Baby, it’s cold outside, but don’t let that stop you and your children from enjoying some of the amazing, family-friendly outdoor winter activities in the Western suburbs. Whether you’re looking to fight cabin fever, to keep everyone active or to enjoy time together that doesn’t involve screens, these activities can be just the answer.
Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing could be just the fun new activity your family needs to have an adventure and beat the winter blahs. It’s a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the beauty of the arboretum at the same time.
When there is more than four inches of snow on the ground, visitors to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle can try out snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Guests are welcome from 7 a.m. until sunset and can bring their own equipment or rent equipment for both adult and children at the Visitors Center.
Eager to bust out your sleds? Naperville has six great sledding hills operated by the Naperville Park District. My kiddo’s favorite is the Riverwalk Sled Hill at Rotary Hill. It’s big – one of the requisites of a good hill, of course – and deposits sledders right by the Carillon. It is available December through February when there is two inches of snow. Sledders should bring their own inner tubes or plastic sleds. Wooden sleds and metal-runner sleds are not permitted. The hill is open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, 9 p.m. all other nights.
Nighttime sledding is tons of fun, but my family loves to go early in the morning when the snow is fresh. Because it is so close to downtown, a favorite snowy weekend morning involves sledding and grabbing brunch (with hot chocolate, of course) in downtown Naperville at either Egg Harbor Café, Eggs, Inc. or Heaven on Seven (which has a kids breakfast menu).
If you’re looking forward something to really get your adrenaline pumping, a thrill ride down the 800-foot hill known as Mount Hoy at the Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville will add some excitement to your winter. Inner tube rentals are $5 per tube, per day, and only district tubes are permitted. Tubing lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and school holidays through February. Rentals end at 3:30 p.m. Typically, more than three inches of snow are required and you should always call the Outdoor Report to check the conditions and hours of operation at (630) 871-6422.
There are a lot of ice rinks in the Western suburbs, but there’s something especially exhilarating about skating at an outdoor rink. You don’t have to have a perfect double axel to have a great time zooming around the outdoor skating rinks operated by the Naperville Park District. Three of them are lit and open until 10 p.m., two others are not and close at dusk. They are open Dec. 15 through Feb. 15, weather permitting. Children eight and under must be supervised by an adult.
Think that there’s nowhere to ski in the western suburbs of Chicago? Think again! Four Lakes Ski and Snowboard Area has been operating for 51 years and has everything you need to enjoy a day on the slopes without venturing too far from home, including lessons and equipment rental.
Four Lakes has ski equipment available for those who have a shoe size of children’s 8 all the way up to adult 15 and snowboarder equipment for any snowboarder who weighs at least 40 pounds with a shoe size of 1 all the way up to snowboarders with an adult 15.