Each day, as the sun rises over the Illinois River Valley, light spills across Kickapoo Creek Winery's 14 acres of vineyards. Dr. David Conner originally began planting these vines in 2001. Now joined by his son, Rory, Dr. Connor creates rich, fruit-forward wines using locally sourced grapes in addition to the family's own grape harvests. Each wine brings its own melange of flavors and aromas, whether it's the tropical and citrus notes of the vignoles-seyval blanc blend or the norton's subtle spice and hints of ripe plum. The Connor family also makes wines infused with the luscious fruit flavors of everything from cranberries to peaches; and the selection of dessert wines includes bottles infused with chocolate.
Although the tasting room's samples lure many visitors, Kickapoo Creek Winery also provides guests with opportunities to explore its picturesque grounds. Walking trails can guide visitors past rows of trellised grapevines, a bubbling fountain, and even a bridge overlooking Lake Elizabeth. The grounds also include a handful of places for guests to stop and rest for a spell, such as the partially shaded Ruby Glow Garden with its miniature waterfall of grape juice.
Since launching their flagship 10-week program in 2001, the instructors at Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping have spurred more than 35,000 trainees across 42 locations toward their weight-loss goals. Classes burn fat and build lean muscle with fitness kickboxing and muscle-building with anaerobic bands. Coaches support trainees with a nutrition plan that breaks up food intake into six daily meals, increasing sustaining bodily energy and a sense of déjà vu. The founders of Farrell’s eXtreme Bodybuilding are so confident in their program that they offer a money-back guarantee for those dissatisfied with their results.
Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
A public course complete with tree-lined fairways and pristine greens, Hunter’s Ridge Golf Course challenges paired players with a set of 18 holes as well-rounded as the dimpled spheres that speckle its ridges. Captain your cart over an expansive range of well-manicured landscapes dotted with majestic woodlands and enough sand and water hazards to evoke a horror-movie set at an island resort. This par 72 course strikes an exceptionally balanced level of difficulty, appealing to seasoned swingers as well as active younger players with freshly acquired driver's licenses.
The Dirty Dash isn't the kind of race where runners try to set a new record. There are no ribbons or trophies for the first runner across the finish line either. That's because the real fun of this race isn't in winning, it's in the actual running itself. And watching groups of costumed adults play in the mud, of course.
Part light-hearted race, part military-style obstacle course, The Dirty Dash challenges runners with a course strewn with muddy obstacles with a focus on fun. In order to reach the finish, runners will have to hop over hay bales in mud pits, navigate rows and rows of tires set in wet soil, and even launch themselves down a foamy, 175-foot slip-n-slide. Besides the ultimate reward?the opportunity to spend a day in the mud?each participant also gets a t-shirt, pig tattoo, bandana, and pig decal, as well as a perfect excuse to visit their favorite dry cleaner.
Dirt Runner races don't just challenge athletes—they push them to their limits. Set on rough terrain with a more than 1,200-foot change in elevation, the roughly 5K course is rife with agility and strength-testing obstacles. Those range from complex military-style structures to towering fences that require scaling. After completing the course, participants unwind at post-race festivities with food and music.