The feeling of gliding and sliding and twisting on the ice (and let’s face it, falling) is a staple activity for many families in the winter.
In Champaign-Urbana, the only sheet of ice locally — the University of Illinois Ice Arena — has been closed to the public since mid-March. (Ice Arena, we miss you!)
With the announcement that all events and programs at the Ice Arena have been cancelled through the Spring 2021 semester, some families might be wondering where they can get on the ice within a reasonable, drivable distance for a day trip.
Editor’s note: While we continue to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please remember to keep safety first. Be prepared to wear masks, even when outside, and be sure to maintain appropriate distance. Please note that as conditions change (weather, mitigations for COVID, etc.) some of this information may change without notice. When in doubt, check with the venues.
Here’s the good news: an outdoor ice rink has popped up in Springfield this winter season, thanks to the ingenuity of Springfield area high school students and some generous sponsors. And indoor skating continues, for the time being, in Bloomington — with more options possibly returning later this winter.
Outdoor Ice Rink in Springfield Now Open
The capital city’s newest outdoor attraction will be open through February 28, 2021 with evening and weekend hours daily (closed New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day).
The rink has been constructed, designed, built, and will be run by the Sangamon CEO entrepreneurship program, made up of Springfield area high school students. Thanks to the invention of synthetic ice, patrons will be able to skate no matter the temperature. (However, hours will be weather permitting. Closures will be posted on the @lrsicerink Instagram.)
The new outdoor Springfield ice rink is located right next to one of Central Illinois’ most unique shopping destinations – Scheel’s, which is worth a trip in and of itself just to see the animatronic Presidents (no word if the presidents have been impacted).
Hours: Monday through Friday, 5 to 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday hours 1-8 pm. Skate Rentals are $7; admission is $8 for adults and $5 for kids 10 and under. Healthcare workers are free with employer ID. Students get 10 percent off with student ID.
You must buy tickets and skate rentals online here; there is no cash accepted. Be aware that admission is open and not timed, as of this writing. Our advice: go during the week if you want to avoid crowds.
What else to know: There are supports for kids learning to skate available, first come first serve. You can bring your own skates – but ONLY hockey skates are allowed.
If you go: Find directions HERE. Located about 90 minutes away from Champaign-Urbana.
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Indoor Ice Skating
Bloomington: The Bloomington Ice Center has open skate times available, but plan ahead: skating is by reservation only, and the prime dates fill up quickly as numbers are limited. No walk-ins are allowed. Face coverings are required, locker rooms are not open, and BYOW – bring your own water, as water fountains are closed. All participants must sign a waiver.
Cost: $6 admission, $2 for skate rental.
If you go: Find directions here. Located about an hour from Champaign-Urbana.
Decatur: The Decatur Civic Center suspended its public skating offerings in November, due to COVID-19 mitigations mandated by the State of Illinois. It may possibly open back up as conditions change. Keep an eye on the Decatur Civic Facebook page for updates. (Located about 60 minutes from Champaign-Urbana).
Peoria: The Owens Center, the main ice arena in the Peoria area, suspended its public skating offerings in November, due to COVID-19 mitigations mandated by the State of Illinois. It may possibly open back up as conditions change. Keep an eye on the Owens Center Facebook page for updates. (Located about 90 minutes from Champaign-Urbana).
If you’re willing to drive up to the Chicago area for the ice, there are many options for outdoor skating.
Here’s one of the closest to Champaign-Urbana that comes recommended by locals.
Orland Park Winter Wonderland Ice Rink: This south suburban ice rink is located just a hair under two hours from Champaign-Urbana. Reservations can be made to skate up to 5 days in advance online (plan ahead; reservations go FAST). All visitors are required to pay the $3 admission fee during Warming House hours, which INCLUDES skate rental. FREE Skate aides/walkers are available for use at the rink any time the warming house is open. First come, first serve.
Want more info about fun in Champaign-Urbana this winter? Keep an eye on what’s open and closed for family fun in Champaign-Urbana and visit our calendar of events.