Looking for a challenge? Zip, swing, paddle and climb at these suburban adventure parks

  • The 300-acre outdoor adventure park The Forge in Lemont features the largest aerial ropes course in North America, ziplining, mountain biking, kayaking and plenty more.

    The 300-acre outdoor adventure park The Forge in Lemont features the largest aerial ropes course in North America, ziplining, mountain biking, kayaking and plenty more. COURTESY OF THE FORGE

 
 
Updated 6/10/2021 9:52 AM

After a year of being cooped up in the house, a lot us could use an adventure this summer.

And adventure is just a short to medium (OK, maybe longish) drive away. But hey, it beats more time on the couch.

 

Here are three suburban options. Check for COVID-19 precautions and other updates before you go.

The Forge: Lemont Quarries

While the adventure park had the unfortunate timing of opening during the pandemic last July, The Forge offers plenty of thrills. The highlight of the 300-acre outdoor attraction is the Eight Towers Adventure, the largest aerial ropes course in North America. The Forge also features four overwater zip lines, mountain biking skills courses and pump tracks, flat water paddle sports (including kayaking, canoeing and pedal boats), a dedicated kids' zone, a bouldering zone, five miles of trails, as well as food service, a beer garden and an amphitheater for concerts.

The highlight of the The Forge: Lemont Quarries is the Eight Towers Adventure, the largest aerial ropes course in North America.
The highlight of the The Forge: Lemont Quarries is the Eight Towers Adventure, the largest aerial ropes course in North America. - COURTESY OF THE FORGE

It's also one of the few outdoor adventure parks in the country that accommodates disabilities and is accessible to all. New adaptive technology allows those with disabilities the opportunity to experience the Eight Towers Adventure course. The first level of Hex Tower 5 has a unique system of cantilever arms that allow differently abled guests to interact with the same course elements.

The East X Tower allows for guests to be elevated to the top of the 54-foot tower and transferred to the 1,000-foot-tall zip line, where they can then soar over The Forge Quarry.

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The Forge also offers single kayaks and canoes equipped with specialized seats, outriggers and adaptive handles with a specialized dock to transfer individuals from assistive devices to the water.

Info: Located at 1001 Main St., Lemont. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Activity prices vary, with $120 adventure pass available. www.forgeparks.com.

Go Ape!

Located in Western Springs, Go Ape offers outdoor adventures in the Bemis Woods Forest Preserves.

Zip lines as long at 553 feet can be enjoyed in the Treetop Adventure, a two- to three-hour aerial adventure ropes course featuring suspended obstacles, multiple zip lines and "Tarzan" swings.

Located in the Bemis Woods Forest Preserves in Western Springs, Go Ape's Treetop Adventure is a two- to three-hour aerial adventure ropes course featuring suspended obstacles, multiple zip lines and "Tarzan" swings.
Located in the Bemis Woods Forest Preserves in Western Springs, Go Ape's Treetop Adventure is a two- to three-hour aerial adventure ropes course featuring suspended obstacles, multiple zip lines and "Tarzan" swings. - Photo courtesy of Go Ape!, 2016
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A shorter, one-hour course that is appropriate for all ages is also available.

Back on the ground, visitors can check out one-hour outdoor ax throwing sessions. Instructors go over the technique, and participants can compete with friends and family in side-by-side lanes.

Info: 1100 Ogden Ave, Western Springs. Book timeslots and see individual prices at www.goape.com.

Richardson Farm

Adventures on the farm can be found in Spring Grove. But you will have to wait until the weekend after Labor Day.

Richardson Farm offers a 50-foot-high observation tower with a 750-foot zip line should you choose to eschew the stairs on the way down.

For those who prefer to stay at ground-level, there's the world's largest, most intricate corn maze, with more than 10 miles of twists and turns over 33 acres.

Ever been Zorbing? Zorbing involves rolling downhill in an 11-foot transparent plastic orb, akin to a human version of a hamster ball.

Info: 909 English Prairie Road, Spring Grove. Pricing and hours not yet available. Sign up for newsletter updates at richardsonadventurefarm.com.

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