Chicago has a rich roller skating history rooted in the James Brown “JB” style, known for elaborate footwork. It’s also the birthplace of roller derby. While rinks are few and far between, you can still get your glide on at select retro-fun spots that have stood the test of time. Introduce your kids to this slick part of Chicago’s history and impress them with your 8-wheeled dance moves at these local hangouts.
photo: kellyv via Flickr creative commons
Glenwood Roller Rink
Roll into Glenwood and you can easily transport yourself to your teen years, skating with hair scrunchied in a crimped, high pony, jeans perfectly pegged and the smell of Electric Youth wafting behind you. Spritz the family with Aqua Net and take a few turns around the rink.
You’ll dig the polished hardwood floor and colored lights gleaming overhead. It sets the scene for open family skate on Wednesday (6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.).
If you have first-timers in your group, lessons are offered for all ages on Saturday from 10:30 am-noon.
656 Holbrook Rd.
MLK Skating and Bowling Center
MLK Skating is a city icon, as it’s just one part of the Chicago Park District’s Dr. Martin Luther King Park and Entertainment Area. Opened in 2003 by Mayor Daley, it’s a popular destination for birthday parties and school field trips.
Skating is open for all ages Monday through Thursday (6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.), Friday (4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. & 7-10 p.m.), Saturday (noon-3 p.m., 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.-10 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.-7:30 p.m.). Admission varies, but the best value is $1 admission on Fridays from 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Once you’ve gotten your fill of skating, you can swap your wheels for bowling shoes or hit the arcade for gaming.
1219 W. 76th St.
photo: cwwycoff1 via Flickr creative commons
Lombard Roller Rink
Family-owned Lombard Roller Rink offers a clean, friendly environment to introduce kids to skating. Families are invited to take a spin Sunday (noon-3 p.m.), Monday (7-8 p.m. & 8-11 p.m.), Wednesday (6:30-8:30 p.m.), Friday (10 a.m.-noon, 3:30-6:30 p.m. & 7:30-10:30 p.m.) and Saturday (11-11:45 a.m., noon-3 p.m. & 7:30-11 p.m.). Make sure you stick around for the end of the daytime sessions because the last 15 minutes is reserved for the Cha Cha Slide.
Chances are, you’ll work up an appetite, which is no problem considering every Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. is Pizza Skate. Families of four get a whole cheese pizza, a pitcher of soda, skate rental and admission for $32. Individual skaters pay $7 and get a free slice, a small drink and admission.
201 W. 22nd St.
photo: Aurora Skate Center
Aurora Skate Center
A DJ, skate games and pizza, pizza, pizza makes for good old-fashioned fun at this west suburban hotspot.
Glide your way around the rink to the tunes of the top 40 every Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. and Friday 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m. This family-friendly skate intersperses freestyle skating with the hokey pokey, backwards skating, races and buddy skating, where two or three people are encouraged to hold hands and do their best not to pull each other to the floor.
Aurora Skate Center shows support for home-schooling families by inviting them to skate every Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Several times throughout the year, special events are planned that allow students to exchange Valentines, share projects they’ve created, skate in costume or swap their favorite cookies for a taste of something new at Christmastime.
Thursday night dinner prep is also whole lot easier because Family Night Pizza Fest happens weekly from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Every family enjoys a whole pizza, pitcher of soda, four admission tickets and skate rentals for $35.
If you prefer a high-energy workout over pizza, Fitness Skate might be just what you’re looking for, and it’s held every Wednesday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sure, you can sweat it out on the treadmill at your local gym, but wouldn’t it be so much more fun to pull up your tube socks and skate your way to feeling good? No need for a babysitter either, because it’s open to all ages.
34W113 Montgomery Rd.
— Maria Chambers