With an armada of kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards at their command, Midwest Paddlesport Adventures' team spearheads expeditions to bodies of water across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Frequent trips include calming floats down the Fox River––which is densely populated by local wildlife––and Lake Andrea, a former quarry characterized by local rocks. The expert navigators safely guide groups to their destinations, pointing out animal tracks and majestic waterfowl and they commute to the office.
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.
Jessica Ferris can trace her interest in sailing back to her childhood in Chicago and northern Michigan, where she plied Lake Michigan's waters with her family. As she grew up, she expanded her boating territory to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As an adult, she brought her talents home to Chicago as an ASA-certified keelboat captain and the founder of Skyline Sailing School. Here, she passes on her seafaring knowledge in classroom courses that teach sailing principles such as basic terminology, rules of open-water travel, points of sail, knot tying, and choosing the right shoulder parrot. She also engages students with hands-on open-water classes aboard 26-foot keelboats, which begin with an exploration of basic sailing skills and progress to lessons in more advanced maneuvers.
With its bare hands, Norris Recreation Center tears through the piecemeal membership and class fees that keep exercisers from traditional gyms, and flings open the doors to its modern facility. A gift from the St. Charles–native Norris family, the nonprofit establishment makes living healthier a viable option. Within its stone walls, five dedicated rooms bustle with the whir of cardio and weight-training equipment, and swimmers careen down the 12 lanes of the 50-meter pool during lessons, lap swims, and open pool time. The squeaks of pivoting sneakers peal off the racquetball court's walls, and twosomes, foursomes, and Billie Jean King's army of clones descend on the four tennis courts, which guests rent by the hour. Members can simmer in the center's saunas or whirlpool, or shuck off tension with a swedish, sport-injury, orthopedic, or deep-tissue massage before showering and retrieving their gym bags from complimentary lockers.
Trained instructors lead 13 free classes throughout the week, with diverse aerobic curricula that include cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. For individualized guidance, personal trainers coach clients out of workout plateaus. As parents work out, childcare professionals engage lads and lasses with interactive games, toys, and movies in the center's nursery, where kids build social skills and imagination while pretending to be heroic astronauts, firefighters, or accountants.
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.
Artist, instructor, and The Genuine Article owner Betty James Hoppensteadt provides students with artistic and practical guidance during classes that cover a variety of mediums. Turn chaotic piles of beads and stones into harmonious arrangements with a two-hour lesson on bead stringing, where crafters of all abilities can learn how to properly wield jewelry-making tools and create interesting patterns and designs on cord, wire, or thread. A large selection of finishing notions completes each adornment, allowing each student the opportunity to leave class sporting one-of-a-kind body ice.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.