Winter outdoor fun at many venues
January 2, 2013 2:46PM
Updated: February 4, 2013 2:42PM
Snow or no, here are some hot destinations for cool winter fun, regardless of the weather.
Downhill skiing in Michigan: Though not much snow has fallen, it’s been cold enough for ski areas across Michigan to make snow. And, two programs offer skiers nice discounts: Discover Michigan Skiing and Ski Free.
More than 20 ski areas in Michigan are participating in Discover Michigan Skiing, which offers discounts to introduce new skiers to cross-country and downhill or snowboarding. The package includes a beginner’s lesson, rental equipment and a lift or trail pass at $20 for cross country, $30 for downhill, and $40 for snowboarding.
To participate, visit www.goskimichigan.com and click on “programs,” then Discover Michigan Skiing. From there, print a Discover Michigan Skiing Value Voucher, then call the ski area of your choice to register.
The program runs through Jan. 31 and is open to skiers ages 7 and older.
Get a Ski Free voucher with the purchase of a minimum of 10 gallons of gas at participating Shell stations in Michigan. The voucher is for a free lift ticket with the purchase of a full-price adult lift ticket at any participating Michigan ski area.
Be sure to get your voucher and receipt stamped while at the Shell station. Next, go online to www.skifreedeals.com to find a list of participating ski areas along with the days and times each will accept the vouchers.
After that, join a friend and hit the slopes.
Toboggan at Pokagon State Park: The refrigerated toboggan runs at Pokagon State Park, near Angola, take riders on a quarter-mile ride, often hitting speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Since the first track was built as a Civilian Conservation Corps project in 1935, tobogganing has been a popular attraction at the park.
Today, riders carry their toboggans up the stairs to the starting point on a 30-foot wooden tower.
Depending on crowds, riders might get one or two rides in an hour or as many as their energy allows them to climb the stairs.
The toboggan run operates Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m. (CST), Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Feb. 24. The run also will be open on school holidays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Jan. 21, and Feb. 18.
A rental toboggan must be used and costs $12 per hour and carries up to 4 people.
Pokagon State Park is about a 21/2-hour drive east on the Indiana Toll Road. Call (260) 833-2012 for more information or the latest conditions.
Skating at Deep River or Millennium Park is cool fun.
The rink at Deep River Water Park in Merrillville is now refrigerated, promising more days of good skating. Hours are 2 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 2 to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays and school holidays.
Admission is $5 for ages 14 and older, and $4 for under 14 or 62 and older. Skate rentals are available for $6. Spectator chaperones are admitted free.
Flanked by “The Bean” and the city skyline, Millennium Park, arguably, is one of the prettiest spots in Chicago.
The free McCormick Tribune ice rink is a delightful bonus.
Rink hours are noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through about March 10.
Skate rentals are available for $10, but there is often a wait. Bring your own skates and you can glide past the line and onto the rink.