Ice skating in the shadow of Cloud Gate is one of the most popular winter activities in Chicago. More than 100,000 people flock to the Millennium Park patch of ice each season to twirl against a backdrop of beautiful skyscrapers, the beloved City of Chicago Christmas tree, and, of course, the city's most iconic landmark: "The Bean." The skating season generally kicks off in time for Thanksgiving and runs through March. Exact opening and closing dates fluctuate based on weather, so check the conditions on the Millennium Park website before planning a trip.
Ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink will not be offered as part of Millennium Park's 2020-2021 holiday attractions. The space will still feature a 50-foot Christmas tree, but the rink will remain closed for the season.
Opening Times and Admission
The ice rink at Millennium Park typically opens in November, ahead of Turkey Day celebrations, and doesn't close until spring. It's free to enter—just pick up a wristband at the rink—and open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. on Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Opening times are weather dependent.
You can bring your own skates or rent a pair for $13 Monday through Thursday or $15 Friday through Sunday and on holidays. Skate aides and blade sharpening are also available for an extra fee.
Free ice skating lessons are offered by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events every weekend, as well as during Chicago Public Schools winter break and on select public holidays. Additionally, the Millennium Park Foundation puts on regular DJ Nights—again, all free—from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month.
Nearby Places to Dine and Drink
The Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink keeps hot cocoa and other wintry treats on tap, but for something a little more filling, it's worth checking out the area's thriving culinary scene.
- Acanto: This carb-loving eatery specializes in southern Italian flavors. Think: hand-crafted pastas, stone-oven pizzas, and artisanal ingredients. It's adjacent to The Gage, directly across the street from Millennium Park, and less than a block away from the Art Institute of Chicago.
- Chicago Athletic Association Hotel: Perhaps the biggest draw of this hotel, overlooking Millennium Park, is its dining and drinking establishments. Cindy’s is a rooftop restaurant and bar reminiscent of a Great Lakes beach house; The Milk Room is an eight-seat micro-bar offering pastries and coffee during the day and high-concept cocktails by night; The Game Room houses two bocce courts, pool tables, table games, around 300 seats, couches, a 15-seat bar, and bottled Manhattans; and The Cherry Circle Room whips up gourmet cocktails all day long.
- The Gage: As much an after-work watering hole as it is a serious dining destination, The Gage cranks out chef-driven, Irish-influenced American fare.
- Lockwood: The modern restaurant tucked inside the iconic Palmer House Hilton centers around a farm-to-table concept.
- Forum 55: Open for breakfast and lunch only, this food hall has much to offer in its fast-casual stalls. Order sushi, tacos, noodles, or a big salad and then head to Millennium Park.