7 Charming Outdoor Ice Rinks Where You Can Skate Into the Holiday Spirit

Skate your way into the holidays at these outdoor rinks.
Skating by the Sea outdoor ice rink in San Diego in the evening
Skating by the Sea outdoor ice rink in San Diego in the evening (Photo: Hotel del Coronado)

Outdoor ice rinks are a fun and festive way to celebrate the season with friends and families. They’re perfect for dialing up the winter vibes and offer skating fun for all ages, plus the sort of extras that elevate ice skating from pure exercise to a properly fun day out. Think decadent hot chocolate served rinkside, bumper car action, and even ice skating at the beach.

The Best Outdoor Ice Rinks for Winter Fun in the U.S.

You don’t have to be in a cold weather climate to find them, either. Advances in technology have allowed some of the best outdoor ice rinks in the U.S. to be constructed in destinations as warm and sunny as San Diego and Las Vegas. Reservations are often required, but tickets and skate rentals can usually be purchased ahead of time, leaving more time to get out on the ice. 

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Whether you’re looking for something close to home or want to add a trip around the rink to your winter vacation plans, here are the top outdoor ice skating rinks to consider this season. 

1. The Meritage Ice Rink

Napa, California

view of outdoor ice skating rink at Vista Collina/Meritage Spa and Resort in Napa
Holiday Ice Rink Meritage/Vista Collina (Photo: Kristi Kaiser)

A session of skating at the Meritage Ice Rink (open this year from November 17, 2023, through January 7, 2024) at Napa Valley’s Meritage Resort might just convince you that wine isn’t the only drink Napa should be known for. Deliciously decadent hot chocolate from the lawn bar is the perfect way to kick back after skating to your heart’s content.

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While the hot chocolate alone is enough to inspire you to lace up your skates, the outdoor ice rink also offers fun events each night of the week. Want to dial up the fun? Check out the rink’s winter experiences available including a VIP Igloo experience and s’mores at a rinkside fire pit. 

2. McCormick Tribune Ice Rink 

Chicago, Illinois

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Chicago
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink (Photo: Patrick L.Pyszka/Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events)

Operating every winter for more than two decades, Chicago’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park (open this year from November 17, 2023, through March 3, 2024, weather permitting) doubles its fun with the reflection of the rink in the famed Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”) sculpture. Offering one of the best deals in town, skating is free if you bring your own skates (a reservation is still required). Or, for a nominal fee, you can rent skates.

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Every weekend, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) hosts free skating lessons (reservations required) for beginner and intermediate ice skating and hockey skills. Skaters can warm up after skating with hot drinks and snacks from Momentum Coffee, located right next to the outdoor rink.

3. Skating by the Sea at The Hotel del Coronado

San Diego, California

Skating by the Sea outdoor ice rink in San Diego
Skating by the Sea (Photo: Hotel del Coronado)

The Hotel del Coronado isn’t just one of the country’s most popular Christmas hotels for families. It’s also home to the Skating by the Sea ice rink (open November 17, 2023, through January 7, 2024), which lets you experience the best of the beach and winter.

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Head out for a festive day on the ice with a sandy beach backdrop complete with swaying palm trees. Upgrade the experience by booking a private rinkside lounge with a roaring fire pit and full food and drink service. Tickets sales for Hotel del Coronado’s Skating By the Sea benefit Make-A-Wish San Diego. 

4. The Providence Rink

Providence, Rhode Island

daytime view of Providence Rink outdoor ice skating rink with city buildings in background
Providence Rink (Photo: N. Millard/GoProvidence.com)

There is truly something for everyone at The Providence Rink. In addition to ice skating, you can buckle up and take to the ice in bumper cars, which you can reserve for partial-rink use during select public skate periods or full-rink use during non-public skate time. The Providence Rink is the first outdoor rink to host these cars, which move in all directions and have a 360-degree turn radius. It will be open for the winter 2023-24 season in early December, weather permitting.

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Novice skaters can enlist the help of instructors with the Learn-to-Skate program. And for both little and big kids, there are skate aids in the form of penguins or snowmen. The outdoor ice rink also offers a season pass for individuals and families looking to make ice skating into the kind of fun that lasts all winter long. 

5. The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

outdoor ice skating rink at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas
Ice Rink at Boulevard Pool (Photo: Kabik Photo Group/Cosmopolitan)

If a guaranteed gentle snowfall is what you need to create a magical skating experience, then the Ice Rink at Boulevard Pool (operating December 2 through December 25, 2023) in Las Vegas is the rink for you. The Cosmopolitan turns its pool into a veritable winter wonderland every year. Picture fire pits surrounding the ice rink and comfortable Adirondack chairs perfect for taking a break and enjoying the season.

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Evenings turn up the fun with themed nights, movies playing on an outdoor screen, and Throwback Thursdays with music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Bonus: Reservations grant you all-day access to the rink. 

6. Frog Pond on the Boston Common

Boston, Massachusetts

Ice skating at Boston's Frog Pond (Photo: Kyle Klein)
Ice skating at Boston’s Frog Pond (Photo: Kyle Klein)

Boston Common is America’s oldest public park, and ice skating at the frozen Frog Pond (open this year from November 20, 2023, through March 8, 2024) is a time-honored tradition for Bostonians and visitors to enjoy this charming open space. It’s hard to imagine a more picturesque spot to twirl and glide for an afternoon or evening.

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And the outdoor rink’s central location makes it easy to squeeze in a few laps around the sparkling ice as you take a break from Boston’s many charms. Rentals, lessons, skate rentals, and daily public skates are available. Warm drinks like hot cocoa are serves rink-side to help you stay warm.

7. The Rink at Rockefeller Center

New York, New York

Christmas at Rockefeller Center (Photo: Tishman Speyer)
Christmas at Rockefeller Center (Photo: Tishman Speyer)

Sure, it’s overcrowded and over-touristy, but there’s still no better way to enjoy the winter holidays in New York City than gliding around the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. Skating under the lights of the glittering Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a holiday tradition. Lessons and après skate chalets are available.

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Kathryn Sarkis
Kathryn Sarkis is a parent and traveler who has lived in France and the U.S. Her work has appeared on SmarterTravel and FamilyVacationist.