A Chicago winter is no joke, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy it — both indoors and outdoors. Twirling about on a sheet of ice on a snowy day is nothing short of picturesque. Embrace the elements with Chicago's best ice skating rinks. Or go a different route entirely... warming up to a mug of cocoa, or a colorful tiki cocktail. Here are two ways to get out and cure that cabin fever in Chicago.
This year, these three ice skating rinks in Chicago are our top picks for delivering on great scenery and unique twists. That's on top of the several outdoor community rinks managed by the Chicago Park District. Check their website for those details.
MILLENNIUM PARK: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink – There’s nothing quite like ice skating to the backdrop of a beautiful city skyline. A favorite every winter is the Millennium Park rink along Michigan Avenue. The 16,000-square-foot rink sits just below the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (affectionately known as the “Bean”), surrounded by an outdoor gallery of sorts with Crown Fountain and accompanying “1004 Portraits” sculptures by Jaume Plensa, and Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry.
Location: 201 E. Randolph Street (THE LOOP)
- Admission: FREE / Skate rental: $12
- Dates: November 18, 2016 - March 5, 2017
MAGGIE DALEY PARK: Ice Skating Ribbon – The newer of the two downtown options, this curvy 400-meter ribbon is a change from the usual oval skating rink. It functions more like a floating lazy river of ice that winds through the park with Lake Michigan to one side and Chicago’s incredible skyline to the other.
Location: 337 E. Randolph Street (THE LOOP)
- Admission: FREE /
Skate rental: $12-14
- Dates: November 25, 2016 - March 2017
Sky Rink at Peninsula Chicago – The luxury property is once again using its outdoor terrace to create winter fun for its guests. The Sky Rink is the only hotel ice skating rink in the city, occupying approximately 2,100 sq. ft. of the fourth floor rooftop patio. To warm up, skaters can opt for a selection of hot beverages and snacks like warm pretzels, warm spiced nuts and beignets from the hotel’s Sky Rink menu.
- Location: 108 E. Superior Street (THE MAGNIFICENT MILE)
- Admission: Price of skate rental ($15 adults, $10 children)
- Dates: November 19, 2016 - March 2017
Now, if you’re too warm blooded to withstand the cold, or if you’re simply looking for a relief from the winter’s chill, these two options will do the trick.
The incredibly, appropriately named Mindy’s HotChocolate might be your first stop. While this place serves up some delicious hot chocolate, as its names suggests, it has a great food menu too. In the vicinity is Rick Bayless’s new Fonda Frontera in Wicker Park, where you can — and should — ask for one of their hot chocolate creations. Another tip? Pair it with a churro.
When you’re downtown, head over to Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop where delights like Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa is served with a decadent Ghirardelli Square on the side. Find more creative cups of hot chocolate with this guide.
Not the sugar overloads of yesteryear, the elevated cocktails at these choice spots are paradise in a glass. In Chicago's hip Northwest Side neighborhood of Avondale is the tiki bar by famed mixologist Paul McGee. An intimate hideaway, Lost Lake is every bit a tropical escape as well as a good ol' neighborhood bar.
In the downtown area, tiny umbrellas can be found at the lively River North hotspot Three Dots and a Dash. Follow the tiki torch lights in the alleyway to find this underground lair. Then take a seat at the thatched bar for their take on classic and modern craft cocktails like "Zombie Punch" and "Bikinis After Dark."