16 Cities That Score a 10 When It Comes to Very Cool Outdoor Ice Rinks
It's all-skate time at these family-friendly urban ice skating rinks.
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St. Paul, Minn.
Ice skating is free at Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. If you need to rent skates, it’s just $4 per pair making this an affordable family outing. The historic Landmark Center creates a beautiful backdrop for the outdoor rink, showcasing Saint Paul’s charming European architecture. If you’re more into spectator sports, check out a game of broomball, it has become a winter tradition in St. Paul. It is similar to hockey; there are six players on each side (a goalie, two defensemen and three forwards). A player uses a stick or broom to maneuver a six-inch diameter ball up and down the ice. Instead of skates, players wear rubber-soled shoes to gain traction when running on the ice.
Okay, not exactly a city center, but ice skating in warm Southern California sun while looking at the Pacific Ocean definitely scores a 10. Located the Hotel del Coronado’s Windsor Lawn, this spectacular rink features stunning views of the Pacific, Coronado Beach and the hotel’s iconic Victorian Building adorned with thousands of holiday lights. This seaside ice rink is open from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.
If your kids are into Elf on the Shelf, head to downtown Knoxville. Santa granted special permission for his scout elves to spend some extra time in Knoxville. Families can pick up a North Pole Pass to help guide them through the adventure; there are treats and prizes along the way. When you’re done elf spotting, the family can strap on a pair of skates at Market Square’s open-air ice rink. The pedestrian-only area is filled with restaurants, shops, plus outdoor sculptures and a mural walk.
Long Beach, Calif.
Permanently berthed in the Port of Long Beach, the Queen Mary was once considered the grandest ocean liner ever built. Today it is home to a museum, restaurants, event space and exhibit hall. But come December, all the fun is all outside. The Queen Mary hosts CHILL, a 38,000-square foot ice park that boasts an ice skating track, ice bumper cars, ice tricycles, a zip line, ice shuffleboard and a two-story ice tubing slide. When you’re all iced-over, the festival also offers cultural celebrations, international cuisine, live music, Rockettes-style dance performances, fireworks, light shows, dancing and a nightly Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
New England’s only outdoor Skating Path — not just a rink, but a path — returns to City Hall Plaza. Sort of like a lazy river, but with ice, the outdoor Skating Path offers lessons and themed skating nights. Next to the path is a European-style holiday market with mini chalets offering distinctive gifts and handmade goods. A Bavarian beer garden, Vinopolis (interactive wine tasting), music and culinary treats from around the world are all available for your post skating needs. The Skating Path will remain open through late February, weather permitting.
Each holiday season, the Boulevard Pool on the roof of The Cosmopolitan hotel transforms into a winter wonderland. Enjoy the magical view of the Las Vegas Strip while twirling around the rink and listening to holiday music. After skating, cocktail service is available around the fire pits. Monday nights are movie night. Enjoy a classic holiday film on the hotel’s 65-foot digital marquee.
Rapid City, S.D.
If you’re in Rapid City, before taking a visit to see George, Thomas, Teddy and Abe (aka — Mount Rushmore), hit the ice at The Main Street Square Ice Rink. Located in Rapid City's vibrant downtown area, the rink offers skating seven days a week with special events like an ugly-sweater skate and movie nights. After you get off the ice, check out the nearby "City of Presidents," a series of 42 life-size bronze statues of U.S. past presidents dotting the city’s sidewalks. Main Street Square is a lively public space featuring year-round events, arts and culture, live concerts and seasonal fun.
Skating is free at Nathan Phillips Square, a major landmark in downtown Toronto. Besides skating under the twinkling lights, visitors can shop the open-air artisan market, see Santa, grab a delicious bite from one of Toronto’s best food trucks and enjoy it by the fireside lounge. Try Jackson-Triggs Polar Point, this outdoor bar serves mulled wine and other seasonal favorites.
The ice rink at Pershing Square has brought winter fun to sunny Los Angeles for years. At 7,200 square feet, it is the city’s largest outdoor rink and one big par-tee! Special events are planned throughout the season. Thursday is DJ night when visitors can showcase their skating and dance skills to a litany of popular songs. Wednesday are Disney’s "Aladdin" night which features special purple rink lighting and music from the original Broadway cast recording. If you're more into sports, curling lessons are available. A polar bear skate takes place on New Year’s Day. Skaters are invited to wear their wildest and most inventive beach attire; prizes are awarded based on theme, originality and overall appearance - go big or go home.
The Cleveland Foundation Skating Rink is located in Public Square, a 6.5-acre park in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Besides the 5,400 square-foot rink, the Square hosts a variety of events through the holiday season, including a 5k run to the "A Christmas Story" house (yeah, the one from the movie — pink bunny costumes optional). The Cleveland Carolers, a locally-based entertainment company serenade skaters during the holiday season as they twirl around the ice and enjoy the city skyline. The rink remains open through late February.
Located in the heart of downtown, The Providence Rink is an extra-large 14,000 square-feet. Festivities include two tree lighting ceremonies, world champion figure skating demonstrations, special giveaways, live performances and an artist marketplace. The rink is also available for private rental, a pavilion makes it perfect for holiday or birthday parties.
The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park has become a Chicago winter tradition. Enjoy the spectacular view of the skyline and the park’s famous "bean" sculpture while you zip around the ice. During the holiday season, Chicago choral groups lead hundreds of visitors in sing-alongs. Skating is free and open to the public; skate rentals available for $12 to $14. The rink is open until early March.
The CitySkate festival hits downtown Phoenix once again. A huge ice rink takes over the center of Central Avenue with a 36-foot Christmas smack-dab in the middle of it all. CitySkate is partnering with the Phoenix Art Museum to host an interactive art pop-up shop, a variety of art installations and daily performances on-site. Wednesdays are "Skate it Forward" day, $5 of every ticket sale is being donated to charity. Weekdays may be less crowded, but Santa makes an appearance every Saturday and Sunday throughout the holiday season.
Dilworth Park Wintergarden next to City Hall is a wonderful way to spend a winter’s day. The ice rink is open every day through February. Skaters can take a break and grab a snack or drink at the adjacent Rothman Cabin (which is actually a heated tent, not a cabin). The extra-large "cabin" can be rented out for private parties. Also at Dilworth Park is the Winter Garden Maze, which is full of holiday topiaries, twinkling lights and seasonal plants.
Kansas City, Mo.
Each November, Crown Center invites guests to hit the rink at the Ice Terrace. An iconic tradition, Kansas City’s only public outdoor ice skating rink is open through mid-March so skaters can partake in Crown Center’s wonderland all winter long. While on the ice, enjoy views of The Mayor’s Christmas Tree, a 100-foot tall Douglas fir decorated with 6,000 white lights complimented by 1,200 red, gold and silver ornaments, as well as 150 snowflake and snowman ornaments.
A list of great places to ice skate would not be complete without mentioning Rockefeller Center. For the quintessential NYC Christmas experience, take a whirl on the world-famous ice-skating rink at the famed complex in the heart of midtown Manhattan.