From axe-throwing to skydiving, these thrill-seeking activities will certainly have your pulse racing.
Chicago is a city full of energy and enthusiasm. It’s a city will an abundance of possibilities and a population who are eager to balance work and play. This year is most certainly a year to be filled with activities, events, and experiences of all kinds.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker who’s been denied your fill of adrenaline or you’re keen to get out there and make up for all the moments you’ve missed out on by braving something new, here we’ve rounded 15 adventurous adrenaline activities for thrill-seekers to do in and around Chicago.
1. Learn to skydive in Chicago
Of all the popular do-before-you-die activities and extreme sports, there can be few that rival the adrenaline you get from jumping out of a plane. Now, this isn’t a nonchalant push to plummet thousands of feet towards the planet’s surface, but Chicago is in fact home to two state-of-the-art centers that can give you a good taste of what it is like.
With both an iFly Indoor Skydiving Center in Lincoln Park and a second iFly Indoor Skydiving Center in Rosemont, there are two conveniently-located cutting-edge centers here in Chicago where kids and adults can get a taste of being 12,000+ feet up in the sky.
If the experience has you wanting more you can test your vertigo above Chicago’s iconic skyline at Skydive Chicago, one of the world’s largest skydiving resorts
2. Brave the Chicago TILT
Another way to test your vertigo can be found 1,000 feet up on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center above the famed Magnificent Mile. Breathtaking 360-degree views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline are far from the only thing on offer here.
The 360 Chicago Observation Deck is also the home of TILT, dubbed Chicago’s highest thrill ride and the first of its kind in the world. Buckle into an enclosed moving platform that literally TILTS you out over Michigan Avenue from the 94th floor and brave the 1000+ ft drop staring back up at you.
3. Try your hand at axe throwing
Back down at a non-nauseating height, a new exhilarating experience offers the opportunity to travel back in time rather than up among the clouds. Chicago’s newest Axe Throwing Experience offers five lanes for you to test your inner Viking and feel what it was like with a lot more primitive form of combat.
Blow off some steam and enjoy a signature cocktail or a bucket of beers in the bar and lounge area after!
4. Kayak down Chicago River
With the warm weather meaning there is no better place to be than out on the water kayaking offers a unique and exhilarating way to see the city from a different angle. Kayaks and paddleboards can be rented from various operators at both Monroe Harbor and Chicago Riverwalk locations but it is the river the most unique experience can be found.
Flanked on either side by Chicago’s famous highrise architecture, you can venture through the city’s heart via skyscraper canyons and under its historic bridges. An evening kayak makes for a truly memorable night navigating the waters while the sun sets and the hustle and bustle of the riverwalk activity takes off around you.
Single kayaks, tandem kayaks, and kayaking tours are all available, allowing you to navigate Chicago’s winding river at whichever pace you desire. Learn about the sights with a tour guide or explore the river independently and see where it takes you.
5. Jet ski across Lake Michigan
It will cost you a little more than kayaking but if you’re eager to turn up the heat and you’re happy to dip a little further into your pocket, jet skiing offers a guaranteed thrill.
There’s nothing quite like gliding along the surface of Lake Michigan with the Chicago skyline in view. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner it is always a fun time and requires very little experience to be enjoying yourself to the max.
As well as providing hours of fun jet skiing burns calories, boosts bloody circulation, and improves balance and coordination without even you even realizing.
A number of places along the lake rent jet skis from spring through fall.
6. Hit the gas at a go-karting track
If upping the pace and racing your mates is what tickles your fancy, you’ll find few better extreme sports than go-karting. An exhilarating, fun-filled activity you can enjoy with friends, family, and co-workers, go-karting provides adrenaline, competition and a hell of a lot of fun.
Zipping around a racetrack at speeds of 45 miles per hour accelerating past stragglers produces endorphins and that ‘post-workout elation’ so whether you come first or last you’re likely to be leaving your kart with a racing heart and a smile from ear to ear.
Modern go-karts feature seatbelts, a roll bar, and impact protection systems making it a very safe sport to do with any age. Two K1 speed locations in Chicagoland can be found in Buffalo Grove and Addison. Both of these offer world-class indoor gokarting venues with high-performance electric karts so you can fo anytime of the regardless of weather like rain, snow, sleet, or blistering heat.
7. Unleash your fury at a Rage Room Experience
Purge Rage Rooms at Kanya Lounge offers an exclusive 2-story adult playground with 3 unique custom-made rage rooms where you can let out any pent-up stress that has built up over the last couple of year. The exhilarating experience and ultimate stress reliever has been designed for the ultimate destruction! After your Rage Room Experience cocktails and beers await so you can enjoy a room designed for destruction and then kick back with a drink after you’re done.
8. Scale North America’s tallest indoor climbing wall
Chicago is a fantastic place for both climbing enthusiasts and complete beginners who want to test themselves at climbing for the first
time. Within Maggie Daley Park sits a stunning outdoor climbing wall spread out across nearly 20,000 square feet with
walls reaching 40ft high. A stone’s throw from here, however, the company that operates the Maggie Daley Park wall also operates North America’s tallest indoor climbing wall found at Lakeshore Sports & Fitness’ Illinois Center.
