A Winter’s Tale: Ice Skating in Millenium Park

Chicago is known for packing in outdoor fun in the summer months, but don’t assume a drop in degrees scares everyone inside. Chicagoans can be seen gliding, staggering, slipping, and pirouetting on the ice all winter long.

Free Skate

Nestled under The Bean along Michigan Avenue,  the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millenium Park is the most recognizable of the ten rinks citywide. Admission to all rinks is free, with the exception of the Rink at Wrigley and the McFetridge Sports Center, which is year-round indoor rink. Bring your own skates or rent them for a nominal fee and you’re off on the ice!

Entertainment on Ice

It’s one thing to admire the postcard-worthy vantage of the Millenium Park rink and quite another to sail gracefully into the scene with impeccable balance and rosy cheeks, the difference being that skating is much more fun! I have fond memories of ice skating as a kid, when the distance to fall was far less, but the memory of months more recently spent in a shoulder cast kept me shy of the rink for too long.

Haven’t skated in a while, or ever? It’s a bit like riding a bike, or rather, roller blading. The real challenge isn’t in the footwork, but the entertaining awareness of your fellow skaters. It’s easy to get distracted by the woman performing double axels at center ice and overlook the fellow who’s lost his balance, grasping for the edge and heading straight for you. A kid up to your knee-caps maneuvers laps between all as you manage to avoid crashing into the high school clique skating four-across around a turn.

Skating in the city, with a refreshing chill in the air, a cup of cocoa, and Mariah Carey’s encouragement through the speakers, is only improved after a few turns round the rink when you’re able to look up and enjoy the stunning skyline. The $10 skate rental fee is well worth an hour or entire afternoon of winter delight downtown, in an activity that I’m surprised to say I’ll be enjoying much more before March 11, 2012 at the close of rink’s skating season.

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Michigan Ave. & Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Mon -Thurs: 12 pm — 8 pm
Fri: 12 pm — 10 pm
Sat (through Dec.17): 10 am — 10 pm
Sat (beginning Jan. 7): 10 am — 9 pm
Sun: 10 am — 9 pm

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