Make the climb and then down, down, down you go. Where will you stop? At the bottom of one of the Chicago area’s awesome sledding hills — with a humongous smile on your face. We’ve already seen our first bit of the white stuff — ok, it was just a few flakes, but still counts — take advantage of any upcoming powder at one of the following family friendly slopes. We’ve got you covered from Soldier Field to Vernon Hills.
photo: Chicago Park District
Dan Ryan Woods
Located in the Beverly neighborhood, this slope is a well-kept South Side secret. It’s rarely crowded and is great for all ages – especially little ones thanks to the easy “up” paths. Fun fact to share with the kiddos: Surrounded by a pretty forest, the hill is the remaining basin of a glacier. Located on 87th Street at Western Avenue. (773-233-3766 or online at fpdcc.com).
The kids will think it’s neat they’re sledding on a former garbage dump — minus the stink — turned sledding hill. Parents can sip on coffee from Jackalope Coffee or Bridgeport Coffeehouse, located just down the street, while enjoying the magnificent southern view of Chicago’s skyline and the park’s pond and wetlands. Located at 2700 S. Halsted St. (312-747-6497 or online at chicagoparkdistrict.com).
photo: Chicago Park District
The famous toboggan slides from this Northwest side hill are gone, but this is still a great place to whiz down a snowdrift. It’s easy for small kids to manage, is lit at night, has ample parking – and indoor bathrooms. Plus, there’s a fire pit at the adjacent indoor warming center to warm tiny fingers. Come around lunch or dinner to enjoy Superdawg just around the corner. Located at Devon and Milwaukee Avenues. (847-647-2240 or online at fpdcc.com).
A. Montgomery Ward Park
Don’t forget to grab a coffee or hot chocolate from the Peet’s Coffee and Tea on your way to this park, nestled on the east bank of the Chicago River. Erie Park is perfect for little ones just learning to sled and it’s small enough that toddlers can climb the hill alone. Located at 630 N. Kingsbury St. (312-742-7895 or online at chicagoparkdistrict.com).
photo: Chicago Park District
It may not be the biggest sledding hill to be found, but it’s convenient locations keeps Lincoln Park families flocking there on weekends. When the kiddos retire their sleds for the day, take a stroll through the park to check out the Wizard of Oz statues: Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Dorothy & Toto. Located at 2021 N. Burling St. (312-742-7898 or online at chicagoparkdistrict.com).
The magnificence of Soldier Field is overshadowed in the eyes of children in the winter by the nearby sledding hill. The Chicago Park District creates its own faux snow to supplement the real stuff, so the hill is keep white and fluffy at all times. With a 33-foot vertical drop, this one is great for the thrill seekers in your family. A large parking lot adjacent to the hill makes this one easy to access. Located at 425 E. McFetridge Dr. (312-235-7000 or online at soldierfield.net).
Another hidden gem can be found at Humboldt Park, one of the few hills located on the west side. If the kids aren’t worn out from sledding, enjoy free ice skating in the park. Located at 1400 N. Sacramento Ave. (312-742-7549 or online at chicagoparkdistrict.com).
Shhhh . . . the harbor’s Cricket Hill isn’t officially designated for sledding, but come winter it’s one of the favorite downhill fun spots for city dwellers. Total bonus: this hill has beautiful lakeshore views, and the boat harbor is just as stunning in winter as it is in summer. Located at 601 W. Montrose Dr. (312-742-7527 or online at chicagoharbors.info).
photo: Lotzman Katzman via flickr
A wetland destination in the summertime, Gompers Park slicks up in winter, covering nearly 39 acres in the North Park neighborhood. With its smaller hills, it’s perfect for newbies looking for a minor thrill. Located at 4222 W. Foster Ave. (773-685-3270 or online at chicagoparkdistrict.com).
An Irving Park neighborhood gem, Horner Park is mostly known for its seasonal events and summer sports. However, in between holiday festivities the park’s hills are filled with sled-toting families lined up for snowy thrill-seeking in one of the North Side’s biggest parks. Located at 2741 W. Montrose Ave. (773-478-3499 or online at chicagoparkdistrict.com).
