Kids can literally bounce off the walls at Happenings Family Fun Center, where eight air-filled play spaces invite them to cavort inside castle- or shoe-shaped abodes. The center's more than 30,000-square-foot arena not only houses an inflated playground but also 100 arcade games and 30 Xbox stations where kids can enhance their eye-hand coordination or prepare themselves for an angry mushroom invasion. Families and friends also can spin balls down mini bowling lanes, swing bats in the batting cages, and fill up on pizza, burgers, and corn dogs at the concessions stand.
The horseback lesson takes place at Sunflower Farms, which boasts 170 acres of pristine wooded lakefront farmland, ideal for galloping horses and running a mildly successful Internet business. Start the two-hour session with an hour-long ground lesson that helps riders get to know their horses, covers the basics of riding equipment, and teaches horse-grooming methods. Once riders feel comfortable enough around a horse to not be overwhelmed with the desire to challenge it to a staring contest, they'll saddle up and ride for a full hour, outfitted with a certified helmet from Saddlers Row. Sunflower Farms instructors will work with riders of any skill level, from beginner to competition level.
Following the teachings of Swami Rama, Himalayan Yoga's limber yogis assist all levels of stretchers in adopting a balanced, mindful lifestyle through a variety of soothing classes. Vinyasa-flow and beginning Hatha courses follow a systematic progression of breathing and asanas—or postures—designed to strengthen muscles and align spines, giving bodies the brawny flexibility of a steel-coated rubber band. Himalayan courses impart the wisdom of Swami Rama through breathing techniques and meditation, and gentle beginning courses afford less-strenuous stretching avenues for students suffering from illness, injury, or long-held fears of Mr. Fantastic. In addition to offering individual and family sessions, instructors can adjust asanas for clients with certain physical limitations.
Durty Nellie's combines spirited entertainment with a variegated menu of Irish-American pub fare. Finger-friendly appetizers launch meals into a crunching frenzy with savory starters such as roasted red pepper hummus, which coaxes pita chips into a vortex of feta cheese and kalamata olives. Helping to further mute the doo-wop hums of empty bellies, entrees follow in the form of succulent burgers, hot roast-beef sandwiches, or sweet-potato-crusted salmon—an 8-ounce Chilean fillet adorned in crispy potato bits and served alongside fresh salad and rice pilaf. A fully stocked beer selection irrigates parched pipes with more than 100 worldly beers, including lagers, ales, porters, and stouts.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
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.