By Jonathan Messinger,
Special to the Tribune
November 24, 2013
Living in Chicago means having a complimentary lifetime pass to complain about winter all you like. But true Chicagoans know when to bury that pass deep in their parka pockets and embrace the season.
Here are some ideas for making the most of winter and getting the kids out of the house, regardless of whether the snow comes sooner … or later.
If it snows
Sled in the forest preserve. The Chicago area is about as hilly as Lake Michigan, but local kids know that when there’s snow on the ground, the Cook County Forest Preserve provides some fine sledding runs for young speed demons. There are 10 hills in all, and they’re open 10 a.m. to sunset (or 9 p.m. for the few that have lights). 800-870-3666, free, fpdcc.com.
Go tubing at Villa Olivia. While the forest preserve doesn’t allow inner tubes, the course at Villa Olivia in Bartlett is tailor-made for them. There’s even a “tube lift” that tows you up the hill. You must be at least 6 years old to tube it, though 4- and 5-year-olds may accompany an adult. 1401 W. Lake St., Bartlett, 630-540-4199, villaolivia.com, 4:30-10 p.m. Weather permitting starting December 13th. Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, $20 for ages 6 and over, $5 for ages 4-5.
Snowshoe and cross-country ski at Northerly Island. Northerly Island is about as close to an urban oasis as Chicago has, and nothing proves the point more than the shush-shushing of cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter. Equipment is available to check out for $5 at the fieldhouse. 1521 S. Lynn White Drive, 312-745-2910, chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Northerly-Island
If it doesn’t snow
Strap on skates. Chicago doesn’t lack for lovely — and free! — places to ice skate.
Play in the man-made stuff. Who is Mother Nature to tell us when we can and can’t have snow?
Lie on a luge. It may be a little off the beaten snow path, but there’s a reason the luge is one of the highlights of every Winter Olympics: Its speed is unmatched. Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, about three hours from Chicago in Muskegon, Mich., will train anyone ages 8 and up in downhill daredevilry. It may seem daunting, but as Eminem once said, you gotta luge yourself in the moment. msports.org, 877-879-5843.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC