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Written by Ari Bendersky
You know when you see someone jogging and it’s less than 20 degrees outside and you think: “that man must be insane?”
Then you think how much fun it would be to bundle up, lace up a pair of skates and hit the ice — yeah, not so crazy anymore is it?
Once you get moving, do a few laps around the rink, maybe fall a couple (or five) times and your body starts heating up, you realize just how great playing and exercising in the cold really is.
Get those skates, grab the kids or call some friends, and hit one of these great outdoor ice skating rinks in and around Chicago.
Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon
On the north end of the fantastically fun Maggie Daley Park, adjacent to Millennium Park, is the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon that attracts locals and tourists to skate the town red in swirly, zig-zag fashion.
You can rent both figure and hockey skates ($12-$14 depending on the day of the week) and grab a hot chocolate.
Best of all, admission is free.
Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Open through March 4, the festive ice rink set between Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park is one of the most popular places to skate in the city.
You can pop by for a few twirls on the open rink before or after your lunch, dinner or drinks at one of the many nearby restaurants: Acanto, Cindy’s, Seven Lions or Park Grill.
You can rent skates — or get your pair sharpened — and admission is free.
Chicago Blackhawks Ice Rink at Winter Wonderfest
The magical, seasonal land that is Winter Wonderfest is set inside Navy Pier. In addition to numerous rides and attractions, you and the kids can spend some time on the indoor Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink.
Buy your tickets online for $27 (adults) and $12 (kids between 36 and 42 inches).
A temporary rink near the fountain inside Wicker Park, Wicker Ice will be around into February for anyone who wants to skate or play hockey.
Check out the Facebook page for a schedule of different events.
There’s no admission fee, but you do need to bring your own skates.
Midway Plaisance Park Ice Rink
Head to Hyde Park to skate in the midst of the Midway. The neighborhood’s sprawling swath of parkland just south of the University of Chicago dates back to the late 1800s.
The Midway Plaisance Park ice rink sits among 83 acres and includes a warming house.
You can free skate, take lessons and participate in pick-up hockey games.
McFetridge Sports Center
If you’re not a fan of the cold, but love to skate, pop over to Avondale’s McFetridge Sports Center.
While much ice time is reserved for hockey games, figure skating and synchronized sessions, free skates and “rat hockey,” a.k.a. pick-up games for adults and kids get time, too.
When you’re done, grab a bite at one of the area’s great eateries, like one of our favorite fried chicken restaurants or put back a pint at Metropolitan Brewing’s tasting room.
Part of the Skokie Park District, The Skatium is an indoor space with both a full-size rink for open skates, hockey games, figure skating and more.
There is a smaller rink that is also available to rent for private parties.
You’re just a few minutes from Old Orchard, where you can grab lunch or spend hours shopping.
The Peninsula Sky Rink
When you’re feeling a little fancy, there’s no better place to indulge than at the Peninsula Hotel.
Yes, you could do afternoon tea or have dinner at Shanghai Terrace, but when you want to go for a whirl, step out onto the Peninsula Sky Rink.
This 2,100 square-foot outdoor rink sits among towering pine trees in the shadow of the John Hancock building, four stories above Michigan Avenue’s bustling crowds.
Enjoy hot drinks and snacks while listening to festive music, but be sure to call ahead to ensure availability — the rink gets packed even on the coldest days.
Skating runs adults $15 and $10 for kids 12 and under. All proceeds benefit the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and also Hephzibah Children’s Association so your good time continues to deliver smiles.
Eldridge Park Lagoon
Up for a little adventure?
Head to Elmhurst’s Eldridge Park, where the lagoon gets used for ice skating — when the ice has gotten thick enough.
Staff will test the lagoon in six different locations and ensure it has a consistent three-day thickness of at least eight inches before opening the lagoon for skating.
So once you get the green light, it’s open season.
Admission is free and you’ll need to bring your own skates.
Park District of Oak Park
Being such a large and diverse city allows for Oak Park to offer a variety of places to ice skate.
You can hit a few places like Austin Gardens, Longfellow Park and Paul Hruby Ice Arena, which are open at various times. The first two are outdoor rinks while Paul Hruby is an indoor arena; admission for that is $7 and you can rent skates for $3.
Check the Oak Park district website for the schedules, which get updated quite frequently.
Watts Ice Center
With two lighted outdoor rinks set over three acres in Glencoe’s Watts Park, how can you not have fun in this winter wonderland?
Open through the first week of March, Watts Ice Center welcomes figure skating, hockey and good ol’ free skate.
Admission for kids under 3 and adults over 65 is free; otherwise kids between 3 and 17 will pay $6, while adults 18 to 65 pay $8. You can rent skates for $4.
Tell us what we missed in the comments! Where are your favorite places to ice skate in the winter?