Mini golf. Putt-putt. Goofy golf. Adventure golf. Shorties. No matter what you call it, you have a blast playing it. Most of Chicago’s mini golf courses are pure, kitschy fun (we’re talking oversized dinosaur and Humpty Dumpty statues) and are only open for a limited time each year. So grab a short pencil and head to one of our city and suburban favorites.
City Mini Golf
Started as a pop-up mini golf fun spot, City Mini Golf is now permanently located at Chicago fav, Maggie Daley Park. Their 18 holes of whimsical nods to Chicago culture are located at the south end of the BP Bridge where golfers are treated to those fabulous skyline views the entire game.
Maggie Daley Park
337 E. Randolph St., The Loop
May 6-Oct. 2
Hours: May-Labor Day; Daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (last golfers accepted at 8:45 p.m.)
Cost: $11; free for ages 4 & under
Diversey Miniature Golf
Still somewhat of a secret, even though it’s in the heart of Lincoln Park, this charmer has 18 holes with footbridges and waterfalls. Snap family photos as you work your way through the course (it’s suitable for all ages), then venture over to the adjacent Diversey Driving Range to hit a bucket of balls.
Diversey Driving Range
141 W. Diversey Pkwy., Lincoln Park
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Cost: $10/adults, $8/kids
Salute Lady Liberty and Mount Rushmore, take the elevator to the top of the Sears Tower, visit Humpty Dumpty, gaze into the eyes of a crazy psychedelic pumpkin and make it back home by bedtime. For putters over the 48-inch height requirement, Park-King is a mini golf lover’s dream, thanks to challenging and imaginative holes. Each hole is custom-made, hand painted and meticulously maintained. The attention to detail didn’t go unnoticed when The Travel Channel deemed this spot “the most original course in America.” Once you’ve played through the 36 holes, stop by the arcade for video games, pinball and air hockey.
21711 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire
Hours: Open weekends only in April (call for hours as they change); Summer schedule not released as of press time
Cost: Daytime, $8 (weekdays), $8.50 (weekends); 6 p.m.-close, $8.50 (weekdays), $9 (weekends). Cash only.
The highlight of Bolingbrook’s mini golf hotspot is working your way to the top of the 40-foot-tall mountain and playing across a waterfall, while meandering past racing rapids and tip-toeing through Big Foot’s Cave. The onsite arcade and concession stand are great when you need some shade and A.C. While you’re in the area, grab some grub at Charlie’s Restaurant at the next-door Clow International Airport. The restaurant’s location and wall of windows give an up-close view of the planes and helicopters taking off and landing on the runways.
145 S. Clow International Pkwy., Bolingbrook
Hours: Open when weather is above 50 degrees; Mon.-Fri., noon-7 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 11 p.m.-6 p.m.; hours will change in the summer
Cost: $8.75/adults; $7.75/ages 12 & under
When you need a break from the outdoors, Putting Edge’s indoor course offers a completely different putting experience from any you’ll find under the sun. Funky fluorescent drawings and freestanding props guide you through this black-lighted haven. Plan ahead and dress your kids in white; they’ll love to watch themselves glow as they play. If you give 24 hours notice, you can even schedule your tee time online.
4105 Harlem Ave., Norridge
Hours: Spring Hours, Mon.- Thurs., 3 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., noon.-midnight.; Sat. 10 a.m.-midnight; Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: $11.50/adults, $9.50/ages 8 & under
Novelty Golf and Games
This quirky venue — known locally as The Bunny Hutch because of the classic burger, hot dog and ice cream shop by that name located next door — has been the backdrop for happy childhood memories for more than 60 years. It’s open April through mid-October and lures with two 18-hole courses, as well as batting cages, a vintage game room and an old-time photo booth.
3650 W. Devon Ave., Lincolnwood
Hours: Weekdays, noon-10 p.m.; Weekends, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: Before noon, $9-$111; noon-6 p.m., $10; 6:00 pm-close, $11. Cash only.
Addison Park District’s Links & Tees Golf Facility was recognized as one of the Top 50 Stand Alone Ranges in America. Its miniature course, Putter’s Peak, is operated in the same top-notch manner. This course is perfect for all ages and the mountain peak, waterfall, cave and tiki statues keep little putters captivated. Come hungry and grab a snack or lunch in the Links & Tees Clubhouse.
900 W. Lake St., Addison
Hours: Check website or call as hours vary
Cost: $7/adults; $5/kids
Skokie Sports Park Adventure Golf
The Skokie Park District runs two worthwhile mini golf courses. Kids Quest is nine holes and great for little ones with short attention spans. They can ride on a jeep, climb on dinosaurs or go down a slide set. Traveler’s Quest is an 18-holer that has a few more challenges (dips, swerves, water traps) and an international theme. Come prepared to putt your way through faux Roman ruins.
3459 Oakton St., Skokie
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Try for that elusive hole in one and show your kids a spooky good time on a course where Halloween is celebrated year ’round. A creature from the Black Lagoon, haunted house, Dracula’s castle, Frankenstein and blood-red water are just a few features you’ll find at this course, where even the ghostly garbage cans get in on the creepy. Save time for the go-carts, batting cages, carnival-style rides and game room.
7759 S. Harlem Ave., Burbank
Hours: Summer: Daily, 10 a.m.-midnight; Spring & Fall: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight; Sat., 10 a.m.-midnight; Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost:$7.50/adults; $5.75/ages 12 & under
Holes & Knolls
Located in Maryknoll Park and maintained by the Glen Ellyn Park District, Knolls and Holes is a hidden gem in the western suburbs. The course includes 18 or 36 holes of beautifully manicured mini golf and is surrounded by endless opportunities for family fun, so plan to stay for the day. Pack your swimsuits to cool off in the splash pad, kick your feet up in the pavilion, and watch your monkeys goof off at the vast playground. There are bites and ice cream in the clubhouse. Before heading home, show your kids your adventurous side by braving the 75-foot-long Berliner cable ride.
— Maria Chambers