Mini golf. Putt-putt. Miniature golf. Goofy golf. Adventure golf. Shorties. No matter what you call it, you have a blast playing it. Most of Chicago’s mini-golf courses are pure, kitschy fun (we’re talking oversized dinosaurs, a Humpty Dumpty statue and glow-in-the-dark adventures) and are only open for a limited time each year. So sharpen your tiny pencils and head to one of our favorites, including a Pixar course coming soon to Navy Pier.
Pixar Putt at Navy Pier
Navy Pier is hosting Pixar Putt, the ultimate outdoor mini golf pop-up experience, May 28-Aug. 21. The 18 interactive holes are inspired by stories, characters and icons from Disney and Pixar's most beloved films, including Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Coco, A Bug's Life, Wall-E and Inside Out. Reservations are open and slots are expected to sell fast, so plan ahead.
Polk Bros. Park, 600 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier; Online: pixarputt.com/chicago
Bad news. Puttshack has removed cheating from the game with tech-infused balls and a new scoring system. The balls track 9 holes of gameplay and you earn or lose points based on your play. This game is recommended for ages 7 & up as the course can be quite challenging.
1828 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook; Online: puttshack.com
City Mini Golf
Started as a pop-up mini golf fun spot, City Mini Golf is now permanently located at Chicago favorite, Maggie Daley Park. The 18 holes of whimsical nods to Chicago culture are located at the south end of the BP Bridge where golfers are treated to those fabulous skyline views the entire game. Open as of Apr. 2 through Oct.
Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St., The Loop; Online: cityminigolf.com
Diversey Miniature Golf
Still somewhat of a secret, even though it's in the heart of Lincoln Park, this charmer has 18 holes with footbridges and waterfalls. Snap family photos as you work your way through the all-ages course, then venture over to the adjacent Diversey Driving Range to hit a bucket of balls.
Diversey Driving Range, 141 W. Diversey Pkwy., Lincoln Park; Online: diversey.cpdgolf.com
Chicago's weather can be unpredictable, that's for sure. Come blizzard, rain or sweltering sun, Enchanted Castle's 9 holes of indoor glow-in-the-dark mini-golf makes the forecast a non-issue for year-round giggles.
1103 S. Main St., Lombard; Online: enchanted.com
The highlight of Bolingbrook's mini-golf hotspot is working your way to the top of the 40-foot-tall mountain and playing across a waterfall, while meandering past racing rapids and tip-toeing through Big Foot’s Cave. While you’re in the area, grab grub at Charlie’s Restaurant at the next-door Clow International Airport. The restaurant’s location and outdoor patio give an up-close view of the planes and helicopters taking off and landing on the runways.
145 S. Clow International Pkwy., Bolingbrook; Online: wildernessfalls.com
Mountain View Mine
Des Plaines Park District's Mountain View Mine is an 18-hole adventure mini-golf course with an old-timey mining town theme. You'll cruise your ball past creeks, bridges, rock formations, waterfalls, interesting artifacts and signs. Keep going back week-after-week as obstacles are moved around periodically, making no two games the same. Open as of Apr. 1.
510 E. Algonquin Road, Des Plaines; Online: dpparks.org
Salute Lady Liberty and Mount Rushmore, take the elevator to the top of the Willis Tower, visit Humpty Dumpty, cruise in a rocket ship and make it back home by bedtime. For putters over the 48-inch height requirement, Park-King is a mini-golf lover's dream, thanks to challenging and imaginative holes. Each hole is custom-made, hand painted and meticulously maintained.
21711 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire; Online: par-king.com
Novelty Golf and Games
This quirky venue—known locally as The Bunny Hutch because of the classic burger, hot dog and ice cream shop by that name located next door—has been the backdrop for happy childhood memories for generations. It's open April through mid-October and lures with two 18-hole courses, as well as batting cages, a vintage game room and an old-time photo booth. They are open for the season and masks are required at all times. Please note they are a cash-only business.
3650 W. Devon Ave., Lincolnwood; Online: noveltygolf.com
Addison Park District’s Links & Tees Golf Facility was recognized as one of the Top 50 Stand Alone Ranges in America. Its miniature course, Putter’s Peak, is operated in the same top-notch manner. This course is perfect for all ages and the mountain peak, waterfall, cave and tiki statues keep little putters captivated.
900 W. Lake St., Addison; Online: addisonparks.org
Another who-cares-about-the-weather indoor mini-golf spot is Space Golf's 18 holes featuring alien planets, giant robots, flying saucers and creatures from another world that all glow fluorescent. Wiggle your tush to music as lasers, motion projectors, hologram illusions and high-tech special effects create an unforgettable experience. If you're up for an extra challenge, slip on a pair of 3-D glasses that make your ball and scenery appear to float.
15611 S. 94th Ave., Orland Park; Online: space-golf.com
Skokie Sports Park Driving Range & Adventure Golf
The Skokie Park District runs two quality mini golf courses. Kids Quest is nine holes and great for little ones with short attention spans. They can ride on a jeep, climb on dinosaurs or go down a slide set. Traveler's Quest is an 18-holer that has a few more challenges (dips, swerves, water traps) and an international theme. Come prepared to putt your way through faux Roman ruins.
3459 Oakton St., Skokie; Online: skokieparks.org
Try for that elusive hole in one and show your kids a spooky good time on a course where Halloween is celebrated year 'round. A creature from the Black Lagoon, haunted house, Dracula’s castle, Frankenstein and blood-red water are just a few features you’ll find at this course, where even the ghostly garbage cans get in on the creepy. Save time for the go-carts, batting cages, carnival-style rides and game room.
7759 S. Harlem Ave., Burbank; Online: hauntedtrailsfun.com
Holes & Knolls
Located in Maryknoll Park and maintained by the Glen Ellyn Park District, Knolls and Holes is a hidden gem in the western suburbs. The course includes 18 or 36 holes of beautifully manicured mini golf and is surrounded by endless opportunities for family fun, so plan to stay for the day. They open for the season as of Apr. 22.
845 Pershing Ave., Glen Ellyn; Online: gepark.org
— Maria Chambers