Spring is just around the corner, but we’re in the month that has been known to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. For those days that are more lion than lamb and where you need parkas, hats and gloves more than a hoodie, there are a number of indoor venues to introduce children to when the dose of cabin fever is just about to push you over the edge.
The Midwest Training and Ice Center in Dyer offers open gym and open skate times weekly along with camps that are in session on non-school days. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, an open gym time is available for ages 6 and older from 8 to 10 p.m. Kids can burn off energy with nine trampolines and parkour and tumbling courses. There’s also an open gym time for preschoolers on Monday and Friday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Parents are able to take children on equipment that is specific to that age group with trampolines and balance beams.
On Saturday evenings a cosmic skate time is open from 10 to 11:30 p.m. with a light show and loud music; a more laid-back family skate takes place on Sundays from 2 to 3:30 p.m. “We have a 'Bobby the Seal', which is a plastic seat for kids to sit in and be pushed around if they’re unable to skate,” owner Eileen Butcher said.
“It’s a full-service family atmosphere with a cafe open during the time frame of classes. We’re all about our families and keeping our children busy and fit,” Butcher said. “We’re in the family entertainment business.”
Bowling alleys — like Lynwood Bowl in Lynwood — are fun spots to visit with kids on a bad weather day.
“Bowling is definitely something you can pass down from generation to generation and where you can be active together,” said Bob Carlson, general manager. “You can participate no matter what your skill level is and it’s good exercise, too.”
In comparison to other family fun centers or visits to a movie theater, it is also a more economical choice. Carlson said bowling seems to be making a bit of a comeback.
“A couple other managers I’ve talked to are saying how busy it’s been and it’s been a very good winter season for us,” he said.
If you head across the border just a bit to Mokena, Illinois, you can spend some fun family time racing each other at a new attraction, Accelerate Indoor Speedway. The eco-friendly, 80,000-square-foot facility has electric go-karts with two Grand Prix-style tracks. The Italian-made adult cars go up to 50 mph.
“Accelerate Indoor Speedway is the perfect family entertainment center for all kinds of weather, especially bad weather. We are completely indoors and house a variety of activities for all ages,” Director of Operations Donald Wagner said. “We have top-of-the-line karting for ages 8 and up and an exciting mix of games in our arcade as well as a full menu bar and grill upstairs with fresh-made food sure to wow everyone. We are a one-stop family entertainment spot.”
If you’re looking for something for a younger set, Chesterton’s Fireflies Family Fun opened about a year-and-half ago with a two-level indoor playground, but it also features laser tag and an arcade.
Unlimited play in the playground area is $8 per child and adults are free. Adults can accompany kids into the playground, but are are restricted from using the trampoline, ball pit or tea cups that are not made to withstand adults.
“Free admission for parents is something people really like about it,” manager Bill Nolan said.
“It’s nice that it has the playground for younger kids, but older kids and teenagers can play in the arcade or do laser tag,” Nelson said. Laser tag has a separate charge of $6 for each round, which lasts about eight minutes.