About a week and a half ago Chicago opened what the newspapers (or, at least, their online-but-local equivalents) are calling a playground for adults. Either the newspapers are unaware that “playground for adults” typically means Vegas—with it’s gambling, drinking, neon, Elvis impersonators, breasts-of-Elizabeth-Berkeley, and above all, taste—or they are entirely aware and hope that suggesting you can find those things locally will bring in a couple eyeballs.
But alas, those things aren’t available here in Chicago. (Except the Saved by the Bell boobies, but frankly, where can’t you get those?) The papers were talking more literally—an actual playground, with monkey bars and stuff, but for adults.
I went to it over the weekend.
First off, and this isn’t its fault, it’s far away. Specifically, it’s on the lakefront path at about 39th South, which is 3/4 of a city away from where I live. Not a problem, really-I knew what I was getting into, and planned for a decent bike ride as part of the day, but it’ll inhibit me from going back. (Another way in which this isn’t a problem: This is only the first adult playground in Chicago; plans are to install them around the city so I won’t need to make such a haul.)
The bad news is, it’s not super-large. Suggesting it’s a playground is probably overselling it. It’s a rig with a decent number of components, and one little offshoot with a couple extra things, but not the kind of thing you’ll be playing tag on with the added rule that you can’t touch the ground. (That’s still a thing, right?)
The good news, as I alluded to, is that it packs a bunch into a small footprint, a lot of which is hard to find elsewhere. It’s got:
- A very difficult sort of climbing wall. It’s not big-just three rows of grips going up and maybe 7 or 8 across, but there are no foot supports at all. It’s pull-ups or nothing.
- Monkey bars—high enough that 6-foot-tall me couldn’t touch the ground-and surprisingly narrow.
- Stepped bars. I don’t know what their actual name is; it’s a set of three bars, each horizontal, but each one is higher than the other. Short, but if you go up and down it a few times it would probably replicate Spartan’s monkey bar rig. These ones are actually quite a bit steeper than Spartan’s, though, with maybe a 60-degree incline.
- Climbing ropes, although these were a bit of a disappointment, since they were anchored taut to the ground so leg hooks aren’t possible. So they’re basically just poles.
- A vertical pole to climb.
- Horizontal bars for pull-ups and the like.
- Rings for pull-ups and the like.
- Benches (flat, inclined, and declined) for sit-ups, leg lifts, back bends, and so on.
- Parallel bars.
I wasn’t there real long, having already biked for an hour+ to get there and knowing I had the same ride home. It was well used in the time I was there, though, with about 7 people or so.
The stuff is fairly high-level—you need a decent level of fitness to successfully use most of it. Only one of the people there while I was could go anywhere on the climbing wall, for example.
All things considered, I probably wouldn’t consider it a destination—but it is a cool local amenity that I hope comes to my neighborhood as well.