itasca to enjoy German food, live music, and plenty of beer at Itasca’s Oktoberfest.


  • 9:30am: Prairie Station Pub, Hanover Park
  • 11:20am: 4 Points Whiskey Saloon, Medinah
  • 12:25pm: Tree Guys Pizza Pub, Itasca
  • 2:55pm: Eva’s Sports Bar, Mont Clare
  • 4:00pm: River Cafe & Bar, River Grove
  • 5:10pm: 3-J’s Tavern, Bensenville
  • 6:15pm: Itasca Oktoberfest

Transit Connections

  • Chicago Union Station: Directly connect to an outbound Milwaukee West train from Metra’s Milwaukee North, BNSF Railway, and SouthWest Service lines at Union Station. Several CTA bus routes also directly serve the station. Metra’s Union Pacific lines serve the Ogilvie Transportation Center, located two blocks north of Union Station.
  • Western Avenue: Directly connect to Milwaukee North trains. CTA #49-Western and #65-Grand buses are within two blocks of the station.
  • Mont Clare: CTA #65-Grand, #74-Fullerton, and #90-Harlem buses are within two blocks of the station.
  • Elmwood Park: Pace #307-Harlem and #319-Grand buses serve the station.
  • River Grove: Pace #331-Cumberland-5th buses serve the station.
  • Franklin Park: Pace #319-Grand buses are within four blocks of the station.
  • Hanover Park: Pace #554-Elgin-Woodfield buses serve the station.
  • Elgin: Several Pace routes serve the station.

Travel Guide



To open the map in a new window, click here.

Christmas Kickoff Crawl

  • When: Saturday after Thanksgiving
    • 2017: November 25
  • Where: Northwestern Suburbs (starts/ends in Palatine)
  • Metra Line: Union Pacific Northwest Line
  • Cost: $8 Metra Weekend Pass

A new Thanksgiving tradition starting in 2017, the Christmas Kickoff Crawl will cover the most ground of any Yard Social train crawl along the Union Pacific Northwest Line, stretching from McHenry County’s oldest bowling alley in Fox River Grove all the way back to the inner-ring suburb of Park Ridge, then back out to wrap up in historic Palatine.  Join us on Small Business Saturday as we check out six different venues in six different small communities radiating northwest out of Chicago.

We’ll be stopping at The Lamplighter Inn for breakfast before we head out, if you’re joining us in Palatine.  The crawl also ends in Palatine where a wide variety of options await for your final stop of the night (although we strongly recommend going back to The Lamplighter Inn).


  • 10:00am: Breakfast at The Lamplighter Inn, Palatine
  • 11:45am: King-Pin Lanes, Fox River Grove
  • 2:00pm: Grab-and-Go at Top Shelf Liquors, Fox River Grove
  • 3:00pm: The Harp and Fiddle, Park Ridge
  • 4:05pm: Miner Street Tavern, Des Plaines
  • 5:15pm: Sam’s Place, Mount Prospect
  • 6:30pm: Choose your own adventure in Palatine – See map for recommendations

Interactive Map

To open map in a new window, click here.

The Yard Olympics

  • When: Second Saturday in July
    • 2017: July 8
  • Where: The Yard
  • Cost: $10 per person
  • Registration: Invitation Only

An annual tradition since 2009, The Yard Olympics pits a wide variety of competitors against each other in the ultimate competition for backyard sport domination and for The Yard Cup (winning team) and The Mayor’s Cup (best individual performance) trophies. Beginning in 2016, teams of five competitors play against each other in four events: doubles bocce, doubles bags, singles beer pong, and team beer pong baseball.

The Yard Olympics are by invitation only, so become a regular at The Yard Social Club’s annual train crawls to get to know the group and potentially earn your shot at The Yard Cup!