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.
My Dance Hub owner Jaana Lillemagi has a lifetime of dancing experience and has competed at the national level in both Estonia and the United States. At her studio, she draws upon this know-how to lead a team of passionate instructors who teach a variety of dance styles including cha cha, waltz, ballroom, and flamenco.
Looking to put a new spin on a classic family activity, the minds behind Glowgolf decided to give the game a phosphorescent update. Incandescent courses place friends and family amid a tropical-fantasy golf world of neon orange, green, and violet surroundings. Players putt luminous orbs through vibrant treasure chests and glimmering windmills while negotiating tricky obstacles near walls portraying black-light-lit aquatic scenes. With more than 20 locations spread over 10 states, Glowgolf's fluorescent labyrinths challenge human players and traveling gnomes.
A lot has changed in the century since the Paramount Theatre was founded, but the theater's crowd-pleasing entertainment wouldn't have been out of place in Aurora's turn-of-the-century theater scene. When the Venice-inspired art-deco venue was first built, it joined an already-bustling local tradition of vaudeville, silent films, concerts, and circus acts. Photographs dating back to 1931 guided a 1976 restoration, in which artisans completely retraced and repainted eight original murals, re-gilded the fluted columns, and patched up the sheets of every ghost. Concerts, comedy, and community events fill the theater when it's not occupied by the dazzling production values of a professional musical-theater company, which launched what the Chicago Tribune called a "thrilling debut season" in 2011.
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.