'I Didn't Know Winter Was So Fun' Guide
Dog sledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, sledding, skating, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing and--have you ever heard of skijoring? Get your mittens and balaclava, it's going to be a fun winter!
Looking for some fun activities to do this winter? Check out the list of places to go sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing and more!
- Centennial Park- 100 S. Western Avenue, Park Ridge.
- Kirk Lane Park- 7800 N. Waukegan Rd, Niles (gentle slope, good for small kids)
- Techny Prairie Park and Fields, 1750 Techny Road, Northbrook (28 feet high)
- Wood Oaks Green, 1150 Sanders Road, Northbrook
- Flick Park, 3600 Glenview Road, Glenview
- Caldwell Woods - Milwaukee and Devon Avenues, Chicago (just south of Niles)
- Deer Grove #5 – Palatine
- Schiller Woods - Schiller Park
- Old School Forest Preserve - Libertyville
When/Where: Monday through Thursday: 12 p.m. — 8 p.m., Friday: 12 p.m. — 10 p.m., Saturdays: 10 a.m. — 9 p.m., Sundays: 10 a.m. — 9 p.m. at Millennium Park; Michigan Ave & Washington St, Chicago.
What: Ice skate right next to Michigan Avenue, taking in the view of the skyline and lakefront. This is a gorgeous place to skate, and has good music to boot. Snacks and a sit-down restaurant, Park Grill, are on premises, and casual eateries are across the street on Michigan Avenue.
Pricing: Admission is free but skate rental is available for $10. At popular times, there can be a lengthy line to rent skates.
When/ Where: Monday through Thursday: 2 p.m. -- 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 2 p.m. -- 11 p.m., Sunday: 2 p.m. -- at Wrigley Field; 1060 West Addison Street, Chicago.
What: Ice skate in the Wrigley Field parking lot.
Pricing: Monday through Thursday: $5 for adults, $3 for children, $5 skate rental. Friday through Sunday: $10 for adults, $6 for children, $10 skate rental.
When/Where: Monday through Friday: 3pm-9pm, Saturday: 10am - 11pm, Sunday: 12 noon- 8pm. The rink is located just south of the Muvico Theater and east of the Tri-State Tollway.
What: Outdoor ice skating. There is also a warming tent where refreshments can be purchased. Free parking is available next to the rink and validation is available in the garage.
Pricing: Admission is free but skate rental is $8.
When/Where: Monday-Friday: 9:00am - 6:00pm, Saturday: 10:00am - 3:00pm at 2800 West Oakton, Park Ridge.
What: Ice skate on an indoor rink.
When/Where: Monday through Friday: 10:00-11:45 a.m., Friday: 8:15-9:45 p.m., Saturday: 12:05-1:20 p.m., Sunday: 2:30-4:00 p.m. at 8435 Ballard, Niles.
What: Ice skate on an indoor rink, there is also an outdoor rink.
Pricing: $5 per person plus $3 skate rental.
Ice skating during the winter season is permitted from 8 a.m. to sunset on designated Forest Preserve District of Cook County lakes. All lakes are “Skate at Your Own Risk.” The district says it does not monitor ice conditions and recommends checking for a minimum of four inches of solid ice over the entire lake before individuals attempt ice skating. The following locations are nearest:
- Barrington Road Pond - Hoffman Estates
- Busse Lake North Pool - Elk Grove Village
- Deer Grove Lake - Palatine
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County permits cross-country skiing in all areas of the Forest Preserve District from 8am to sunset. Check their website to find the forest preserve closest to you.
Ice fishing is permitted during the winter season at 22 designated lakes and sloughs located throughout the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Ice fishing is available from 8am – sunset on a “fish at your own risk” basis. The district says it does not monitor ice conditions. It recommends checking the ice for a minimum of four inches of solid ice over the entire lake before attempting ice fishing.
The Lake County Forest Preserve District has three ice fishing locations. Call the hotline, 847-968-3235, for current ice conditions.
The Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington offers snowshoes for visitors to use free of charge. The Nature Center is open from 9am – 3:30 every day except Friday. Snowshoes are available for visitors ranging from 40 to 250 lbs and can be checked out during open hours, when conditions are suitable.
Snowmobiling is allowed in designated areas within the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Snowmobiles must be registered with both the State of Illinois and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (proof of insurance is required). Snowmobile areas are opened when a minimum four inch snow base exists of frozen turf. Snowmobiling is permitted from 10am – 10pm at the following areas:
- Ned Brown Meadow - Rolling Meadows
- Miller Meadow – Maywood
Dog Sledding and Skijoring
Dog Sledding and Skijoring (skier pulled by dogs) is available at the Lake County Forest Preserve District's Dog Sled Area, on Yorkhouse Road west of Delany Road, near Waukegan. You must obtain a permit.
Horse Drawn Sleighs
Got a team of horses and a sleigh handy? The Lake County Forest Preserve District has three miles of trails you can use.
If you're short on equines, GoSleigh.com in Harvard (McHenry County) is popular, and it, and other Chicagoland sites, are listed here.