Staff Size: 50+ people
Parking: Parking lot
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
The founders of the Festival of The Horse & Drum describe their event as the "United Nations of horses and humans," and not without good reason. The multicultural, multimedia equestrian gathering educates guests on the importance of horses throughout world history, and transports guests to a Native American pow wow, a cowboy town, and a renaissance faire. Bands representing several cultures perform on the Horse-a-Palooza stage, and the Equus Film Festival showcases long and short works starring stallions and mares, such as renowned horse actor Mare-lon Brando.
Otter Cove couldn't have a more fitting mascot. The park's theme centers around a river otter, an anthropomorphized version of which occasionally stops by to take pictures with guests. It's not hard to imagine this semiaquatic mammal zipping down one of the park's Salamander Slides and splashing into Turtle Creek, a 600-foot lazy river. Humans find themselves equally at home in aquatic play areas such as The Frog Bog, a 7,700 sq. ft. activity pool with spinning water apparatuses and a waterfall.
The park also contains a traditional lap pool heated to around 80 degrees fahrenheit, just warm enough to keep it from being taken over by penguins. In addition to open swim times, the pool hosts swim lessons for all ages. Otter Cove also helms The Otters Swim Team for swimmers aged 5?16.
All it takes is one step through the unassuming glass door on the first floor of the historic 1851 St. Charles Hotel building. One step to enter a charming, cozy setting awash in low lighting and filled with the aromas of herbs and sizzling meats. The intimate space is home to The BeeHive Tavern, whose owners?inspired by the atmosphere of vintage pubs?decked out their establishment in dark mahogany accents and furnishings that, just like George Washington's teeth, are made from wood. Top-shelf spirits, wines, and imported beers flow at the polished bar, and servers ferry burgers, herb-tossed chicken wings, fish tacos, and other classic pub dishes to booths in a restored dining room. Meanwhile, a separate game room with billiards provides post-meal diversions.
Breezes drift east off the Fox River and through the tree lines of Pottawatomie Golf Course, a spectacular layout recognized by Golf World as the No. 15 nine-hole course in America in 2010. The course traces its roots back to 1939, when legendary course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. capitalized on the area's natural splendor to design a course that originally charged golfers a quarter to play and was best conquered by clubs made from stale baguettes.
Recently, the par 35 course has been the subject of a vigorous renovation, including efforts to reshape greens and preserve native habitats for the deer, foxes, and egrets that populate the grounds. These conservation efforts were rewarded in 1997, when Pottawatomie Golf Course became the first nine-hole course recognized as a fully certified sanctuary by Audubon International.
The course's picturesque conditions are on full display at the par-four third hole, where a curving fairway vanishes into the river and golfers must launch approach shots onto a water-surrounded green. After a day of fore-hollering fun, golfers can peruse the pro shop for the latest gear and clubs to replace irons that ran away to chase dreams of one day growing into a cell-phone tower.
Course at a Glance: * Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. * Nine-hole, par 35 course * Length of 3,007 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 34.9 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 122 from the farthest tees * Bent-grass greens, blue-grass fairways * Scorecard
With its bare hands, Norris Recreation Center tears through the piecemeal membership and class fees that keep exercisers from traditional gyms, and flings open the doors to its modern facility. A gift from the St. Charles–native Norris family, the nonprofit establishment makes living healthier a viable option. Within its stone walls, five dedicated rooms bustle with the whir of cardio and weight-training equipment, and swimmers careen down the 12 lanes of the 50-meter pool during lessons, lap swims, and open pool time. The squeaks of pivoting sneakers peal off the racquetball court's walls, and twosomes, foursomes, and Billie Jean King's army of clones descend on the four tennis courts, which guests rent by the hour. Members can simmer in the center's saunas or whirlpool, or shuck off tension with a swedish, sport-injury, orthopedic, or deep-tissue massage before showering and retrieving their gym bags from complimentary lockers.
Trained instructors lead 13 free classes throughout the week, with diverse aerobic curricula that include cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. For individualized guidance, personal trainers coach clients out of workout plateaus. As parents work out, childcare professionals engage lads and lasses with interactive games, toys, and movies in the center's nursery, where kids build social skills and imagination while pretending to be heroic astronauts, firefighters, or accountants.