By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jan 12, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Ah, winter. For some, it's hot chocolate and staying inside by the crackling fire. For others, it's shoveling snow, freezing your tail off and darkness at 5 o'clock.

You, however, can make the best of a cold situation and have fun outside. Downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating, hockey, snowmobiling, snowboarding, snow tubing, nature walks and a virtual buffet of other activities follow...


Outdoor Skating at County Parks

Rinks are only open when the ice has thickened to a safe depth. Pay attention to "Thin Ice" signs.  Ice on lagoons must be at least six inches deep before skating is allowed.

Some venues also have warming houses, with varying hours of operation.

Public skating in County Parks is permitted between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. during the week and from noon until 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Rinks with concessions

  • "Slice of Ice" at Red Arrow Park, 920 N. Water St.
  • Whitnall Park, 5879 S. 92nd St.

Additional Rinks

  • Brown Deer Park
    7835 N. Green Bay Rd.
    (414) 350-7502
  • Humboldt Park
    3000 S. Howell Ave.
    (414) 482-4270
  • Jacobus Park
    6501 W. Hillside Ln.
    (414) 476-4510
  • Lake Park
    3233 E. Kenwood Blvd.
  • Sheridan
    4800 S. Lake Dr.
  • Whitnall Park
    6751 S. 92nd St.
    (Temporarily closed due to thin ice)


Daytime Sledding Hills

  • Columbus
    7301 W. Courtland Ave.
  • Greene
    4235 S. Lipton Ave.
  • Hales Corners
    5765 S. New Berlin Rd.
  • LaFollette
    9418 W. Washington St.
  • Maitland
    6001 S. 13th St.
  • McCarty
    8214 W. Cleveland Ave.
  • McGovern
    5400 N. 51st St.
  • Sheridan
    4800 S. Lake Dr.
  • Wilson Recreation Center
    4001 S. 20th St.

Lighted Sledding Hills (day or night sledding)

  • Brown Deer
    7835 N. Green Bay Rd.
  • Currie
    3535 N. Mayfair Rd.
  • Humboldt
    3000 S. Howell Ave.
  • Pulaski
    2677 S. 16th St.

Tobogganing in Milwaukee County is available at Whitnall Park for a $7 per hour fee, which includes a toboggan and unlimited toboggan rides. Slide hours are Thursday through Friday, 4-8 p.m.; Saturday, 1-8 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-6 p.m. You can reserve a group outing by calling (414) 425-7303.


There are literally hundreds of places to cross country ski in Milwaukee County and southeastern Wisconsin, but we'll give you the slightly abridged list here. All Milwaukee County parks allow free cross country skiing. Trails are open from dawn until 10 p.m.

  • Brown Deer
    7835 N. Green Bay Rd.
    (414) 350-7502
  • Havenwoods State Forest
    6141 N. Hopkins St.
    (414) 527-0232 
  • Muskego
    S83 W20370 Janesville Rd., Muskego
    (262) 548-7801
  • Retzer Nature Center
    W284 S1530 Rd. DT, Waukesha
    (262) 896-8007 
  • Schlitz Audubon Center
    1111 E. Brown Deer Rd.
    (414) 352-2880
  • Whitnall Park
    5879 S. 92nd St.
    (414) 425-7303
  • Wirth Park
    2585 Pilgrim Rd., Brookfield
    (262) 796-6675


Cascade Mountain Ski & Snowboard Area
Cascade Mountain Rd. (just off I-90/94), Portage
(800) 992-2754

Cascase has skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.

Crystal Ridge Ski Area (skiing)
7900 Crystal Ridge Dr. (near 76th Street and Loomis Road), Franklin (414) 529-7676

Devil's Head (skiing) 
S6330 Bluff Rd., Merrimac
(608) 493-2251

Sunburst Ski Area (skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing)
8355 Prospect Dr., Kewaskum
(262) 626-8404

The Mountain Top Ski Hill (skiing, snowboarding)
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa
7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva
(262) 248-8811

Wilmot Mountain Skiing Center (skiing, snowboarding)
Hwy W, Wilmot
(262) 862-2301
24-hour snow hot line: (414) 344-2266


There's nothing like sitting outside in the cold waiting for fish to bite. The serenity, the anticipation and the fact that one rarely gets dehydrated from sweating too much. Milwaukee County and the Wisconsin DNR stock ponds in numerous county parks with fish to make the sport more enjoyable right here at home. The following parks have ice fishing available and occasionally offer ice-fishing clinics. Call (414) 257-6100 for details:

  • Brown Deer
    7835 N. Green Bay Rd.
    (414) 352-7502
  • Greenfield
    2028 S. 124th St.
    (414) 327-8900
  • Humboldt
    3000 S. Howell Ave.
    (414) 482-4270
  • McCarty
    8214 W. Cleveland Ave.
    (414) 543-5578
  • McGovern
    5400 N. 51st St.
    (414) 461-0839
  • Scout Lake
    5902 W. Loomis Rd.
    (414) 257-6100
  • Washington
    1859 N. 40th St.
    (414) 342-0215
  • Wilson
    1601 W. Howard Ave.
    (414) 257-6100


Riverside Urban Ecology Center
Riverside Park
1500 E. Park Pl.
(414) 964-8505

Why leave the city for a little nature? Right along the increasingly-accessible Milwaukee River, the Riverside Urban Ecology Center allows you to go bird-watching, observe the hardy animals in their winter activities, and hike along the river's edge through the ice and snow. Dozens of programs are offered all winter long for people of all ages. A big feature is the "Urban Adventures" program, which can you learn snowshoeing, cross country skiing, rock climbing and local issues regarding the environment. The park and center are free; programs have a varied fee schedule.

Wehr Nature Center
Whitnall Park
9701 W. College Ave., Franklin
(414) 425-8550

The wildflowers may be hibernating in the winter -- usually under snow cover -- but the trails that wind around and through this 200+-acre pleasantry offer plenty of scenery. The water and wooded environments are packed with nature including birds, deer and a flurry of other animals. Open sunrise to sunset, the Wehr Nature Center also offers educational programs for both kids and adults.

Oak Leaf Trail
Just because jogging, roller blading and bicycling are less convenient, the 96 miles of the Oak Leaf Trail offer plenty to do in the winter. Walking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and sled rides for kids; all of these things can be done on the trail when the snow flies. A trail map and activities list is available by calling (414) 257-6100.

Bong Rec Area
Hwy. 142, one mile west of Hwy 75, Kansasville
(262) 878-5600

Great for hiking and other outdoor activities, Bong also has some of the best snowmobile trails in the area.