By Robert, aged 14:
During the recent summer holidays my family and I decided not to exercise and get a typical summer body. Instead we opted to go to America so our physique could resemble the jellybeans we learnt about on the Jelly Belly factory tour in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin (about an hour and a half from our base in Chicago). But whilst we gained pounds (and lost them at the currency exchange), the week we spent in Chicago was brilliant. I’ve been asked the question “What was your favourite bit?” multiple times since we got back from and every time I’ve replied with the same answer: “The escape room.”
The Escape Game
I’d been to three escape rooms in my life previous to this Chicago holiday and I had loved going every time. The one we went to in Chicago was run by the company The Escape Game. On offer at the venue we visited were five different experiences which varied in difficulty: Gold Rush, Mission: Mars, Special Ops: Mysterious Market, Prison Break and of course my favourite of all the ones I’ve done: The Heist. Unlike any escape room that I’ve partaken in before, this one actually had a proper storyline. Before we started, we were shown a video explaining our situation (that we were proving a dodgy art dealer to be a fake by stealing a painting) and this really made the next hour more exciting and fun.
The rooms themselves were immaculately designed, they actually looked like what they were meant to be: a gallery, an office. There were no clues or objects that seemed out of place, which really made you feel like you were in the story. Also, in the British escape rooms that I’ve been to there have been many worn out props or creased laminated pages of which their sole purpose was to be a clue. The clues and rooms at The Escape Game were all in great condition, there were absolutely no puzzles that were just simply written on pieces of paper.
We managed to escape the room with under three minutes to spare and having only used about six prompts or clues – which we used almost all in haste during the last few minutes! Unlike the typical “find some numbers and open up a cupboard with a padlock” puzzles which we were used to, The Heist would reveal something after we completed a sequence. An object or clue would appear on the floor or the table without us doing anything so it was really cool.
Overall I thought the whole thing was genius and I ended up repeating “that was so cool” over and over for the majority of the day! The storyline and unique puzzles made the experience thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced and exciting. There were multiple times (which I can’t mention in detail or else it will spoil them) that were outstanding and we keep talking about. I hope that, without mentioning anything about the clues or puzzles, I have conveyed how awesome this escape room was as we all thought it was brilliant and would definitely go back again. If only it wasn’t so far away….
The Escape Game Chicago is located in River North and costs $35.99 per player, although there are often offers if you look out for them!
City Mini Golf
Another unique experience that we all really enjoyed was playing a round at City Mini Golf which is located in the beautiful Maggie Daley Park. The crazy golf course started off as a popup created by school teacher Rob Long, but then it became so popular that it has now become a permanent attraction at the park and was voted Chicago’s #1 Miniature Golf Course.
Rob – who we actually met on the day that we went to have a game – makes all the holes himself and every year he expands the designs of the less exciting one. He told us that he already has many ideas for this winter meaning if you visit it will be even better than we went – and we really enjoyed it! The setting for the game is lovely, with greenery all around you in the park and an open view of the amazing Chicago city skyline.
The holes themselves were extremely innovative and unique as we had to putt the ball through or around intricately made models of Chicago landmarks: The Willis Tower, China town and even a miniature replica of Picasso’s Chicago Sculpture – as well as loads more.
I’ve been to quite a few mini-golf courses in my life and I’ve got to say that the NBA themed hole at City Mini Golf was one of the best I’ve ever played. You had to hit the ball up a ramp and land it in a basketball net which dropped it into tube facing the hole, it was so cool. At the end of the 18 hole course you get to put your ball into a game and if it lands in a certain place you win a free round. Out of the four of us we actually won this once meaning it’s not that hard to get another go at an already extremely good-value attraction. The balls were colourful and painted with designs, the holes were brilliantly crafted and overall it was a great place to come and have a fun time in Chicago.
City Mini Golf is located in the middle of Maggie Daley Park, just five minutes from the amazing Cloud Gate (the Bean)! It is open Monday-Thursday, and Sunday from 11-8 and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am-9pm. It costs $11 per person, but if you live locally, you can get a whole season pass for $32!