One of the cheapest, easiest, and most fun things to do in the winter is to go skating outdoors. One of the better places to do this in Chicago is at the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park.
The ice skating ribbon can be found in the Maggie Daley Park section of Grant Park in the Loop. This public skating venue opened in December of 2014 and has been a popular winter stop in Chicago ever since. It is unique in that, it is not just an oval rink, like most skating parks (indoor or outdoor). It loops around a quarter mile path and also has different elevations. This means that you are skating on an incline or decline in various sections. These are not steep, so you won’t feel like you are struggling to get up the hill or speeding out of control going down. It is very subtle.
If you are not an experienced skater, the nice thing about skating here is that there are people out there of all skating abilities. They have railings along the edges if you need to stop for a moment or two. The best part is you don’t have a bunch of hockey players speeding around or playing tag. I raised a couple of hockey players. Trust me, I know.
Admission is FREE if you own your own skates. Rentals cost between $13-15 depending on the day of the week. They also have lockers that you can rent for your belongings (only $2.00). You can also pre-purchase parking at the Millenium Lakeside Garages but you might be able to find cheaper parking if you are willing to walk a bit.
The biggest thing you need to know about is the Zamboni run times. It takes anywhere from 45-60 minutes for the Zamboni to clear the ice. Yes, that long. And you don’t want to be arriving right when it starts and get stuck sitting there for an hour. Or getting on the ice for a short time only to be told you have to get off so they can clean the ice. Speaking from experience here folks. They have a schedule on the website but even there they suggest you follow them on twitter (@MaggieDaleyPark) because the schedule could change depending on the weather.