Darkhouse Entertainment's Murder Mansion, one of the largest haunted houses in the suburban Chicagoland area, scares visitors witless in "Blood Feast," an unsettling tale of cannibalism set in the Victorian era. After skipping the line with their R.I.P. passes, thrill seekers form bonds with other guests during fear-induced embraces as they find their way through the mansion's darkness, fog, strobe lights, banjo duels, and professional special effects to discover where the show's turn-of-the-century restaurant gets its supply of human flesh. The convincing costumes, makeup, imaginative lighting, elaborate sets, blood, and gore create intensely real scenes of violence designed for mature audiences. Hydrophobes and wicked witches may wish to wear raincoats, as the show promises wet surprises. Consult a list of frequently screamed questions to prepare for the bloodbath.
Sprinkled across Chicago from Evanston to the West Loop, the Chicago Athletic Clubs set a modern and user-friendly gym experience in urbane neighborhood settings. The various facilities are equipped with all the required equipment for losing weight, putting on muscle, or building flexibility on cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights. Group fitness classes such as yoga, spinning, and Zumba fill the schedule, and the several locations with indoor pools host water aerobics and family swim classes. The personal-training staff can also help tailor workouts based on your particular goals and share encouragement with you as you transform from chrysalis to Dwayne Johnson. In addition to the exercise areas, the gyms also sport such amenities as kids' clubs and sauna and steam rooms. Three locations even offer indoor rock-climbing facilities. As beginners and experienced climbers traverse craggy surfaces while protected from the elements, additional challenges crop up on the gym's endurance routes and in the bouldering cave where climbers defy gravity without being strapped in by ropes.
If 360 CHICAGO—the John Hancock observation deck—had a baseball card, the stats on the back would be pretty impressive: it's perched 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile on the 94th floor, and on clear days, visibility stretches up to 50 miles. With the Magnificent Mile bustling below and Lake Michigan sprawling endlessly nearby, the popular attraction provides some of the best views in the country according to Travel and Leisure magazine.
But stunning vistas and the chance to witness the change on the lake when its freezing aren't the only reasons to visit. In 2014, 360 Chicago opened TILT, an attraction that brings brave guests face to face with a moving set of windows that angle 30 degrees downward for a spine-tingling glimpse of the streets below. Plus, interactive multimedia stations in seven languages share loads of information about the city and its architecture.
Originally part of architect Daniel Burnham's ambitious "Plan of Chicago" drafted in 1909, Navy Pier was designed to handle both recreational and freight traffic for the burgeoning metropolis. Its role quickly changed when it began serving as a barracks and training facility during two World Wars—it earned its nickname because of the more than 200 planes that littered the lake bottom around the pier, lost during exercises and sunk to intimidate fish with military technology. In the decades that followed, the pier was home to a University of Illinois campus, a convention center, and a venue for citywide festivals before falling into disuse. This ended in 1989, when the state moved to transform the venerable pier into one of Chicago's foremost tourist attractions.
Reopened in 1995, the revamped Navy Pier boasts 50 acres of parks, restaurants, shops, and entertainment, scenically located along Lake Michigan and the mouth of the Chicago River. The pier's most striking denizen is its 150-foot tall ferris wheel, whose glittering lights slowly rotate above the water and frame a beautiful view of the city's skyscrapers for riders. Other attractions include a towering IMAX screen that shows educational films and Hollywood blockbusters, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which treats audiences to bold stagings of the Bard's greatest hits.
Chicago, New York, and San Francisco—three of the biggest cities in the United States are the only cities fit for the sprawling brawl of the Men’s Health Urbanathlon. Like a sightseeing tour where heavy breathing is apropos, the Urbanathlon charters more than 10 miles of each city's terrain, embarking from landmarks such as Chicago's Soldier Field, New York's Citi Field, and San Francisco's AT&T Park.
From there, dry bibs become perspiration sponges as contestants vie for the finish line. Along the way, a series of daunting obstacles—such as police and tire barricades, monkey bars, hurdles, and stair climbs—test racers' mettle, before a finish-line blowout sends them hurdling taxi cabs and scaling city buses.
Deservedly exhausted contestants are then treated to a post-race party full of refreshing drinks and grub from local food trucks, DJs spinning dance music for wobbly legs, and free gifts from Men's Health's stable of sponsors.
Sponsored by Men's Health, the coed Urbanathlon race and festival is a fitting representation of the magazine's "work hard, play hard" mentality. Indeed, the courses are hard work. Whether competitors run the 3- to 5-mile sprint course or the 10- to 11-mile classic course, occasional obstacles, such as monkey bars, stairs, tires, barricades, and stacks of unfinished tax returns, stand in their way. But don't be too intimidated?Urbanathlon has created 4- and 12-week training plans to help participants get in shape for the race.
All the hard work will pay off though, thanks in part to a post-race party with DJ sets, refreshments, and swag from sponsors. Plus, competitors will have the opportunity to donate to the Challenged Athletes Foundation upon registration or with the $15 suggested donation for hair trims at the Paul Mitchell tent.