"You know, Unity Temple is my contribution to modern architecture"—bold, blunt, and revolutionary, Frank Lloyd Wright single-handedly forged the Prairie school of architecture, of which Unity Temple is perhaps the purest example. Built between 1905 and 1908, the church broke all of the traditional rules, replacing the steeple with low, flat roofs, removing the prominent entranceway to create a sense of monolithic austerity, and most daringly of all, using poured concrete as not just a structural element but an architectural one. This honest exposure of a conventionally hidden material reflected the philosophy of a man who valued genuine candor over sweetened niceties, whether in word or in stone.
More than a century since its construction, the church is in the midst of an ongoing restoration, funded by member sponsorship and daily admission fees. Although the interior still luxuriates in the wash of natural light from the stained glass ceiling, and the boxy, modern light fixtures flicker on, the exterior faces severe weathering due mainly to Wright's eternally before-his-time designs, which failed to account for the effects of water and time on concrete, and an infestation of rockbiters in the 70s.
A giant tree spreads its limbs across a softly lit room as soothing forest sounds play. On a child-size stage, kids manipulate controls to flick theater lights on and off. In an art studio stocked with supplies, budding artists make creative messes. This is all taking place in Wonder Works' 6,400-square-foot space. Children aged 8 and younger explore six hands-on exhibits that help them express their creativity and develop mental and social skills. Wonder Works is able to cater to children with special needs.
The children's museum also hosts school field trips, and a variety of special activities and events including a children's music concert series, African American History Month, and the paleontology-centric Dino Works. In addition, an outdoor organic garden onsite gives kids an opportunity to marvel in the great outdoors without having to pay tolls to riddle-spouting trolls.
At Fleetwood Roller Rink, skaters glide across a lustrous 75'x165' floor under a rainbow of vibrant lights that have illuminated patrons for 50 years. Furnished with rental equipment, patrons can swiftly perform tricks or recite the complete works of Homer before refueling with pizza, hot dogs, and candy dispensed from a fully stocked snack shop. The full-service facility is a frequent site of fundraisers and events, and staff members can devise comprehensive birthday party packages that include such merrymaking accouterments as cake, balloons, and tax forms filled out in the style of Mad Libs. Skaters of all experience levels can sharpen their skills during weekly lessons and open skating sessions.
It’s commonly accepted that it’s not a good idea to build castles in the air, so the team at Monkey Zone built castles with air inside them instead. At their 40,000-square-foot indoor playground, they supervise tots expending energy as they ricochet off the walls of the Dora the Explorer inflatable and other air-filled fun houses. Good for kids aged 1–10, the Toddler Town bouncy house lets little ones roll about as bigger kids race invisible tractors at the barnyard blow-up. In the game room, kids delve further into their imaginations while playing arcade and crane games and sip soft drinks from the snack bar. Monkey Zone also hosts birthday parties with pizza, pop, and play for up to 50 guests in their fanciful space featuring jungle, circus, and aquatic murals.
The roar of engines bounces off 20-foot ceilings as go-karts zip by at up to 42 miles per hour. The track winds through the 138,000-square-foot space as up to 14 racers compete in eight-minute sessions, their lap times recorded on projection screens for spectators to keep track of or use for their next lottery ticket. At Melrose Park Indoor Grand Prix, drivers first undergo a 15-minute safety briefing before racing, and afterward, go home with a boast-worthy printout of their lap times. Each of the facility's 37 single-seater carts is powered by eco-friendly propane gas and goes through regular rigorous testing to prevent malfunction or acquisition of an English accent.
Brunswick Zone has been a trusted name in recreational pin pulverizing for more than a century, providing good times to patrons across the country. Friends and families season afternoons with a pleasant peppering of strikes, spares, and easygoing gutter balls under classic bowling conditions, or take the next bold step in ball-hurling evolution and engage in a round of cosmic bowling, where dancing lights, thumping tunes, and black-lit gear light up the full sensorium. At XL locations, game rooms beckon with nimble joystick workouts on classic and modern arcade games.