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Family Travel: Five Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks Worth the Trip, Flickr: fensterbeme

Don't Forget Your Skates!

Indoor rinks certainly do serve their purpose- they provide a frozen piece of ice for skaters to practice their twirls and practice their “triple Salchows” - but they just don’t offer the ambience that an outdoor rink in the brisk winter air can provide. These days, many resorts, town squares, and ski resorts build outdoor rinks and a few extra special rinks have become destinations unto themselves. Here are five outdoor ice skating rinks to book cheap flights around:

Yosemite National Park: Imagine strapping on skates and gliding across the ice with Half Dome and El Capitan dominating your view. Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t.  Since 1928 winter visitors to Yosemite National Park have been skating at Curry Village’s outdoor rink.  After your 2 ½ hour session, be sure to spend some time warming back up at the fire pit with S’mores and hot cocoa.

Skating by the Sea at Hotel del Coronado:  Who says you can’t surf and ice skate all in the same day? Help your kids build “Frosty the Sandman” and then head over to Hotel Del Coronado where they offer a uniquely Southern Californian experience- ice skating steps from the Pacific Ocean.  Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, the resort’s Windsor Lawn is transformed into an ice rink bringing a bit of winter fun to sunny San Diego. The fun lasts until New Year’s Day, when the magic of the season ends and the ice melts away.

Millennium Park in Chicago: Breathe a sigh of relief because you can finally practice those double axles in view of a giant mirrored bean, a spitting fountain, and that famous Chicago skyline. Millennium Park may have opened four years behind schedule in 2004 but it hasn’t wasted any time becoming a major destination for tourists and city dwellers alike. Officially known as the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, the rink is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.  and offers free ice skating to the thousands that glide on its ice every season (though skate rental is $10 if you don’t have your own).  

Sculpture Garden Ice Skating Rink in Washington DC: If you have always dreamt of twirling amongst the works of Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg, you must head to the National Gallery of Art for some ice-skating fun in the Sculpture Garden. Located in the National Mall, this garden filled with sculptures from modern and contemporary artists is home to an ice skating rink from mid-November until mid-March. After working up an appetite from all that skating, be sure to stop in the Pavilion Café for a meal or cup of hot cocoa and enjoy panoramic view of the very rink where you perfected your figure eights.

Rockefeller Center: There is no bigger ice skating destination in the world than the famous rink in New York City’s Rockefeller Center. Skaters have been taking to the ice under the watchful eye of the statue of Prometheus since Christmas Day, 1936. Once the 30,000 LED lights on five miles of wire which are wrapped around the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree are lit on November 30th, skaters can enjoy an evening skate within eyesight of the most famous Christmas tree in the country. Although this midtown icon is extremely popular, there is a limit of 150 skaters on the ice at a time so over-crowding is not an issue and if the lines are long die hard skaters can cough up $75 to skip the line and head through the new designed Igloo for immediate ice skating satisfaction.


Photo: fensterbme

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