Colored paint pellets slice the air and splatter on the rough bark of large oaks and every once in a while on the back of an enemy. During paintball play, shouts and laughter reverberate through the forest canopy as the thudding of footsteps cuts through thick underbrush. Players on the 12 outdoor fields at Operation Paintball engage rival teams during bouts of capture the flag and last-man-standing shootouts, hoping to earn victory for their mates and impress Mom one more time. The Mother Earth field's tall trees stand between natural bunkers, the Speedball concept field boasts a circle of broken wooden picket fences surrounding a central bunker, and wooded slopes take over the Yellow, Blue, and Candy fields. Staffers prepare guests to safely skirmish by providing masks, secure goggles, and padded vests, each of which has helped to contribute to the facility's perfect safety record.
The most enticing exhibits at the Illinois Railway Museum don't sit in glass cases. Instead, they can be found chugging along the five-mile mainline or the one-mile streetcar loop at various points in the day, giving visitors an opportunity to witness these antique machines functioning the way they were meant to do. This emphasis on living history is a key part of the museum's mission to educate visitors about the growth and development of the railroad industry throughout the Chicagoland area as well as the United States in general.
Although it already possesses extensive collections of trolley coaches, electric cars, diesel engines, steam locomotives, and hovercraft, the Illinois Railway Museum is still bent on acquiring more pieces, hoping to eventually represent each major chronological period in the history of rail travel. The museum's technicians do their best to restore antique equipment whenever possible, either by rebuilding original parts or by using modern reproductions and cosmetic touches to fill in the blanks. This ensures that visitors will not only be able to see restored, full-sized versions of historic rolling stock, but can also witness them in motion and even ride some of them.
Beyond the locomotives and cars, the Illinois Railway Museum also features a broad assortment of historical artifacts. Antique signals, telegraph and communications equipment, tools, uniforms, and ticket stubs are all available for viewing for guests hoping to learn even more about America's railroad history.
Decades in the saddle has shown Randy Manuel and his partner, Jackie, that the art of horseback riding is much about becoming one with the horse, so their style of instruction involves a more nuanced approach than traditional instruction. Students begin with the universal fundamentals, but as their experience advances, Randy and Jackie show them how to ride with the horse's natural rhythm while maintaining a relaxed balance. Since these skills must be carefully cultivated, Randy and Jackie conduct each lesson in a one-on-one format, up until students are ready to participate in A-level competitions. The 62-acre Contento Farms sets the backdrop for hunter/jumper instruction, affording students access to a 140'x240' outdoor arena and an 80'x200' indoor arena.
Featuring an abundance of indoor inflatable slides, jumps, and obstacle courses, Monkey Joe's caters to energetic kids 12 years and younger regardless of the day's forecast. Today's Groupon lets an adult and their youngster swing by for a bout of supervised bouncing during any of the gym's open hours, which take place every day of the week. Adults always get in for free, but are asked not to jump on the play equipment unless they are watching a child four years or younger or just won bingo. Instead, accompanying elders can relax while monitoring little ones in Monkey Joe's amenity-laden parent nook, which features comfortable seating, free wireless Internet, and flat-screen televisions that never need you to wipe their noses. Kids three years and younger can scoot confidently about the super-soft surfaces of the separate Mini Monkey Zone. After battling through inflatable obstacle courses and contending with bouncy minotaurs, kids can scuttle over to the arcade to use their six tokens for games of skee-ball, basketball, or jump rope; most games require one token.
Trampolines cover a majority of the more than 35,000-square-foot Mega Trampoline Fun Zone. Here, sock-clad visitors can leap about endless bouncy surfaces, off the walls, and even into neighboring foam pits. Live DJs set hopping sessions to upbeat tunes every Friday and Saturday night, while pickup and tournament dodgeball games challenge airborne players to evade incoming throws.
Trampolines aren't the only attractions inside Mega Trampoline Fun Zone. For guests craving more jumping opportunities, an inflatable area sports plenty of slides, bounce houses, and obstacle courses. Test your aim on the paintball range's sound-activated targets. Blips, bleeps, and ticket streams resound from Mega Trampoline's arcade, which hosts classics like air hockey.