Hidden Creek AquaPark's sprawling grounds swim with watery entertainment for guests of all ages, from kids waiting beneath the water playground's dumping bucket to grandparents reading a good book atop lounge chairs. Swimmers can slip down the winding slide or take the plunge from a drop slide, which spits them out into the deep end of a pool that gradually descends from its zero-depth entry. Meanwhile, kids can keep themselves busy building castles and multistory housing units in a sand area. After practicing swan dives and cannonballs off the diving board, guests can storm the concession stand or relax on the lawn.
Par-King Skill Golf has been churning out rounds of family-friendly fun for the Chicagoland area since the 1950s. With two separate 18-hole courses, six water challenges, twelve moving obstacles, numerous curbs, and surprising elevation changes, Par-King is a step up from the flat mini-greens of yesteryear, and 3 club-lengths more entertaining than the regulation-sized greens of normal-sized golf. Play a full 18 holes as you gape and gander at twirling clowns, roller-coaster ramps in the vein of Rube Goldberg, elaborately-painted totem poles, and recreations of famous landmarks such as Mt. Rushmore and the Sears Tower. This colorful landscape of golf-based adventure is refurbished and repainted every winter to provide a consistently-beautiful, clean, and safe experience during April to October operations. Although the park is family-oriented, they maintain a stout 48-inch height requirement to play or playact in the playing area; this is enforced purely with safety in mind, as the challenging course terrain may prove hazardous to the diminutive.
Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that comprise America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $10.98 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (up to a $4.79 value).
Blanketed in wall-to-wall trampolines, Sky High Sports delights barefoot fun seekers with springy terrain and an exclusive court for jumpers 8 and younger. Guests can hone front flips, back flips, and belly flops during intense free-bounce sessions. Each trampoline comes loaded with a specially designed spring-loaded frame and thick 2-inch safety pads that grant patrons a landing cushier than a corner office at a marshmallow factory. Stuffed with blocks of spongy, body-molding material, a foam pit dares treasure seekers to fling themselves in or scour its depths for the lost contents of bygone pockets. Pintsize aerialist posses can safely practice their synchronized salchows on 360 degrees of trampoline walls while court supervisors watch from the sidelines and bequeath hard-earned praise with oversize scorecards. Though not included in this Groupon, Sky High offers AIRobics fitness classes and monthly dodgeball tournaments to help jumpers explore the outermost stratospheres of trampoline possibilities.
For three weekends each October, wicked surgeons, rotting corpses, and malevolent clowns haunt the corridors of St. Thecla Parish’s basement. A team of designers, actors, and effects artists with more than 30 years of haunted-house experience designs each petrifying scene, with a scare level catered to guests aged 12 and older. Numerous exits let terrified visitors escape, while No Scare Days invite costumed kids aged 11 and younger to feast on candy and wander the lit house during the daytime, when it’s not full of frightening creatures or owls holding staring contests. Proceeds from Hair Razor Haunted Scenes help fund and sustain St. Thecla Parish.
Several years ago, during a filming of WTTW's Wild Chicago, Novelty Golf & Games owner Craig's brother stood next to a 10-foot fiberglass chicken and lamented, “This is the world’s loneliest chicken.” Its match had recently been stolen, and every fiberglass fox in the city had a solid alibi.
Shortly after the taping, a viewer called in with a tip: he’d seen the missing hen roosting in a backyard, clearly visible from the window of the Brown Line train. Boarding the "L" himself, Craig confirmed the spotting, and soon enough, the Loneliest Chicken's counterpart was on its way back home in the bed of a pickup truck.
Thus reunited, the two chickens stand proudly today over the 36 mini-golf holes at Novelty Golf & Games, along with the full menagerie of bears, elephants, mermaids, circus seals, and dinosaurs that the course has accumulated over its 63 years. Some of the attractions are as old as the course itself, including a 15-foot fiberglass shoe hand-built over a chicken-wire frame. While the statues are often replicated, Craig and his business partner Cassandra continue to design new obstacles the only way they know how, often sharing margaritas as they sketch their designs on cocktail napkins. “We change things,” they say, “but not for the sake of change.”
The course, after all, has always been a place of innovation. In the 1960s, Craig's mother opened an onsite restaurant and promoted the rabbit statue on the 14th hole to head doorman, earning the eatery its perennial nickname, “Bunny Hutch.” Throughout the years, the family has also acquired popular games, including four pinball machines, Dance Dance Revolution, an authentic photo booth, and a 1950s metal-stamping machine. Though they welcome each new addition, they strive to maintain the course’s classic appeal, insisting that “you can’t improve on perfection.”
On the same token, you can't just sit idly by when perfection flies the coop.