Answers from Our Experts (2)
Don’t let the cold temperatures of Chicago in winter steer you away from the classic winter fun of ice skating. Though warmer temperatures are upon us, there are plenty of places to strap on your skates and hit the ice in late 2013.
If you’re a guest of The Peninsula Chicago — or its restaurant or spa — head to the ice-skating rink on the fourth-floor Terrace for some exclusive chilly fun. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, based in the affluent Gold Coast neighborhood, is right off of the Magnificent Mile, and the skating venue offers views of this shopping mecca and the gorgeous Chicago skyline. Twinkly lights and pine trees, along with a small winter cottage, surrounding the Terrace will get you in the skating spirit. Last winter, the rink was open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.; tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12, with all proceeds going to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Hephzibah Children’s Association. Check with the hotel's concierge about hours and admission cost for the 2013-2014 season.
Head to Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets to skate the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. The rink was open to the public until March 10, 2013; admission was free, with skate rentals for $10 and sharpening services for your own skates for $9. The regular hours for the rink were Monday through Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, noon to 10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If you want to ice skate in the clouds, ascend to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center at the John Hancock Observatory. The Skating in the Sky experience offers fantastic views of Lake Michigan and Chicago and the chance to skate on the world’s highest synthetic ice rink — sitting at 1,000 feet in the sky. You can purchase 25 minutes of skate time for $6, on top of your John Hancock Observatory admission, and rent skates for just $1. General admission runs $17.50 for adults and $11.50 for kids younger than 12, and kids under 3 get in for free. Skating in the Sky typically lasts until early April and offers skating from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m., with the last session sold at 10 p.m.
The place to go skating in Chicago is downtown in Millennium Park, at the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink. Situated smack in the middle of downtown with views of the Frank Gehry–designed Pritzker Pavilion, this is arguably the most popular rink in town. It's full-service with $10 skate rentals, and warm-up hot chocolate--or a full, sit-down lunch--are steps away at the adjacent Park Grill Chicago.
Another popular and lovely skate rink is in Hyde Park on the South Side, at Midway Plaisance Park. It’s massive (83 acres!) and there’s a warming center on site, and the picturesque University of Chicago campus is just across the boulevard. Perhaps the most quaint ice skating rink I’ve ever seen is hidden away on the terrace of the Peninsula Hotel Chicago, a Five Star award winner whose mini-rink opened last winter. There’s a fee ($10 adults, $5 children), but it’s worth it to whirl across the ice in this intimate setting. Ask concierge for details.