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.
Glenwood Roller Rink
Roll into Glenwood and you can easily transport yourself to the 80s, 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 Wed. 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Sat., 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.-11 p.m. and Sun. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. If you have first-timers in your group, lessons are offered for all ages, Sat., 10:30 a.m.-noon.
656 Holbrook Rd., Glenwood; Online: glenwoodrollerrinkinc.net
MLK Skating and Bowling Center
MLK Skating is a city icon and a popular destination for birthday parties and school field trips. It's just one part of the Chicago Park District’s Dr. Martin Luther King Park and Entertainment Area opened by Mayor Daley in 2003. The rink is open for all ages Tues.-Sun., with Glow skating every Saturday. 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., South Side; Online: unitedskates.com
Aurora Skate Center
Music, games and pizza, pizza, pizza make for good old-fashioned fun at this west suburban hotspot. Glide your way around the rink to sounds of the top 40 every Sat. and Sun., 1 p.m.-4 p.m. This family-friendly skate intersperses freestyle skating with the hokey pokey, backward skating, races and buddy skating, where two or three people are encouraged to hold hands and do their best to not pull each other to the floor. Beginners can take lessons every Sat., noon-1 p.m.
34W113 Montgomery Rd., Aurora; Online: skateaurora.com
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, Fri.-Sun, and classes are offered for kids every Sat., noon-12:45 p.m. They also offer an artistic skating club that competes in several disciplines and at all levels.
201 W. 22nd St., Lombard; Online: lombardrollerrink.com
The Rink was first opened in 1974 by then-husband and wife duo Carmen Clark and Nate Simpson. The idea was born from a desire to bring entertainment options a little closer to home, as they were always driving to the suburbs for a family night out. Although it has recently changed ownership, the new owners, Ramona and Curtis, are committed to keeping this Chatham neighborhood staple as it's always been. A place that's boiling over with positive energy and a focus on community building. Note: due to planned renovations along with vandalism in November, The Rink is closed with a re-grand opening planned for March.
1122 E. 87th St., Chatham; Online: therinkchicago.com
Fleetwood Roller Stating Rink
Located just outside Chicago in Summit, Fleetwood is celebrating nearly 65 years of showing families a good time. Slide-in for open skate on Wed. and Fri.-Sun. Wobbly skaters can beef up their skills with lessons, Sat., noon-1 p.m. Kids who take lessons can skate for half-price, Sat., 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
7231 W. Archer, Summit; Online: fleetwoodrollerrink.com
Coachlite has open skate Fri.-Sun. and discounted sessions on Wed. You can also book Dart Dasher Nerf where kids engage in nerf gun wars while a light show and music play in the background. These 2-hour private sessions that include pizza and game referees are a great high-energy birthday party idea.
1291 W. Berwyn Ave., Roselle; Online: coachliteskate.com
Tinley Park Roller Rink
Tinley Park Roller Rink believes the fastest path to happiness is found on skates. Who are we to disagree? Visit them for family skates on Sat., Sun. and Wed. They also typically open on school holidays, so follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on schedule changes.
17658 S. Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park; Online: tinleyrink.com
Maggie Daley Park
Infuse a bit of fresh air into your skate session at Maggie Daley's Skating Ribbon. The outdoor ribbon is open Apr. 30-Sep. 26 for rollerblading and mico-scootering. Rentals are available for both. Open skate times vary depending on the month, so check the website before making a plan to visit.
337 E. Randolph, Loop; Online: maggiedaleypark.com
Family Fun Zone
This place is great for families with young kids because it's designed for ages 14 & under. Skate sessions are held Tues., Wed. and Fri.-Sun. Plan a family date night on Wed. when the price of admission also gets you all-you-can-eat pizza. For a budget-friendly option, go on Tues. when admission is just $2.
2333 Theodore St., Crest Hill; Online: familyfunzone.com
Lynwood Sport Center
Lynwood Sport Center has a cinematic history as the rink was featured in the movie Roll Bounce released in 2005. The best time for families to check out this sweet rink is Sat., Sun. and Tues. On Tues., order a large pizza, a pitcher of soda and your skate rentals for up to 4 people for $38.
2030 Glenwood-Dyer Rd., Lynwood; Online: skatelynwood.com
Chicago Athletic Association
Turn skating into a date-night (or day) opportunity with Chicago Athletic Association hotel's pop-up skate events. On select weekends, they host skate programming on the historic Stagg Court. Afterward, visit the Fine Arts Display Case on the 2nd floor to catch a glimpse of the hotel's vintage skates. Keep an eye on their website and Instagram for future announcements.
12 S. Michigan Ave., Loop; Online: chicagoathleticevents.com
— Maria Chambers
Featured photo: Alexander Belyaev via Pixabay