Monday, January 16, 2017

Activity: Brooklyn Boulders (Indoor Rock Climbing)

As the weather cools, it is great to have a place for kids to burn off energy...inside.

Brooklyn Boulders is a large indoor rock climbing facility with a variety of climbing options: bouldering, auto-belay, top-roping, and lead climbing. The facility also includes a workout area, yoga classes, and private party space (with private climbing wall).

First timer tips:

  • The routes on the wall are graded and color-coded. 
  • Bouldering starts at V0 and difficultly increases from there (V1, V2, etc). 
  • Climbing with belays start at 5.7 and get harder the higher the number (5.8, 5.9, 5.10, etc)

I only took our 6 year old, but saw kids of all ages scurring up the walls like little squirrels. My son loved it, but didn't last too long.


  • About 5 auto-belay options -- one is very easy, so a great starting point for new climbers.
  • They offer classes, packages, and membership options.
  • Highly recommend completing the online waiver before arriving at the venue.
  • Have locker rooms, free wifi, and cubbies for guests.
  • Received an email after our visit for a chance to return for $19/person (including gear!).

Cost Savings:

  • $36 includes daily pass ($25/person -- no child discount), plus gear ($11).
  • If climbing during off-peak hours, the daily pass price is reduced to $20/person.
  • See last bullet under noteworthy.
  • Would love to see a discount for kids pricing or a half-day pass rate to make pricing more accessible.

West Loop
While there are a few public transportation options available, we drove and were able to find free street parking pretty easily (there is not a parking area attached to the venue).

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
Loved it and would love to go back, if we find discounted rate options.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Suburb Activity: Northbrook Court Pop-ups

During the holidays, we trekked to Northbrook to see a few pop-up activities taking place: Age of the Dinosaurs and The Painted Penguin.

We had a blast! Northbrook is a great little mall with shopping (though we just browsed the LEGO store), movie theater, children's play area, and these two great pop-up stores!

Age of Dinosaurs was small in comparison to the Rosemont Discover the Dinosaurs event. However, it is brighter and more inviting. My younger son did not do well at the larger and darker Rosemont event, but was very comfortable at Age of the Dinosaurs -- there were little dinosaur themed activities and 6 types of dinosaurs, each one moved and the kids loved the dino babies.

The Painted Penguin is a pop-up painting activity - you select an item to paint (from small penguins or letters to medium-sized canvases. They provided all the materials, even a finishing glaze!


  • Age of Dinosaurs: can climb a triceratops and put your head in the T-Rex's mouth
  • Mall App: GGP Mall - provides locations of shops, events, and parking recommendations.

Cost Savings:

  • Each activity was inexpensive.
  • Dinosaurs: $6/ticket
  • Penguin: Varies based on item painted


  • Northbrook
  • Driving is recommended 

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
Kids had a good time.
I just wished for better food court style options for lunch.  Drive wasn't too bad!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Activity: Pinstripes $3 Bowling

Pinstripes is an upscale bowling, bocce, and bistro located near Navy Pier. They have great food, good service, and who can beat a $3 bowling deal for kids?

Check here for current deals and discounts, as we took advantage in 2016 (from 10-noon).

They prepare well for the kids, with 6 pound balls, automatic bumpers at their turn, and ball guide, and kids meals. They had a great time.


  • $1 adult beverages
  • $1 Desserts for the kids and each kid's meal includes a bread stick
  • Great lounge furniture and shoe holders; plenty of table space for food and drink
  • Valet does not start until noon. Learned this the hard way (luckily, spot hero is our favorite app)

Cost Savings:

  • Three dollar bowling
  • Discounted drinks and food

Streeterville, near Navy Pier
Several bus routes stop close to the facility.

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
Great time!