The best hills in the burbs to go sledding on
It's going to be super cold, but there is a bright side to all the snow: sledding.
Here are some of the best hills in the suburbs:
Blackwell Forest Preserve
Butterfield Road west of Winfield Road, near Warrenville
Why it's great: $4 rents you a tube to use all day on the 800-foot run.
What to watch out for: Open only on weekends and school holidays; hill closes at 4 p.m., and tube rental ends at 3:30 p.m.
Rules: Don't bring your own tube -- you have to rent. No sleds.
Other amenities: Cross-country skiers can use groomed trails, and you might spot dog sledders on designated trails.
27908 Fairfield Road, near Lake Villa
Why it's great: In addition to a sizable hill, Caboose Park has one of the area's few toboggan chutes.
What to watch out for: People climbing up in the center of the hill, not the sides.
Rules: Don't build jumps and ramps.
Other amenities: Lighted until 10 p.m.
Proximity to hot chocolate: A short drive east in Lake Villa.
North end of Century Park on Indianwood Drive in Vernon Hills
Why it's great: The Vernon Hills Park District's new warming shelter, Century Park North Pavilion, is located near the sled hill. The restrooms are open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
What to watch out for: The hill is unsupervised, so use at your own risk.
Rules: Sledding is permitted when snow is considered by the district to be deep enough. Check the posted sign at the sled hill to see if sledding is permitted on any given day.
Other amenities: Century Park North Pavilion is staffed from 1 to 9 p.m. on weekends and will offer ice skate rentals and concession sales.
Deer Grove Forest Preserve No. 5
Quentin Road north of Dundee Road in Palatine
Why it's great: It has a sled run that ends over icy Deer Grove Lake for a l-o-o-ng ride.
What to watch out for: Chunks of ice at the bottom.
Rules: No skis, inflatable tubes, carpets, snowboards or metal-rail sleds. Kids under 12 need a helmet and adult supervision.
Other amenities: Open until 10 p.m. with lights.
Proximity to hot chocolate: Caribou Coffee, 581 E. Dundee Road (just west of Rand Road), is a short drive away.
Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve
41W600 Hughes Road near Elburn
Why it's great: A long, steep hill makes for fast sledding and snowboarding, often with a few homemade ramps.
What to watch out for: Not the best choice for small children.
Other amenities: Warming house, sometimes with a fire.
Proximity to hot chocolate: Take a thermos -- the vicinity remains semirural.
Lakewood Forest Preserve
Fairfield and Ivanhoe roads, near Wauconda
Why it's great: The pretty, wooded setting will make you feel like you're in a Norman Rockwell painting until your first trip down this death-defying, steep run.
What to watch out for: It's a long walk back up; a handrail helps. Can get crowded; arrive while the snow is fresh.
Rules: No snowboards or sleds with metal runners
Other amenities: Lighted until 9 p.m.; a small skating pond is near the parking area.
Proximity to hot chocolate: A short drive west in Wauconda.
Meineke Recreation Center
220 E. Weathersfield Way, Schaumburg
Why it's great: A kid-friendly hill with plenty of space.
What to watch out for: Afternoon sun heats up the west-facing hill and it can get icy, which some say adds to the fun.
Other amenities: Meineke Recreation Center next door offers a place to warm up or for parents to work out while older kids sled.
Proximity to hot chocolate: It's Schaumburg -- restaurants are everywhere.
North Salk Park
3160 Owl Drive, Rolling Meadows
Why it's great: Family friendly, with steps for the climb back up.
What to watch out for: Little tykes lingering at the bottom.
Rules: No sledding if a red flag is posted; yellow flag means use caution.
Other amenities: Lighted in the evenings.
Proximity to hot chocolate: The sled hill's right in town, so plenty of options are close by.
Randall Oak Park
1180 N. Randall Road, West Dundee
Why it's great: A good, fast ride but not too intimidating for younger kids.
What to watch out for: Crowds on weekends.
Rules: Snowboarding is allowed.
Other amenities: Scenic, wooded setting near a historic schoolhouse.
Proximity to hot chocolate: McDonald's, Wendy's, Culver's, Garibaldi's and more are less than a half-mile away.
Riverwalk north of Aurora Avenue and west of Eagle Street, Naperville
Why it's great: The steepest point in the city, but not too scary for little kids.
What to watch out for: Popular spot gets crowded after fresh snow.
Rules: No skiing, snowboarding or metal-railed sleds.
Other amenities: Carillon rings every hour so you don't have an excuse to get home late; downtown Naperville location gives parents good shopping options while older kids sled.
Proximity to hot chocolate: Snack shop adjacent to hill.
Fabyan Forest Preserve
Entrances on Route 25 and Route 31 north of Fabyan Parkway, near Geneva
Why it's great: Spectacular setting with a historic Dutch windmill and the Fox River as backdrops.
What to watch out for: Don't look here for solitude, though the wide hill accommodates crowds well.
Other amenities: Lighted on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Proximity to hot chocolate: With the park sandwiched between Geneva and Batavia, sustenance is a short drive away.
Route 176 and Walkup Road, Crystal Lake
Why it's great: Two hills (made by glaciers, not bulldozers) offer serious sledding.
What to watch out for: Your hat -- these hills are fast and steep.
Other amenities: Ice skating; a warming house; lights on one hill at night.
Proximity to hot chocolate: Downtown Crystal Lake is minutes away.
Keith Mione Park
Midlothian Road north of Route 176, Mundelein
Why it's great: It's the village's largest sled hill. And there's no fee.
What to watch out for: It's not supervised, so sled at your own risk.
Other amenities: A lighted ice rink for hockey and other activities is at the same center, as is the Mundelein Community Center.
814 Hart Road, one block south of Route 134 in Round Lake.
Why it's great: Cost is free, but you have to bring your own sled or tube.
What to watch out for: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. you can sled under the lights for a cool effect.
Rules: Toboggans, bike, trike or rail sleds are not allowed. Hill is unsupervised and parents must supervise their children. No ramps or snow moguls may be fabricated.
Other amenities: There is also an ice rink nearby.