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updated: 12/8/2010 4:30 PM

Ice picks: Outdoor skating no rinky-dink pastime

Ice picks: Outdoor skating no rinky-dink pastime

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  • Cold weather means a return to the ice at City Skate in Elgin.

      Cold weather means a return to the ice at City Skate in Elgin.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Patrick Mojsa, 7, of Norridge, smiles as he skates away from the help of his father, Marek Mojsa, at the new outdoor skating rink in Rosemont.

       Patrick Mojsa, 7, of Norridge, smiles as he skates away from the help of his father, Marek Mojsa, at the new outdoor skating rink in Rosemont.
    Rena Naltsas | Staff Photographer

  • The Arboretum of South Barrington opened their first outdoor skating rink last month.

      The Arboretum of South Barrington opened their first outdoor skating rink last month.
    Courtesy of the Arboretum of South Barrington

  • Don't have skates of your own? No problem. The Arboretum of South Barrington includes a pair with your skating fee.

      Don't have skates of your own? No problem. The Arboretum of South Barrington includes a pair with your skating fee.
    Courtesy of the Arboretum of South Barrington

  • The Chicago skyline makes a great backdrop, day or night, for ice skating in Millennium Park.

      The Chicago skyline makes a great backdrop, day or night, for ice skating in Millennium Park.
    Courtesy of City of Chicago / GRC

  • Give skating a whirl at Chicago's Millennium Park.

      Give skating a whirl at Chicago's Millennium Park.
    Courtesy of City of Chicago / GRC

  • Cold weather means the return of the outdoor rink in Elgin.

      Cold weather means the return of the outdoor rink in Elgin.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Sydney Cesare, 7, and her father Michael stop by the new outdoor skating rink in Rosemont during their stay at Embassy Suites.

       Sydney Cesare, 7, and her father Michael stop by the new outdoor skating rink in Rosemont during their stay at Embassy Suites.
    Rena Naltsas | Staff Photographer

 
By Samantha Nelson

Just because winter is here doesn't mean you have to go into hibernation mode. Outdoor ice skating rinks make the most of the cold weather, offering the opportunity for you to get a little exercise and fresh air. Whether you head to a rink that's been around for a decade or one that just opened this year, bundle up, grab your skates and get ready to hit the ice.

Here's a sampling of some of the newer, and larger, outdoor skating rinks in the area.

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• The Alexian Brothers Skating Plaza at The Arboretum of South Barrington, 100 W. Higgins Road, South Barrington, (847) 426-6200; shopthearboretumsb.com

Price: $5; free for kids under age 7; includes skate rental

Hours: 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

After three years of planning, The Arboretum of South Barrington opened a seasonal rink for the first time this year.

"We felt it's a really neat attraction," said director of marketing Aaron Gadiel. "We're trying to attract people during the holiday season and give them something to do while they shop. Everyone loves ice skating, and outdoor ice skating is such a rarity these days."

Despite cold temperatures and strong winds, more than 400 people visited the rink during its opening weekend. The rink is set up in the parking lot, with a 40-foot Christmas tree standing nearby along with a stage where school choirs and children's artists perform.

"We made the determination that taking up 20 parking spaces to create a skating rink that would attract hundreds of people was a good move," Gadiel said.

• Roselle Town Center Plaza Ice Skating Rink, Town Center Plaza at the corner of Main and Prospect streets, Roselle, (630) 980-2000; roselle.il.us

Price: Free; skate rental is not available

Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; through Monday, Jan. 31. Grand opening ceremony is at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13.

The newest addition to the suburban ice-skating scene opening Monday, Dec. 13 is also a technologically advanced one. Roselle's ice rink has a plastic polymer surface that doesn't require water or frosty weather to maintain the fun factor.

Skate rental is not available, so visitors should bring their own; the surface is most effective with freshly sharpened skates.

• The Park at Rosemont, River Road between Bryn Mawr and Balmoral Avenues, Rosemont; rosemont.com

Price: Free; $8 skate rental

Hours: 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday; through Feb. 27. The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily Dec. 18 to Jan. 5.

Open for the first time this year, the outdoor Rosemont rink features refreshments and music and will be housed at the future site of The Park at Rosemont. The entertainment center is under construction now and is expected to open in 2012.

• The Rink at Wrigley, Clark Street and Waveland Avenue, Chicago, (312) 617-7017; rinkatwrigley.com

Price: $10; $6 for kids; skate rentals $5 to $10. Admission and rentals are half-price Monday through Thursday.

Hours: 2 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 2 to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; through Feb. 28

This is the second year for The Rink at Wrigley, which is constructed in a parking lot to the west of Wrigley Field. Last year 15,000 people came out to skate. In addition to some cosmetic upgrades, this year's rink will also have an improved sound system playing holiday tunes. Hot chocolate is available for purchase and there are plenty of nearby restaurants offering food.

"It's a perfect way to involve the community in winter fun around the ballpark," said Mike Lufrano, senior vice president of community affairs. "It helps local businesses, keeps our neighborhood a top destination for tourists and families year round and it's a lot of fun."

• McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Madison Street, Chicago, (312) 742-1168; millenniumpark.org

Price: Free; $10 skate rentals

Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; through March 13. Holiday hours vary.

Since it opened 10 years ago, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink has been bringing in more than 100,000 skaters annually.

"It's surrounded by such a beautiful skyline," said Millennium Park artistic director Ralph Flores. "I think it's actually even prettier than Rockefeller Center. Obviously it's also part of one of the true icons of Chicago, Millennium Park. People come here from all over the world."

The rink is set up in front of the Park Grill Café and uses a refrigeration system so that you can keep skating even in 60-degree weather. For some extra holiday cheer, come between 6 and 7 p.m. Fridays through Dec. 17 and hear city choral groups caroling at the Cloud Gate sculpture. After skating, many visitors like to head to nearby stores, check out exhibits at the Chicago Cultural Center or visit one of the local bars or restaurants.

• City Skate at Civic Center Plaza, 150 Dexter Court, Elgin, (847) 931-6140; cityofelgin.org

Price: Free; $4 skate rentals

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; through Feb. 27

Now in its 10th year, City Skate uses a refrigeration system to keep the rink open longer in the season than most natural ice rinks. More than 6,000 people came out last year, with seniors skating during the day and kids and families taking over when the warming shelter opens for skate rentals. Vending machines sell coffee, hot chocolate, chips and candy. Private and group skating lessons are available.

• Century Park North, 1001 Lakeview Parkway, Vernon Hills, (847) 996-6616; vhparkdistrict.org

Price: Free admission and skate rental

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, weather permitting

Vernon Hills ice skating moves from Hartmann Park to Century Park North this year, where a new warming shelter at the bottom of the sled hill is currently under construction. When it's up and running, the building will be staffed from noon to 8 p.m. on weekends, selling concessions and renting skates to use on a rink set up on the basketball court.

"It's a better location," said communications manager Cheryl Baron. "There's a whole bunch of renovating going on over there and this is just one aspect of the renovation."

• Centennial Park, 500 W. Jackson Ave., Naperville, (630) 848-0993; napervilleparks.org

Price: Free

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Centennial Park offers two natural rinks for hockey and a free skating area.

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