recipe for fun. At Diversey River Bowl, 2211 W. Diversey Ave. ( & 773/227-
5800 ), tunes spun by a DJ (from an eclectic 300-CD collection) will get your feet
tapping as you lace your bowling shoes. You'll find plenty of 20-somethings here
on weekends, many of whom play in leagues. Prepare for a wait: It can be an
hour. The festive atmosphere is complemented by a collection of bowling pins
signed by “bowling greats” such as Dolly Parton and Eddie Vedder. Lanes are
open Monday through Friday from noon to 2am; on Saturday and Sunday,
leagues are usually scheduled, but there are always open lanes reserved for non-
league bowlers. Cost is $19 per hour per lane Monday through Thursday, and
$32 per hour per lane on Friday and Saturday. Shoe rental is $3.
Another option is Waveland Bowl, 3700 N. Western Ave. ( & 773/472-5900 ).
Open 24/7, Waveland has 40 lanes and gets pretty loud when busy. Even though
the place is huge, expect to wait your turn.
When in the suburbs, Brunswick Zone is your best bet and birthday-party
central. One plus for families is the video games. The company has lanes in sub-
urban Algonquin, Carol Stream, Deerfield, Deer Park, Glendale Heights, Kanka-
kee, Mount Prospect Naperville, Niles, Oak Lawn, Palatine, Roselle, Waukegan/
Lakehurst, and Woodridge. For phone numbers or to make online reservations,
visit www.brunswickbowling.com .
Sorry to point out the obvious, but Chicago has no hills, much less mountains.
(When I was in a training group for the Chicago Marathon, we did our hill
training by running up the corkscrew ramp in the John Hancock Center park-
ing garage—that's how serious Chicago's hill shortage is!) Your best option for
climbing in the city is “Mount Chicago,” located at the Lakeshore Athletic
Club ( & 312/616-9000 ). Billed as “the world's highest indoor climbing wall,”
the man-made wall rises 110 feet. Kids ages 5 and up can climb on Saturday
after 2pm and all day Sunday. You don't have to be a member to use the wall.
Cost for kids is $15 for an orientation class. Kids' classes and private lessons are
available; classes take place Sunday mornings from 9 to 10am for 6 consecutive
weekends and require preregistration. Even if you don't have previous experi-
ence, adults, too, can venture onto the wall through an orientation and safety
class (all while wearing a protective harness, of course). The club is private but
is open to guests of any hotel for $20 a day and to guests at the nearby Fairmont
Hotel and Hyatt Regency Chicago for $15 a day. It's located at 211 N. Stetson,
1 block east of North Michigan Avenue at Lake Street. To get there, take any bus
that serves Michigan Avenue.
Chicago residents who want to enroll their kids in classes might investigate
the indoor rock climbing at Lakeshore Academy, located at 937 W. Chestnut,
near the intersection of Halsted and Chicago ( & 312/563-9400; www.lake
shoreacademy.com). Membership is $100 per year and lasts until the same term
1 year later, and classes are organized by age group for kids from age 5 to 16.
“Hidden Peak,” as the climbing area is called, is a great way to discover the chal-
lenge of indoor rock climbing. Staffed with experienced and friendly people,
Hidden Peak offers tons of user-friendly programs for kids (and adults). Tip: A
fun option for a birthday party is climbing parties, held for kids age 6 and up,
that cost $40 per instructor and $10 per child. Lakeshore Academy gives these
parties over a 2-hour period on Saturday and Sunday evenings, or Sunday morn-
ings. Check out the website for more information.