4 Mini-Amusement Parks to Visit Now

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It’s safe to say you’ve conquered summer. From playing hard at the coolest playgrounds to checking out Chicago’s newest eateries, you’ve given summer all you’ve got. But, before the school bell rings give your kids one more adventure at a local amusement park. From a pirate-themed destination to an amusement park that’ll get you amped for Halloween, here’s where to go to end your summer with a bang.

photo: Haunted Trails


Haunted Trails Family Amusement Park
Fall is coming, but the monsters are already here. Get ready for a ghoulish good time at Haunted Trails Family Amusement Park where your kids can choose from two mini-golf courses, scream for joy on rides like the Dragon Coaster, Monster Hop or Bone Shaker or get their thrills on three go-kart tracks (there’s even a track specifically for kids as young as four years old). End your adventure by fueling up on homemade pizzas, specialty sandwiches wraps and fresh salads. 

Open: June-Aug. from Sun.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Cost: There is no admission fee, all attractions are pay as you play and cost $2-$6.50, with additional costs for tokens in the game rooms and batting cage rentals, see website for more details. 

1423 N. Broadway St. (Rt. 53)
Joliet, IL
Online: hauntedtrailsjoliet.com

kidpirates-cc-Michael Coghlan-flickrphoto: Kid Pirates by Michael Coghlan via flickr

Pirates’ Cove
Ahoy mateys! Pop on a pirate hat and sail on over to Pirates’ Cove for a pint sized magical journey. It’s all about staying active in this park and with the Barnacle Bay Paddle Boats, PJ’s Perch Climbing Area and the Pirate Plunge Fun Slide, it’s a pirate’s (active) life for your little ones. If you’re looking for a breather, take a relaxing ride on the Capitan’s Carousel and the Safari Express Train. As a special treat, Pirate’s Cove Movie Night is taking place at dusk (around 6:15 p.m.) on Friday, September 11, 2015 with a screening of the Disney classic, A Goofy Movie. 

Open: May 30-Aug. 16; Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tues. & Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Additionally they are open Sat. & Sun., Aug. 22-Sept. 13 & Mon., Sept. 7; noon-4 p.m.

Cost: Tickets starting at $11/non-resident child; $9/resident child; free for adults; check website for additional price information.

901 Leicester Rd
Elk Grove Village, Il
Online: elkgroveparks.org/Pirates_Cove

Donley's Wild West Town

photo: Donley’s Wild West Town by jacksonpe via flickr

Donley’s Wild West Town
Introduce your little city slickers to a little slice of the frontier. Pan for your own treasures at The Sweet Phylis Mine, practice some nice shootin’ at the pop gun gallery, take a whirl at the art of Tomahawk throwing and learn how to rope a steer like the pros. Of course, there will be plenty of time for pony rides and train rides. 

Open: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. everyday.

Cost: Tickets starting $17/person; free for children 2 & under; discount tickets available at select Walgreens.

8512 South Union Rd.
Union, Il
Online: wildwesttown.com


photo: Santa’s Village AZoosment Park by Martin Lewison via flickr

Santa’s Village and aZoosment Park
Come for the rides, stay for the animals. With 19 rides, this park is a kiddie dreamland. Your fam can take a swing on the pendulum of fun that is the Viking Sea Dragon, take a trip on two sweet coasters, have a whippin’ good time on a classic tilt-a-whirl, and visit the ferris wheel and space adventure built specially for the kiddos. If fuzzy creatures are more your pace, meet new animal friends on Tortoise Island, pet the bunnies hopping through the park, strike a pose with slinky snakes and take a relaxing pony ride. Don’t forget to visit the Alaskan Railway, which goes through the Caribou Crossing animal exhibit to get your little ones up-close and personal with the reindeer, bobcats and foxes. 

Open: Aug. 10-14 & 17-21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Aug.-Oct., Sat. & Sun, Sept. 7 & Oct. 12, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Cost: Tickets starting at $22.75/person, plus tax; $16.75/senior (65 & up) & veterans, plus tax; $18.75/person, plus tax for Late Day admission, 3 hours before the park closes.

601 Dundee Ave.
East Dundee, Il
Online: santasvillagedundee.com

Do you have any tips on visiting these mini-amusement parks with your kids? Which one is your favorite? Leave us a comment below!

— Natasha Davis

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