Have a Ball Blastin’ Good Time at Under the Big Top!

Over the last few months, my son has been sick, to the doctor, and pretty much miserable. He caught multiple colds and was stuck in the house, and all he really wanted to do was visit Under the Big Top in St. Charles. Seriously. Weekend after weekend he kept asking to go, and weekend after weekend he continued to be sick. Sad smile Finally his sickies left him and we were able to hang out at Under the Big Top recently. I had one very happy little boy.

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Under the Big Top is a family entertainment center with laser tag, indoor go karts, a ball blaster arena, and arcade with party rooms, a bistro, and a prize area for the kids. The main reason my son wanted to go so bad is the Ball Blaster Arena. It’s a 3-story “big top” tent with ball blasting cannons, slides, ramps…and is basically awesome.

Under the Big Top-Ball Blaster

Another highlight of our recent trip to Under the Big Top was the Indoor Go-Karts. In fact, it was my son’s very first time riding in a go-kart. I thought he’d be a little scared, but he totally loved it. He was very chill about it actually. The track itself is a pretty good size, and I liked that the attendant asked us if we wanted to take it a little slow (since my son is only 4). I appreciated her thoughtfulness, for sure!

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The arcade games were really fun too. Under the Big Top uses a card system for game play (no tokens required) and there were games that catered to a variety of ages. Our favorites? The motorcycles!

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If you played any games, don’t forget to pick out some prizes on your way out. We hardly had any tickets (probably just around 100) and he was able to pick out a few candies.

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Overall we had a really great afternoon at Under the Big Top in St. Charles. A few things you should know before you go:

  • The cost to only play in the Ball Blaster Arena is $7.95. The indoor go-karts and a game of laser tag are $6.50 each. You can put as much as you want on your game card.
  • They have a pretty decent snacks menu (appetizers, pizza, burgers, sides and desserts).
  • They offer free WiFi and have 5 or 6 couches near the Ball Blaster Arena. So parents – bring your laptop, or browse Facebook on your phone!
  • Bring socks if you plan to play in the Ball Blaster Arena. They do offer some for sale if you forget to bring a pair.
  • Under the Big Top is located at 731 N. 17th Street in St. Charles, IL, near Randall Road and Dean Street.

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The New Little Beans Café is ALL Fun & Games #LBEvanston

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A new kids’ play space will be opening in Evanston on Friday and the northern suburbs are in for quite a treat! My family had an opportunity to take a sneak peek at the all new Little Beans Café in Evanston, and we were absolutely blown away.

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Located in a former grocery store building, this new play space offers the same great playspace as their Chicago location, the Little Beans Village (a play area for kids 0-6 years), plus SO MUCH MORE! The new Little Beans Café is such an amazing venue, and after 3 full hours of play, my son did not want to leave.

So what is the Little Beans Café?

Little Beans Café and Family Activity Center is an imaginative playspace, recreational center and café targeted to kids 0-12 years. They offer drop-in play for kids 0-6 years in the Little Beans Village, and for kids 5-12 years in the Big Beans play area. There’s also classes, events, camps, birthday parties and more. At the Little Beans Café, kids have the freedom to play, learn, imagine, and create in their custom interactive indoor playgrounds, while parents and caregivers can enjoy an upscale ambiance, delicious coffee, and a large selection of food.

Highlights of the Little Beans Café

Camp-themed imaginative play village.

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Little Beans Village |Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

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Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

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Infant Room

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Ninja Warrior-themed obstacle course.

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Ninja Warrior Course | Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

Half court gym for games.

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A Karaoke room and lots more!

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Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

Located at 430 Asbury Avenue, the new Evanston location is all set to open to the general public this Friday, February 13th. Drop-in play is $12 per child, with a discount available for siblings. Stop by and take advantage of this wonderful new playspace – your kids will love it!

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Indoor Play Space: Ball Factory in Naperville, IL

Winter break is almost over, and if you’ve exhausted all of the nearby holiday light displays and neighborhood light shows, you might be looking for another spot to let the kids run wild – and a place where you can come out of the cold!  Why not try the Ball Factory in Naperville?  I visited the Ball Factory a few months ago with my son and, at the time, he cried and cried because he really did not want to leave.  I’m thinking that now’s a great time to take him back for some ball jumpin’ fun!

