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The 13 Best Ways To Feel Like A Kid Again In Chicago

By Staff in Best Of on Apr 1, 2015 9:00PM

Although we love the ability to stay up past bedtime, eat whatever we want (ice cream for dinner, anyone?) and enjoying a drink or 10, there are simple pleasures we miss from childhood. Sometimes you just want to spend the afternoon in an arcade, relive your days of piano and dance lessons or maybe even revisit those sweet class field trips to museums and the zoo.

Adulting is hard but thankfully we can ease the pain by sharing and enjoying a few favorite things to do in Chicago that make us feel like a kid again. From making adorable animal friends to adult versions of our favorite childhood classes, there is no reason you can't help but feel young in a city full of fun activities.

(Whirlyball/Photo: Facebook)

An Amped-Up Version Of Bumper Cars At Whirlyball
It seems like most of the items on this list combine some sort of adolescent activity with boozing and none does so more blatantly than Whirlyball. The bumper cars-lacrosse-basketball hybrid is a bizarre team sport that’s best enjoyed after warming up with a few drinks at the bar (conveniently located under the same roof). Whirlyball recently moved from its Fullerton Ave. location to a brand new facility nearby but the game (and the pre-game) remains the same. — Katie Karpowicz

Whirlyball is located at 1825 W. Webster Ave.

Enjoying Some Nature On Tap At The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
If you’re looking to wake up the more curious side of your inner child, look no further than Nature on Tap at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The last Tuesday of every month, from 6 to 9:30 p.m., this is an adults only event that includes admission to all exhibits, craft projects and a trivia game featuring a golden cockroach trophy for the winning team. You can walk through the butterfly room as well and enjoy a selection of local craft beer. Let your inner nerd child run wild in this awesome museum event for grown ups. — Sophie Day

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is located at 2430 N. Cannon Dr.

Learning A New Tune At Old Town School Of Folk Music
Get out that old violin/trumpet/drum kit you played when you were young and take it on up to the Old Town School of Folk Music. The school offers private lessons, ensemble classes and workshops to get you re-acquainted. Or maybe you’re interested in learning a new instrument. Who hasn’t always wanted to play a song on an accordion? Whatever your level or interest, the Old Town School’s likely got a class for you. — Michelle Meywes

Old Town School of Folk Music has two locations: 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. and 909 W. Armitage Ave.

(Steve the Sloth./ Photo: Lisa White/Chicagoist)
Meeting New Furry Friends With Flying Fox Conservation Fund
Last year, all I wanted for my birthday was to meet and hang out with a sloth. It was a lofty goal that proved fairly easy and affordable to obtain once I did some digging. Thanks to the the Flying Fox Conservation Fund, for one ridiculously fun afternoon my apartment became an exotic animal haven, a home petting zoo, for my (adult) friends and I to enjoy. FFCF is a non-profit aimed at preserving various flying fox breeds (what you would probably call a fruit bat) but founder Scott Heinrichs’ travels and experiences have dropped a variety of animals into his possession. A true professional and caring owner, Heinrichs provided my birthday party crew with educational information, up close and personal experiences and even selfies with a slew of his furry (and non-furry) friends which included a fennec fox, kinkajou, boa constrictor, armadillo and—of course—Steve the sloth. — Katie Karpowicz

Contact the Flying Fox Conservation Fund at 773-823-1466 or email them here.

Shopping For Toys At Toy De Jour
Nothing like toy shopping to make an adult tap into their inner kid and Toy de Jour is just the place. Beyond toys that are incredibly kooky and some that will send an adult straight back to the past (cue GI Joe, He-Man and the like), there are events that only sweeten the pot. The shop just celebrated their one-year anniversary that included performances and pure, unadulterated fun. Simply put, Toy de Jour gives adults an excuse to be a kid again. Their tagline is, “Vintage, Toys, Arts and Farts” … need I say more? When the stress of adulthood becomes just too much, get thee to Toy de Jour and unsheathe your inner kid: buy a toy, tell a fart joke and maybe even make another adult’s day with a unique surprise gift. — Carrie McGath

Toy de Jour is located at 2064 N. Western Ave.

Playing Ping Pong At Happy Village
If you’re looking for a cool bar to hang out where you can dominate some friends in table tennis like the days of rec room pasts, this pick is for you. Located in West Town, Happy Village has been a neighborhood favorite since the 1960s. Not only do they have a beer garden that was selected as one of the city’s best by Time Out Chicago, but Happy Village also features ping pong tables on the inside for those who want to get their competitive streak out. — Sophie Day

Happy Village is located at 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

(Pinball Chicago party at Logan Arcade by Bill Guerriero)

A Bevy Of Fun And Games At Logan Arcade
Arcade games, pinball, game tournaments and nerd-tastic screenings of sci-fi shows are just a couple of things that make Logan Arcade the ideal place to feel like a kid again. Time truly flies in this joint amid their oodles of games and activities that include pinball and Killer Queen tourneys, Dungeons and Dragons events, Doctor Who screenings and some seriously impressive magic by Justin Purcell starting at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays. And since you have to actually be an adult to go to Logan Arcade, you can act like a kid while enjoying their large beer selection and specialty cocktails. From Frogger and Burger Time, to Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, as well as pinball games spanning many eras, it’s like a playground for those 21 and over who aim to channel their inner teen. Just a few highlights include the classic pinball game, Medieval Madness and new Stern releases such as Walking Dead and Wrestle Mania as well as timeless classics like Ms. PacMan, Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers. —Carrie McGath

Logan Arcade is located at 2410 W. Fullerton Ave.

