Arming Windy City's flower followers with a bevy of buxom blossoms since 1889, Amling's Flowers brightens occasions across the spectrum with its fresh floral arrangements. Built from the fruits of partnerships with independent petal peddlers, Amling's artistic arrangements help express emotions fit for a range of occasions, from birthdays to funerals to the first of many joyous parking citations. Lilacs soothe schnozes and seers with a sense-pleasing blend of lavender roses and fragrant hydrangea ($39.95), while the Cotton Candy's bursts of roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums issue forth with pastel explosions not seen since Gregor Mendel cross-bred hyacinths with a stick of dynamite ($34.95+).
At Two Seasons Cycle & Ski, the 7,000-square-foot store stays well stocked with gear, apparel, and accessories to prepare customers for outdoor adventures any time of the year. Men, women, and youngsters can peruse racks full of snowboarding gear by major brands such as Burton and K2 Snowboards and skiing merchandise from top brands including Atomic and Völkl Skis, or call upon Dr. Robert S. Steinberg, podiatrist, for help with finding a properly fitting ski boot. When the ski lifts stop running and snowmen melt back into lifeguards, skiers can put away their gear in favor of the extensive inventory of bicycles and accessories by brands such as Shimano, Cannondale, Trek, and Schwinn.
Located on the shores of the Fox River, Fox Paintball has numerous fields suited for chromatic combat, along with a fully stocked pro shop. The Stonehenge field is comprised of a wooded area marked with ancient-styled barriers—ideal for both close exchanges and long shots—and is inhabited by a druid who officiates each match. The new Gauntlet field puts players among wrecked cars, a trench, sandbag bunkers, and a makeshift "power plant" building. Bunkers and two-story structures dot the other woods fields, and geometric inflatables provide protection from pigment projectiles and low-flying pigeons on the regulation XBall! field. Offering a respite between operations, the pro shop and concessions booth are stocked with eats, drinks, markers, and equipment by makers such as Empire, Tippmann, and Kingman. The park plays host to numerous tournaments and scenario games throughout the year.
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.
Below H2O pledges its loyalty to its scuba following, providing education, service, and equipment to dedicated divers. The dive center's PADI master instructors possess in-depth knowledge of the leagues below the sea. Classes are held in an indoor pool—a controlled environment free from sea currents and overly talkative dolphins. During the discover scuba class, dive disciples learn about equipment and safety before getting their flippers wet. The snorkeling class skips the tank, introducing newbies to basic snorkeling techniques, including proper kicking, surface dives, and airway control. All classes are small in scale—holding around four to six students—ensuring plentiful attention from the insightful instructors. Below H2O supplies all equipment; just bring a bathing suit.
On Friday and Saturday, Fox Bowl transforms from a brightly lit bowling alley into an activity-filled nightclub equipped with laser lights, disco lights, fog machines, and a 10-foot screen broadcasting family-friendly music videos. This is cosmic bowling, a party-like event that begins early in the afternoon and extends late into the evening, allowing all ages to enjoy futuristic entertainment without having to watch robots perform cabaret acts. League opportunities are also available for both children and adults, as are private bowling lessons with USBC-certified instructor Gregg Zicha. During lessons, Gregg collaborates with digital video-analysis software and calls upon more than 20 years as a PBA member to help to perfect each student's form. He also reveals techniques that have led him through 47 perfect 300 games and two USBC national championships.