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Ball Factory Naperville is a safe, clean, and stimulating environment for physically active children aged 12 and under to play and explore.  As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by the massive multi-story play structure.  This, my friends, is the reason my son did not want to leave (and I had to drag my overweight self inside this thing to get him to come out).

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The first play area at Ball Factory is designed for smaller kids, although my son did have a bit of fun here too.  The soft play area is for kids up to age 4 so we weren’t breaking any rules by playing here. Smile

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I loved how Ball Factory’s open play area ensured children’s safety, while challenging them to reach, think, interact, explore, and have fun.  Although pulling my son out of this when it was time to leave was not fun for ME…

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All joking aside, Ball Factory has so much more to offer than this one huge play structure.  There’s the Ball Launcher Room…

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The Riding Toys and Pedal Cars Area…

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A café area with lots of seating…

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And the best part of the café?  GELATO!

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Overall, we had an absolute blast at the Ball Factory in Naperville.  And with a week left on winter break, I think that’s exactly where we will go.

Know Before You Go

    • Enjoy coffee, snacks, free WiFi, magazines, and a game of pool in the Parents Lounge.
    • Socks are required for play and are available for purchase at the front desk, should you forget.
    • The restrooms are very clean, with kid-sized toilets and sinks too!
    • Please check the Ball Factory website for hours and pricing, as costs vary by age and day of the week.

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Schaumburg, IL: Yu Kids Island

Normally, if you told me that there was a fantastic place for kids to play located in what is probably the busiest shopping mall in the northwest suburbs I’d be like…thanks, but no thanks.  I’d rather do anything else than hang out at a crowded mall.  But, considering that I have a teenage daughter, it should be no surprise that I just can’t escape the shopping mall mecca that is Woodfield.  Thankfully, to hang out at Yu Kids Island, it’s totally worth it.

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Yu Kids Island is an indoor playground for younger kids (less than 48” tall) that’s filled with brightly colored soft play structures that they can climb over, play on, and have a blast.  We’ve been there a handful of times now (purchased admission through a Groupon offer – be sure to check before you go, they tend to offer them often) and my toddler has loved it every single time.

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The carousel-type structures are a huge hit with him because they move really slow.  He’s not a fan of regular carousels so these slow ones were perfect for him to enjoy.  I loved the fact that they are made with a soft plastic material and the ground underneath is also padded – making me less worried about serious accidents.

Yu Kids Island Indoor Playdround for Kids in Schaumburg, IL

My son also loved the toddler play area, located in the rear of the space.  It’s a sectioned-off area with a few soft toys, soft blocks, and bouncy balls.  He loves building with blocks – any blocks – and these soft ones are a ton of fun to knock over!

Yu Kids Island Indoor Playdround for Kids in Schaumburg, IL

By far, though, my son’s favorite part of Yu Kids Island are the two large loft areas with balloons and fans that blow the balloons all around.  He can – literally – play here for hours.

Yu Kids Island Indoor Playdround for Kids in Schaumburg, IL

Parents (even helicopter moms like me) will feel comfortable letting your child explore the environment and play.  But please supervise your children as the employees tend to turn a blind eye to the more aggressive kids.

**Helpful Tip:  Don’t forget your socks!  Socks are required for both parents and kids in the play area.  The good thing is, if you do happen to forget them, Yu Kids is located right next to Sears so you can quickly pick some up!

Yu Kids Island also has a small cafeteria area with snacks and drinks for purchase.  The back of the space has a small, private area for birthday parties, too.  Check the website for pricing details.

Overall, Yu Kids Island is the perfect respite from the cold, arctic winter weather in Chicago and a great way to spend a few hours with the kids…while the teenager shops her heart out at the mall.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, it was simply a family outing I wished to share.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Chicago with Kids: Jumps n Jiggles

Venue: Jumps n’ Jiggles

Website: http://www.elkgroveparks.org/JumpsNJiggles/

Location: 1000 Wellington Avenue, Elk Grove Village, IL  60007.

Hours: Mon – Fri: 10:00am – 2:00pm

Admission: Children 1 and over: $3.50; Adults and Tots (0-12 mo) are FREE.  (Admission includes entrance to Jumps n’ Jiggles and unlimited rides in the carousel.)

Parking: Jumps n’ Jiggles is located in the Elk Grove Village park district building.  Parking is free and plentiful.

