In Wheaton, a day at the park is never the same twice?unless, of course, you want it to be. The Wheaton Park District maintains 53 facilities that encompass everything from pools to hiking trails that weave through the area's lush outdoors. With just a glance at a few of its destinations and attractions, it becomes apparent that the district is serious about its commitment to "enrich the quality of community life."
The Prairie Path Minigolf Course and The Rail, for instance, take up residence at Clocktower Commons. Here, 18 mini-golf holes wind past a central water feature while a 12,000-square-foot skate park lets inline skaters and skateboarders practice tricks that are simply too rad for their parents' driveways. Wheaton Park District also includes The DuPage County Historical Museum and the Cosley Zoo, where a trip into the barn introduces visitors to goats, wooly llamas, and other local wildlife.
With plants originating from 40 countries in the northern hemisphere, a trip through the 1,700 acres of The Morton Arboretum is like a trip across America, China, and Europe. More than 222,000 plants are protected and showcased on the grounds?an internationally renowned outdoor tree museum located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois. Throughout the year, scores of nature-focused events, activities, and educational offerings for adults, children, and professionals keep nature enthusiasts engaged and educated. In addition to 16 miles of walking trails and nine miles of roads, guests can also rent bicycles, skis, and snowshoes or grab a bite to eat at the Ginkgo Restaurant and Caf?. Additionally, guests can also bring children to the award-winning four-acre Children?s Garden, get lost in the one-acre hedge maze, or hike 16 miles of trails through woods and around lakes.
The Smart Race's formula is simple: the challenge of a scavenger hunt plus the thrill of a competition equals one fun day of citywide adventuring. Teams of two download the race's iPhone app, then head to one of the starting areas revealed on the day of the event. The app also marks the finish line with a red pin—the only question is how to get there. To navigate, participants puzzle over a series of knotty riddles, each pointing to a location in the city. They mark their maps with pins at each of the decoded spots, planning out their route before setting off on foot or by public transit. At each stop, an app-enabled challenge asks teams to perform such tasks as searching out hidden spots by compass or chase an invisible rabbit by onscreen radar. After completing every challenge, racers head to the finish line, located at a bar stocked with beverages and outlets to recharge both phones and users.
With exposed brick walls, large rounded windows, and wooden barrels decorating the dining room, Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina creates an authentic southwestern atmosphere to compliment their flavorful dishes. Metal chandeliers gently sway above spacious dining and banquet areas, where guests share orders of homemade chicken tamales or octopus, shrimp, and tilapia ceviche seasoned with lime juice and cilantro. Burritos bind marinated skirt steak, grilled shrimp, spicy pork, and other ingredients inside a warm tortilla that keeps bites from falling on the floor or floating away in zero gravity.
Fully licensed instructors, thoroughly maintained aircrafts, and a skydiving training program licensed by the US Parachute Association ensure that a jump at Chicagoland Skydiving Center is rigorously safe?but nothing can dampen the thrill of free falling from 14,000 feet. The center?s spotless student record can be attributed both to the longevity of the program, which has been around since 1968, and to the expertise of the instructors, some of whom have made more than 15,000 jumps. Their attention to safety enables visitors to focus on the fun part: a 60-second free fall followed by a leisurely float under a parachute with countless high-fives from passing birds.
Once their feet have firmly planted on the ground, skydivers can celebrate besting Sir Isaac Newton in a spacious facility with games, a lounge, and an onsite restaurant. HD video and photos are ready to take home within minutes of landing to show friends and family footage of the adventure.
The Geneva Park District encompasses 50 parks and 3,000 annual programs over its 700 acres. Stone Creek, a river-themed mini-golf course with a windmill, water wheel, creek with real running water, and a wishing well offer playful variations on the sport of kings, and is great for groups, parties, or picnics.