Now that I'm officially the mother of a teenager (yikes!) I'm constantly on the lookout for fun activities that give us a chance to bond. I firmly believe that families that take the time to participate in fun new activities together are the families that experience (at least a little bit less) teenage drama. Here are five fun Chicago adventures that will give you a chance to laugh and play once again with your kid (trapped inside the body of a teenager).
Design a cool t-shirt, together with your kid at T-Shirt Deli, a new take on the delicatessen, where colorful t-shirts replace cold cuts in the display case. Pick your t-shirt from a wide selection of styles and colors and then choose from thousands of designs to customize your tee. You'll leave with a fashion statement of your very own, wrapped up in butcher paper and sealed in a doggie bag.
If you've ever dreamed of flying but aren't quite ready to jump out an airplane, here's your chance. iFLY is an indoor skydiving experience that uses a vertical wind tunnel and four powerful fans to give you true free fall conditions, just like skydiving. I set out with my son, Daniel, age 13, and his cousins Ashley and John, ages 13 and 16 on a quiet Sunday morning to check out this newest thrill. At the center of the facility lies the wind tunnel, a wall-to-wall air column.
When my instructor guided me into the wind tunnel, I simply leaned in, assumed the free fall position, relaxed, and let the wind lift me. It was amazing! There was no jumping or any sensation of falling, and you're able to breathe normally. You just ... float. It was an experience like no other - both Zen-like, hilarious and exhilarating all at once. My son, niece and nephew all had a blast, too. Initially a tad nervous, the qualified and gentle instructors put them at ease and coached them as they gained their confidence and took flight. No experience is required to give this a try, but you do need to be in general good health and physical condition for safety's sake, and there are a few more restrictions, too.
That said, as long as you meet all the general guidelines, kids and adults ages 3 - 100 can take flight at iFLY - we even saw some preschoolers hit the wind tunnel before us - and the entire facility is wheelchair accessible and can fly people with certain physical disabilities, too. It's the perfect challenge for everyone in your family: challenge yourselves and soar! For more information, visit chicago.iflyworld.com
Sail Lake Michigan on the Seadog
The Seadog is the fastest tour boat on Lake Michigan. Two-thousand horsepower of ferocious Seadog energy will both thrill and educate as you learn a thing or two (or three) about Chicago architecture. Hold on to your hats and experience the beauty of Lake Michigan at a faster pace.
TILT, an exciting, brand-new feature at 360 CHICAGO (formerly the John Hancock Observatory): step onto an enclosed glass and steel moveable platform (it holds up to eight visitors per cycle) and hold on as the platform slowly tilts outward to a 30 degree angle, giving you a downward-facing views of Chicago from one thousand feet above the Magnificent Mile.
Open every day from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (last ticket sold at 10:30 p.m.), you can save time by pre-purchasing tickets online at www.360chicago.com. 360 CHICAGO is located at 875 N. Michigan Avenue, between Delaware Place running East on the North side and Chestnut Street running West on the South side - at the top of Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Riding the fastest elevators in Chicago to the top is part of the fun!
Up Close and Personal with a Beluga
The Shedd Aquarium offers an amazing array of unforgettable marine animal encounters. Perhaps the most up-close-and-personal is the Beluga Encounter, guided by a Shedd trainer. Your teen will learn all about beluga whales as they wade into the waters of the Grainger Beluga Encounter Habitat. You'll even have a chance to be kissed by a Beluga!