Written by Chris Ley
January 1, 2014
Happy New Year! So you celebrated like it was 1999, but you’re now ready to leap into 2014. If one of your new year’s resolutions was to be more active, here’s our guide for embracing winter by lacing up skates at one of the DC-area’s many rinks. (Suburbanites, don’t fret--we’ve got you covered with the most complete list on the net!)
Every rink we tried rents skates, but if you want to buy your own, we recommend either Modell’s or Sports Authority. The experts say that it is best to try on skates in the store. They are supposed to be tight, typically a size smaller than your regular shoe size. New skates also have to be sharpened, which Sports Authority (some locations) can do. (Buyers’ tip: We found lots of skates on clearance at Sports Authority in Alexandria, for $29 including sharpening.)
Dressing for the rink is a must. Layer up, so that you can peel off extra layers if you get too hot. Don’t forget to wear gloves, a hat, and long socks!
Below is our list of skating rinks—our favorites (based on their ambiance and scenery) were the Georgetown Waterfront rink, the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden rink on the Mall, and the unique, figure 8-shaped Canal Park Ice Rink—but all the places listed below are great places for you to lace up!
Georgetown Waterfront This place is huge! At 11,800 square feet, it’s bigger than Rockefeller Center in NYC, and waaaay less crowded with few lines. The ice quality here is awesome, with the Zamboni running every hour to freshen it. And the view is unforgettable, with the Potomac River and the lights of Georgetown nearby. For kids or adults who haven’t skated before, this rink has a whole fleet of “penguins” to help with balance and confidence while learning (like training wheels, for skating!). This was the only rink in the area with this feature.
Highlights: The unbeatable view, training “penguins”, good music, open every day! (Special deal: For $15 (reg. $30), two people receive admission plus skate rental Monday-Friday: http://www.thecapitoldeal.com/deal/washington-dc/15-ice-skating-for-2-at-washington-harbour-reg-30-3)
Admission: Adults: $10; Children/Seniors/Military: $8.
Skate Rental: $5 (Rockefeller Center is $39 with skate rental!)
Open mid-November-March, every day, even during holidays! (Special hours: January 1st: 10am – 9pm; January 2nd & 3rd: 10am – 1pm.)
Monday – Thursday: 12pm-9pm (check between 7-9pm, as sometimes the rink closes for private events.). Every Thursday from 6pm-9pm is College Night! Save $2 with student ID. Every Saturday night is Rock N Skate! Skate to today’s hits from 8pm-10pm!
Sculpture Garden Ice Rink If you haven’t been here before, you owe it to yourself to check it out. This rink is run by the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art and is located right in the Sculpture Garden fountain on the Mall, where the Friday evening Summer Jazz program is held. It is a winter playground with lights, an amazing sound system, and great music. The ice is great with the Zamboni running every hour. After skating, you can walk up 7th Street NW to Chinatown to grab a bite! Leave your car here if you drive.
Highlights: The unbeatable view, lights, great music, great ice quality, a must-do every winter!
Admission: Two-hour sessions, beginning on the hour: $8 adults, $7 seniors (age 50 and over), $7 students (with school ID), $7 children (age 12 and under), $195 for a season pass.
Skate and Locker Rentals: Skate rental: $3 (ID required). Locker rental: $0.50 ($5.00 deposit required). Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted.
Ice Rink Hours: Monday–Thursday, 10am–9pm. Friday-Saturday, 10am–11pm. Sunday, 11am–9pm. Pavilion Café Hours Monday–Thursday, 10am–7pm. Friday-Saturday, 10am–9pm. Sunday, 11am–7pm. Closed New Year’s Day.
Canal Park Ice Rink This is a new gem in the city, next to The Yards and Nationals’ Park. In its second year, this is the nation’s only figure eight-shaped rink! Although it’s the smallest of DC’s rinks, it’s really a great use of public space. Urban planners did an amazing job here, and this is a great example of sustainability (in fact, it just won a global award for best urban park.) The stormwater collection storage system here is used for the entire (and much larger) park, including all the rink water. The rink features DJs on Friday evenings, and has two fireplaces projected above on the art cube above so you can feel warm. The rink is located directly in front of a great new pub/restaurant. Park Tavern—a place where your less active friends can grab a drink and watch all of the action out on the ice. The ice quality is excellent, and the Zamboni runs every hour. After skating, walk down to the Yards, which has many new restaurants and pubs, including Agua301 and Bluejacket Brewery. This new DC waterfront area will be getting a lot of attention in the new year.
Fort Dupont Ice Arena This rink is the only indoor rink in DC! A nonprofit organization took it over after the Park Service decided to close it. It has limited hours, but offers a nice place to skate!
Ice Rink Hours: Fridays 12pm - 1:50pm, Saturdays 11:45am - 12:45pm.
Admission: Children (12 and under) - $4, Adults (13 and older) - $5, Senior Citizens (65 and older) - $4.
Skate Rental: $3.
Reston Town Center Ice Rink- Open every day including New Year’s Day, it’s a nice sized rink, and has high-quality ice!
Indoor: Kettler Capitals Iceplex- Limited hours but AWESOME facility, open year round with two rinks on the top deck of the Ballston Mall parking garage. This is where the Washington Capitals practice. $5 including skate rental New Year’s Day! Limited hours (check link for public skate hours).
Frederick Ice Rink- For our commuters up North.
Mount Vernon Ice Arena- Fairfax County public rink.
Fairfax Ice Arena- Privately owned, but offers public skating every day!
Ashburn Ice House-Private indoor facility in Ashburn.
Skatequest- Private indoor facility in Reston.
Outdoor: Silver Spring Ice Rink at Veterans Plaza- This is a really beautiful new rink in an beautiful setting. This is outside but covered and, “is open when it is warm, snowing, or raining!”
Rockville Town Square Ice Rink- This is the largest outdoor rink in Montgomery County, and it’s open New Year’s Day! It’s in a beautiful setting.
Indoor: Herbert Wells Ice Rink in College Park- Prince George’s County Parks public facility.
Gardens Ice House in Laurel- Prince George’s County Parks public facility.
Tucker Road Ice Rink in Ft. Washington- Prince George’s County Parks public facility.
Cabin John Ice Rink in Rockville- Montgomery County Parks public facility.
Wheaton Ice Rink- Montgomery County Parks public facility.