In my family, we prefer to give experiences rather than material goods (although yes, feel free to bestow something shiny upon me at any time, I won’t complain). My parents and I have talked about how we are at the age and stage in life where if we want something, we buy it for ourselves. Also, we all have so much STUFF!
I have found that some of my greatest memories stem from unique experiences. One year, my mom arranged for my family to visit our childhood home. Best gift ever. I also remember our family vacations with such fondness- those experiences are priceless. Every year for the holidays, I search for the perfect experience to give my parents. This year, I bought them a burgundy wine dinner at Chateau Chantal. It started with a tour of the castle-like winery, and ended with a 5-course gourmet dinner paired with carefully curated selection of excellent wines.
Although this was a relaxing evening for them, I think I might kick it up a notch next year! I recently tried iFLY in Rosemont, which is an Indoor Skydiving Experience. At iFLY, they simulate true freefall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel. No jumping out of a plane, you simply step into the glass-enclosed chamber and fly! They take flyers from age 3 to 103 as long as you are reasonably healthy.
Upon arrival, you enter your info into the check-in computers and sign up for a flight time. About 30 minutes prior to your flight, you suit up in coveralls, a helmet, glasses, ear plugs and sneakers and check out a short informational video. The instructor goes over the four hand signals that will be used in the wind tunnel because it is impossible to hear when you are flying. You then line up on the bench with about 12 other people and each take turns with a one minute flight accompanied by your flight instructor (no, they don’t just toss you in and say good luck!).
Yes, it does take a bit of skill- you need to keep your chin up, your arms level and extended (total Super Hero form), legs slightly bent and back a little arched. I went in two times- the first was just getting the positioning right, and the second was where it got TRULY exhilarating. The instructor takes you up high into the wind tunnel and spins you around on the second run- it is such a rush, and like nothing you have felt before.
Take a look at my video and see for yourself!
- Keep your mouth closed! You will drool if you are grinning a toothy grin 🙂
- Ladies- tie your hair up into a bun on top of your head and pop your helmet on top. I had a few wisps of hair escape and it created instant dreadlocks.
- Loosen up! Breathe! Remember, this is FUN. It isn’t a competition.
No, this isn’t the fair where rides cost five tickets. This is a serious event, and it has turned into a sport! Flights start out at $69.95 for two flights per one person, but if you pair up with a friend or group you can get a better deal. Check out pricing here.
Currently, iFLY operates in 16 cities across the US and is expanding fast. In the Chicago area, you can fly in Rosemont, Naperville and (coming soon) Lincoln Park! I loved the Rosemont experience because you can have an amazing dinner, walk over to iFLY, then finish the night with cocktails at one of the MANY restaurants/bars within walking distance. Stay tuned for more on the Rosemont experience, detailed restaurant crawl post to follow.
So, what are you waiting for? Go FLY! This would make a perfect gift if you are the type to celebrate Valentine’s Day. My friend Kit and her husband were with me, and they looked adorable together in their flight suits. Go for the experience, it is something you will remember and talk about for years to come!
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary flight at iFLY, but as always my opinions are honest and my own.