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 cheeks. We’ve already seen our first bit of the white stuff—a bit too early for our liking!—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: reksik004 via Pixabay

IN CHICAGO
Dan Ryan Woods
Located in the Beverly neighborhood, this slope is a well-kept South Side secret. It’s rarely crowded, has hills for both sleds and snowboards 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. W. 87th St. & S. Western Ave. Online: fpdcc.com.

Palmisano Park
The kids will think it’s neat they’re sledding on a former garbage dump—minus the stink—turned sledding hill. Enjoy the magnificent southern view of Chicago’s skyline and the park’s pond and wetlands, and warm up with coffee from Jackalope Coffee or Bridgeport Coffeehouse, located just down the street. 2700 S. Halsted St. Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Caldwell Woods
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. Devon and Milwaukee Avenues. Online: 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. 630 N. Kingsbury St. Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com.

cpd-sleddingphoto: Chicago Park District 

Oz Park
It may not be the biggest sledding hill to be found, but its convenient location keeps Lincoln Park families flocking there. 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. 2021 N. Burling St. Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Soldier Field 
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 kept white and fluffy. With a 33-foot vertical drop, this one is great for the thrill-seekers in your family. Be sure to call (312-235-7000) before you head south for the winter, as sledding is not always available. 425 E. McFetridge Dr. Online: soldierfield.net.

Humboldt Park
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. 1400 N. Sacramento Ave. Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Montrose Harbor
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. 601 W. Montrose Dr. Online: chicagoharbors.info.

chicago-sledding-3photo: Lotzman Katzman via flickr

Gompers Park
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. 4222 W. Foster Ave. Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Horner Park
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. 2741 W. Montrose Ave. Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Warren Park
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. 6601 N. Western Ave. Online: chicagoparkdistrict.com.

cps-sledding-2photo: Chicago Park District 

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). Dodge Ave. & Mulford St. Online: cityofevanston.org.

Blackwell Forest Preserve — Warrenville
Beautiful oak trees surround the 800-foot Mount Hoy sledding hill where $10 rents you a tube for the day. Mount Hoy is only open on the weekends and school holidays (and closes at 4 p.m.) and only for tubing. Never fear sledders, the park does have smaller sledding hills. Nearby you’ll find an ice rink, sleigh rides (check website for updates, as availability has not yet been announced) and snowshoe rental. Butterfield Rd. west of Winfield Rd. Online: dupageforest.org.

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 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. 1011 S. Lombard Ave. Online: pdop.org.

Eldridge Park — Elmhurst
BYO toboggan or sled and let it rip at this spacious, lighted sledding hill. If practicing figure 8s is more your speed, head to the park’s lagoon for skating (allowed when ice is eight inches thick). 363 Commonwealth Ln. Online: 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. 3600 Glenview Rd. Online: glenviewparks.org.

photo: Pezibear via Pixabay

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, 5:30 p.m.-10 pm. 27908 Fairfield Rd. Online: lakevillatownship.org.

Riverwalk Sled Hill at Rotary Hill — Naperville
Right on the Naperville Riverwalk, this sledding hill allows for easy pre- or post-sledding fun with a nearby ice rink and lots of dining options in downtown Naperville. Le Chocolat has the most amazing selection of hot chocolate, for those looking for a liquid warm-up. The hill allows inner tubes and stays open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (9 p.m. on weeknights). 441 Aurora Ave. Online: napervilleparks.org.

Techny Prairie Park and Field — Northbrook
With a 28-foot 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. 1750 Techny Rd. Online: nbparks.org).

photo: ddimitrova via Pixabay

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 near the hill will tell you if sledding is permitted on any given day. Century Park has an ice rink with skate rentals, as well as candy and hot drinks available for purchase. 1401 Indianwood Dr. Online: 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. 3160 Owl Dr. Online: rmparks.org.

— Maria Chambers & Jen Peterson

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