Jumps n Jiggles Elk Grove Village

About: Jumps n’ Jiggles is an indoor playground, featuring a maze of tunnels, a spiral slide, the Kiddy Hawk helicopter, the bouncing YoYo Ball, a Cobra Copter and the flying GyroCopter.  It is recommended for children under the age of 10.

Our Experience: I’m always looking for new play spaces to visit with my toddler.  I read about Jumps n’ Jiggles somewhere and thought it was worth checking out.  Honestly, I almost missed the building because I had no idea that it was located in the giant Elk Grove Village park district building and only figured it out when I saw the carousel behind one of the windows of the building.

The price for this attraction is really budget-friendly (at only $3.50 per child), but you should know that what you see in the picture above is basically it.  In front of the large play structure were some toddler toys and a slide, and the adjoining room holds the beautiful carousel.  I would only plan for an hour-long visit to Jumps n’ Jiggles, an adequate amount of time for the kids to burn some energy and ride the carousel to their heart’s content.

However, be aware that the platforms on the play structure for my 2.5-year-old and my friend’s 3-year-old to climb.  Looking back, I should’ve worn my yoga pants (instead of the jeans I had on) because in order for the kids to be able to go down any of the slides I had to pull them up all the platforms and followed them through all the tunnels.  And, trust me, the plastic on the platforms is hard, and I came home to discover a few bruises on my knees. Sad smile

Jumps n Jiggles Tunnels

Yep – I climbed through there too!

The kids did have a good time, though, since I was able to climb through the whole structure.  So, if you’re planning on visiting with small kids, be prepared to have some playtime of your own.

The carousel at the Elk Grove Park District was lovely.  The carousel (located in the pavillion) also has a bench for those kids that don’t like to ride the horses (like mine!).

Jumps n Jiggles Carousel

There are plenty of tables surrounding the carousel, so pack a lunch and watch the carousel spin round & round!  You can also book private parties here for up to 100 people!

Overall, the kids had a good time playing at Jumps n’ Jiggles.  It’s a great rainy day, low-cost activity.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring your socks!  Socks are required for play at Jumps n’ Jiggles.

Chicagoland Spots: Monkey Joes in Crystal Lake

Venue: Monkey Joe’s

Website: http://www.monkeyjoes.com/

Location: 6250 Northwest Highway, Suite B, Crystal Lake, IL.  Located near the intersection of Northwest Highway (US Route 14) and South Main Street.

Hours: M-Th: 10:00am – 5:00pm; F-Sa: 10:00am – 8:00pm; Su: 11:00am – 6:00pm

Admission: $9.99 per child ages 3 and up, $5.00 per child ages 2 and under, adults are free.  Party packages are also available.

Parking: Free – plentiful

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Our Experience:  Monkey Joe’s is a fun-filled inflatable play center.  It looks pretty unassuming from the outside, nestled next to a giant Hobby Lobby, but the Crystal Lake location has a total of 7 GIANT inflatables for the kids to enjoy.  Two of them, located towards the front of the play space, are designated for kids 3 and under so my son spent most of his morning there.

This was taken in one of the toddler inflatables.  The bottom was covered in animals that the kids could crawl over.

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Word of advice:  If you’re headed to Monkey Joe’s on a weekend, be sure to get there early and stay till lunchtime.  We got there right when they opened (10:00 am) on a Saturday and practically has the place to ourselves for a little while, but by lunchtime, the place was packed!

See – our coats were the only ones hanging.

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By the time we left (a little after noon), people that were arriving were waiting for an available hanger.

There’s also a small play area for kids under the age of two – helpful if you have a little one that isn’t quite old enough to enjoy the inflatables.  We kicked back in this little room for a bit.  There’s also a big flat screen TV right next to this area for mom or dad to enjoy while the kids play.

Monkey Joes_Toddler Area

Overall, our $5 was well-spent at Monkey Joe’s.  We spent a good couple of hours there and my son didn’t even want to leave for lunch.

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A few more helpful tips:

  • Don’t forget to bring socks!
  • Monkey Joe’s serves food and drinks, but you can’t bring in your own (they’ll make you leave it at the door).
  • Party packages are available – there were quite a few parties going on while we were there.
  • Free WiFi is available so bring your tablet or laptop if your child is old enough to explore on their own.
  • If you have smaller kids, be sure to wear comfortable clothes!  You WILL be dragged to a few of the larger inflatables and asked to climb up.  My son just had to slide down the pirate ship slide and guess who got to go along for the ride!  Good times!
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