By the early 1920s, nearly every major metropolis in the United States and abroad had an aquarium. But while Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo housed an impressive collection of freshwater fish, civic leader John G. Shedd and his colleagues wanted to build a standalone aquarium swimming with saltwater species. Shedd’s contribution of $3 million paid for nearly a million gallons of seawater, which were transported by rail from Florida’s coast before filling tanks large enough to accommodate sea mammals as well as fish. Even though Shedd died before the aquarium’s construction, he will forever be remembered for creating the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater collection. His dream continues to thrive with the Shedd’s scores of undersea creatures, from sharks and dolphins to vibrant sea cucumbers, all showcased in educational, eye-catching exhibits.
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.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
Glowing monkeys scamper toward a neon waterfall, and a knight bearing a radiant yellow lance rides past a bright orange octopus emerging from the ocean. What appears to be a time-traveling session gone awry is really the evolving environment within Putting Edge’s indoor black-lit mini-golf course, which whisks players to deep seas, Aztec jungles, and medieval times. Since opening its original location in Canada, Putting Edge has now expanded to 17 North American locations, all of which invite guests onto its challenging 18-hole courses to seek victory over opponents and the forces that keep their teeth from not glowing as brightly as they could. Elsewhere, the facility houses private party rooms, concessions, and an arcade filled with gamer favorites such as air hockey.
Jump!Zone’s indoor playgrounds envelop kids aged 2–12 in an inflatable world filled with challenging obstacle courses, fun slides, and cardio-boosting bounce houses. While navigating the plush courses under the watchful eyes of air-filled dinosaurs and superheroes, kids burn off extra energy and participate in activities that may help develop motor skills. Jump!Zone’s energetic staff supervises all play as kids climb on pirate ships and trampoline inside princess castles. Specific inflatables may vary by location but often include towering bounce houses shaped like fire trucks or octopi as well as party rooms, games, pizza, soda, and other festive fare. The bouncy center also hosts birthday parties, fundraisers, and special events.
GameWorks fosters friendly competition between kids and adults by surrounding pizza, draft beer, and half-pound burgers with a mosaic of interactive pursuits. Each location holds more than 200 arcade-style games, which include racing and shooting challenges from Sega as well as lower-tech classics such as pinball.