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Let's Go Ice Skating!

By Sara Yaniga, Macaroni KID Chicago January 9, 2022

Although the outdoor rinks have been open for a while, the recent weather is a good reminder that ice skating season is in full swing in Chicago! Whether you are a beginner or experienced skater, we have the scoop on where to skate this winter.

What Gear Do You Need?

Obviously you will need ice skates - either figure or hockey skates will do, but in my experience the figure style skates are often easier to learn on for beginners with the longer blade and toe pick, but either will do fine.  There are also double-blade skates for the very young to help them get more comfortable on being on the ice, but those are not great if you have a child interested in learning to skate recreationally and I have yet to skate at a local rink that offers these to rent. If you plan on taking lessons or enjoy skating enough to do it multiple times a season, a good strategy is to check local resale and thrift shops for used skates, especially for kids who are constantly growing.  Play it Again Sports is usually a great source for used figure and hockey skates (and yes, they will sharpen the blades for you there!)

Don't own skates? Don't worry, you can rent skates for a small fee at most rinks, although some will have a more limited amount than others. For first-time and beginner skaters many rinks also offer guides, or supports, on a first come, first serve basis. 

As for clothing, one of my favorite things about ice skating is that you can participate while wearing anything you are comfortable in, but here is my usual recommendation:

  • Gloves or Mittens to keep your hands warm, especially if/when you fall
  • Pants or leggings, or both if it's really cold out! 
  • Layers for your upper body.  I get hot when I skate, so a turtleneck and warm fleece, lighter winter coat is my standard
  • Long socks that aren't too thick, otherwise your skates may feel too tight and uncomfortable
  • Helmet - totally optional but as a child of the 80's who took figure skating lessons, falls happen and a little head protection would've been nice back then.  Bring your child's bike helmet along in case rentals aren't an option.

Finally, don't forget to pack along some patience! Learning curves will vary from one person to another and the ultimate goal is to just have fun and try something new. 

Where to Skate in Chicago?

The city doesn't disappoint when it comes to places to skate and offers a variety of indoor and outdoor spots where you can channel your inner Dorothy Hamill or Wayne Gretzky (did I just date myself?).  

Here is a list of tried and true spots for your consideration: (with the ever changing COVID protocols in the City of Chicago, please double check hours and policies directly with the location before going) 

Indoor Ice Skating

  • Johnny's Ice House has two locations serving Chicago - East located at 1350 W Madison St and West located at 2550 W Madison Street and both offer parties, private and group lessons for ages from 2 years on up to adults. 
  • McFetridge Sports Center is managed by the Chicago Parks & Recreation Department and is located at 3843 N California Ave.  This rink offers lessons as well as open skate times and all can easily be found on their posted schedule
  • Morgan Park Sports Center is located at 11505 S Western Ave and also operated by the Chicago Parks & Recreation Department and offers drop-in programs, open skate and lessons. 
  • Fifth Third Arena located at 1801 W Jackson Blvd is a Chicago Blackhawks Community Ice Rink and offers options for open skate, lessons and hockey skills development for all ages.
  • Paul Hruby Ice Arena is located at 415 Lake Street in Oak Park and offers open skate and lessons for all ages.
  • Skatium Ice Arena is operated by the Skokie Park District and is open for public skating on the weekends. 

Outdoor Ice Skating (Most open until March)

  • Millennium Park is at 11 N Michigan Ave and open daily unless there is severe weather - such closures are announced on their Facebook and Twitter pages.  Open skate is free with your own skates and rentals are available, as are lessons on Saturdays and Sundays.  Reservations are currently required to allow for social distancing protocols. 
  • Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon at 337 E Randolph St is transformed each winter into an outdoor rink with rentals available inside the field house. Reservations are currently required whether you have your own skates or require rentals. 
  • McKinley Ice Rink at 2210 W Pershing offers open skate, rat hockey (adults), stick & puck or pond hockey and lessons.  Reservations are required and times are released on Mondays.
  • Midway Plaisance located at 1130 Midway Plaisance North (between Ellis and Woodlawn) offers open skate, rat hockey (adults), stick & puck or pond hockey and lessons.  Reservations are required and times are released on Mondays.
  • The Rink at Gallagher Way at 3635 N Clark St transforms into a winter wonderland each year and offers lessons, open skate, curling lessons and ice bumper cars.