Recently reopened, stairs spiral up around this monolithic wall that towers over the center’s atrium. Either hire an instructor to show you the ropes or take a safety test for experienced climbers and immediately attempt scaling the wall. Shoes, harnesses, and equipment are all available to rent.
9. Test a flyboard on Lake Michigan
A stone’s throw from North America’s tallest indoor climbing wall and a wealth of possibilities for thrill-seekers can be found at Monroe Harbour. In addition to jet skis there are speedboats, sailboats, paddleboards, and all kinds of water sports waiting to be enjoyed here. A completely incomparable experience, however, that is sure to please the most excitable of extreme sports enthusiasts, can be had on a FlyBoard.
What might appear to be some kind of futuristic concept only seen in the movies, is in fact, very easily experienced down on Chicago’s
lakefront. At Chicago Water Sport Rentals you can arrange lessons with a knowledgeable instructor. Kit yourself out with a helmet and a GoPro camera before trying your best to operate this future-forward revolutionary means of travel. There are both FlyBoards and JetPacks now rentable at Monroe Harbour.
10. Take a helicopter tour
Of course, as you probably guessed, you’ll have to dip into your pockets a little deeper for this experience but there’s absolutely no denying the memories and adrenaline a helicopter ride above Chicago offers. Gliding over the sensational skyscrapers that make up Chicago’s iconic skyline and seeing the city from above might cost a little more than the others, but it will live in the memory forever.
11. Check out the largest outdoor adventure park in North America
A short drive down to Lemont and you’ll The Forge: Lemont Quarries. While it might not be in the center of Chicago, after opening in 2020 the 300-acre park is now touted as North America’s largest outdoor adventure park and so rightly deserves a spot on this list.
Featuring nearly 300 aerial elements for daredevils of all ages the most exciting experience is offered by Eight Towers Adventure — the largest aerial challenge in the country. Over two miles of zip lines, a mountain biking skills course, a pump track, a bouldering zone, and several climbing walls with numerous routes that vary in difficulty mean that there is something for everybody.
12. Battle your buddies at Chicagoland’s premier paintball theme park
Located under 40 minutes outside of the city center at Santa’s Village Amusement Park in East Dundee, Paintball Explosion is Chicagoland’s premier paintball theme park. The state-of-the-art paintball park is home to several different paintball zones including movie-quality sets modeled after popular Call of Duty maps such as Nuketown.
Complete with test dummies and authentic vehicles, the nostalgic maps from the most successful FPS franchise ever can be used for a variety of paintball game styles as well as Airsoft and Laser Tag. There is of course also a bar & grill chillout area to snack and relax in between games.
13. Jump around at Altitude Trampoline Park
Though it might seem like something more suited for kids’ parties, Altitude Trampoline Park is a thrill-seekers paradise fit for all ages. There are specific 21-and-over nights for those who want to explore the 14 high-energy attractions across 33,000 square feet without the limitations and risk of small ones running underneath.
From a wipeout course to a trapeze swing, log rolls, and a climbing wall all situated above foam pits, the cutting-edge attractions are ready-made for the excitable and energetic among us.
There are also Trampoline Basketball hoops for some superpowered slam dunks and an Extreme Dodgeball court for some dynamic dodges.
14. Give Whirlyball a whirl
While everyone knows football, basketball, and baseball, we can sometimes forget the many, truly odd sports out there in the world. In Italy, there’s the handball, rugby, and MMA hybrid of Calcio Storico. In Japan, there’s the extreme, capture-the-human-flag-style game of Bo-Taoshi, and in Chicago, there’s Whirlyball.
If ESPN The Ocho were a real channel, chances are you could catch Whirlyball on there, probably on weekend nights. The game involves elements of lacrosse, hockey, and basketball, as well as — you guessed it — bumper cars. Arriving at your court, you will be greeted by your referee who will give you the rundown on the rules and safety.
You’ll then select your scoop, hop in your WhirlyBug and attempt to launch the Wiffle ball at the target in order to score a goal for your team. Sounds bizarre? It is, but we promise in a few minutes you’ll be all smiles. Whirlyball has locations in Chicago, Vernon Hills, Brookfield, and Naperville.
15. Glide and glimmer around a Chicago ice rink
This one is, of course, limited to certain times of the year but if you’re somebody full of energy and enthusiasm a guaranteed good time can be had on one of Chicago’s winter ice rinks. Look out for them from November through March each year.
There’s no better way to glide into winter than with some winter skating. Though ice rinks in Millennium Park and Rosemont offer wonderful skating experiences there are none quite like the Maggie Daley Park ice rink.
One of Chicago’s best winter-time activities, the Maggie Daley ice rinks offers an “alpine in the city” experience skating down a quarter-mile rink in the heart of Chicago. The winding ribbon of ice curves up and down around the 40-foot climbing wall with the city’s stunning skyline in the backdrop. It’s a must for anybody in Chicago during winter and it’s also free Monday-Thursday if you bring your own skates!
More information can be found here.
[Featured image from Shutterstock]