Compare Transport LLC dispatches a fleet of clean, punctual taxi vehicles for general and airport transportation around Chicagoland. Most of the company’s drivers have decades of experience, and their language fluency includes Polish, French, Greek, and Spanish, allowing them to easily serve and transport their customers.
When you think of Illinois, you might not think of a vineyard capable of yielding award-winning wine, but that’s exactly what you get with the Faltz Family Vineyard, which supplies Fox Valley Winery. The vineyard produces the grapes for wines that have won various awards in national and international competitions.
The vineyard, located about 20 miles away in Sheridan, supplies grapes through its more than 25 acres of vines draped across the rock-ribbed ledges of the Fox River Valley. This is where the Faltz family, their friends, and their employees spend many days coaxing the crop through the long growing season, checking for proper chemistry, and harvesting the grapes before they turn into talking raisins.
Costumed actors hide inside Heaps Haunted Corn Maze, ready to scare all those who dare enter. Alternatively, the flashlight maze is completely unhaunted and challenges visitors instead with a series of dead ends, switchbacks, and branching paths that they must navigate armed only with a flashlight. After walking through the maze of their choice, guests can unwind during a half-hour moonlight tractor ride, staying in the mood by singing the Scooby-Doo theme song under their breath.
The T-6 Texan isn't like most of the airplanes you see on the runway. For starters, it only has two seats. Then there’s the US Military aircraft crest stamped on the side of its mustard-yellow frame—a reminder of the warplane's years of service, from the 1930s to the '50s, when it carried three 30-caliber machine guns and a 400-pound bomb-load. A 1944 T-6 Texan is part of the fleet of fliers at Gauntlet Warbirds, a flight-instruction center that specializes in warplanes and aerobatic aircraft.
Chief pilot Greg Morris has been flying for more than 15 years and teaching for 10. He has a degree in aerospace engineering from USC and was awarded Master CFI-Aerobatic by the National Association of Flight Instructors. He continues to teach the T-6 to aspiring Air Force test pilots and flight-test engineers at test-pilot school as part of the Qualitative Evaulation program. Morris and his team of seasoned instructors copilot joyrides and offer training programs for mastering each aircraft in their fleet, which, in addition to the aforementioned T-6 Texan, includes the 1942 Boeing N2S Stearman, the L-39 Eastern block military jet, as well as aerobatic stunt planes such as the Yak-52, Extra 300L, Bellanca Decathlon, and Super Decathlon, all of which credit their thrill-seeking ways to strict upbringings.
When he wasn’t piloting a plane, Toby Beall spent time with his bare feet in the Caribbean sand and a cocktail mellowing in his hand. Looking to share that laid-back lifestyle, Beall, his wife Jillian and brother Jamey founded Tailwinds Distilling Company. Today, the Plainfield-based specialists blend premium ingredients such as organic molasses and 100% blue agave, and carefully age them in french-oak barrels to create their tropically-inspired amber rum. After the signature, small-batch distilling process—which avoids the use of carbon filters so as to leave the flavors intact—each bottle is individually signed. That attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed: their Taildragger white rum earned a silver medal at the 2012 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition, and their 100% blue agave spirit was featured in Chicago Magazine's Holiday 2012 Gift Guide: For Imbibers.
Visitors can take a jetlag-free trip to the tropics during tours of the facility, learning about distillation and sampling sips in a tiki-bar-themed tasting room. Merchandise such as T-shirts, snifters, and flasks provide more lasting souvenirs than the imaginary tan the island vibe might inspire.
Housing whiz-bang activities sprung to life from the mind of owner and game designer J. Richard Oltmann, Enchanted Castle coaxes thrills from the young and young at heart. As bumper cars clunk together and a game room rings with the peal of 250 pay-as-you-play games, Enchanted Castle’s 60,000-square-foot space fills with scenes fit for dream-like days of timeless tomfoolery without a fee for admission. A laser-tag arena hosts light-based combat, a miniature golf course tests putting mettle, and an indoor go-kart track lets driver reenact the time that the Indianapolis 500 was hosted inside a local gymnasium. Platefuls of wings, pizzas, and sandwiches dot tabletops in the dining area, where visitors can feast in front of karaoke, big-screen TVs, and an animatronics stage show featuring in-house band the Jammin’ Jesters.