Nothing says winter in Chicago like ice skating outdoors. When there's a nip in the air, there's just something special about whizzing around a frozen oasis and warming up with a cup of hot chocolate. Chicagoland has no shortage of outdoor ice skating rinks. We couldn't list all the amazing rinks, so we just picked four-all of which have a little something extra.
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago
An ice skating rink is opening for the first time this year at the Farm in the Zoo near the crop garden. Kids and adults will love skating around the rink with views of the farm, Nature Boardwalk, and at certain angles, the city skyline.
"The zoo is always looking for new, fun and exciting offerings for families," says Sharon Dewar, spokesperson for the zoo. "We thought an ice skating rink would be an excellent add-on to the extremely popular ZooLights holiday experience."
The rink will be open daily from Nov. 29 to March 2 (closed on Dec. 24 and 25). Prices are $5 to skate all day and $5 to rent skates. Bathrooms are located nearby in the main barn.
MB Financial Park at Rosemont
Skating in the Park
5501 Park Place, Rosemont
Skating here is akin to skating in a miniature city. With restaurants, an upscale movie theatre, a bowling alley and the new outlet mall, there's no shortage of entertainment. And, the outdoor rink is in the center of it all, surrounded by festive lights during the holidays.
"You have the luxury of everything downtown, but you're just not dealing with downtown," said Brittany Stephens, athletic manager with the Village of Rosemont. "There's so much going on over there, and it's all within walking distance."
Skating is free, but rentals are $8. The rink opens for the season Nov. 29. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
1130 Midway Plaisance, Chicago
Skaters can zip around the rink, located on the site of the World's Columbian Exposition, while giving kids a history lesson about the world's first Ferris wheel (built in 1893 for the Exposition). From the rink, skaters can view the University of Chicago campus, as well as Midway Plaisance Park.
"It sits in a historic park with great views," says Zvezdana Kubat, spokesperson for the Chicago Park District. "It's a different experience when you're out there."
Bathrooms and concessions are available. The rink usually opens the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but rates for skating and rentals had not been finalized at press time.
Eclipse Lagoon Ice Skating
1354 North Second Street, Rockford
If you're looking for a back-to-nature ice skating experience, this is the place. And it's free. Located behind the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, the rink offers views of the Rock River and Rockford's Festival of Lights. Bring your own skates because rentals aren't available. Hockey fans can bring their gear because nets are placed on the ice every day.
"You will just be surrounded by Mother Nature and it's beautiful," says Laura Gibbs-Green, public relations manager for the Rockford Park District. "You can see the Christmas decorations at the conservatory and across the street are the holiday lights."
Bathrooms are nearby. The rink opens whenever Rockford Park District staff deem the water frozen and safe to skate, says Gibbs-Green. The rink is open 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.