Best Handball Courts for Those Who Actually Still Play Handball

Rainbow Beach Park

Critics' Picks

Handball is a lot like racquetball, with one significant difference: there aren't any rackets. Since the ball is also a bit smaller and harder, players wear thin gloves that are sort of like what batters wear in baseball. And, as keen observers may note, most human hands are smaller than the average racket. All of this means that while handball is an elemental game—it doesn't get much more basic than hitting a ball against the wall with your hand—it's also fast, fun, and really freaking tough. The learning curve probably explains why it's hard to find places to play it anymore. In fact, diehards tell me there are only a couple of spots in the Chicago area that still have three-walled outdoor courts, and the best in the city are near 77th and the lake in Rainbow Beach Park. They're open to the public whenever the park is, but most of the action happens on weekends and Tuesday and Thursday evenings. That's when regulars from across the city do battle, and newcomers are welcomed with tips, offers of beer, and shit-talking.