Hit the ice
Polish up your blades and hit one of our favorite rinks -- if you own your own skates there are no fees involved.
Daley Bicentennial Plaza: Officially in Grant Park, but just a hop, skip and jump from the Millennium Park rink and usually far less crowded. (Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., 773-478-2609)
Warren Park: On the City's Far North Side, it has the added advantage of a sledding hill nearby to get the total winter experience. (6601 N. Western Ave., 773-761-8773)
Snowboarding is easier said than done in the flatlands of Chicago. Shred Shop manager Matt Thommen names the closest epic slopes:
Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park in Dundee (about 45 miles from downtown Chicago) has jumps, rails and features on every run. Ragingbuffalo.com.
Wilmot Mountain, right over the state line in Wilmont, Wis. (about 65 miles from downtown Chicago) has a variety of terrains for beginners and seasoned riders to bomb down runs and park. Wilmotmountain.com.
Alpine Valley Resort in Elkhorn, Wis. (about 90 miles from downtown Chicago) is worth the extra half-hour each way if you want lots of slope time; the high-speed lifts more than double your boarding time.