Aurora Roller Skate Center's gleaming wooden rink beckons wheel-hitched feet to orbit its oblong track beneath glowing white globe lamps. Gather four friends or nine members of the Walton family and lace up classic four-wheel skates before gliding through daily open-skate sessions (upgrade to inline skates for additional fee). A slew of special events and theme nights fill the skate center with movie and costume parties, and DJ Suave Smooth electrifies Friday and Saturday evenings with Top 40 hits and Schubert dirges that bellow through the rink's stentorian speakers as colorful lights flicker across the floor. On the sidelines, retro booths coddle weary gams, and skaters nosh on pizza and slushes from the snack bar or fawn over new trinkets from the novelty shop.
The Joliet Park District sprawls across more than 1,000 acres, engaging visitors with everything from sports to nature. Guests can wander through the foliaged paths of the Pilcher Park Nature Center and the organic community garden, or treat their senses to the floral colors and aromas that fill the bird-haven greenhouse. The 10,000-seat Joliet Memorial Stadium hosts high-school and college sporting events, while a dozen athletic fields fill with recreational players hitting baseballs, catching softballs, and spiking soccer balls when the referee isn't looking. During the summer, inner tubes transport patrons down Joliet Splash Station's high-speed water slides and 865-foot lazy river, and the glittery strands of Fourth of July fireworks color the skies above the stadium.
Family Fun Zone packs a spectrum of entertainment catering to ages 14 and under into one hub complete with roller-skating rink, laser-tag arena, and an arcade. Multicolored lights sweep over the roller rink where birthday-party guests practice figure 8s or 44s, fueled by pizza and soda. Visitors transition from gliding to ducking beneath laser rays, and watchful parents can enjoy free WiFi from the comfort of the snack bar. Guardians also dole out tokens for the arcade, where glowing machines spit out tickets to a soundtrack of buzzing TVs and family-friendly music.
Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville maintains three separate ice rinks for public play and features leading sports development programs, leagues, special events, and hosts birthday parties. Public skate programs encourage local residents to take to the ice and practice hockey fundamentals during stick-and-puck sessions or get some exercise during unstructured adult rat hockey. Its youth-hockey program teaches beginners to skate and shoot. Figure-skating training camps for aspiring athletes and basic sessions for children teach skaters how to be more graceful so they can make grocery shopping more interesting for their neighbors by spinning and leaping down the aisles.
If you walk into USA Skate Center on the first Saturday afternoon of the month, you might think the aliens have landed. But there's no need to panic?it's just black-light skating, where skaters roll around the rink in the radioactive glow of purple lamps overhead. If that's not your style, the rink also hosts regular open-skate times and lessons, the latter of which include an R&B-inspired session for adults. Even when they're not attending a birthday party, younger skaters can refuel with a slice of pizza at the snack bar.
Parent-chaperoned youngsters take their first, wobbling steps on ice skates while the hockey stars they may one day become whiz around the rink, perfecting their technique. Skaters of all skill levels practice side by side during open skates at Rocket Ice Arena. Their nonskating supporters can look on from the Lake Placid Lodge, sipping drinks from the onsite café and using the lodge’s free Wi-Fi to check an app that tells them whether their glass is half empty or half full.
Home to the Sabres Youth Hockey Club, the rink also offers instruction in icebound sports. Their hockey instructors can introduce novices to the sport or train more experienced skaters how to compete on high-resistance synthetic ice. A separate team of instructors specializes in figure skating and synchronized skating, which is the art of synchronizing your feet to go in a single direction. Youngsters can also explore the rink during skate parties, which come with an on-ice instructor, decorations, and balloons.