Watching your kids giggle, spin, and twirl on an ice rink framed by snow-covered trees or adorned in sparkling lights brings back wonderful memories of childhood winters and stirs excitement of entering the holiday season. Whether you’re a skilled figure skater, or barely manage to stay on your feet, ice skating is the quintessential winter pastime.
We've rounded up a list of the most unique, breathtaking, and magical outdoor ice skating rinks across the United States for you to add to your family bucket list - one even comes complete with palm trees and a beach!
Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon in Chicago, Illinois
Located adjacent to Millennium Park in the heart of downtown Chicago, Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon is a truly unique skating experience. Unlike a traditional oval rink, the Skating Ribbon winds along a picturesque skating trail that runs through a landscape filled with enchanted snow covered pine trees and framed by the stunning Chicago skyline. The skating ribbon is twice as long as a lap around a traditional ice rink and winds around two spectacular rock climbing structures situated at its center. It is also adjacent to multiple play spaces and plenty of opportunities for grabbing a cup of steaming hot cocoa. Bring your own skates, or take advantage of their skate rentals.
Washington Harbour Ice Rink in Washington, D.C.
Anchored by a large central fountain, the nearly 12,000-square feet Washington Harbour Ice Rink is located on the Georgetown waterfront of the Potomac River, offering stunning views of some of Washington, D.C.'s most iconic landmarks, like the Kennedy Center, Watergate Hotel, and Key Bridge. Built on a specialized platform installed over the fountain, the ice rink offers plentiful activities from beginner skating lessons to special themed skating events and penguin skate aids for the littlest skaters. After working up an appetite skating on D.C.'s largest outdoor rink, relax at one of the many nearby outdoor bars or restaurants that offer fire pits or patio heaters to keep you toasty, or take the family out for a delicious gourmet dinner at one of the top-notch restaurants that surround the rink and offer the same stunning views. Save 50% off admission and skate rental at Washington Harbour Ice Rink.
Skate the Sky at The Roof at Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta might not be the first city you think of for holiday ice skating, but Skate the Sky on The Roof at Ponce City Market offers a one-of-a-kind skating experience on a covered 3,500-square foot rink loaded with an abundance of sparkling holiday lights. Located on the rooftop of the tallest brick building in the south, this spectacular ice rink transforms the southern mild weather expectations into a magical winter wonderland. Make the experience even more special by renting a cozy private igloo right next to the rink. Enjoy the sensational views of the Atlanta Beltline and Old Fourth Ward while savoring a hot chocolate, hot toddies, and other seasonal holiday delights.
Skating by the Sea in San Diego, California
For those who love holiday season ice skating but don’t love the freezing cold weather, beachfront skating - complete with palm trees - on beautiful Coronado Island in San Diego is the perfect solution. Located seaside on Windsor Lawn in front of the historic Hotel del Coronado (home to the first electrically lit outdoor Christmas tree in 1904!), Skating by the Sea offers abundant sunshine, thousands of glistening lights and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Even better, proceeds from the rink benefit Make-A-Wish San Diego. Rest up between skating sessions by making a reservation for a “Frostbite” rink-side lounge where you can relax in comfortable seating with a hot chocolate or other delicious holiday treats by a roaring fire pit.
Rockefeller Center in New York City
Photo by: Dameon Hudson [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]
We'd be remiss not to include one of the most famous ice rinks in the world! The Rink at Rockefeller Center is a wintertime tradition in New York City for locals and tourists alike. The holidays are a particularly magical time to take a spin on the ice when the rink is surrounded by festively decked out stores and the just-as-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree - a definite family bucket list experience! To avoid waiting in long lines during the busy holiday season, you may make reservations to skate through the heated VIP Igloo and bypass all lines.
Pershing Square Ice Rink in Los Angeles, California
The Bai Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square makes getting into the holiday spirit in balmy Southern California a breeze. Framed by the Los Angeles skyline, this landmark destination and oldest outdoor rink in the City has been attracting locals and tourists alike for 22 years. At 7,200-square feet, this large outdoor ice rink boasts professional-quality ice for skating and entertainment for the whole family. Attend the Silent Skate Party or revel in one of the free Winter Music Concerts in the Park Wednesdays and Fridays in December (excluding Christmas week). ‘Let It Go’ on Tuesdays when the ice rink is transformed into a FROZEN-themed skating experience with predominantly blue lights and songs from the hit movie.
Blue Cross RiverRink in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo Credit: Matt Stanley for DRWC
Overlooking the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge, the waterfront Blue Cross RiverRink is Philadelphia's wintertime tradition. Towering trees adorned by tens of thousands of dazzling LED lights reflect from the shiny ice surface to wake up the holiday spirit in everyone and make skating a magical experience on a cold winter night. This Olympic-sized rink is the largest in Philadelphia and is surrounded by a fairytale winter landscape with cozy fire pits, warming cabins, a Kids Lodge and arcade, and chalet-inspired Lodge with food and beverages available for purchase. The Franklin Foundation Confectionary Cabin serves house-made hot chocolate, hot fudge sundaes, s'mores kits and more. The rink offers daily public skating, skate rentals, skate sharpening, and kid's skate helpers.
Nestlenook Farms in Jackson, New Hampshire
Located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Nestlenook Farms is the perfect holiday getaway for the whole family. The Farm's three-acre Victorian Skating Park is described as "a scene right out of a Currier and Ives painting", surrounded by snow dusted pine trees and offering the exciting opportunity to skate on a picturesque sparkling frozen emerald pond underneath bridges adorned with holiday pine wreathes. This charming property also offers hot chocolate by a roaring fire, sleigh rides on a lantern lit trail, snowshoeing and a fully-enclosed warming center.
Sun Valley Resort Ice Rink in Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley Christmas Eve Ice Show Photo Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort
The nation's first destination ski resort, with the world's first chairlifts, also boasts one of the most magical ice skating experiences. Home to Olympic and world-class skaters, Sun Valley Resort's outdoor rink features some of the best views in the valley and offers one of the only outdoor year-round ice skating experiences in the country. Things really come to life during the holiday season when this resort town turns into a magical winter paradise with festive store window displays, carolers, twinkling lights, sleigh rides, an open-air holiday market, and many special family activities. The outdoor rink hosts the "Skating in a Winter Wonderland" ice show, an annual Christmas Eve tradition that features performances by Olympic medalists and other professional skaters, followed by a parade and fireworks.
Boston Common Frog Pond in Boston, Massachusetts
Photo by: Daderot via Wikipedia Commons
Located in the heart of historic Boston Common park, the Frog Pond is a popular destination for family-friendly fun year round. In the summer months, the reflecting pool turns into a spray pool; in the winter, it is transformed into a dazzling outdoor ice skating rink. The lighting ceremony of a beautiful dramatic Christmas tree is an event for the whole family you don’t want to miss. If you are new to skating, the Frog Pond offers skate rentals, private and group lessons. When you have had your fill of skating, you can warm yourself up with some steaming hot chocolate at the Pond Cottage or take the family for a delicious meal at one of Boston’s best restaurants that are in walking distance of the park.
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