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There are many ways to enjoy the wintertime, but some of the very best ways involve getting outside and active in the chilly weather. Of course, there’s skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and tubing, but don’t forget about ice skating too!
There are indoor and outdoor rinks in cities and towns across the country that are fun for people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you want to perfect your triple axel or hold on to the wall as you scoot around, the important part is to enjoy the excitement of winter sports and to get your body moving. So as you plan your winter travel this year, here are some of the top places to go ice skating in the U.S.
One of the most famous ice skating rinks in the entire world is at Rockefeller Center in New York City. This is a big tourist attraction in the wintertime, so be forewarned that it’s almost always crowded. The rink can only hold about 150 skaters at a time, but it’s also fun to watch the other skaters from the sidelines. If you can handle skating shoulder-to-shoulder with some new friends, then the festive cheer that this rink brings is second to none. The brightly lit Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is a national icon, and the festive shops nearby will make holiday shopping convenient and fun.
The stunning scenery that surrounds the Curry Village ice rink at Yosemite is enough to make nearly anyone take up the sport of ice skating. From the rink, you’ll get views of Glacier Point and Half Dome, likely with snowy peaks during the winter season. To warm up, head to the onsite fire pit to make s’mores or visit the warming hut where shoes can be stored. Hour-and-a-half sessions are offered four times daily on weekends and holidays and three times daily on weekdays.
Another great outdoor rink to check out this year is the one in Millennium Park in Chicago. You’ll be skating right by the infamous “Bean” sculpture and by the Magnificent Mile, which is perfect for all your holiday shopping needs. Skating season typically runs from mid-November through early March, and it’s free to skate if you have your own skates. Rentals are available. Check the city’s website for information on special holiday hours between November and February.
The Boston Common is a historic park with an outdoor ice skating rink called the Frog Pond. Visitors and locals have been skating here since 1997 on the manicured and refrigerated surface. You can enjoy about 100 days of skating each season, and all skill levels are welcome here. There’s an impressive Christmas tree here that has a tree-lighting ceremony that you can attend each year, and some of the best restaurants in the city are within walking distance of the rink.
The Sun Valley Resort has an outdoor ice skating rink open year-round and has even hosted Olympians and professional skaters performing ice shows. But during the holiday season, this is a great place to stay for family fun and some casual skating on an amazing rink. The views of the mountains from the rink are stunning, and entertainment acts are hosted here all throughout the year. Although this is a popular training spot for professional skaters, anyone can take lessons here as well on select days.
Philadelphia gets particularly festive around this time of year, especially if you plan to go skating at the Blue Cross River Rink. You’ll enjoy views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge over the Delaware River and really get into the holiday spirit with Christmas music and light shows in the evenings. The holiday tree is decorated with tens of thousands of LED lights and linked to music. This rink typically opens up around Thanksgiving and is the largest rink in the city. It’s open through early March and also features cozy fire pits, warming cabins, a kids’ lodge with arcade games, and a food and beverage lodge nearby. Inside the lodge, you’ll find comfortable couches, fireplaces, and an inviting space that’s perfect on a cold winter’s night.
San Francisco’s Union Square is a multi-purpose plaza that turns into a popular ice skating rink in the winter. Skating season typically begins in early November and welcomes novices and experienced skaters alike. You can purchase tickets online for skating sessions that last an hour and a half. There are parking garages nearby if you drive, and the Powell Street station is the closest one if you take the BART. Nearby hotels are the Galleria Park Hotel and Hotel Emblem San Francisco if you want to make a weekend out of it.
Beaver Creek is a premier ski resort in Colorado, but there’s also a great ice skating rink here worth visiting during your stay. This is a great place to teach kids how to skate and hold hands with your sweetheart as you glide across the ice. The ice rink typically opens up in early September and stays open until mid-April. Stop by the booth by Base Mountain Sports to pick up your rental gear when you arrive.
Houston is another southern destination that isn’t closely associated with winter sports, but there’s a nice ice indoor skating rink in the middle of Houston’s Galleria mall. The rink is open to the public and offers skating classes and DJs on the weekends too. The skating rink stays open until 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. for late-night skating sessions, and you can skate as long as you like once you arrive. The 30-minute sessions of freestyle skating are also offered at select times of the day.
It may be hard to think about cold and ice in the warm, sunny city of Los Angeles, but there’s a great ice skating rink to help Southern Californians get into the festive spirit too. The largest ice skating rink in the city is outdoors in Pershing Square. You’ll find lots of free concerts here to listen to live music while you skate.
The best place to skate in D.C. is the National Mall, which links so many of our country’s important monuments and documents. In the winter, an area of the sculpture garden is turned into an ice skating rink that is decorated for the season. You can reach the ice rink via Metro at the Archives-Navy Memorial–Penn Quarter stop on the Green and Yellow lines. Ice skating season runs from mid-November through mid-March and is open every day except Christmas and New Year’s Day. You can rent skates and lockers here, and classes are available for all ages and skill levels. Warm up and fuel your energy after a few laps around the rink at the Pavilion Café, which serves pizza, sandwiches, desserts, wine, and beer.