The hum of Honda GX200 engines pervades both of Chicago Indoor Racing locations, where a duo of tracks takes Bowman go-karts through a series of turns and straightaways at speeds of up to 35 mph. When not trying to clock in top lap times from driver's seats perched 1 inch from the ground, guests can set other objects in motion at billiard tables and shuffleboard tables, which can be rented by the hour or millisecond. Clark’s Café at the Addison location and Stewart’s Bar & Grille in Buffalo Grove refuel guests with casual American fare and shots of motor oil.
A child's laughter precedes her as she emerges from a rainbow-colored tunnel on her hands and knees before scampering up the steps to meet her brother at the top of the spiral slide. When kids first enter the indoor playground, they're tasked with deciding which activity to tackle first: the GyroCopter or the Yo Yo Ball? Perhaps the maze of tunnels? The center is open for two-hour periods throughout the week, giving kids enough time to try each activity as well as take unlimited rides on the carousel or conjure a competing carousel for friends to ride on.
A buzzing crowd gathers around the entrance of the Zoppé Family Circus tent before each performance, straining to glimpse the wooden hands of a large clock that displays the next showtime. When the moment is nearly at hand, members of the family emerge from the cavernous tent to greet their guests. As they introduce their siblings, spouses, and children, an accordion exhales melodies first heard in 1842, when Napoline and Ermenegilda Zoppé traveled from Budapest to Venice for their first show.
Inside the tent, Napoline and Ermenegilda’s descendants effortlessly balance on wires and swing from trapezes. Just below their aerial stage, horses trot around a sawdust ring as equestrian ballerinas display a brand of showmanship worthy of comparison to John Wayne's performance in The Lone Leotard. Between acts, Giovanni Zoppé takes on the persona of Nino the clown—a lovable character whose earnest efforts to steal the show are thwarted by his own buffoonery.
Xtreme Trampolines safely sends guests of all ages ricocheting off the floors, up the walls, and into the lower stratosphere on an expanse of springy flooring. The 45,000-square-foot indoor facility houses five giant checkerboards composed of commercial-grade trampolines ready for full-body bouncing. Angled trampolines against the walls give bouncers the opportunity to spring from fun new angles and keep anyone from crashing into something other than the arena's soft foam pit. On the dodge-ball court, players use the trampolines to add a new dimension to ball evasion, performing high-flying ducks and dodges to avoid opponents' throws. Though Xtreme Trampolines offers a unique activity, injuries are infrequent and usually minor, occurring at a much lower rate than they do during common team sports such as baseball, soccer, or rattlesnake toss.
The thwack of bats hitting balls squarely on their stitched faces echoes throughout The Hitting Zone, a 16,000-square-foot indoor baseball and softball training center. There, skilled trainers draw on their own experiences in the field to help batters achieve that satisfying sound during private and group lessons. Coach Rick DeHart shares what he learned while playing for the Montreal Expos and the Kansas City Royals, and Chris Wilmot’s lessons are shaped by his time as a first baseman for the Cougars. Other trainers share stories of college ball and coaching high-school students while they demonstrate pro pitching and hitting techniques in six turfed training tunnels.
Budding swingers can also apply their newly learned skills in five baseball and fast-pitch-softball cages equipped with ATEC automatic pitching machines that aspire to play for the Yankees one day. A 12-inch slow-pitch-arc softball cage also awaits batters, who can fuel their efforts with refreshments from nearby vending machines. In addition, The Hitting Zone also welcomes birthday celebrants inside a 24'x27' party room, where they can eat cake in between whacking balls and listing all of the Great Bambino’s nicknames in alphabetical order.
Looking to put a new spin on a classic family activity, the minds behind Glowgolf decided to give the game a phosphorescent update. Incandescent courses place friends and family amid a tropical-fantasy golf world of neon orange, green, and violet surroundings. Players putt luminous orbs through vibrant treasure chests and glimmering windmills while negotiating tricky obstacles near walls portraying black-light-lit aquatic scenes. With more than 20 locations spread over 10 states, Glowgolf's fluorescent labyrinths challenge human players and traveling gnomes.