Insider Tips for the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park

By:
Outdoor ActivitiesWinter

Maggie Daley Park offers a unique ice skating experience in the heart of downtown Chicago! It’s pretty special to skate with the skyline as a backdrop. But what about parking? Is it crowded? Do we need to bring our own skates? When is the best time to go? We have tips for the Skating Ribbon to answer these questions and more!

2020 Update: reservations are now required whether you are bringing your own skates or renting on-site.

An Overview

The Skating Ribbon is a winding path with slight inclines and declines and is equal to two laps around a traditional ice rink. Admission is free, so if you have your own skates, all you would have to pay for is parking and the extras: penguin skate assist (don’t worry, we’ll explain), locker, hot chocolate, snacks). With lights around the Skating Ribbon, it would also make a great date night or perfect stop after dinner in the city!

Maggie Daley Park is part of the Chicago Park District and the skating ribbon is managed by Rink Management.

Tips for the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park

Best Place to Park

The Chicago Park District recommends parking at the Millennium Lakeside Garage and that is definitely the closest spot. We checked Spot Hero and it was actually less expensive to book parking online on the Millennium Garages website. We reserved a parking space for three hours (12:00 – 3:00 pm) and it was $14.

When you drive into the Millennium Parking Garage, turn towards the Lakeside garage and park near the Randolph side, which will get you closest to the skating rink. I couldn’t find those directions anywhere, so if you are like me and get turned around underground, make sure you remember what signs to follow once you are in the garage!

Tip:
If you want to park in the most convenient location, head over to the Millennium Park Garages website and choose the Millennium Lakeside Garage. It’s the cheapest option while being steps away from the Skating Ribbon.

Locker Rental

If everyone from your family is skating, we recommend renting a locker for your belongings. Lockers are located in the Fieldhouse (the building right next to the Skating Ribbon) and rental is $3. It’s a great place to put your shoes and whatever else you don’t want to take out on the ice so you can enjoy yourself.

Skate Rentals

You can rent figure skates or hockey skates in the Fieldhouse Building at the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park for $15 on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays (December 20-January 12, 2020) and $13 Monday through Thursday. They have child’s size 8 through men’s size 12. We went on a Sunday and it was not crowded; there were only two people ahead of us in the skate rental line.

Tip:
Bring your own skates to save money! If you don’t have your own, Play It Again Sports is a great place to look before you go. You’ll be glad you have them, especially if you plan on going skating at one of the free, outdoor neighborhood rinks another day.

Skating Assistance

There are railings on both sides of the Skating Ribbon, but the rink also offers gliding penguin sleds for $10 each to assist in skating. A variety of people were using the penguins on the ice rink when we were there, including little ones and adults. So if you have someone with you that is new to ice skating or has special needs, rent a penguin! Penguin rental is a one time fee for the day and does not have a time limit. They are pretty darn cute.

Where to Warm Up

The Fieldhouse has benches both in the main area and between the banks of lockers. The benches are mostly used for putting on and taking off skates, but you are welcome to warm up there.

Hot Chocolate is served in the hut at the park, accessible from the skating ribbon about halfway around the ribbon from the main entrance. You can also follow the path around to the opposite side from the main building, but not with your skates on because it will damage the blades. There are plenty of picnic tables to sit and relax while you enjoy treats.

Bathrooms

There are also bathrooms in the same building as skate rental and lockers. We found them to be clean and there are even rubber mats on the floor so you can keep your skates on.

Tip:
There are changing tables in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms! So all the moms out there don’t have to be solely responsible for taking care of your baby’s diapers.

Regular Hours

Monday-Thursday: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Zamboni Times: 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm 

Friday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm 
Zamboni Times: 12:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 7:30 pm

Please note that skate rental stops thirty minutes before close.

Holiday Hours

Winter Break (December 20, 2019 – January 12, 2020): 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Zamboni Times: 12:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 7:30 pm

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Zamboni Times: 12:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm

Please note that skate rental stops thirty minutes before close.

The Best Time to Go to the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park

We went on a Sunday afternoon and was expecting it to be really crowded, but it wasn’t! There were people skating, but plenty of room on the ice and in the rental building. There was so much hype when it opened in 2014, but the crowds have died down since.

However, please be aware that the Zamboni (machine that clears and smooths the ice) runs at set times each day and could take 45-60 minutes. The times are listed on the website as Monday through Thursday: 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm, Friday through Sunday: 12:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm, and 7:30 pm. The length of time that the ice is unavailable due to ice resurfacing is weather dependent.

Tip:
If you want to make sure you aren’t waiting for the Zamboni, plan your trip around the times listed above. However, arriving when the Zamboni starts isn’t a bad idea. Keep in mind that it also takes time to put your kids’ skates on as well as yours, along with hats, gloves, and scarves!


We hope you found out tips for the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park helpful! If you have more tips to share, comment below!

Looking for more opportunities to ice skate? We have the details on every indoor and outdoor skating experience in and around the western suburbs of Chicago! Click here for our full Ice Skating Guide.

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