In California, one need not endure sub-freezing temperatures to enjoy a holiday-season spin around an outdoor ice rink. Ski resorts, city centers, and even plush resorts set up seasonal rinks this time of year and the holiday cheer naturally follows. Better yet, plenty of these outdoor rinks stay open well past New Year’s—check their websites for dates—and add enticements such as customized soundtracks, VIP fire pits, and plenty of hot cocoa. Here are nine cool rinks to include in your California winter getaway:
Located at St. Rose of Lima Park near downtown’s Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, the capital city’s annual rink got bigger this year. Skate on special themed days, like Silent Disco Day or Princess and Superhero Day, and the annual Ugly Sweater Party.
Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado, San Diego
This San Diego County resort is idyllic year-round, thanks to its Queen Anne architecture and cool Hollywood history, but its annual rink next to the beach takes the ambience up a notch—and you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy it. Grab a hot cocoa and plan to stay into the evening (it’s usually open until 9 or 10 p.m.) to see the hotel’s white holiday lights. To go VIP-style, book a fire pit with lounge chairs in the Frostbite Lounge.
Not far from Warner Bros. Studio Tour, this rink tucked behind City Hall reminds you that Burbank has a charmingly walkable downtown with restaurants and shops—including the nearby Burbank Town Center. Come on Saturdays for regular skating lessons.
Bai Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square, Los Angeles
This seasonal rink in the downtown L.A. park—just blocks from The Broad and The Grammy Museum—is open every day, and DJs spin music on themed evenings like Holiday Hits Night, Ungle Sweater Night, Onesie Night, Disco Night, and more.
Skate at this annual rink in the heart of Santa Monica’s renowned shopping area—at the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue along the Third St. Promenade. The Plaza rink even has celebrity appeal: lessons are offered though the Randy Gardner School of Skating, launched by the Olympian.
The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square, San Francisco
Set in the heart of downtown San Francisco, this rink has been dubbed one of the best ice rinks in the U.S. Don’t miss December’s traditional Drag Queens on Ice event, and check out the rink’s calendar for other fun themes, like the ‘80s “Flashback Fridays,” the New Year’s Day Polar Bear skate (come in best beachwear), and the Silent Skate. A number of area hotels offer deals that bundle stays with rink sessions and other holiday-season perks.
This Shasta Cascade outdoor rink in the shadow of Mount Shasta offers Santa meet-and-greets in December and a pajama-clad skating session on New Year’s Day. Also in Siskiyou County, downtown McCloud gets into the spirit with Victorian ambience each Saturday during the holiday season, with events such as an innkeeper’s tour, a high tea, and a Dickens dinner.
The rink at Mammoth Lakes is a classic outdoor-village rink, sitting next door to the town library and offering great views of the White Mountains and Sherwin Range (plus, there’s a snack bar). It’s open until 10 p.m. most nights for a starry après-ski activity.
Yosemite in winter boasts two good outdoor rinks: the Curry Village Ice Skating Rink and the Ice Rink at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. The Curry Village rink (which dates back to 1928 and was formerly known as Half Dome Village Rink) has views of the legendary Half Dome granite formation, along with a fire pit, while the Tenaya Lodge rink is next to a sledding hill and is surrounded by the Sierra National Forest. Best of all, both typically stay open until late March.