6 Amazing Winter Playgrounds in Illinois

Crisp air. Fresh snow. Ice rinks and ski slopes and snow-sculpting contests. Winter in Illinois is a time for limitless adventures.

Crisp air. Fresh snow. Ice rinks and ski slopes and snow-sculpting contests. Winter in Illinois is a time for limitless adventures.

See the full 12 Days of Illinois countdown here.

1. Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon

Forego the typical rink roundabout for Maggie Daley Park’s Skating Ribbon, overlooking Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago. With the city skyline as its backdrop, this stretch of ice weaves its way through a beautifully manicured landscape. Stop to take in the scenery (as well as a piping cup of hot chocolate) and revel in this unique urban skating adventure.

2. Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition

Rockford’s Sinnissippi Park is home to Illinois’ premier snow sculpting competition, which began as a passion project for a local businessman in 1987. Today, the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition hosts state and high school teams from across Illinois that face off for the chance to represent their crews in the national finals. More than 30,000 fans show up to cheer on their favorites every January. Check it out this year from January 17-20.

3. Starved Rock State Park Winter Sports

From winter hiking to ice climbing, Starved Rock State Park in Utica is a popular destination for the cold-weather outdoor enthusiast. Imagine the crunch of newly fallen snow as you trek your way through the pristine woods and the majesty of the frozen waterfalls that mark this stunning terrain, which was formed by glacial meltwater eons ago.

4. Chestnut Mountain Resort Nighttime Skiing

Historic Galena is home to Chestnut Mountain Resort, where 3,500 feet of fresh powder awaits all levels of skiers and snowboarders. The real magic begins once the sun goes down and the snow literally glows during the weekly Fantastic Friday, when the slopes stay open until midnight. Illuminated ski runs light up the night during the months of January and February.

5. East Peoria Festival of Lights

Stepping off the Saturday before Thanksgiving with a sparkling parade, the East Peoria Festival of Lights is a popular holiday attraction now in its 32nd year. Don’t worry if you miss the procession. The festive floats are the star feature at Folepi’s Winter Wonderland, which is open through December 31, along with an array of holiday activities that you’ll want to put on your nice list.

6. Alpine Hills Adventure Park & Golf Center

The Snow Park at Alpine Hills offers mountains of fun in the heart of the city! This 5-acre snow park is divided into separate tubing and terrain park sections designed to accommodate riders of all abilities. On-site snowmaking equipment will keep the snow park covered with fresh powder as temperatures permit. The handy surface lift will bring tubers and boarders to the top of the hill so more time is spent riding down and less time hiking up.