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This story appears in the November 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Far from the fictional domain of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth sits an entirely different kind of refuge for diminutive creatures: Hobbitland, an indoor playground on the eastern edge of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. A cozy but organized 1,200-foot space dominated by colorful murals, eco-friendly wooden toys and a massive cardboard dinosaur that hangs from the ceiling, Hobbitland welcomes 10 to 15 children each day, all between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. Hobbitland welcomes their parents as well, offering free coffee and tea along with free Wi-Fi access.

"It's like a club--we have members from all around the neighborhood," says Anna Syroczynska, who owns and operates Hobbitland with business partner Sophie Augustynowicz. "The idea is that we want to have a home atmosphere. It's very friendly. Parents can come here to relax."

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