If you're planning on ice skating at the Millennium Park Ice Rink
this season, here are a few tips that you might find helpful to know before you go.
- The rink can get really crowded, which is, of course, part of the fun. But the downside of the crowds is that they often result in long lines for renting and returning skates. If you have your own skates, bring them. Then, you can skate right on to the rink. Otherwise, you may need to plan on budgeting time for standing in line.
- The rink has benches around it and a low-ish wall, so it's easy to bring non-skaters along and invite them to watch. If you have kids that are stable enough to skate without you, you can put them on the ice while you watch from the sidelines, too.
- The ice is Zamboni'd regularly to keep it smooth, so expect official breaks among the skate times.
- There are not a lot of places immediately nearby to get out of the cold and warm up for a bit at Millennium Park. The skate rental area is small and can get crowded. However, there are plenty of decent restaurants within walking distance, including the Park Grill which is right at the rink. That way you can eat and warm up. Here are some solid choices:
- Although no food is allowed on the rink, you can easily stop and enjoy some coffee or hot chocolate from a Thermos or eat a snack that you've brought. However, there are few nearby options to be indoors and eat what you've packed.
- If you get there and you feel it's too crowded or if it's really cold and you want a better option for getting inside to warm up more frequently, stroll over to the nearby skating rink at Daley Bicentennial Plaza. It is located on the north end of the park at 337 E. Randolph.
The Bicentennial Plaza Ice Rink is also a free public rink with paid skate rentals available. This older rink is smaller and tucked away in the park. It's much less frequently Zamboni'd during the day, so it can get pretty rutty by the evening, but it's still, I think, a great alternative to the Millennium Park ice rink. It has a sizable indoor facility where you can warm up, use the restrooms, get a snack out of a vending machine if needed, and still see the rink through the windows.
- For what it's worth, you are not allowed to wear shoes on the ice rink, only skates.
- You can find more about the Millennium Park Ice Rink hours, location, and skate rentals at the Guide to Ice Skating at Millennium Park Ice Rink.