Hosting a summer party can be a lot of work. You have to plan the menu, buy the alcohol, and man the grill in sweltering heat. But Neon Summer, Chicago’s newest pop-up, has the solution. It is all of the fun of a backyard party with none of the work. Forget playing host and just enjoy playing and drinking with your friends.
They offer go-karts, axe throwing, mini golf, Connect Four basketball, carnival games, cornhole, and bocce. You’re guaranteed to have a good time, especially if you’re competitive (which I am). It’s the perfect setting for a competitive date, or to gather a large group for some shenanigans. They serve cocktails and beer and have food trucks on site for when you get hungry.
It was put together by the masterminds behind Frosty’s Christmas Bar and Final Throne, a Game of Thrones themed pop-up bar. Neon Summer runs through September 8th, and then will close and reopen as Jack’s Pumpkin Nights. I was invited to come try out their ultimate summer experience and brought my college friend Jess along for some fun.
Neon Summer sits on two acres of land, sprawling with Instagrammable moments and games. During the day, Neon Summer is family-friendly, but at night it becomes a party scene. We went at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon and were able to beat the rush.
We started with go-karts, which are one of the most popular fixtures at Neon Summer. We ended up with the track to ourselves. Neon Summer staffers will go over the rules, but it’s the standard no bumping, safety-first protocol. I got the giggles almost immediately. There is something so silly and fun about go-karting. While Jess had the lead for the first few laps, there was an employee with a remote who helpfully slowed her down so I could catch up, keeping the race interesting.
Next, we headed to axe throwing where we each had a pass for two throws. Again, an instructor went over safety and proper form. Two throws was the perfect sample. My first one did not land at all, but after some helpful pointers from my coach, I landed my second throw in the bullseye. Neon Summer is the perfect place to try axe throwing without committing to a longer session to see if you like it. Now that I’m basically an expert, I’d definitely be down to go to an axe throwing facility.
After two activities, we decided to try some signature cocktails. Jess went with the “speed racer,” a mix of Tito’s and lemonade. It was not overly strong and was refreshing to drink while playing games. I went with Neon Summer’s most popular drink, the “neon blitz,” which was a gorgeous blue blend of Malibu and pineapple. It tasted like a nice throwback to my undergrad days and was the perfect drink for an afternoon reminiscing with my friend and playing outside.
The most impressive section of Neon Summer is the mini golf course. Each hole is unique and offers both an Instagrammable moment and a challenge for your golf game. From a larger than life Polaroid camera to a full loop-de-loop, Neon Summer demands you bring your A-game to the greens.
Keep the fun going after you exhaust the games by walking to the nearby Goose Island taproom and having the loser buy a round of beers to enjoy in the A/C.
THE BITCHES SAY: FOUR CHAMPAGNE FLUTES
Don’t let Chicago summer come to an end without gathering your friends for fun, food, and fruity drinks at Neon Summer.
Neon Summer is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. through September 8th.
Neon Summer, 1265 W Le Moyne Street, Chicago, (312) 776-3300