Columbus thought the world was flat, and most Chicagoans feel the same way about their city. While Chicago is not known for its hilly landscape, there are a surprising number of vertical drops good enough for activating one of the best kids’ winter activities: sledding.
The gear you need
The secret to good sledding is good gear. Nothing says “take me
home, mommy” more than a wet bottom or lost mittens. Here are some
recommendations to keep the kids dry and happy.
Eurosled Rock ‘N Rip Sled, .95, REI (rei.com). For the
daredevil sledder, nothing says speed-racer like a saucer sled.
Aerodynamic and lightweight, this slide luckily comes with brakes,
should things get a little out of control.
Pelican International Bearfoot Inflatable Snow Sled, .99 (Amazon.com). For
those who are space-conscious, this snow sled can be inflated or
deflated on demand.
Expedition Snow Bibs, .50 (landsend.com). Stay outdoors for hours in these
reinforced-knee super snowpants. The bib style helps keep the pants
up and the water out.
Toby N.Y.C. Mitten Clips, .99 for set of two (buybuybaby.com). If you’ve ever wondered where
that pesky mitten went, worry no more with this nifty set of mitten
clips. Plus, for those forgetful ones, there’s an extra set, should
the clip, not the mitten, go a bit wayward down the hill.
Often, sledding and city are not hugely correlated. But children zooming down a man-made snowy hill with huge skyscrapers in the backdrop can be a part of Chicago winters.
For proof, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of where to go and what to bring to sled in Chicago.
630 N. Kingsbury St.
Nestled on the east bank of the south branch of the Chicago River, Erie Park turned from dumping grounds to a hilly paradise fit for the little tot who’s just learning what it means to “carry that sled up the hill.”
The river view at the end of the slide may help little ones focus a bit more. Same with the promise of hot chocolate afterwards at the nearby Caribou Coffee.
2021 N. Burling St.
What would Dorothy and her friends from Oz think if they knew that the biggest attraction to their park in the winter was the small but solid hill on the southwest corner of the park? On weekends, find the hill at Oz Park packed with Lincoln Park families giving their kids a taste of winter’s best. Toto would approve.
425 East McFetridge Drive
Long after the Bears have exhausted all possible playoff opportunities for the season and outdoor Soldier Field shutters for its winter hibernation, kids flock to the new, manmade sledding grounds provided by the field. Think football is the only game in town? Think again. With its 33-foot vertical drop, the hill at Soldier Field never goes bare, even in a dry Chicago winter-manmade snow machines are at the ready to make sure kids don’t miss football one bit.
1400 N. Sacramento Ave.
One of the city’s little-known sledding gems, Humboldt Park offers guests on the west side of the city the opportunity to get their sled on. And when the little ones have tired of the up-and-down, perhaps they can be coerced to take on the flat-and-slippery-Humboldt Park also offers free ice skating to those who still have the energy to move.
601 W. Montrose Drive
This hill wasn’t designated for sledding, but come winter, Cricket Hill in Montrose Harbor is one of the city’s premier destinations for downhill fun. Situated with a million-dollar lakeshore view, the hill proves the harbor is just as good in the winter as in the summer.
4222 W. Foster Ave.
A wetlands in the summer, Gompers Park covers nearly 39 acres in the North Park neighborhood. Perfect for sledding novices, the park has smaller hills for the snow cubs.
2741 W. Montrose Ave.
An anchor of the Irving Park neighborhood, Horner Park is mostly known for its seasonal events. However, when the holiday festivities are long gone, people flock to the hills in the park for some downhill action.