Founder Rick Sweitzer started the adventure travel company in 1983 before leading one of the first amateur dogsled expeditions to North Pole. Driven by his vision, the guides and instructors of The Northwest Passage lead travelers of all skill and fitness levels to some of the most dramatic terrain on the planet. Locally, the team leads outings around the Chicago area, ranging from stand-up paddleboarding classes on Lake Michigan to kayaking and camping trips in Door County, Wisconsin. As for the rest of the world, Northwest Passage sends it adventurers to conquer it locale by stunning locale during programs that include hiking across Europe, trekking to remote Polar regions, and dressing up like scientists to infiltrate Area 51.
At Olly Olly Play Café, pirates bury treasure, knights rescue princesses from dragons, and parents watch as little ones develop social skills through creative play. The interior space looks like a storybook spilled over into reality, with troves of costumes and toys spread beneath a ceiling painted to resemble a cloud-filled sky. A castle stands at the entrance, serving as the junction between different rooms where roads wind through town houses and a kid-size pirate ship lets little ones imagine attacking all-you-can-eat cruise buffets.
Aside from open play, Olly Olly Play Café educates kids during music classes that range from Baby Signing to preteens belting out Broadway songs. Elsewhere, a menu of locally sourced salads and sandwiches fuels visitors and their health-conscious imaginary friends.
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.
Renovated in 2006, the nearly century-old Wilmette Theatre entertains theatergoers with a rotating slate of current and classic offerings, including Hollywood blockbusters and niche art films. Cylindrical light from a whirring projector flickers across two auditoriums, where movie-going duos can snack on buttery tubs of popcorn while sipping a soda and whispering spoilers into the facility’s pristine Soundfold curtain. The Wilmette underwent a key renovation in 2006, fortifying the century-old venue’s commitment to quality art with fresh coats of paint, an overhauled concessions center, and screenings of feature-length still lifes.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.