Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
Classically trained in the culinary arts, the friendly chefs at A Kid's Kitchen help tykes tap their foodie instincts during hands-on classes in a peanut- and nut-free environment. One-time sessions and class series feature topics from twisting soft pretzels to adorning cakes with fondant to crafting perfectly aerodynamic food-fighting weapons, with topics geared to please different age ranges. Summer camps keep kids engaged during school's off-season, and birthday parties entertain groups with edible festivity. Additionally, parents can order custom cakes and pastries from the kitchen, which also dishes its desserts from a space free of peanuts, tree nuts, or allergy-inducing political discourse.
Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that comprise America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $10 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (a $3.99 value).
The only thing more fun than watching babies and toddlers make music is being the baby or toddler making music (unless you're riding a roller coaster). Plunge head-first into melodies with today's Groupon: for $15, you get a two-week sing-along session for a child and parent at Music Together of Naperville ($30 Value). There are locations in Aurora, Naperville, and Plainfield. Children between the ages of birth and 6 can participate in these classes.
Watching a movie should be a magical experience, one that transports the mind to places it wouldn't otherwise go. Nothing undercuts that faster than traipsing down a sticky aisle to squeeze into a creaky seat and watch a movie where some guy just staples paper for an hour. The experience couldn't be more opposite at Hollywood Blvd. and Hollywood Palms Cinemas, where people might start an action-packed new release or cult classic by meeting the film's stars. Fans of the theater have written tons of appreciative letters, recalling their experiences hobnobbing with Tippi Hedren before a showing of The Birds, or seeing a cast reunion of Back to the Future, which one mega-fan wrote was "one of the best experiences of [their] life."
But it's not just these meet-and-greets that elevate the experience at Hollywood's theaters. Instead of cramped row seating, there are high-backed swivel chairs encircling tables, and instead of concession stands, there're servers ferrying food and beverages to tables throughout the show. The extensive menu is mostly upscale casual dishes, including the Whoopi Goldburger with Angus beef, bacon, and barbecue sauce. From the bar, guests can order Rat Pack?inspired martinis, craft beers, or specialty cocktails such as the Tequila Mockingbird margarita with raspberry liqueur.
At each location, the architecture and decor rivals that of a film set. The lobby at Hollywood Blvd. is a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and at Hollywood Palms, individual screening rooms pay homage to Marilyn Monroe and The Wizard of Oz. Not surprisingly, the Hollywood Blvd. theater has an on-site museum with real movie artifacts, including costumes worn by the Munchkins, whom the theater successfully petitioned to receive their own star on the Walk of Fame.
Founders Jenny McCuiston, a high-school state swimming champ and Olympic-trial qualifier, and Chris McCuiston, a past MSU baseball captain and draft pick for the Detroit Tigers, know firsthand the positive effect learning a sport can have on a child's confidence and courage. When they realized what a high demand there was for quality swim lessons in the region they dedicated themselves to researching the industry and developing their trademark curriculum, and in 2006 the first Goldfish Swim School threw open its doors. Today, Red Cross?trained swim instructors at seven locations help little ones as young as 4 months get acquainted with the art of swimming with private swim lessons and classes of no more than four students.
Youngsters splash and kick through an indoor pool kept toasty warm at 90 degrees while parents make encouraging fishy faces and pet fish make reproachful parenty faces from the glass-enclosed viewing area. Goldfish Swim School also hosts birthday celebrations and special events complete with colorful balloons and batches of cupcakes. Beach-themed decor splashes across each swim facility, creating a fun, laid-back environment that abounds with vibrant colors and animal accents. The Treasure Island pro shop boasts a range of aquatic accessories, and the snack shack doles out healthy treats and fresh-baked cookies.