Through St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboats, Rich Anderson shares the rich history of the Fox River with tour groups, a history that his 68-year-old business is very much apart of. Rich’s father, Chet, purchased the Honeymoon Queen for $200 in 1945, hoping to offer rides to picnickers in neighboring Pottawatomie Park. Though the boat required exhaustive repairs, it would soon become a regular sight as it ferried school groups, dinner parties, and lazy ducks along the waters. Both Chet and the Honeymoon Queen retired from the waters by the 1980’s, turning over the operations to Rich and the current fleet of paddleboats, which feature open upper decks and spacious enclosed lower decks. Today, as the St. Charles Belle II and Fox River Queen churn the serene waters, guests take in scenic views and learn about the Pottawatomie tribe that lived upon the river’s banks almost 200 years ago.
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+).
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.
Paintball Explosion began when a group of paintball fanatics decided to make their dreams a reality and set about designing eight different fields of movie-set quality. Located just a 40-minute drive outside of Chicago, the real-life fantasy land they created includes the sci-fi-inspired, concrete environs of Code Black Field as well as the abandoned amusement-park setting of Biohazard Field.
The expansive facility also sports indoor and outdoor speedball fields for adrenaline-fueled fastness. Between matches, gamers can prepare at heated buildings with locker rooms and showers. With an onsite sports bar and grill, Paintball Explosion makes the paintball haven a place where enthusiasts can discuss the forces of velocity, wind resistance, and the physics of splatter.
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.
Since the first fairway drive in 1923, players at Sycamore Golf Club have sent their golf balls cruising down tree-lined chutes blanketed in pristine bentgrass in effort to conquer the course par of 71. The 18-hole course straddles the Kishwaukee River and extends to a total length of 5,817 yards from the back tees and 5,302 yards from the front tees. A meticulous maintenance team keeps the course in excellent condition, meaning golfers will rarely have to hit out of fairway divots or find their golf ball running away with vagabond gangs of crabgrass tumbleweeds.
Course at a Glance: