At any moment, visitors to Wilderness Falls might run into the resident moose. He isn’t grazing: Maddux the Moose, the family fun center’s fuzzy mascot, spends his time playing its two 18-hole, outdoor mini-golf courses and accepting high-fives and hugs from enthusiastic guests. Maddux isn’t the only fixture that may make guests feel as though they’ve wandered into the woods¬; the two mini-golf courses are pretty rugged themselves. The Bear Course, which hosts the annual Chicago Mini-Golf Championship, leads putters past a 35-foot waterfall, into a dark cave, and across creaking wooden walkways, just like the race all of Harrison Ford’s clones run to determine which one will get to play Indiana Jones. Alternatively, the Eagle Course leads players around winding rivers and on a climb to the top of a 40-foot mountain of rock.
Of course, it’s not all roughing it. In the middle of the greens sits the tented arena that holds Wilderness Falls’ batting cages, including six baseball cages and three softball cages. An arcade lights up the indoor space with the glowing screens of video games, and party rooms hold birthday and team celebrations.
Jump!Zone’s indoor playgrounds envelop kids aged 2–12 in an inflatable world filled with challenging obstacle courses, fun slides, and cardio-boosting bounce houses. While navigating the plush courses under the watchful eyes of air-filled dinosaurs and superheroes, kids burn off extra energy and participate in activities that may help develop motor skills. Jump!Zone’s energetic staff supervises all play as kids climb on pirate ships and trampoline inside princess castles. Specific inflatables may vary by location but often include towering bounce houses shaped like fire trucks or octopi as well as party rooms, games, pizza, soda, and other festive fare. The bouncy center also hosts birthday parties, fundraisers, and special events.
Johansen Farms started more than 85 years ago, when Hans Johansen and his family immigrated to Illinois from Copenhagen. Upon their arrival, the family started to grow and sell flowers and vegetables, slowly transforming their business from a roadside farm stand into a flourishing plant empire.
Today, sunlight filters into Johansen Farms’ 24 greenhouses, illuminating scarlet petals and verdant tendrils as they rise from beds of moist earth. Within these humid growing centers, gardeners cultivate more than 2,000 varieties of plants and flowers, from blooming annuals to hearty grasses. Guests meander at will, stopping to sniff baby flower buds and eye appetizing fruits and veggies.
Equipped with an average of 10 years of teaching experience, the knowledgeable instructors at Fox Meadow Farms teach bipeds to tame galloping four-leggers on a tree-lined 68-acre property. Encompassing two indoor arenas, eight all-weather paddocks, and a 1/3-mile cross-country course, the facilities provide plenty of space for students to get a feel for the saddle. During the one-hour group lesson, experienced equiners tutor both beginners and advanced riders on how to walk, trot, and parallel park. The farm limits classes to groups of five or fewer to make sure teachers can interact with each student personally.
Zip Fitness's staff strives to keep intimidation from creeping in to each of the five gyms. To welcome all exercisers—even those who have never had gym memberships before—Gym Geniuses stroll through each location donning bright-red shirts that signal their availability to help guests operate the various machines and guide them in drafting fitness goals and coming up with routines for the day. They've stocked each location with strength equipment from brands such as Precor and Life Fitness, and a guided strength circuit's 30-minute full-body workout takes the guesswork out of toning physiques. Rows of cardio equipment include treadmills, ellipticals, and upright and recumbent bikes, along with rowing machines and StairMaster step mills. For stretching and ab work, bands, balls, and body bars abound, and free weights include dumbbells, barbells, and tamed school bells.
Gold memberships unlock additional perks, such as unlimited access to Hex II tanning booths and the ActivTrax online fitness and nutrition coach, which plots out workouts and offers nutrition tools tailored to each user's goals, from slimming down to having the flexibility to comb your hair with your feet.
The year was 1899. Renowned psychologist Doctor Francis, disgusted with the inhumane practices in place at the Danvers State Hospital, decided to leave his position at the so-called "Hospital Hell" and start his own clinic in his family's backyard. For six months, all seemed perfect for the Francis family and their 13 patients. But the doctor was so consumed in his work that he failed to see the tragedy that was befalling his beloved wife and daughter. By the time he could tear himself from his clinic, it was too late—his family was dead. Half crazed by guilt and grief, the once kind-hearted doctor forgot his patients, dooming them to neglect and starvation, and dooming himself to a grisly death that awaited him once his wards escaped from behind the asylum's doors.
Today, the scene of this terrible tragedy draws thrill-seekers to brave the halls of the mansion where the ghosts of Dr. Francis and his family linger on. Those foolish enough to ignore the warnings from the guardian at the door endure more than 25,000 square feet of twists and turns, coming face to face with more than 60 terrifying specters and at least one jaw-dropping hospital bill. Those lucky enough to survive the mansion can head home to hide under their beds––but only if fate smiles twice and guides them safely past the tortured souls still confined in the backyard insane asylum.