Super Slopes! Where to Go Sledding in Chicago & Beyond

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Editor’s Note: What’s open and what’s not is ever-changing during COVID-19 mitigations, so please check with each sled hill prior to a visit to inquire on availability.

Make the climb and then down, down, down you go. Where will you stop? At the bottom of one of Chicago’s awesome sledding hills—with a humongous smile on your cheeks. Since we haven’t seen any real snow yet this season, the anticipation is building. You’ll want to know exactly where to go to enjoy it once it does come. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered from Soldier Field to Vernon Hills.

IN CHICAGO

photo: istock

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. Sledding hills have lighting and are staffed Sun.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Fun fact to share with the kiddos: Surrounded by a pretty forest, the hill is the remaining basin of a glacier. Call 773-233-3766 for sledding hill status. W. 87th St. & S. Western Ave., Beverly; 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., Bridgeport; 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. You may want to try some cross-country skiing while you are there. Go around lunch or dinner to enjoy Superdawg just around the corner. Call 847-647-2240 for sledding hill status. Devon & Milwaukee Avenues, Norwood Park; Online: fpdcc.com

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. Street parking and bathrooms available during Fieldhouse hours, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 2021 N. Burling St., Lincoln Park; 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. There’s a little staircase built-in to help with the climb back up. Plastic sleds only. Be sure to call 312-235-7000 before you head south for the winter, as sledding is not always available. 425 E. McFetridge Dr., Near Southside; 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. Bathrooms available during Fieldhouse hours, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-7 p.m. & Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 1400 N. Sacramento Ave., Humboldt Park; 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. Locals tend to create some bumped-out runs so you lift off and catch some air if you are daring. 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., Uptown; Online: chicagoharbors.info

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. Fieldhouse hours, Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. 4222 W. Foster Ave., North Park; 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. Fieldhouse hours, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 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., Rogers Park; Online: 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 mound is off-limits (the four adjacent slopes, of small and medium steepness, are open for sledding only). Dodge Ave. & Mulford St., Evanston; 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., Warrenville; 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., Oak Park; Online: pdop.org

Eldridge Park — Elmhurst

BYO sled, tube or saucer, and let it rip at this spacious, lighted sledding hill. Lights turn on around 4 p.m. and the sled hill will close at 11 p.m. daily. Status of each of the sled hills will be communicated during the winter via the Rainout Hotline. 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., Elmhurst; Online: epd.org

Flick Park — Glenview

This lighted sledding hill has a roughly 30-degree slope that cascades into an open field. Hill is lit until 10 p.m.. Please call 847-724-3337 (followed by extension 24) after 10:30 a.m. for current sled hill conditions. Bonus: convenient adjacent parking. 3600 Glenview Rd., Glenview; Online: 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, 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. 27908 Fairfield Rd., Lake Villa; 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. 441 Aurora Ave., Naperville; 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., Northbrook; Online: nbparks.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 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., Vernon Hills; 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., Rolling Meadows; Online: rmparks.org

Villa Olivia — Bartlett

For a downhill experience with a little more intensity, head to Villa Olivia. Participants must be at least 6 years old and 42 inches tall to ride alone. Ages 4 and 5 may rideshare with a paying adult age 18 and over. For safety reasons, no one under the age of 4 may go snow tubing. Fee includes two hours of snow tubing, use of the conveyor lift (aka magic carpet) and snow tube. Snow tubing is not guaranteed without an online reservation. For daily updates on availability and conditions call the snow phone at 630-540-4199. 1401 W. Lake St., Barlett; Online: bartlettparks.org

— Debra Flanagan

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