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3 Amazing Places to Ice Skate in Washington, DC

Lace up your skates and triple axel 'round the District

DC’s year-round temps are pretty moderate but during the winter, when cold Canadian winds whistle down the Potomac, Washingtonians bundle up for a day (or a night) on the ice. Public rinks stud three neighborhoods in DC proper, and even though you can bring your own skates to any of them, all offer skate rentals for a modest fee.

1 Washington Harbour Ice Rink
Washington Harbour Ice Rink

Most of the year, Washington Harbour in Georgetown greets visitors with spectacular waterworks: a dancing fountain surrounded by half a dozen restaurants. But when the cool temps settle in, the fountain transforms into prime ice skating real estate. After dark is when it’s most magical with dozens of twinkling white snowflakes lighting up and the rink.

The Scene: Since it’s open from November through March, the ice rink is a bit of a novelty, attracting lots of people every single day, even Christmas Day. With classes offered for kids ages 3 and older, as well as for adults, you’ll see families with children. But it’s also a date night winner since it’s so easy to grab a drink or bite to eat at one of the surrounding restaurants.

Insider Info: Not only is this the largest ice skating rink in DC, it’s even larger than the rink adorning New York City’s Rockefeller Center. Certain days of the week offer skating specials and themes: Two for Tuesday Skate (2 for 1 admission from 4-6 p.m.), College Night Skate Thursdays ($2 off admission with valid ID), Cartoon Skate Saturdays (fun morning skate from 10 a.m. to noon) and Rock 'n' Skate Saturday Nights (8-10 p.m.).

Hours:  Monday-Tuesday, 12-7 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday, 12-9 p.m.; Friday, 12-10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Cost: $10 adults, $9 children/military, $5 rentals

Washington Harbour Ice Rink, 3050 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, 202-706-7666

2 National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink

Imagine this: Ice skating amid magnificent works of art and towering sculptures in a lush, green garden. The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s ice rink is a quintessential winter experience in Washington, DC. It opens up in mid-November and lasts until March 13, and it’s a scenic atmosphere despite being firmly planted on the outskirts of the National Mall.  

The Scene: This rink has a romantic vibe. Maybe it’s the art. Maybe it’s the smaller, cozier rink. Maybe it’s the starry sky above. Maybe it’s the single string of lights surrounding the rink like glowing candles. It rates an A+ for creative date ideas. But you’ll see plenty of multi-generational families too, due to its central location.

Insider Info:  Tickets are sold in two-hour sessions beginning on the hour. If you aren’t prepared to begin skating at the top of the hour, you could end up waiting a while to skate. This is especially true during crowded weekends. To make the most of your time, buy your ticket first and if time permits, take the opportunity to visit the works of art in the surrounding Sculpture Garden. Note: The Pavilion Café will be closed for renovation during the month of January.

Hours:  Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Cost: $8.50 adults, $7.50 children/age 50+/students, $3 rentals

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, 202-289-3360

3 Canal Park Ice Rink
Canal Park Ice Rink Canal Park

In a city known for its parks, Canal Park is still new to the DC landscape. Formerly an abandoned bus parking lot, the public space today is one of Capitol Riverfront's many new neighborhood attractions. The ice rink at Canal Park stands out from its other DC counterparts in that the ice is on a track, much like gliding along a frozen canal. Skate your way around and around the figure eight, and admire city views everywhere you turn.

The Scene: Locals, locals, locals. In the spring and summer, the nabe attracts loads of baseball fans since the Nationals Park is nearby. Like many neighborhoods in DC, this one is in the midst of major redevelopment and seemingly has more and more to offer every time you return.

Insider Info:  Located a block from Navy Yard Metro, the rink is easy to find, but because it is so new, it remains one of DC’s best hidden gems. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, this is the place to go. Certain days of the week offer skating specials and themes: Cartoon Skate Saturdays (fun morning skate for kids between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.), Rock 'n' Skate Fridays (7-9 p.m.), 2-for-1 Tuesdays (4-6 p.m.) and College Night Thursdays ($2 off with valid ID from 6-9 p.m.). And if you can't get enough of the ice, make a trip to nearby Ice Cream Jubilee or thaw out with wine and crave-worthy pasta dishes at Osteria Morini overlooking the Anacostia River.

Hours:  Monday-Tuesday, 12-7 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 12-9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Cost: $9 adults, $8 children/seniors/military, $4 rentals

Canal Park Ice Rink, 202 M Street SE, Washington, DC 20003​, 202-554-6051