When you live in the midwest, particularly in a city affectionately nicknamed for its inclement weather, winter is just a regular part of life. Graceful flurries, slippery sidewalks, and banks of graying snow are all just a part of the winter routine. But there is always magic to be found in winter – especially if you know where to look. Whether it’s watching a great big Christmas tree light up in a city neighborhood or visiting a public skating rink, celebrating the season is as easy as finding joy in the winter weather. One of my favorite ways to enjoy winter in Chicago is to grab a sled and hit the hills! There’s just something about gliding down a hillside with the wind nipping at your cheeks, giggling and squealing all the way down. If you’re ready for some simplistic winter wonderland fun, check out these great sledding hills in Chicago!
S Western Ave & W 87th St, Chicago, IL 60620
Dan Ryan Woods makes a great little Chicago hill for sledding. So you can keep the fun going after the sun goes down (and here in Chicago, that practically feels like mid-afternoon in the depths of winter.) This sweet park is known for its sledding hills and offers plenty of space for sledders and snowboarders to enjoy freshly fallen snow. Enjoy beautiful views of the Chicago skyline as you slip and slide down the hill.
W Devon Ave & N Nagle Ave, Chicago, IL 60646
On the northwest side of Chicago, Caldwell Woods provides a great sledding hill option. A park known for its access to North Branch Trail, it has a variety of diverse habitats that are fun to observe throughout the winter. Their sledding hill is great for the whole family to enjoy, and nearby restrooms and a fire pit offer opportunities to step away and warm up when the cold nips a little too hard.
1410 S. Museum Campus, Chicago, IL 60605
Once football season ends (or just on non-game days), Soldier Field opens the 33-foot hill near the south parking lot for kid-friendly sledding. As long as the weather is cold enough, The Chicago Park District actually makes its own snow, making sledding accessible without having to rely on unreliable weather.
Evanston, IL 60202
Once known for its enormous 65-foot landfill, affectionately known in Chicago as Mount Trashmore, James Park in Evanston has always had a reputation for being a great sledding hill. While Mount Trashmore is now closed for recreation, there are several smaller slopes surrounding it that are great for kids of all ages.
363 Commonwealth Ln, Elmhurst, IL 60126
Eldridge Park is a big, beautiful park in the Western Suburbs. It has a lit hill that is perfect for sledding, complete with paths on either side that make it easier to haul sleds back up to the top. Plus, when the park’s lagoon freezes (at least 8”) you can bring your skates and go ice skating for two winter activities in one visit!
Some of these Chicago sledding hills have limitations on the kinds of sleds you can bring or how much snow needs to be on the ground before they’ll open. Just be diligent in checking to see if they’re open before you pack up the car and bundle up the kids! Don’t forget to bring your camera; you’ll love looking back on these chilly memories in the heat of summer (or even as soon as you get home.)
As a busy mom, I know we often balance a billion things at one time. So it often feels like we can’t actually enjoy parenthood. Unfortunately, these years tend to fly by. As a Chicago photographer, I love helping parents freeze time so they have these moments long after their kids are grown. If you’ve been thinking about booking some pictures for your family, I would love to chat!