It’s cold out there this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until spring to be active again. The Chicago area is littered with venues to engage in physical activities all winter long.
Even better, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, like to circle around the ice skating rink, or are more of a risk-taker and want to try ski jumping or the luge, you’re able to do it all here.
Take a look at the guide below to find where you can take part in your favorite winter sport in the Chicagoland area.
Where to Go Skiing and Snowboarding
Four Lakes Ski & Snowboard Area
Beginner and experienced snowboarders and skiers alike can have a good time at Four Lakes Ski and Snowboard Area in Lisle. Private and group ski lessons are available just about any time — weekday afternoon and evenings, weekends and even holidays. Snowboard lessons (group or private) are by appointment.
Open to the public, Villa Olivia in Bartlett is equipped for skiing and snowboarding. The facility has seven runs, a quad-chair lift and six rope tows. Proper ski and snowboard equipment is required at all times, and snowboards must include metal edges and attached bindings. Note: Residents of the Bartlett Park District can get a discount with proof of residency.
Raging Buffalo Snowboard Ski Park
Snowboarders from all around the Midwest gather at Raging Buffalo Snowboard Ski Park in Algonquin, the world’s first snowboard-exclusive terrain park. The park is constantly changing to keep things fresh. Raging Buffalo offers a pair of rope tows along with half-pipes, tabletops, kickers and even a magic carpet on the beginner hill.
Chestnut Mountain Resort
One thing Galena’s Chestnut Mountain Resort isn’t hurting for is space. The resort comprises 19 trails over 220 acres. For skiers, there’s a 475-foot vertical drop that runs about 3,500 feet, quad chairs, triple chairs and three surface lifts. Snowboarders can enjoy more than 25 rails and have their own triple chair lift.
Northerly Island Park
Northerly Island, a 91-acre peninsula, offers a different way to explore it during the winter months — on snowshoes. Once the snow accumulation hits 3 inches or more, you can rent a pair of snowshoes and take part in a snow trekking event. Participation is first come, first served.
Ski Snowstar Winter Park
Located in Andalusia, Ski Snowstar is a small, family-oriented learn-to-ski area. Night skiing and snowboarding are available, and there is a day lodge. Ski Snowstar Winter Park has plenty of room — there is even an 11-lane tube hill that has a magic carpet to assist you on your trip up the hill. Ski and snowboard instructors are on hand to provide you with the skills you need to have a fun, safe ride.
Forest Preserve District of Cook County — Deer Grove
Keep fit and enjoy the great outdoors this winter with a little cross-country skiing in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. It’s great for toning muscles and burning calories, and it’s a low impact form of exercise that is easy on the joints. Skiers are welcome to trek along all area of the forest preserves, save the golf courses and most of the nature centers, from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Where to Go Ice Skating
Millennium Park — McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Show off your skating skills at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink while it remains open (until March 6). The rink, located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets, draws more than 100,000 skaters a year. Admission is free, and skates can be rented for $12. After you’re done, warm up with hot chocolate at the Park Grill Café.
Warren Park Ice Rink
From Thanksgiving weekend through February, Warren Park opens up the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Rink for public skating. Anyone with an aversion to the cold need not worry; Warren Park has a warming house available. Call 773-761-8663 to get more information on skate rental fees and session times.
Skatium Ice Arena
There’s room for all skating disciplines at Skatium Ice Arena in Skokie. Hockey players, figure skaters and recreational skaters alike can make the most of Skatium’s full-size rink. There are also programs taught by Ice Arena and organizational professionals for skaters of all ages and skill levels. A smaller rink that’s perfect for private parties complements the full-size rink. When the weather warms, the rink is available for roller hockey, too.
Rink Side Sports Ice Arena
Rink Side in Gurnee offers a one of the best skating experience in the region, regardless of how you like to get around the ice. Open skating session are available, as well as figure and synchronized skating lessons. For anyone looking for a more competitive outing, Rink Side has adult and child hockey leagues, as well.
McFetridge Sports Center
What’s your game? If ice is involved, there’s a good chance McFetridge Sports Center has it. As the only indoor skating rink in the Chicago Park District, McFetridge offers a wide variety of winter activities, including hockey and figure skating. The center’s skating program offers instructional group classes for participants ages 4 and older, freestyle package ice and synchronized skating. All skill levels are welcome.
Where to Go Sledding
Montrose Harbor — Cricket Hill
While not technically designed for sledding, Cricket Hill is one of the best downhill spots for sledders once winter hits. Plus, the hill comes with spectacular lakeshore, views and the boat harbor is quite a sight despite summer being months away.
Not too far from the stadium are a number of man-made hills that are ready for sledders. Grab a slide and make the most of the landscaping that has crafted a 33-foot sledding hill on the southeast side of Solider Field. The area is lighted and open every day until 11 p.m.
Where to do Winter Olympic Sports
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex
If you ever watched the luge competition on television and wanted to give it a try, your chance has arrived: the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex has one of the four luge tracks in the United States.
Norge Ski Club
As the oldest consistently open ski club in the United States, Norge Ski Club is a place for its members to get together and ski jump. Norge Ski Club also hosts tournaments and has had promotional jumps. New members are welcome to join, as there are training classes (Tuesday and Thursday nights) and an indoor practice ramp to help members develop their jumping techniques.
Chicago Curling Club
If you’ve ever wanted to watch a curling match in person, the Chicago Curling Club welcomes you to stop by and check it out its league games and weekend tournaments. You can do more than just spectate at this club, however. Chicago Curling Club has a Learn2Curl event where you can learn about the game. You’ll get on-ice instruction from a certified instructor and play a simulated game.
Other Winter Sports Opportunities to Check Out
Blackwell Forest Preserve
The Blackwell Forest Preserve allows for almost every winter sport and activity you can think of. You can make your way across the forest preserve by cross-country skiing, dog sledding or snowshoeing. Ice fishing, ice skating, sledding and tubing are also fair game in this stretch of Dupage County.
Kane County Forest
The Kane County Forest Preserve District also offers numerous winter activity options. To go sledding or snowmobiling, however, there must be at least 4 inches of snow on the ground. Sledding is permitted at
- Campton Forest Preserve (Campton Hills),
- Fabyan Forest Preserve,
- Johnson’s Mound Forest Preserve (Elburn),
- and Oakhurst Forest Preserve (Aurora).
Ice skating is also permitted, but is at your own risk and may only be done so at Oakhurst Forest Preserve.
The Morton Arboretum
You can get a workout while you explore The Morton Arboretum grounds. Snowshoes and cross-country skis are available to rent, so you can check out the 3.5 miles of trails specifically designed for skiing. You could also blaze your own path through the grounds’ 1,700 acres or 16 miles of hiking trails.