Ride Chicago and Rentaruckus are two different businesses that are bonded by their passion for promoting two-wheeled transportation. At Ride Chicago this passion manifests in a variety of classes, for which it supplies beginners with motorcycles or scooters. Once student riders are geared up, the facility’s state-certified instructors teach everything from scooter-riding basics to motorcycle licensing at controlled, off-street sites across the city and suburbs. This diverse curriculum allows people of all riding experiences to climb aboard a two-wheeler and learn safe canyon-hopping methods.
Rentaruckus’s mission is a bit more concise: get people behind the handlebars of a Honda Ruckus scooter. To do this, the staff offers rentals and organizes tours of Chicago, where swarms of the minimalist bikes buzz past the city’s historic neighborhoods and sights.
Pump It Up's two indoor inflatable arenas bounce socked striplings high off the ground with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Trained, amiable staffers supervise fun-filled visits where parents can leap around with their kids through gargantuan, air-filled bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an air-filled obstacle course. Attendees can also focus their free play for special events, such as custom birthday parties and themed, private team parties. These themed soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. Both giant arenas are climate controlled and maintained according to rigorous guidelines enforced by the well-trained staff and local police. Supplementing its thorough rule enforcement with expert installation and anchoring, Pump It Up holds itself to strict safety standards.
Red Lobster, Wicker Park’s Mirai Sushi, and Lincoln Park punk bar Delilah’s are three seemingly disparate venues. However, they have something in common—all three have hired graduates of American Professional Bartending Schools of Illinois to mix their drinks and man their bars. The schools have been landing graduates at notable Chicago establishments for more than 60 years, but their connection with alums doesn’t end with their first gig. Graduates receive lifetime, personalized job-placement assistance and can call the school’s career hotline 24 hours a day to find out about job openings or trade meatloaf recipes.
The schools' focus on employment also shows in their bartending classes, which are modeled after on-the-job training and led by teachers with an average of more than 20 years of industry experience. Taught at bars complete with realistic faux liquor, the sessions cover topics from mixology to presentation and etiquette.
Kidtown USA came from the minds of educators and recreation specialists who created a program licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Each location’s activity stations cater not only to entertaining kids, but also helping them develop skills for creative self-expression and social engagement. Kids explore the indoor play area, which consists of climbing structures—including a pirate ship and a train—before watching puppets act out classic kids’ tales such as Uncle Vanya Goes to the Zoo at Storytime Theater. Make Believe City’s open air and small, miniature rooms emulate imaginative settings such as a firehouse, veterinarian's office, or construction zone. Elsewhere at The Diner, red-and-chrome furniture and a classic checkerboard floor sets the stage for cooking lessons or snack time.
Understanding that each child learns differently, the staff members of Sylvan Learning’s numerous study centers design custom lesson programs. Based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, and one-on-one interviews, the staff works with students to help them firmly grasp basic skills such as reading, writing, math, and how to remember facts without tattooing them to their chests. Programs target students in kindergarten through grade 12 and mold to various learning styles, helping kids feel more comfortable in the classroom. Afterschool or summer classes can ready high-school students for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students wow college-admissions officers with their superior writing skills, exemplary test scores, and willingness to arm-wrestle the school mascot.
A kids' firehouse sets the stage for hands-on, imaginative activities at FireZone, where actual firefighters show off fire engines, explain educational displays, and oversee games for kids of all ages. In addition to children’s parties and drop-in play sessions, FireZone runs school field trips, caters to adults with corporate training days, and rents fire trucks for picnics, parades, and festivals.