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.
Basketball games light up a large projection screen at the front of the bar, echoing the dynamic displays seen on nearby flat-screen TVs above the heads of diners eating burgers and sipping beers at a wraparound bar. The kitchen serves up American-style comfort food and pub favorites, including steak sandwiches, Reubens, pasta, and burgers. Thin crust-pizzas include the buffalo pizza, the hawaiian pizza, and the double-meat Fiesta pizza, on which bacon, pepperoni, and sausage accompany onion, mushrooms, and green peppers.
The licensed educators at Kindermusik help enrich family relationships and bolster kiddies' mental development through interactive, music-focused play dates. Children from newborns to 7-year-olds can investigate the world of sound waves through age-specific sessions of sing-alongs, musical compositions, and sound barrier-breaking drum solos. ACE Music & Me sessions foster reading and language skills through dance and rhyme, and Village classes stimulate cognitive growth through musical activities. Guardians are encouraged to pick up a tambourine and belt out a note alongside their musical wards. After each pressure-free play date, Kindermusik instructors outfit each parent with a number of after-class activities suited to their child's developmental level and ability to impersonate Dick Clark.
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.
Old Orchard Country Club came into existence in 1932, when the Wickersham family purchased the land and began to manicure it. Over the decades, the club became such a community staple that the Prospect Heights Park District bought it in 1999, with a promise to provide the same level of country-club service to the general public. The park district's landscapers maintain the golf course's gently rolling, narrow fairways, which shoot and snake between trees and numerous traps. The course features lots of dangerous water, with hazards between the golfer and the hole on at least nine occasions. The ninth hole—a par 5—bends right around the forest, only to reveal a longer stretch of fairway hemmed in by triple water hazards leading to an equally narrow green. The 17th hole also presents a challenge, with the fairway bisected by a wide river, making the safest shot a long drive straight to the green, which sits framed by a pair of sand bunkers.
Course at a Glance: