These Midwest Pickleball Spots Are Bringing the Fun

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, and the Midwest is no exception. Hone your skills at destinations that offer not only pickleball courts, but also a chance to eat, drink and socialize with your pickle pals.

Pickleball enthusiasts take to the courts for a little competition and a whole lot of fun in this popular game that's a cross between tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton. Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors, so it's the perfect Midwest sport year-round. And what's more fun than just competition? A chance to socialize with your pickle pals, making an evening of dinks and volleys followed by drinks and lawn games. These places across the Midwest deliver in sport and fun, with new places popping up monthly. Here are some to check out now.

Chicken N Pickle, Wichita kansas
Chicken N Pickle, Wichita. Courtesy of Chicken N Pickle

Chicken N Pickle, Multiple Midwest Locations

Whether you want to play indoors or outdoors, in a league or pickup games, or take lessons from on-staff pros, Chicken N Pickle has you covered. The chicken part refers to the menu, where wood-fired rotisserie chicken stars; you can get an NKC Hot Chicken or Pickle Chicken sandwich, as well as salads, bowls and shareables made with chicken or other proteins. Yard games like Jenga, Connect Four, Battleship and cornhole add another fun twist. Midwest locations currently include Kansas City, Missouri; Overland Park, Kansas; and Wichita, Kansas; additional sites are expected to open in late 2023 and 2024 in St. Charles, Missouri, and Fishers, Indiana.

Pickleball Columbus Ohio
Pickle and Chill. Courtesy of Greater Columbus Sports Commission

Pickle and Chill, Columbus, Ohio

All pickle, no frills at this Columbus, Ohio haunt, where you can volley surrounded by a funky, colorful pickle-themed graffiti mural indoors, or try one of the 10 outdoor courts. Join a class, a league or simply drop in for a quick game. Host an event in the new outdoor plaza and patio area, and enjoy a cold brew after a hard-earned win. And that's not all the pickling going on here: Columbus also is home to 118 city-managed pickleball courts at 35 locations—and it's the base for the World Pickleball Tour, the largest amateur pickleball tournament series in North America. In 2023, Midwest stops on the tour include Chicago, Cincinnati and, yes, Pickle and Chill in Columbus.

Smash Park West Des Moines Iowa
Courtesy of Smash Park

Smash Park, West Des Moines and Pella, Iowa (Plus More to Come)

Pickleball or party? You decide your adventure at this 27,000-square-foot indoor space (with a 17,000-square-foot yard!). Catch a game on the 30-foot TV wall, try your hand at darts, or play a little shuffleboard. Ahead of the curve, Smash Park opened its first location in West Des Moines in 2018 and in Pella in 2022, with additional Midwest locations in Minneapolis and Omaha on the horizon. Some boast a karaoke room and axe-throwing as well as pickleball. Don't miss the monthly dink and drink tournaments—they're quick to sell out.

The School House pickleball court Chicago
The School House. Courtesy of Happy Hour Collaborative

The School House, Chicago

Go retro at The School House with three indoor climate-controlled pickleball courts and a vibe reminiscent of the 1960s, when pickleball was invented. Head to the lower level of this mid-century modern building for Architectural Artifacts, a shop filled with antique finds. On the main floor grab a bite at Grammar, an all-day cafe featuring thick, square Detroit-style pizza and more than a dozen varieties of empanadas from local 5411 empanadas. Who doesn't love to play, eat and shop all in one place?

Pickleball at Sawyer Point, Cincinnati

Eighteen pickleball courts line the Cincinnati River for plenty of pickle play day and night. This community marquee is free and perfect for group pickup play. Add on league play and drills with the ball machine or lessons with a pro. Just want to watch? Catch an amateur tournament as a spectator with 250 seats for viewing and a live webcam to peer in on the pickle games at any time.

Chip Shots, Rochester, Minnesota
Chip Shots. Courtesy of Chip Shots

Chip Shots, Rochester, Minnesota

If a social night of sports is your goal, look no further. Chip Shots is a super interactive spot with three indoor pickleball courts plus simulators for more than 35 sports. Swing for a home run, practice your golf skills, or volley on the pickleball courts during open gym time. Try nachos and a beer in the restaurant, and continue the fun with a competitive game of cornhole.

Pickle Haus Algonquin Exterior Entry Print rendering
Courtesy of Harken Interiors

Pickle Haüs, Algonquin, Illinois (Coming Fall 2023)

Twelve indoor pickleball courts, five with cabanas, will host tournaments and offer opportunities to brush up on your skills with pros at this suburban Illinois spot. Order a latte at the gourmet coffee bar after a morning game or spend the evening in the outdoor courtyard jamming to live music around fire pits. Food here is no afterthought—savor sandwiches, salads and shareables perfect for date night or a family lunch.

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