Learning Sweet Circus Moves At Trapeze School
Who didn’t go to the circus as a child and watch the trapeze swingers thinking, “I wish I could do that”? Well now you can! The Trapeze School New York's Chicago studio offers classes in awesome activities such as trapeze, silk, tight rope and trampolines. The classes offer folks the chance to not only work out but have a blast while doing it. We all know, as we get older, that exercising is more and more important while seeming less and less fun. Why not try your hand at one of these classes? Maybe next time the circus comes to town you can show them a thing or two. — Sophie Day

Trapeze School New York is located at 3158 Lakefront Trail.

Staring At The Stars At The Adler Planetarium
My last visit to the Adler was sparked by another activity that reminds me of being a kid: watching educational programing. I was sucked into Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey when it aired last winter and it renewed my love of learning about space. The Adler is every nerd-at-heart’s paradise, filled with exhibitions on lunar landings, telescopes and distant universes. But what really took me back to down field trip memory lane was seeing a show in the Sky Theater, a massive domed viewing screen where you look up and feel a rush as you travel through the stars. Now as an adult, one of the few downsides to living in a big, bright and beautiful city is that I rarely get to look up and see the stars, but a visit to the Adler brings me back to being a kid in the distant suburbs looking up at the stars. — Gina Provenzano

The Adler Planetarium is located at 1300 S Lake Shore Drive.

(The author with her new penguin friend./ Photo: Lisa White/Chicagoist)
Make Friends With A Penguin At The Shedd Aquarium
Petting zoos and class pets and other fun creatures were always a favorite part of my childhood. But with the responsibilities of adulthood, I barely have time to take care of myself, let alone a animal friend. Hell, I can't even keep a houseplant alive. But that doesn't mean I don't pine for the days of field trips where we'd get to meet all sorts of wild animals. Thankfully as an adult, I don't need a permission slip to be able to meet a new animal friend. I just head down to the Shedd Aquarium for one of their Extraordinary Experiences packages, my favorite being the penguin encounter. For $75 bucks and some change, you get a behind-the-scenes view of the Shedd, you get to hang out with an adorable penguin in a small group, you get to PET THE PENGUIN (!!!) and you get a complimentary photo as well. And you get full admission to the Shedd, so you can enjoy the aquarium after meeting your new best feathered friend. My boyfriend bought it for me as a birthday present and it still ranks up there as one of the best gifts ever. — Lisa White

The Shedd Aquarium is located at 1200 S Lake Shore Dr.

Twirling Away The Day At Dance Class
Believe it or not, the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance and Visceral Dance Center all offer recreational dance classes for adults. Whether you know your way around the barre, or want to want to learn to soutenu for the very first time, you’ll find a class at your level. Maybe ballet isn’t your thing, though. For those who would like to channel their inner Gregory Hines (tap) or Martha Graham (modern) instead of strapping on a tutu, each studio offers classes in different disciplines. Most classes are taught in sessions as opposed to drop-in classes, so check their websites to see what their policies are and how to sign up.— Michelle Meywes

Check the individual websites in our above pick for location information for each school.

Making Your Own Snack Time Option At The Chopping Block
When I get the urge to release my inner child, I like to get my hands dirty in a good cooking class. Chicago offers a wide variety in this area, from crafting macaroons to learning the secrets of perfect bread baking, but my favorite place to get food-learned is at The Chopping Block. The cooking school and retail store always have an array of options, from demonstrations to hands-on classes and even intensive boot camps. The Chopping Block offers classes suitable for everyone from beginner to intermediate levels and of all ages. The instructors are experienced and helpful, and they even have local chefs teach from time to time: Mindy Segal is teaching a cookie class on April 25. Most classes range in price from $50 to $80 and they offer wines or you can BYOB for a small corkage fee. Who doesn’t want to feel like a kid while drinking like an adult? — Erika Kubick

The Chopping Block is located at 4747 N Lincoln Ave and Suite 107 at the Merchandise Mart.

Shooting For A High Score At Emporium Arcade Bar
The phenomenon of the barcade has been on the rise in cities across the United States over the past few years, and it’s as more and more pop up it’s a wonder no one thought of this before! For a generation that grew up playing arcade games and pinball and now has embraced the diversifying of the craft beer market, what could be a better combination? Emporium's Wicker Park location (they also have one in Logan Square that focuses less on arcade games) has more than twenty craft beers on tap, as well as a great selection of stand alone games and pinball machines. — Sophie Day

Emporium Arcade is located at 1366 N Milwaukee Ave.