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 festive cheer naturally follows. Better yet, plenty of these outdoor rinks stay open well past New Year’s and add enticements such as customised soundtracks, VIP fire pits, and plenty of hot cocoa. Here are 11 cool rinks to include in your California winter getaway:
Boardwalk Holiday Ice, Santa Cruz
Skate at the covered ice rink in the Boardwalk’s Main Plaza, alongside classic rides and festivities that include indoor arcades, mini golf, and laser tag or book a seasonal ride on the Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train (select days), comprised of vintage cars festooned in twinkle lights, which cruises through downtown Santa Cruz. This year you can also book a private, hot-cocoa-fueled fire pit on the boardwalk, with views of Monterey Bay. Rink is open through Jan. 6; reservations for one-hour sessions are recommended.
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 Drag Queens on Ice, and on Jan. 1 a beach-attired Polar Bear Skate. Runs through Jan. 21.
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 area. Open through Jan. 6.
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 or on Sundays for curling lessons. Runs from Dec. 13–Jan. 6.
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, but the middle of the week has special allure this year: “Wicked Wednesdays” bring a greenish light and songs from the Broadway musical. On other nights you can skate with disco headphones or even learn curling. Open through Jan. 21.
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. Open through Jan. 21.
Union Square Holiday Ice Rink, San Francisco
Set in the heart of downtown San Francisco, this rink has been running for more than 10 years, and has been dubbed one of the best ice rinks in the U.S. A number of area hotels offer deals that bundle stays with rink sessions and other festive-season perks. Open until Jan. 21.
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 winter season, with events such as an innkeeper’s tour, a high tea, and a Dickens dinner. Rink is open through Feb. 10.
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. The rink stays open through February, weather permitting.
Yosemite in winter boasts two good outdoor rinks: the Half Dome Village Ice Skating Rink and the Ice Rink at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. The Half Dome Village rink (which dates back to 1928) has views of the legendary 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.