A nonprofit theater helmed by passionate cinephiles, Facets Cinematheque instills a love of film in its youngest moviegoers through its groundbreaking children's programs. Since establishing their first children's film exhibition series in 1975, the theater's stewards have branched out into education and outreach, introducing students to positive films and the inspiring stories behind them through channels including family film events, in-school screenings, and the Facets Kids Film Camp. They also oversee the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, which presents hundreds of films from around the globe during its annual autumn run. Though the festival caters to its smallest attendees, its scope is impressively large; welcoming over 20,000 attendees each year, the festival often offers the first screenings of award-winning fare, such as recent Academy Award winner The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
In addition to their children's programming, the theater also lights up its silver screen with indie films, award winners, foreign flicks, and documentaries. Celluloid-caretakers curate a collection of reels that seldom see screenings elsewhere in Chicago, frequently enjoying their city debut within the intimate 125-seat theater. Occasionally, production-team members or film experts join audiences immediately following the show for Q&A sessions—known as film dialogues—taking questions, exploring themes, and providing tips for removing stubborn popcorn kernels from teeth. Upcoming films can be found on Facets’ website.
Eyeballs absorb moving pictures thanks to the dual capabilities of Facets’ projection system, which handles digital and 35 mm films with equal aplomb. While the ephemeral stories fill brains with new ideas, soda and popcorn—acquirable at the old-fashioned concession stand—fill mouths with flavors that have defined every classic moviegoing experience since Orson Welles first invented the snack.
While audiences laugh it up at the rib-tickling comedians, Morty's slick performance space entertains their eyes. Eschewing the dowdy aesthetic of many comedy clubs, Morty's features sleek, modern tables and chairs and a wood-paneled bar. A full menu of tasty food, meanwhile, quells hunger while drinks and craft beers cool tongues and help keep people from spontaneously combusting.
Established in 1968, Midway Village Museum embodies a sprawling, 137-acre time capsule. Within the museum’s 27 fully functioning, Victorian buildings, exhibits tell the story of Rockford since its incorporation in the early 19th century. Throughout the years, the town has made history as the progenitor of the sock monkey, the launching point for aviator Bert Hassell, and home of the Rockford Peaches—an all-female baseball team fictionalized in the film A League of Their Own, though the real squad neither played in the 1943 championship nor battled a CGI dragon. Other attractions amid the barns, blacksmiths, and general stores include a dollhouse museum and a meticulous archive of Rockford’s long, proud history in the furniture industry.
Amid the echoes of squealing tires and humming engines, the grandstands barely have a moment to enjoy any silence. That's because the facility plays host to big ticket racing events such as O?Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Hollywood Casino Joliet Route 66 Classic, Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series, and the annual Swap Meet. At the Dirt Oval, fans can satisfy their auto-crunching desires with events such as Monster Truck Mayhem and Team Demolition Derby.
Not limited to spectator races, Route 66 Raceway puts fans' racing pedal to the metal at over 40 drag strip events. Test & Tune events allow thrill seekers to burn a little rubber by racing their own vehicles, while Friday Nights at 66 have trained staff teach prospective dragsters the ropes of racing.
Hollywood Palms Theater, modeled after Hollywood Boulevard and the legendary Chinese Theater, engages moviegoers with its opulent design, a restaurant and bar, and seat-by-seat service. Winning praise from myriad press outlets, the movie house boasts nine distinctive auditoriums, each dressed to a cinematic theme, including Coconut Grove and The Rainbow Room. Within the confines of each theater, rows of high-backed leather chairs comfortably cradle bodies, while the latest Dolby surround sound swathes ears in the tummy rumbles of on-screen actors. An attentive wait staff takes orders throughout films from an extensive menu that includes burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, beer, wine, and cocktails.
It's unlikely that any historic kingdom had batting cages and water slides, but to be fair, Knight's Action Park is a lot more fun than an actual castle. On one side of the park, guests can don swimsuits and hop aboard bumper boats, slip down slides, or set out in paddle boats. Seven mini slides teach smaller children the fun of water-park attractions, while statues of giant sea creatures teach them that life is terrifying. Across the way, a 50-tee driving range lets golfers hone their swing, and an 18-hole mini-golf course caters to putters of all ages. The park's assortment of land-based amusements also includes a Ferris wheel, an arcade, and go-karts.