Here you get the perk of a big parking lot that’s rarely full, plus plenty of street parking. Situated in the heart of Rogers Park, the hill is a decent size and known for being a popular destination for toboggan users. It’s also great for little ones since the hill has stairs on either side, starting gates at the top of the hill and a nearby warming house. If you tire of sledding, this park also has one of the city’s best outdoor ice rinks with its official Blackhawks skating rink. Located at 6601 N. Western Ave. (773-262-6314 or online at chicagoparkdistrict.com).
IN THE ‘BURBS
James Park – Evanston
Some people know this park by its former life as a landfill. In fact, its biggest hill is lovingly called “Mount Trashmore” by locals. Pay that no mind — the sledding here is an absolute joy, even if the most massive mount is off limits (the four adjacent slopes, of small and medium steepness, are open for sledding). Field up at the Steak and Shake across the street. Located Dodge Avenue & Mulford Street in Evanston. (847-448-4311 or online at cityofevanston.org).
Blackwell Forest Preserve – Warrenville
Beautiful oak trees surround the 800-foot Mount Hoy sledding hill where $5 – $7 rents you a tube for the day. Mount Hoy is only open on the weekends (and closes at 4PM) and only for tubing. Never fear sledders – the park does have smaller sledding hills. Nearby you’ll find an ice rink, sleigh rides and snowshoe rental. Located on Butterfield Road west of Winfield Road in Warrenville (630-871-6422 or online at dupageforest.org).
photo: Barrie Park
Barrie Park – Oak Park
Climb the stairs to the tippy-top of this gentle slope that’s oh-so popular on snowy Saturdays. The hill was recently redesigned for better flow but still can get icy which means the big kids will love going fast and little ones may need a grown up to ride with them. Located at 1011 S. Lombard Avenue in Oak Park (708-725-2000 or online at pdop.org).
Eldridge Park – Elmhurst
BYO toboggan or sled and let it rip at this spacious, lighted sledding hill. If practicing figure 8’s is more your speed, head to the park’s lagoon for skating (allowed when ice is eight inches thick). Located at 363 Commonwealth Ln. in Elmhurst (630-993-8900 or online at epd.org).
Flick Park – Glenview
This lighted sledding hill has a roughly 30-degree slope that cascades into an open field. Bonus: convenient adjacent parking. Located at 3600 Glenview Rd. in Glenview (847-724-5670 or online at glenviewparks.org).
Caboose Park – Lake Villa
In addition to a sizable hill, Caboose Park has one of the few toboggan chutes in the area. It’s also one of the few hills lit for late night sled goers. The lights are on daily until 10 pm. Located at 27908 Fairfield Rd., Lake Villa (847-356-2116 or online at lakevillatownship.org).
Century Park – Vernon Hills
We love this one because of its awesome warming shelter (open weekends only) and nearby restrooms. Sledding is permitted when snow is considered by the Park District to be deep enough; a sign posted sign near the hill will tell you if sledding is permitted on any given day (the website has the information, too). Century Park has an ice rink with skate rentals, as well as candy and hot drinks available for purchase. Located at the north end of Indianwood Drive in Vernon Hills (847-996-6800 or online at vhparkdistrict.org).
North Salk Park – Rolling Meadows
Very family friendly, especially for little ones because it’s one of the few hills with steps for the climb back up. There is no sledding allowed if a red flag is posted; a yellow flag means use caution. In the evenings, the hill is lit up. Located at 3160 Owl Dr. in Rolling Meadows (847-818-3220 or online at rmparks.org).
Riverwalk Sled Hill at Rotary Hill – Naperville
Right on the Naperville Riverwalk, this sledding hill allows for easy pre or post sledding fun and dining by walking into downtown Naperville. For older kids, the hill allows inner tubes and stays open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (9 p.m. on weeknights). Located at 441 Aurora Avenue in Naperville (630.848.5000 or napervilleparks.org).
Techny Prairie Park and Field – Northbrook
With a 28-foot high hill, Techny Prairie Park and Fields may seem overwhelming for smaller sledders. However, the hill has stairs making it a ball for kids of all ages. It is well lit at night and has a warming house for kids (or parents) who need a burst of heat. Located at 1750 Techny Road in Northbrook. (847-291-2960 or nbparks.org).
What is your favorite place to go sledding? Let us know in the Comments!
— Maria Chambers & Jen Peterson