The Sylvester family had bartending in its blood. Whether it was Uncle Mickey holding court with 40 years' worth of regulars or Tony Sr. mixing one of his signature Skip and Go Nakeds, they exemplified the easy grace and no-nonsense craftsmanship found in a true barman's barman. That dedication to well-poured drinks carried over to Tony Jr., who has spent the last 35 years training mixologists nationwide through the curriculum of his ABC Bartending Schools. Taught behind fully functional bars, his courses educate students in topics ranging from drink recipes and equipment setup to flair moves and alcohol awareness. His schools also emphasize employment; after graduation, students can take advantage of a nationwide job placement service to land gigs in Miami nightclubs, Las Vegas casinos, or the bar cars of Chicago's El trains.
Cheerful battle cries carom off winding fortresses and across Stratagem Laser Missions' 10,000 square feet of playing space. In the two-story facility, sharpshooters hone their skills with eight styles of play, which urge them to capture the flag, eliminate opponents, and protect the Xerox machine. From hiding places atop plastic barrels, behind cardboard boxes, and within stacks of spare tires, warriors fire one of four radio-frequency guns. A marshal patrols the area to enforce safety and rules about fair play and point out plot holes in Civil War reenactments. Players of all ages romp through the twisting hallways, and groups gather to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions in adrenaline-steeped style.
Creepy Hallow Halloween Fun Park, like a friendly man that transforms into a ravenous werewolf, boasts two very different sides when entertaining customers. During the day, revelers of all ages frolic through pumpkin patches and enjoy hayrides after bouncing inside a moonwalk and visiting friendly animals at the petting zoo. But as the sun goes down, the ghosts and ghouls come out in full force. Blood Shed haunted house entices those brave enough to enter its halls and escape with their lives, while haunted hayrides put riders on a crash course with all manner of horrors. On the zombie-hunt paintball ride, customers, with weapon in hand, can wreak a terrible vengeance upon undead hordes.
A horse can find any variety of activity to while away the time at Downtown Equestrian Center, from grazing in the 3-acre grass paddock to leaping over oxers in the outdoor arena. During one-hour lessons, instructors supplement riding basics, such as grooming, tacking, and communication, with more nuanced elements including posture, etiquette, and equitation. Beyond training and boarding services, the ranch also hosts several family-friendly pursuits, from one-week summer camps to meetings of 4-H, named after horses’ four favorite things: hocks, hooves, Henri Matisse paintings, and hay.
Chicago Blu welcomes diners into its family-friendly eatery with live music and hearty bar fare. The menu revs up stomach engines with starters such as spicy southwest rolls stuffed with cheese and chicken and served with tangy ranch or sweet chili sauce ($7). Wrap tonsils around the Southside blu burger—a pretzel bun cradling a half-pound of charbroiled beef topped with bleu cheese and grilled onions ($8.50). Those who put pork on a pedestal can commission a replica of The Thinker made of bacon or can opt for a BBQ rib platter served with coleslaw and fries ($8.50/half rack, $16/whole rack). Entree salads can give grazers their fill of greenery ($9+), and a beer or a glass of wine from the full bar lubes up digestive tracks for the death by brownie dessert ($6).
With two 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course under its pristine jurisdiction, Green Garden Country Club binds together 45 distinct holes molded to its naturally undulating terrain. The club’s original 18—known today as the Blue Course—winds through dense woods and over numerous swings in elevation, while its other 18, the Gold Course, holds one of the club’s most celebrated features in the 10th hole’s island green. Meanwhile, the 9-hole Emerald Course, the club’s newest, mixes up the style of play with a Scottish links layout, rewarding accuracy off the tee and steadiness in the face of stiff breezes and upturned kilts.
Though on-course play is subject to the whims of Mother Nature, practice at Green Garden Country Club is a year-round affair. In the warm months, players iron out slices and hooks on the 30-acre driving range and calibrate touch on the 10,000-square-foot putting green. When the weather turns colder, players can haul their sticks to the club’s Golf Dome, where they’ll find 42 hitting stations on two levels and practice greens for perfecting putts, chips, and celebratory backflips.