In the Old World, castles were places to live, govern, and seek shelter. Today, there are still places designed to keep the outside world at bay, but rather than standing as bastions of military defense, they serve as oases of relaxation, fitness, and fun. Riviera Country Club and Sports Center is one such getaway. There, members can explore a vast campus of athletic and recreation amenities including indoor and outdoor pools, a full gym, and a spa. Though the club’s organizers leave plenty of time for individuals to play in each space, they also host organized events, including regular group fitness classes such as boot camp, kickboxing, and Latin dance. They maintain a vast array of sports courts, as well, allowing members to feed their competitive sides in basketball, tennis, and racquetball arenas. As adults young and old sweat during their chosen forms of play, staffers help tykes explore their creativity in a play space known as the Sandbox, which combines education, arts and crafts, and computers to produce a secret army of glitter robots.
Comprised of two championship-length 18-hole courses and a 9-hole executive layout, Silver Lake Country Club unfurls across rolling terrain dotted with ponds and streams. The longest of the three courses, the North Course offers relatively open fairways for those who prefer to belt the ball with their driver or tow a small aircraft behind their golf cart. At the South Course, water hazards loom on 12 holes, including the treacherous par-3 ninth hole, where tee shots must travel 236 yards and clear a pond in order to reach the green in one.
The Rolling Hills Course presents seven par-3s and two par-4s in a 1,587-yard layout that incorporates a stream that intervenes through most of the course. Before taking on the golf course of their choice, golfers can warm up swings and teach breathing exercises to nervous irons at the driving range, which offers both natural-grass and turf hitting stalls and a short-game practice area.
At Sunshine Studio, radiance comes from within. The teachers at Sunshine Studio embrace yoga as a holistic health treatment, combining it with other forms of exercise—such as Pilates—known to strengthen the body while alleviating or preventing injury. Outside of the classroom, massage therapists sooth muscles with seven distinct modalities, including therapeutic massage, acupressure, and hot-stone massage.
The studio's spa technicians also coax out each client's inner light with rejuvenating skin care and body treatments. Customized to meet the needs of all skin types, their revitalizing facial restores lost youth with a full package of hydration, cleansing, and exfoliation. Technicians also rid clients of negative energy, removing pent-up toxins with ear candling and ionic foot baths and restoring respiratory clarity with aromatherapy-based raindrop therapy.
Verdant acreage surrounds Jordan’s Pub & Eatery, which serves as a lively rendezvous inside the calm of the Cook County forest preserve. Homemade pub grub and scratch-made thin-crust pizzas comprise the menu alongside 35 beers, 8 of which flow from the bar’s foam-flecked taps. Like the arcade in the basement of the United Nations, the eatery is an arena for friendly competition: Chicago sports and UFC fights flicker on eight high-definition TVs, and darts slice through the lambent glow of a blinking battalion of arcade games. On Tuesday evenings, amateur crooners pour melodies into the microphone of a top-notch karaoke setup. Kaleidoscopic alcohol bombs cycle through watermelon, cherry, and grape flavors throughout the week, providing tiny alternatives to Jordan’s 16 martinis, which evoke such decadent flavors as key-lime pie and creamsicle.
Dedicated to creating a unique experience, Space Golf illuminates its indoor lunar landscape with 18 challenging putt-putt holes alive with neon day-glo paint under showers of black light. Throughout the course, golfers nudge their iridescent balls past a synthesized landscape of posed alien life forms, flying saucers, and real aliens trying to blend in. Adding to the scenery are life-size character replicas from beloved sci-fi films such as E.T. and Star Wars beside neon yellow bricks that pave the 18-hole way for explorers. Along with mini golf, Space Golf?s Alien Arcade grants players a chance to hone their hand-eye coordination to win tickets for use at the prize stand, and chefs in the Sci Fi Caf? whip up pizzas, hot dogs, and hand-dipped ice-cream cones.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.