20 Chicago spots to make you forget how much adulting sucks
Do you remember bumper cars when you were kids? What about playing sports like basketball, hockey or lacrosse. If any of those brought a smile to your face, then let us introduce you to Whirlyball, a combination of all of them. It's way too much fun. If you're playing actual kids, they may not have the same bloodlust that you do, so only bring down a portion of the pain on them.
2. Bad Axe Throwing
When we were kids, one of the most fun things to do was run through the woods and pretend to be mighty hunters. If you're still taking walks in nature and pretending to be some badass woodman, then we'd suggest upping your skills with axe throwing. Yes, axe throwing is a real thing and yes you can do it here in Chicago. You'll be the next Davy Crocket (king of the wild frontier) in no time.
3. Southport Lanes
Bowling is always going to make us feel like a kid again (especially when we roll right into the gutter), but here's why Ten Pin is going to really do it - they're old school. We mean, old, old, old school. Only a few lanes and the pins are still set up by real people. No tech here. If that's not nostalgia reracked for you, we don't know what is.
4. Molly's Cupcakes
Who doesn't feel like a kid again holding a cupcake... or at least maybe sometimes pretends to be a giant holding a regular sized cake. Nevermind. What we can say is Molly's is delicious, the space is sweet and you can sit on a swing while eating your dessert. Awwww yeah.
Replay has a sign, written in neon, hanging above the door. It reads: "Don't grow up, it's a trap." We couldn't agree more. But since we're here, let's grab a beer and play some fantastic free video games, everything from "The Simpson's" to pinball to Pacman. They always have great videos on the screen (last time we were there is was "Reservoir Dogs" and old WWF wrestling) and staff who will point you to the right game. We dare you not to smile, we double dare you.
6. Oz Park
There are some spots that Chicagoans don't seem to know about, despite them being literally in their backyard. OZ Park is one of them. Take a stroll on a warm day and enjoy the giant statues of "Wizard of Oz" favorites. Bring a picnic and a good book, it's the perfect spot for it.
7. School of Rock
For those about to rock, we salute you. You may not have pretended to be a rock star in a while, but this is your moment. Mostly for kids, this place also does fantastic adult lessons to bring out your inner guitar hero. Just remember, you may be Pete Townshend in your mind, but those guitars prefer to remain umshashed at the end of your performance, thank you.
8. Toy de Jour
A toy store! But not just any toy store. This badass, beautiful toy store is filled with insane things you only remember but need to play with immediately. It's packed, sometimes floor to ceiling, with retro toys including stuffed animals, action figures, games, puzzles, clothes and more. It's fun just to walk through this place, and even more fun to bring these things home.
9. Happy Village
All this childhood excitement making you ready for a nap? Then kick back at Happy Village. No only is the name adorable, but this laid-back neighborhood bar has ping-pong tables, a large beer garden and a real koi pond. It's the perfect spot to check your cares at the door and enjoy the simpler, easier life.
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10. Trapeze School New York in Chicago
Wasn't there a moment in your childhood when you wanted to run away and join the circus? Do you still kind of feel that way? No worries, Trapeze School is there for you. You'll learn to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, not to mention swing upside down and flip off the bar. Who needs the fantasy circus when the real thing is so much better!
11. Adler Planetarium
Remember those nights, laying on your back outside, looking up at the stars when you were younger? Well, you can still do it and not have to grass stain your clothes or deal with the freezing Chicago temperatures. Not only does Adler, America's first planetarium, cater to the space enthusiasts in us all, but they also have Adler After Dark every third Thursday, which is for adults and filled with drinks, food, and live music. It's even a great date spot, and it will make you feel like a star... sorry, couldn't resist.
12. Hubbard Street Dance
One of the best dance companies in the city will teach you how to be that ballerina you always wanted to be... or really any other kind of dancer. Thier teachers are filled with the knowledge, work with any skill level and bring a whole new level of fun to the experience. You'll learn how to dance the night away - and not look like an idiot while doing it.
13. Shedd Aquarium
Find Nemo. Find Dory. Find all the creatures you want here, it's the perfect spot to go under the sea and make some new fishy friends - or real ones! Yes, they also do evening events for adults, but whenever you go, this spot is great for that little bits of faux-ocean-side bliss.
14. Cat & Mouse
The board game trend is still going strong and we can't recommend a spot better for it in this city than Cat & Mouse. Filled with fun, comfortable tables and lots of demo games so you can try before you buy. It's also got a hell of a puzzle section for you critical thinkers. If games were your past, then you can have some real fun in the present right here.
15. Red Star Combat
Gear up soldier, this is war. Yes, it's fought with lasers and you'll mostly be battling children, but it's war, dammit! This Lazer Tag space has multiple different games (team vs. team, free for all, capture the flag) and multiple different guns (assault, shotgun, sniper, etc.) It's like real life Call of Duty! Well... kinda.
16. CPX Indoor Paintball
Want something a little more extreme than laser tag? Here, take this paintball gun, we'll show you a little more extreme. This is a fantastic course with players from p0wned n00bs to experts in the field. Plus, it's indoors so you can do it year round. Just watch out behind y... ooh, too late.
17. Museum of Science and Industry
Is there really anything more wonderful than a science museum? Yes, a science museum with no kids! The MSI does great after-house events with drinks, food, special exhibits and all the no-kids around you could ever want. Now you don't have to feel bad about shoving that kid out of the way to play with that experiment. You'll just have to fight every adult who's doing the same thing.
18. Wormhole Coffee
Enter the wormhole. This geek-chic coffee spot is a haven and heaven for everything nerdy. Grab your amazing drinks with names like The Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa or the Castle Greyskull and play some Super Mario Bros on the couch. Oh, and did we mention there's a real DeLorian in the back? Because there is and it's worth the trip alone.
19. Margie's Candies
This ice cream sundae is as big as your hear (or even bigger if you've got a particularly small head). Margie's is a Chicago institution and their ice cream is so delicious, every bite will give you that perfect sugar rush right to your brain.
20. The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
We really can't end this article without talking about the Navy Pier Ferris wheel. If you grew up here, you absolutely went on it when you were little. And if you didn't, it still will bring back those feelings of fun days from your yesteryear. Take a ride or two and forget about all that stress you have in your real life. Wait, we're reminding you of it now? Dammit, ok, forget what we said and go around one more time. Ahhhh, so much better.
Alex Shebar is community director for Yelp in Chicago. You can and should follow him on Instagram at @AlexShebar and @YelpChicago. It will literally make your life better if you do.