GO PLAY INSIDE!
Some of summer’s top sports defy the elements of the winter season.
By Martina Sheehan
January 17, 2008
Thankfully the winter frost hasn’t completely killed off all of our favorite summer sports.
Kayaking, golf, body surfing, beach volleyball and scuba diving have all survived the season’s
arctic winds and bone-chilling temps—they’ve just moved indoors. We’ve brushed away the
snow to uncover some of the city’s best spots to relive summer sports and help us forget
Chicago’s frozen tundra.
Rolling down the river
Kayak Chicago, the same folks who lead tours down the river and around the lake during the milder months, continues its aquatic pursuits during the winter at UIC’s Olympic-size pool. Give your kayak skills a head start with a four-week session taught by an American Canoe Association–certified teacher. Learn basic skills such as parking and paddle strokes before moving on to intermediate maneuvers such as self-rescue during week two. The real highlight of the session, however, comes in weeks three and four, when you learn the Eskimo Roll, a more advanced technique kayakers use to flip themselves over to cool off or to stay upright in rougher conditions. Getting soaked is guaranteed so a swimsuit, wet suit, or shorts and a T-shirt are recommended. 839 W Roosevelt Rd (630-336-7245, kayakchicago.com). Sessions start monthly through May, with the next one kicking off Jan 30. $45 per class or $170 for a four-week progression.
Life’s a beach
If some of your favorite summer days were spent bumping, setting and spiking at the nets on North Avenue Beach, you’ll dig North Beach Chicago’s year-round sand volleyball setup. Cocktails and brews from the three in-house bars—including one tiki room—keep up the spring-break vibe, along with a video-and-table-game arcade, bowling lanes, billiards and a mechanical bull. The club’s two full-size indoor courts can be reserved by the hour, for a party or as part of one of the Chicago Sport and Social Club’s coed leagues. 1551 N Sheffield Ave (312-266-7842, call 312-335-9596 for league information). $50 per hour.
It’s a real dive
Not even in the dog days of summer can Lake Michigan’s chilly waters compare to the comfort of Underwater Safaris’ 86-degree in-store pool. Gear up for a class to get scuba certified and you’ll spend half of your time plunging in the pool and the other half in a classroom learning about the safety and science behind diving. Once you pass a written test, you’ll have to wait until May to complete the four required open-water dives, which generally take place at the Haigh Quarry near Kankakee. 2950 N Lincoln Ave (773-348-3999, uwsafaris.com). $200–$300 per course.
Ace of clubs
Like a biosphere for summer sports, the Sport Zone Dome complex puts a roof over a whole range of summer action, including golf, soccer, baseball and more. While your golf buddies wait for the spring thaw to arrive, give your swing a leg up at the Dome’s indoor driving range, open December through April. It’s reported to be the area’s largest, but the heated tees are the real draw, making it easy for die-hards to re-create a mild summer day on the green, even during the coldest months. Unfortunately, the golf complex is only open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm, so you’ll need a clever excuse to ditch work. 100 Business Rte 30, Aurora (630-820-8624, sportzonepark.com/indoorgolf.html). $7–$15 per bucket of balls.
Sun and surf
You’ll have to wait until late February to body surf the wave pool at KeyLime Cove, but once the new resort opens, the Gurnee attraction will be one of the region’s largest indoor water parks. Spanning 65,000 square feet, the park will boast two 500-foot-long water slides, two giant tube slides and rides and activities to suit every pace: Go with the flow on a relaxing, lazy-river tube ride or stay sporty with games of volleyball, basketball and lap swims in the activity pool. The only catch to this balmy paradise is that to use the water park, you have to stay at the resort and that doesn’t come cheap: Rates start at $169 a night. 1700 Nations Dr, Gurnee (877-360-0403, keylimecove.com).