Ring Around the Rosemont

A quick day trip from Chicago and near O'Hare airport, Rosemont packs a lot into a small space.

At just 2.5 square miles and a population under 4,500, the Village of Rosemont makes up for size with its think-big attitude. Its new tag line says it best: “It’s All Here.” See what we mean.

Everything’s Rose-y

An iconic water tower, painted with an intricate red rose marks Rosemont’s spot adjacent to O’Hare International Airport. But we were humbly surprised to discover that this town northwest of Chicago offers more than a window-seat attraction. Feel like testing your own ability for flight? We dare you to try iFLY, an indoor experience that simulates skydiving (without the jumping out of a plane part); it’s wildly exhilarating, slightly terrifying and way more physically challenging than we expected (our shoulders were sore for days). It’s among an enclave of restaurants and bars that hug MB Financial Park, a spacious turf space hosting concerts, events like a sand volleyball tournament and energetic tots whose parents love the run-till-they-sleep potential. From Chicago, Rosemont is 20 minutes by car without traffic (which there always is), but the Blue Line El train travels it in 45 minutes where Rosemont’s Circulator shuttle makes stops till 2 am. Get event and destination details at www.rosemont.com.

Night Prowls

Rowdy, DJ-driven late nights are the rule at the ‘50s bowling palace-inspired Kings Lanes, Lounge & Sports. While the food is solid American (salads, burgers and sandwiches), the Big Ball cocktails for sharing—like the Raspberry Lime Rickey with citrus and raspberry vodkas, Chambord, lime juice, raspberry syrup and Sprite—will loosen up those bowling legs. At a classy outpost of Zanies Comedy Club, standups perform four nights a week, this month including Mary Lynn Rajskub from TV’s “24” and Ron Funchs of Disney’s “Crash and Bernstein.”

King's Lanes, Lounge & Sports

Sensory Feasts

MB Financial Park takes a Vegas-sized approach to dining with its sprawling spaces and kitschy themes. We say: Just go with it. Families find relief on kids-eat-free nights at Hofbrauhaus (Tuesdays) and Adobe Gilas (Wednesdays). Parents, the vibe turns single after 6 pm at Kings, so if your tots are curious about the retro bowling lounge’s signature shakes and burgers, visit dayside. For primo seating, hit Adobe Gilas’ second floor for park views, sizzling fajitas and fishbowls swimming with Three Olives vodka. Hofbrauhaus, the only German beer hall and microbrewery to call Chicagoland home, replicates the 400-year-old original in Munich. It gets into the Bavarian spirit big time: The tables shake and the crowds clap during the keg tapping ceremony (always attended by a celebrity); the beer is brewed on site; and the resident band Alpine Thunder can even yodel!

Shoppers’ Highs

The motherlode of retail, the Fashion Outlets of Chicago still has that new mall smell—and sheen—after being open a year. Hit the second floor for upscale indulgences (say, a Trina Turk caftan, Tory Burch gladiators or a Prada purse to enhance your Burberry trench for fall), and a champagne stop in the Gibsons wine bar. There’s no outdoor plaza here, but the mall “terrace” at Italian boite Villagio fakes it. If you need real fresh air, ask for a table on the patio overhang. On ground level, find the reliables—Nike, Gap Factory Store, Forever 21—alongside lesser-known, but super fun shops like candy store Lolli and Pop. Driving? Snag a spot easily by looking for the green lights, which turn red when you park.

The Old College Try

Around these parts, the Big 10 is a way of life; pandemonium; quite possibly a religion. And now, a new legacy: an interactive museum. With headquarters in the same building (next to Fogo de Chao), the Big 10 Experience captures key moments in the conference’s history via fun facts, stats (of course), photos, relics and video. From notable speeches to rivalry trophies, alumni walk down memory lane and can even pretend that they’re the athletes. Try “Game On,” a sensor-activated game that tests your puck-blocking, football-catching, soccer ball-stopping skills. If only the scouts had discovered us at 16 …