There is no better way to spend a winter’s day than at the ice skating rink, if you ask me. The smell of the Zamboni, the sound of blades meeting the ice….winter bliss. Can you tell that I was a figure skater in a former life? Well, use my love of the sport and my ice skating tips to be well equipped on your next trip to your local ice rink.
How to prepare
Dress in layers. Comfortable layers. If you choose to skate at an outdoor rink, you will start off being cold but undoubtedly will work up a sweat. Leave the jeans at home and instead wear leggings and sweat pants. You will have much more flexibility…and the ice rink is not a fashion runway. I promise.
Protect the extremities. Your toes and fingers will get cold. So be sure to either double up on socks and gloves or simply wear really thick ones.
Use hand/food warmers. You can pick up packs of hand and foot warmers absolutely anywhere and they are great to have on hand when ice skating. Be sure to not put them directly onto your skin, however. Because no one wants a nasty combo of burns and frostbite all at once.
Rent skates. If you aren’t going to skate consistently, it is best to rent skates or purchase used ones. And we all know that kids grow like crazy, so you must definitely do not want to invest in expensive skates. In Chicago many ice rinks are free but you have to pay (and wait in one of the longest lines I’ve ever seen) to rent ice skates so for us Chicagoans it is best to purchase second hand blades. My favorite place to pick up a pair of skates are Play it Again Sports and there are locations all over Chicagoland. Other options include Craigslist or online Facebook groups—but be sure to meet in public places. Stranger danger applies to ice skating, too!
Involve the kids. Ice skating can undoubtedly be a family friendly activity. That is, as long as you manage your expectations. Kids get cold, they don’t like falling down, and skates aren’t the most comfortable things in the world. So when picking out skates for your kiddos, remember these three things: NO double blades, pick the most comfortable skates, and that the most expensive skate brands aren’t necessarily the best ones for kids. Also be sure to get them a helmet or ice walkers to help them stay safe and gain confidence when they are learning to skate. Most rinks can provide these.
Looking for places to skate in Chicagoland? Here are my top 5 picks:
Lincoln Park Zoo—There is a small skate fee ($5 for admission and $5 for skate rental) but it is hardly ever crowded.
Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon—Not only is the park beautiful, but the skating ribbon lets you take in a ton of scenery while skating instead of being a hamster going round and round on a wheel. Admission is free but there is a fee for skate rental. Be sure to stop by Play it Again Sports first!
Frozemont—There is so much to do at Rosemont’s winter themed spectacular, including free ice skating. Be sure to get your parking validated and try out the snow hill as well as the ice rink.
Chicago View Ice Skating Rink–Enjoy free ice skating in Lakeview next to the absolutely delicious Barcocina. Perfect for either a date night or family fun day.
Chicago Premium Outlets—This rink at the shopping mall is free for kids with adult by mentioning my blog and the code SKATE CPO. We love skating here because we can take a break near outdoor fireplaces and enjoy some complimentary hot chocolate to warm up.
Watts Center, Glencoe—Enjoy two different outdoor ice rinks as well as a sled hill at this winter wonderland nestled on the North Shore. Be sure to take lots of pictures because the scenery is beautiful. And be sure to take advantage of the concession stand, too!
Looking for other winter related fun? Be sure to check out my Winter Survival Guide for Moms.
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