ESPN Zone's Chicago location is now closed.
If you ask my sons their most perfect combination of activities,
it goes something like this: sports, food and video games.
Chicago's ESPN Zone provides all three, making kids happy while
still maintaining a grown-up vibe, which keeps parents happy. We
spent a recent Sunday evening playing games and enjoying football,
hockey and golf before finishing the night with a good meal.
Not knowing what to expect, my 7-year-old thought he'd gone to
heaven when he climbed the stairs to find himself immersed in the
video-arcade mecca that is ESPN Zone's Sports Arena. All of the
games operate with game cards instead of tokens. You can buy cards
at various price levels, allowing kids to go from game to game
without spilling tokens everywhere. For $25 each, my sons had
enough points to play anything they wanted for almost 90
All of the games are sports-themed, from traditional pop-a-shot
basketball to motion-activated motorbike races. My 9-year-old could
have spent all night beating up on the life-size moving hockey
goalie in the puck shooting game. Some of the games, especially car
racing, were too difficult for young kids to operate, but after a
couple false starts, my boys figured out their favorites.
The game room has a full-service bar so kids and grown-ups can
grab a drink while they play. You can even order food from the bar,
but we opted for dinner in the restaurant. My kids loved the giant
screen and personal monitors at each table that allowed them to
control the video and sound feed to our booth. Touch-screen
technology has come a long way and my kids took full advantage.
The activity-based kids' menu has a good selection of pint-sized
pub foods, each accompanied by a choice of fries, apples with
caramel or veggies and dip. The dinner menu also offers delicious
fresh salads. Don't miss the cheese fries, which, my son says, "are
the best cheese fries I've had in my entire life."
The restaurant gets very crowded for "big" games, so you may
want to consider that when deciding what time to sit down.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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