From the classic favorites to new additions, lace up (and bundle up) at these popular metro ice skating rinks
Even though I used to compete as a figure skater and trained year-round in an indoor ice rink, there has always been something extra special about ice skating outdoors. As the State of Hockey, it’s no surprise that Minnesota also has the most ice rinks in the U.S.
Here are a few favorite outdoor rinks to visit in the metro:
Centennial Lakes Park, Edina
Traditional-sized hockey rinks can feel constricting, but this lake in Edina, located near Southdale Mall and the Galleria, encompasses 10 acres of ice. Three main sections are connected by canals with several lit-up pedestrian bridges overhead, reminiscent of the iconic Bow Bridge in New York City’s Central Park. This Instagram-worthy setting includes a warming house and concessions, plus outdoor and indoor fireplaces. Centennial Lakes Park is the epitome of a winter wonderland. No admission cost, skate rental is available. (7499 France Ave. S., Edina, edinamn.gov)
Central Park Ice Skating Loop, Maple Grove
Ok, it may not be New York, but at least its easy to find parking at the Central Park in Maple Grove. After opening in 2015 as the first “skating loop” in Minnesota, it has easily become a classic metro rink. The track is not very wide, and with twists and turns every couple of feet, it’s meant purely for leisurely skating. But its location next to an idyllic pond, and with a modern indoor pavilion (complete with a gas fireplace and concessions), the Central Park Ice Skating Loop offers a full experience. Plus, the ice is refrigerated to extend the skating season. No admission cost, skate rental is available. (12000 Central Park Way, Maple Grove, maplegrovemn.gov)
John Rose OVAL, Roseville
Whether you want to play a game of hockey or bandy, speed skate, try out a layback spin, or take a relaxed stroll around the giant 110,000 square foot track (the largest in North America!), the OVAL in Roseville hosts the most diverse range of ice activities. The outer perimeter of the track is for general skating, while the “infield” rinks are for games. And if you don’t want to face the cold, there are still public skate times at the indoor rink. Like the Central Park Loop, the ice is refrigerated, so you can depend on the OVAL to stay open even when it hits 50 degrees. On a busy day, expect the lobby to get cramped, but there will still be plenty of room for comfortable skating outside. Admission cost is $6, skate rental is available. (2661 Civic Center Dr., Roseville, skatetheoval.com)
Loring Park, Minneapolis
Its location in downtown Minneapolis is what makes ice skating in Loring Park a top favorite—bundle up and spend a day exploring the city by foot, stop at a nearby restaurant (4Bells and Café & Bar Lurcat are right on Harmon Place), or grab a pint at Lakes & Legends brewery to warm up after cruising around the ice. During the 2016 holiday, Loring Park is home to the Holidazzle so the rink is busier than usual, but it’s also one of the most festive spots to lace up. No admission cost, free skate rental available. (1382 Willow St., Minneapolis, minneapolisparks.org)
Recreation Outdoor Center, St. Louis Park
Also known as the ROC, this brand new outdoor skating rink opened in December 2016 as part of the St. Louis Park Rec Center. There are still plans to install a covered roof (similar to Edina’s Backyard Rink), but the refrigerated ice is ready for skaters. Open skate times and lessons are also offered at the recently renovated indoor skating facility. Watch for fun seasonal events held at the new ROC such as the New Year’s Eve party. In the springtime, the ice rink will be converted into a turfed field for activities such as baseball, soccer, and lacrosse. (3700 Monterey Dr., St. Louis Park, stlouispark.org)
Article by Valerie Turgeon. See original post published in Minnesota Monthly, December 2016.