Old Towne Pub and Eatery's ample bar seating invites throngs of people to belly up, devour tried-and-true bar fare, and sip frothy glasses of craft, domestic, and imported beers. Televisions blaze with slow-motion replays of Big Ten and NFL games and cast glows on steaming bowls of homemade chili, Angus beef burgers, and platters of barbecue ribs. The clicks and clacks of billiards balls, pinball machines, and arcade games syncopate with the live music of bands that tickle eardrums with upbeat tunes and peacock feathers.
If you had to put a word to the cozy, jovial atmosphere at McNally's Irish Pub, the first one to come to mind probably wouldn't be "craic." That is, unless you're Irish. It's the term for the special kind of camaraderie for which Ireland's neighborhood pubs are known, encompassing everything from the quaint decor to the rounds of after-dinner drinks that keep gatherings rolling. At McNally's, that feeling is everywhere, from the sound of pubgoers clinking glasses of Guinness and Smithwick's to the familiar aroma of juicy corned beef and other Irish dishes. On weekdays, the good times start at lunch and carry on into the evening, with regular opportunities to participate in pub events or listen to live Irish music.
At the bar, there's something for just about everyone with a range of Scottish and Irish whiskeys and the Lurgan lager, made just for McNally's. Once everyone is in high spirits and starts to remember they haven't spoken to their plants yet that day, pubgoes leave for the evening, often coming back another time for one of the restaurant's traditional Irish breakfasts.
Otter Cove couldn't have a more fitting mascot. The park's theme centers around a river otter, an anthropomorphized version of which occasionally stops by to take pictures with guests. It's not hard to imagine this semiaquatic mammal zipping down one of the park's Salamander Slides and splashing into Turtle Creek, a 600-foot lazy river. Humans find themselves equally at home in aquatic play areas such as The Frog Bog, a 7,700 sq. ft. activity pool with spinning water apparatuses and a waterfall.
The park also contains a traditional lap pool heated to around 80 degrees fahrenheit, just warm enough to keep it from being taken over by penguins. In addition to open swim times, the pool hosts swim lessons for infants, toddlers, and kids up to 14 years old. Otter Cove also helms The Otters Swim Team for swimmers aged 5–16.
Stand facing one way in the parking lot of Niko’s Lodge and you’re in suburban Algonquin; turn the other way, and you’re in a mountain resort town. As diners pass under immense dark wood beams, they encounter a handsome pinewood bar, a roaring fireplace flanked by comfy furniture, and, drifting through it all, the fragrance of steak, rotisserie chicken, and pork ribs. Flavors tend toward hearty American favorites: barbecue, meatloaf, and decadent combinations such as a chicken-and-bacon mac and cheese, to name a few. Much of the fish is supplied by nearby rivers and lakes, and all the beef comes from upper-Midwestern Braveheart Black Angus cattle. If guests have saved some belly space, they can step outside to the fire pits to toast complimentary s’mores and destroy napkins on which they wrote embarrassing sonnets to pot roast.