A bowler since the age of 5, owner Jerry Morano spent his formative years watching his dad bowling with the guys. At the age of 20, Morano bowled his first perfect game and over his professional bowling career played a total of 26 perfect games and won five Professional Bowling Association regional titles. During that time, he was working for a major auto company and it was his dream to retire and own his own alley someday. That dream came true when he bought Liberty Lanes Bowling Center in 2008.
Morano quickly fell in love with the bowling alley’s 24 retro-style wooden lanes. As families and friends send balls careening toward the pins, an automatic Brunswick Frameworx system keeps score impartially and refrains from remarking on each bowler’s form. Between frames, bowlers can refuel at the snack bar, which serves french fries, pizza, and chicken fingers. At the bar, patrons can pair 16-ounce cans of Schlitz with games on three pool tables and two electronic dart machines.
Paintball Explosion began when a group of paintball fanatics decided to make their dreams a reality and set about designing eight different fields of movie-set quality. Located just a 40-minute drive outside of Chicago, the real-life fantasy land they created includes the sci-fi-inspired, concrete environs of Code Black Field as well as the abandoned amusement-park setting of Biohazard Field.
The expansive facility also sports indoor and outdoor speedball fields for adrenaline-fueled fastness. Between matches, gamers can prepare at heated buildings with locker rooms and showers. With an onsite sports bar and grill, Paintball Explosion makes the paintball haven a place where enthusiasts can discuss the forces of velocity, wind resistance, and the physics of splatter.
Raging Buffalo's adrenaline junkies have turned their athletic addiction into a successful enterprise by offering snowboarding and wakeboarding lessons to beginners and experienced riders. In the summer, their instructors take to the wake for lessons that start at the wakeboard school—open since 2001—before taking students on 15-minute riding sessions. When winter comes, the instructors dry-dock their boards in local bear caves and show students how to navigate the drifts with snowboard lessons at their ski park, which opened in 1992. Additionally, Raging Buffalo plays host to a variety of events, from rail jams to USASA competitions.
The CAKE Village aims to immerse children of all ethnic backgrounds in the diverse arts, cultures, and languages of Africa. Kids can both make believe and make something creative at the center—there's a play kitchen where they can whip up pretend meals, brush glazes of their choice onto pottery, or make masks and learn the basics of the Yoruba language. Whatever the kids choose, this center—an acronym for Culture for Africa for Kids Everywhere—has a team of multicultural educators to nurture them along the way.
In the 3,000 square-foot-plus space, includess a Mini Village that has a stage decorated as an African palace, where kids can try out traditional musical instruments and theatrical performance, or just practice crowd-surfing. Elsewhere, there's a wardrobe of dress-up clothes, a pretend grocery store and fruit stand, and a series of thatched huts.
At Ballistic Fighting Methods, parents and teachers train alongside law-enforcement agents as they learn Bruce Lee’s personal martial-arts system, jeet kune do. Adults learn practical, real-world self-defense skills, and antibullying seminars teach conflict resolution and martial arts to children. Instructors build cardio-kickboxing classes around real boxing and kickboxing techniques, so students learn how to harness a fierce right cross while simultaneously sculpting and shaping a stronger body.