There are 351 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and Canada, and a recent edition of the "Places Rated Almanac" ranks Milwaukee fifth in recreational opportunities. That means we have more to do than 346 other cities across North America. Although we have no mountains and Colorado is a long hike, especially in winter, Milwaukee is hard to beat when it comes to winter sports.
The great outdoors offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, outdoor climbing and a virtual buffet of other activities. But Milwaukee offers a bevy of indoor winter sports, too. Here's a sampling of options you have as the temperature plummets and Summerfest is but a distant memory.
Pettit National Ice Center
500 S. 84th St. at I-94
At the home of the U.S.Olympic speed skating team, you can enjoy the country's premier 400-meter oval, two full-size hockey rinks and a running track encircling the whole thing. Lessons are offered in hockey, figure skating and speed skating and there are yoga classes. Public skating is $7 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. Group rates are available. Skate rentals cost $3.
Public skating hours: Monday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7:10 to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. and 7:10 to 9 p.m.
Wauwatosa Curling Club
7300 Chestnut St., Wauwatosa
Wauwatosa Curling Club
Curling is a popular sport in the Great Lakes and Canada (as well as Scotland and Scandanavia). Somewhat like lawn bowling on ice, players maneuver a 40-pound stone toward a target. Teammates use brooms as competitors come at them with their brooms. Sound interesting? It is! Check it out. The Tosa club hosts a number of tournaments and serves as the home of curling in the Milwaukee area. They'll even let you try it. Call for details. Is the Wauwatosa Curling Club out of your area? Well you can check out The Wisconsin Curling Association for a club near you.
Wilson Park Ice Arena
4001 S. 20th St. (just south of Howard Avenue)
The Milwaukee Admirals called this home before moving to the Bradley Center, and today a number of amateur and youth hockey leagues play here. The amateur Badger speed-skating club practices here. You can come and skate, too, during open skating. Admission: $5.50 adults, $3.75 for individuals 11-17 and senior citizens, $3.25 for those 10 and under. Skate rental is $2.50.
Eble Ice Arena
19400 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield
Eble Ice Area
For western suburban dwellers, Eble offers numerous youth and adult hockey leagues and hosts the greater Milwaukee Figure Skating Club. Daily open skating sessions are also scheduled. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for juniors under 18 and senior citizens. You can rent skates for $2.50.
Open skating hours: Monday through Friday, 12 to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m.
13100 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield
REI, the giant sports outfitter, offers indoor climbing for its co-op members. They have a climbing wall and equipment for sale and rental. You can become a lifetime member for $15.
21250 W. Capitol Dr., Pewaukee
It's snowing and 20 below. We're not in Colorado, but go rock climbing anyway! Adventure Rock offers 9,500-sq. ft. of climbing space, 35 top ropes, lots of lead climbing, and a bouldering cave. The daily admission fee is $12 with equipment available for rent for varying fees. In addition to classes and clinics, Adventure Rock also offers shower facilities and a full pro shop. Call for class and clinic schedules.
Other winter offerings
Currie Park Golf Dome
3535 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa
When the snow flies, golfers can still tee up and drive a few at Currie Park. The huge dome, visible from Hwy 45 just south of Capitol Dr., offers golfers a chance to get out in the middle of winter and keep their skills sharp. The dome is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m daily.
Milwaukee County Sports Complex
6000 W. Ryan Rd., Franklin
Indoor soccer, batting cages, volleyball and in-line hockey are available all winter long in this 70,000-sq. ft. facility in Franklin. Court rentals are available by the hour, prices depend on what you would like to do. Facility availability and rates are available by calling the Sports Complex.
Mike Hegan's Field of Dreams
16701 W. Cleveland Ave., New Berlin
If winter to you means counting the days until pitchers and catchers report, ignore the snow and cold, grab your bat and take a few hacks now. You can practice slow-pitch or fast-pitch baseball or softball in a number of cages. Two basketball courts are available for reservations, and there are adult and youth three-on-three leagues. Mike Hegan's also offers private lessons on hitting, fielding, and pitching over the winter to keep your skills sharp -- or get them sharp in the first place. A snack bar, video games, and a sports card shop compliment the cages and courts, and pro shop items will be open in mid-November. Open Monday through Friday, 12 to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Italian Community Center
631 E. Chicago St.
Want to partake in a little bocce? You can experience it all winter in the Third Ward. Bocce is like bowling (and even more similar to lawn bowling), but with slightly different rules and strategies. The Italian Community Center offers league play and features four indoor lanes open to the public for reservation.
Of course many YMCAs and other health clubs also offer racquetball, swimming, basketball and other sports throughout the year. Call individual clubs for specific info.