Best time to go: 11/15 - 03/01
DC hosts a number of great outdoor ice skating rinks that open up in November and stay open through February. A few (such as the Capitals Iceplex) stay open throughout the year. When there’s not enough snow for sledding or enough cold to freeze your favorite ourdoor rink, you can always find a good place to slide inside.
Be sure to check the website of each rink, as some places (especially the Capitals Iceplex) are only open to public skating for a limited part of each day.
7. Pentagon Row Skating Rink
With small crowds (especially on a Sunday morning), Pentagon Row is the ideal place to learn if you have your own skates. Although the Pentagon Row does rent out skates, they are easily the most uncomfortable skates I’ve ever put on and our legs looked like bruised avocados when we peeled them off. Someone must have gotten a really good deal on these. This is also the most convenient public transportation option as it is just steps from the Pentagon City Metro Station.
6. Canal Park Skating Rink
$9 admission / $5 rentals Canal Park Ice Rink shines with its sheer size. With islands in the middle of the rink and a longer run than any outdoor rink in the area, DC’s riverfront rink makes for the most visually interesting and is our top pick for a romantic date.
5. Washington Harbour Ice Rink
Although smaller than Canal Park, Washington Harbour is another good pick for a date, with the nearby shops of Georgetown and a number of close dinner options, including the upscale Sequoia.
4. Reston Town Center Skating Rink
If you’re looking for a giant Christmas Tree and old fashioned holiday decor, Reston Town Center Ice Rink is worth the 30 minute drive from DC. Be sure to book your dinner at Clyde’s in advance as the waitlist grows as Christmas nears.
3. Veteran’s Plaza – Silver Spring
The most popular Maryland rink is the Silver Spring Ice Rink at Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring. With jumbotrons around and a light-show roof above, it feels a bit like skating through Times Square.
Local Secret: The Silver Spring Ice Rink at Veteran’s Plaza is inexpensive (~$12 for 1 hour, 20 minutes of rink time) but you can’t just show up. All tickets must be purchased, in advance, and you must show up at your allotted time.
2. Capitals Iceplex (TICKETS)
Our top indoor option, Capitals Iceplex is an excellent place to improve your triple axel in the offseason. As the name implies, this is also the official training rink of the Washington Capitals, so you’ll want to check first and register for an open skate time. Generally, though, you can skate around lunch and dinner time on Saturdays and mid-afternoon on Sundays. The Capitals Iceplex is also accessible, with ample and cheap parking in the public garage under the rink and a short walk to Ballston Metro Station.
1. National Gallery of Art Ice Skating Rink
The most famous rink in DC, of course, is the Sculpture Garden Rink at the National Gallery of Art. This is DC’s Rock Center, surrounded by iconic neo-classical grandeur and art. The rink is kid-friendly and a great place for people just learning to stand up on the ice. Price per person, including skates, is $12 – $13, and that buys you two hours on the rink (minus Zamboni time). Be sure to spend a moment among the sculptures, and head into the Pavillion Cafe for a cup of hot chocolate afterwards.
Hours at the Sculpture Garden rink are:
- Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
- Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.