Flying High Sports & Rec Center started out small, but after over 20 years of business, the family-friendly center now boasts more than 1,000 students and has grown into two facilities that house a wide variety of programs. Inside, the qualified instructors lead gymnastics, martial arts, and dancing for all ages, mentoring tykes as young as 18 months old. In the cheer program, youngsters learn choreography and tumbling moves, and in gymnastics courses, kids learn to execute eye-dazzling flips and to navigate balance beams and the uneven bars, depending on their skill level.
Flying High also hosts open-gym sessions and birthday parties. Additionally, two foam pits, a rock wall, four trampolines, and an inflatable obstacle course await those looking to burn off some energy or to network with potential lemonade-stand partners.
If the sun is shining, then the Hickory Hills Golf Club's greens are open. The club welcomes players 365 days a year to drive through the more than 7,400 total yards of fairways that make up their 18-hole championship and 9-hole executive courses. Golfers drive carts along a chain of manicured links that date back to 1915, the year the seedlings from Woodrow Wilson's "Plant-a-Golf Course" program began sprouting flagpoles.
Courses at a Glance
Championship Course * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 5,928 yards * Course rating of 67.9 from the back tees * Course slope of 116 from the back tees
Executive Course * 9-hole, par 30 course * Total length of 1,560 yards from the back tees
At most driving ranges, players can smash golf balls off of tees to their heart's content, but are unable to prove the results of their hard work on an actual hole. Then again, most driving ranges don't have a staff as seasoned as the one found at Chicago Players Club in Grayslake. The 20-acre property has all the features of a typical driving range—20 grass hitting stations, 5 target greens, and 20 separate mats. The difference lies in the men overseeing the operation. PGA teaching professional Mike Mandakas is available daily by appointment, ready to dole out advice on everything from how to correct a problematic backswing to which clubs make the best back-scratchers. He's joined by a team of instructors, who lend their expertise to players willing to journey to the course, which is conveniently located at the corner of Route 120 and US-45.
At each of several one-day festivals held throughout the country, thousands of revelers unite in an epic clash of pulp, beer, and live music. Armed with a cache of 300,000 tomatoes, participants don protective bathing suits and goggles and hurl the fruit at one another during a two-hour battle. Throughout the afternoon, live music and costume contests offer an entertaining respite from the front lines, as bartenders dispense drafts of beer to attendees older than 21, refueling soldiers' morale before they resign to writing goodbye letters to their produce vendors back home. All tomatoes used during the event are past ripe and already fated for disposal, making the battle an efficient means of tossing them before their cursed transformation into singing Muppets.
Team USA vs. The World may sound like the title of Shaquille O'Neal's autobiography, but it is in fact a mixed martial arts competition that pits 12 of this country's finest mixed martial arts athletes against teams of fighters from Australia, Ireland, and Poland. Stuff your pockets with miniature American flags and gird your thrillcitement nodes for an evening of leg tussles, arm bars, and rear naked chokes. With ground-floor seats, you'll be close enough to see the beads of sweat on the fighters' brows and smell the adrenaline puffs as they condense into clouds shaped like clenched fists in the air above the ring. Fighters scheduled to battle for Team USA include John Hansen (205 lbs.), the 2008 USA National Champion in the LHW Division, Alex White (155 lbs.), who won in the 2009 Ringside World Boxing Championships, and Eric Daigle (155 lbs.), who obtained the lightweight title during the ISCF National Tournament in 2009.
Instructor Chris Spalla imparts hard-won golf wisdom drawn from a four-year teaching career, including spending the last three years coaching apprentice aces at David Leadbetter Golf Academy’s world headquarters. On the artificial turf of Bridgeview Sports Dome’s 90,000-square-foot facility, pupils can hone their golf game with help from Chris’s encyclopedic knowledge of swing mechanics, golf strategy, and grass recipes. A set of three sessions allows club-flailing clientele to focus each lesson on a different skill set—the dome facilitates swings of varying fullness as well as chipping and putting—or revisit past concepts as they continue to be integrated into course management. The indoor facility fosters clubbing sessions year-round, offering a convenient respite from winter’s harrowing blizzards or summer’s unpredictable cheese-curd hailstorms.