Lake Arlington's surface ripples in the breeze as shouts, cheers, and drumbeats echo across its shores. Ornately painted boats, carved into the likeness of Chinese dragons, glide across the water to the rhythm of 40 paddles turning in unison. The male and female boaters at Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival split into four racing divisions and follow the roots of a traditional eastern sport as they paddle, drum, and steer in coordination with their teammates. Spectators view the proceedings from tiered grandstands, which enable them to see the full scope of the race without having to rent a jetpack. They can also revel at an outdoor beer garden, listen to live entertainment, and usher their kids to participate in interactive activities in the Dragon's Nest. Competitors plunge into challenge races to benefit causes such as public services and breast-cancer research and rush to complete the most pushups after the race during the Workout of the Dragons.
This year's event benefits the nonprofit organization Salute, Inc., whose staffers work to support soldiers and veterans through fundraisers. Great White North assembles the event in partnership with local Windy City Dragons, in an effort to pay it forward to local charities while spreading enthusiasm for the sport. Their staffers also design each boat, specializing in the crafting of ornate vessels bearing the likenesses of colorful Chinese dragons and glorious Burt Reynoldses.
At Go Chicago Golf, group and private indoor lessons are available year-round so students can hone their craft even in winter's foulest depths. Players take most of their lessons in front of a projection screen that simulates a sunny day out on the links. They can play their choice of 9 or 18 holes on a 100- or 300-yard practice course, or, if they fear spending another 20 years trapped in an arcade game, practice on the learning center's nonvirtual targets. Students can also use an onsite video-analysis room to objectively check their swings and postures.
At Illinois Magic Basketball, a team of high school coaches, collegiate, and professional basketball players train kids to improve their basketball skills. Small group lessons and one-on-one sessions work on techniques including dribbling and jump shots, while Sunday night trainings take intense players and help them heighten their skills. In addition to these focused lessons, league teams combines drills with more than 14 games in a season to get kids learning while they play.
Range balls wait to be tossed into 10 large bucket terminals, anxiously anticipating the long-distance flights that will hurtle them across River Trails Park District’s expansive driving range. Designed with serious golfers and range regulars in mind, the facility boasts 52 hitting mats overlooking an idyllic green pasture speckled artfully with white spheres. Birdie hunters can hone their short-range chipping skills in a sand-trap practice area or rehearse tournament-winning tap-ins on the 8,000-square-foot putting green.
Brunswick Zone has been a trusted name in recreational pin pulverizing for more than a century, providing good times to patrons across the country. Friends and families season afternoons with a pleasant peppering of strikes, spares, and easygoing gutter balls under classic bowling conditions, or take the next bold step in ball-hurling evolution and engage in a round of cosmic bowling, where dancing lights, thumping tunes, and black-lit gear light up the full sensorium. At XL locations, game rooms beckon with nimble joystick workouts on classic and modern arcade games.