Open since 1945, Elmer's Doghouse has been a haven for generations of diners looking for cold brews, hot meals, and a set of familiar faces to enjoy them with. At this casual neighborhood spot, the kitchen staff still dishes out burgers, pizzas, and steak dinners lit by the neon glow of beer signs. On Monday nights, these meals emerge amid the tuneful clatter of the bar’s acoustic open mic, refueling audiences and musicians alike. Other musical entertainments include karaoke nights and live bands, who often coax diners into dancing or just giving them a bite of their food.
Swings find their sweet spots at Sugar Grove Golf Center, which grooms golf games with a driving range and lessons. Golf balls blast off of turf mats at the range before settling around targets with yardage displays. Players of all calibers can scratch bogeys off of their scorecards with private lessons or clinics. The onsite golf pro conducts prescheduled lessons until as late as 11 p.m., enabled by towering lights that surround the range and practice balls that have acquired a taste for coffee.
The only thing more fun than watching babies and toddlers make music is being the baby or toddler making music (unless you're riding a roller coaster). Plunge head-first into melodies with today's Groupon: for $15, you get a two-week sing-along session for a child and parent at Music Together of Naperville ($30 Value). There are locations in Aurora, Naperville, and Plainfield. Children between the ages of birth and 6 can participate in these classes.
For more than 50 years, the monks of Marmion Abbey have tended 300 acres of farmland. They started with Christmas trees, and now maintain 120 acres of pines, spruces, and firs that smell exactly like car freshener. On the remaining acres, they tend pumpkin vines and corn mazes, interspersing these areas with scenic picnic groves.
Throughout the year, the monks open their land to the public. In the autumn, they host Pumpkin Daze, a harvest festival with tractor wagon rides and a petting zoo. Around mid-November, they grant access to their tree farm, supplying visitors with rental saws for you-cut trees and bellowing "Timber!" just like Paul Bunyan did when he fell into bed at night. The monks stock their farm store with handcrafted goods that complement the season, whether caramel apples in the fall or quilts in the winter.
A stress-shedding family-friendly sport for splatter soldiers of all types and stripes, paintball grants its combatants the perfect backdrop for one-on-one duels or group-oriented maneuvers. Spread out your tickets over six solo sessions, or round up five friends, coworkers, or NBA starters for a fast-paced adrenaline-fueled jaunt across unique indoor and outdoor terrains that can include pastoral fields and themed villages. Each trek arms guests with a battle mask and goggles, semiautomatic paintball marker, hopper and tanker, and orientation that lays out the rules, safety precautions, and the symbolism behind to Jackson Pollack’s early work.
Save for the toy store and a forest of weeping willow trees, there are few places to go where kids feel more comfortable than adults. Kidz Funland, a soft-play indoor playground, is one of them. Kids shed their shoes to scramble to the tops of slides and climb into the upper-level ball pit. Other obstacles challenge balance and coordination by adding movement to the mix. A carousel of pastel bouncy balls turns with the momentum of little feet, while teddy bears stand sentinel atop a small jungle gym. Parents, meanwhile, join their progenies in the ring, or take a breather at the glossy white counter that overlooks the perimeter of the play area.