Be Active Outdoors organizes physical and recreational activities for adults and children of all fitness levels. Regular events challenge locals to break their sedentary habits with 10-mile bike rides, lessons on revitalizing waterways, and group adventure races. An annual river-basin tournament combines a focus on conservation with thrilling paddleboat and shoreline fishing. The Amped Up Adventure race complicates traditional adventure racing with urban elements including biking, running, paddling, and an obstacle course to get people moving in their home environments.
Jessica Ferris can trace her interest in sailing back to her childhood in Chicago and northern Michigan, where she plied Lake Michigan's waters with her family. As she grew up, she expanded her boating territory to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As an adult, she brought her talents home to Chicago as an ASA-certified keelboat captain and the founder of Skyline Sailing School. Here, she passes on her seafaring knowledge in classroom courses that teach sailing principles such as basic terminology, rules of open-water travel, points of sail, knot tying, and choosing the right shoulder parrot. She also engages students with hands-on open-water classes aboard 26-foot keelboats, which begin with an exploration of basic sailing skills and progress to lessons in more advanced maneuvers.
Like at a medieval fortress, a two-story structure made of wood and stone towers over a pool of water. And like the garbage chute that empties into the open mouth of a moat's crocodile, two diving platforms and a water slide deposit swimmers into the main pool at Batavia Park District's Harold Hall Quarry Beach—a 60,000-square-foot swimming hole chiseled into a former stone quarry. Though visitors can always brave the free falls, a zero-depth edge allows for a more leisurely entrance into the water, where guests of all ages swim laps in the lanes, practice slam-dunking on one another under the basketball hoop, or pull themselves onto a wooden island to sunbathe. On the shore, landlubbers can relax at the picnic area or head to the beach-volleyball court to prevent lobstermen from stealing the net.
For more than 50 years, the monks of Marmion Abbey have tended 300 acres of farmland. They started with Christmas trees, and now maintain 120 acres of pines, spruces, and firs that smell exactly like car freshener. On the remaining acres, they tend pumpkin vines and corn mazes, interspersing these areas with scenic picnic groves.
Throughout the year, the monks open their land to the public. In the autumn, they host Pumpkin Daze, a harvest festival with tractor wagon rides and a petting zoo. Around mid-November, they grant access to their tree farm, supplying visitors with rental saws for you-cut trees and bellowing "Timber!" just like Paul Bunyan did when he fell into bed at night. The monks stock their farm store with handcrafted goods that complement the season, whether caramel apples in the fall or quilts in the winter.
Kellers Farmstand was established only 21 years ago, but its roots run all the way back to the 19th century. Since emigrating from Bavaria in the mid-1800s, the Kellers have produced four generations of green-thumbed farmers, most of whom answered to the name Frank. It was during the reign of Franks I and II that the Kellers' first roadside produce stand opened, and the family's crop of grapes, raspberries, and potatoes helped their homestead survive the Great Depression. In the 1960s, brothers Frank III and Ray took over their father's farm and expanded the scope with corn, soybeans, oats, and hay grown on fields in Plainfield and Oswego. In 1991, Frank IV opened his first vegetable kiosk, and Kellers Farmstand was officially inaugurated.
These days, the three farmstands are open during the spring, summer, and fall, welcoming guests with fresh-picked seasonal offerings and annual harvest festivals. Depending on the location and the time of year, guests might find heirloom-tomato plants and flowers in finely wrought hanging baskets, ears of the family's specialty sweet corn, or homegrown pumpkins, gourds, and winter squashes. Their news page keeps shoppers up-to-date on the latest goings-on, with regular updates on flower sales, rain delays, and the farm’s ongoing battle with the mole men.
With an armada of kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards at their command, Midwest Paddlesport Adventures' team spearheads expeditions to bodies of water across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Frequent trips include calming floats down the Fox River––which is densely populated by local wildlife––and Lake Andrea, a former quarry characterized by local rocks. The expert navigators safely guide groups to their destinations, pointing out animal tracks and majestic waterfowl and they commute to the office.
At Raging Waves, certified lifeguards keep a vigilant watch over visitors as they traverse a park filled with 17 water slides and other aquatic attractions, but surveillance isn’t their only job. They secure up to four passengers in tubes before they zoom down a giant family slide and instruct riders on how to position their arms and wink Morse-code messages to eagles during their plunge down a winding speed slide with a near-vertical drop. Though adrenaline is the Raging Waves' main focus, it also houses slower-paced attractions such as a regular swimming pool, a quarter-mile lazy river, and separate children's play area.