America’s Coolest Outdoor Skating Rinks
If Olympic fever has you and the kids wanting to brush up on your double lutzes and salchows, don’t settle for that indoor rink at the mall.
It’s prime season for skating rinks around the nation—the best of which are surrounded by mountains, skyscrapers, or world-class art. Some stunners are particularly weather-dependent, such as the 8,200-foot-elevation Olympic Ice Pavilion at Squaw Valley, which unfortunately may remain closed for the foreseeable future due to a warmer-than-usual winter. You can expect most other outdoor rinks around the nation to stay open into March (but always call or check online, just to be sure).
Here's where to skate among scenery so stunning that no one will notice if you're holding onto the rail the whole time:
The Boston Common Frog Pond: Boston
This legendary rink in the nation’s oldest public park is lined with trees and offers beautiful urban views. You’re also potentially rubbing elbows with champs. During the rink’s SkateFest this year (Feb. 15), kids can get free 30-minute lessons from coaches at the Skating Club of Boston, whose members include the Olympic pair Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir. Admission costs $5 for adults and is free for kids 13 and under. Skate rentals cost $9 for adults and $5 for kids. Open through mid-March.
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink: Chicago
With nearly 16,000 square feet of ice, this rink on Michigan Avenue is one of the prime locales in Millennium Park: you can gaze up at the surrounding skyscrapers as well as the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture (nicknamed The Bean). Admission is free, and skate rentals cost $10. Open through March 9, 2014.
Sun Valley Outdoor Rink: Sun Valley, Idaho
This famed Sun Valley rink and its mountain backdrop has a reputation for attracting pros, such as Kristi Yamaguchi and Katarina Witt. It’s open year round, and in summer provides the setting for the Sun Valley on Ice shows. Check out its pro shop for competition-ready skating dresses. Admission costs $11 for adults and $9 for kids 5-12, and is free for ages under 5. Rentals cost $5.
Sculpture Garden Pavilion: Washington, DC
It’s a skating session plus an art stroll. This rink in the National Mall stands in for the garden's fountain during the winter, with the famed National Gallery exhibit in the background, featuring works by Claes Oldenburg and Joan Miró. The neighboring café, meanwhile, offers chili, sandwiches, pizza and a kids menu. Open through mid-March.