On an unusually warm January day, nothing adds to the dreariness like a soft drizzle that lasts all day, especially for snow-lovers. Living in Chicago, residents have come to expect a blanket of snow to cover the ground for most of the winter months. But this winter has seen unusually high temperatures that have kept the frozen precipitation at bay, much to the chagrin of those looking forward to snowy slopes and calming winter hikes. The snow will come, so in the mean time here are a few snow-themed activities
to keep in mind once it does.
The best thing to beat the winter blues is to tear it up on the slopes. Whether you're a skier or a snowboarder, or simply just an avid tobogganer, a nice hill can equal countless hours of winter-time fun. Although the Chicago area is mostly flat, a bus or car ride out of the city can yield several options.
Norge Ski Club
in Fox River Grove, Ill., offers ski jumping enthusiasts a chance to learn and practice the sport. This venue also hosts activities such as ski jump tournaments and monthly club meetings.
Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park
located in the Buffalo Park Reserve outside of Algonquin is a resort dedicated to boarders. Founded as a snowboard-exclusive area in order to support the growing trend, the slopes are now open to skiers and boarders alike.
Additionally, if you have your own equipment and are looking to just enjoy a lazy winter day on a small hill, exploring nearby parks can potentially yield a nice hill to practice on (that is, if you don't mind trudging up the slope yourself).
A snowy expanse of forest trail can be a calming adventure for anyone of any age. Snowshoes or cross country skis can be the means to a great outing, and it is a way to be out and active during the winter months.
Countless forest preserves and parks are scattered across the state of Illinois, so finding the one for you is as easy as doing a quick web search for the nearest one to you.
For those living in Chicago, Lincoln Park is the largest park in the city at more than 1,200 acres. Though you don't need snow shoes or skis to traverse the paths, the park offers a great opportunity to get a taste of wintertime nature and get you out of the house or apartment.
Whether you want to build your own or whether you want to see a collection of artfully crafted pieces, snow sculptures are a classic part of wintertime. In Chicago there is the Snow Visions sculpture contest
located on Navy Pier. Carving starts Jan. 25-28 and the contest runs from Jan. 27-29. The best part is that it's free to see all the sculptures.
Just like in New York City, Chicago has its own set of seasonal ice rinks located around the city. One of the joys of any season is the sports, and ice skating is one that is exclusive to the winter cold. A list of Chicago ice rinks
gives you locations, times of operation and fees for those looking to enjoy a time on the ice. Chicago's ice rinks are open until Feb. 26 for most of the rinks.
A somewhat unconventional winter activity, this type of outing yields not only fun — but potentially a freezer full of trout. After a short travel north to Winthrop Harbor, Ill., at the northeast corner of the state, you can be fishing brown and steelhead trout through the ice.
Tiger II Charters
and Winthrop Harbor Fishing Charters offer heated ice fishing tents, bait and tackle for a day on the ice. Check out this Chicago fishing website
for some more information about ice fishing on Lake Michigan.
Let it snow
Clearly once the snow starts to fall, the amount of fun you have shouldn't. With the snow and cold weather comes a series of activities and outings that can't be done without them, so don't let the temps keep you indoors. Get out and enjoy the snow while it lasts.
Photo: Serge Melki/Flickr