Sock skating on a wooden floor might be fun, but there’s nothing like feeling the cool breeze on your face as you glide across a real ice rink. It’s time to lace up your skates for an essential winter activity. Keep reading to find great places to skate outside. Some of them are new — and many are free!

photo: Maria Chambers

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park

Whirl and twirl with the skyline at your side. The Crown Fountain might be closed for the winter, but you’ll feel like Princess Elsa as you cast your ice spells over this local favorite.

Bonus: You'll skate in the shadow of Cloud Gate and can grab a bite at the nearby Park Grill.

Open through March 10, 2019. Admission is free. Skate rental is $13+. 201 E. Randolph St., The Loop (312-742-1168 or cityofchicago.org).

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Maggie Daley Park

The Maggie Daley Park ice skating ribbon is one of the best spots in the city to skate a figure eight. The railing that lines the loop is the perfect pick-me-up for wobbly skaters.

Open thru early March 2019. Admission is free. Skate rental is $13+. 337 E. Randolph St., (312-742-3918 or maggiedaleypark.com).

Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Score a hat trick: Shopping, movies and ice skating. Make it extra special December 8, 3 p.m.-5 p.m., with the Skate and Screen with Santa event at the magical Whoville themed ice rink. Enjoy ice skating with Santa, face painting, crafts, gourmet hot cocoa and a visit from The Grinch. Go dressed as your favorite Whoville character for your chance to win great prizes including movie tickets to CMX Market to see The Grinch

Open now through the end of December. Admission is $10. Skate rental is $5. 4905 Old Orchard Center, Skokie (847-673-6800 or westfield.com).

Midway Plaisance Park

Get your glide on where the first-ever Ferris wheel once stood. The 1893 World Colombian Exposition’s answer to the Eiffel Tower was 264 feet tall. Today, the “midway” point between Jackson and Washington Parks is the perfect place to take the kids for lessons or Family Skate. Or, leave them at home for adult-only Rat Hockey.

Bonus: The warming center offers seats and reprieve from the cold and is also a great spot to check out your fellow skaters.

Keep up-to-date on the status of city rinks on their website.

Opening end of November through the end of February. Admission is $3/adults; children and students free. Skate rental is $6. 1130 Midway Plaisance North, Hyde Park (312-745-2470 or chicagoparkdistrict.com).

photo: Chicago Park District

Warren Park

The north side’s largest park is home to the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Rink. You may not find professional hockey players, but you will find a warming hut, and — essential for parents bringing kids — bathrooms!

Bonus: Free parking.

Keep up-to-date on the status of city rinks on their website.

Open through the end of February. Admission is $3/adults; children and students free. Skate rental is $6. 6601 N. Western Ave., Rogers Park (773-262-6314 or chicagoparkdistrict.com).

photo: Parkway Bank Park

Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont

In the wintertime, Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont offers skating in the park, where The Chicago Wolves ice rink takes center stage with the perfect ticket price: free. Easy parking and plenty of dining options round out the seasonal fun.

After untying your skates, head over to the Sugar Factory and warm up with over-the-top hot cocoas.

Open November 23-February 24, 2019. Admission is free. Skate rental is $8. 5501 Park Pl., Rosemont. More info at rosemont.com.

photo: Chicago Park District

McKinley Park

McKinley Park, named after our 25th president, was the first of the South Side neighborhood parks. It offers everything from lessons to family skate to pond hockey. There’s free parking galore, and it’s close to Orange Line.

Bonus: Warm up with a cup of chili at nearby Lindy's Chili (3685 South Archer Avenue), a South Side favorite.

Keep up-to-date on the status of city rinks on their website.

Open end of November through the end of February, 2019. Admission is $3/adults; children and students free. Skate rental is $6. 2210 W. Pershing Rd., McKinley Park (312-747-6527 or chicagoparkdistrict.com).

Watts Center at Watts Park

Double the fun! Watts Center boasts not one but two outdoor ice rinks. Tucked away in north suburban Glencoe, this gem offers plenty of free parking. Warm up in the rec room and grab a snack from the concession stand.

Bonus: Adjacent to the ice rinks is a sledding hill.

Open November 23 through March 4, 2019. Admission is $8/adults; $6/children. Skate rental is $4. 305 Randolph St., Glencoe (847-835-4440 or glencoeparkdistrict.com).

Wicker Park

The 60-foot-wide by 120-foot-long non-refrigerated "WickerICE" rink puts you in the middle of this hip neighborhood's action. Best of all: it's free!

Open December 1 through February 28,2019, when the temps are below freezing. Admission is free. Bring your own skates. Damen Ave. and West Schiller St., Chicago (wickerpark.org).

— Maria Chambers & Amy Bizzarri

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