Ice-Skating is Especially Magical At These 10 Outdoor Destinations

As winter sets in, Midwestern ice enthusiasts get ready to glide. They know that outdoor ice-skating is where the fun happens.

It may be tempting to hibernate inside when winter's chill arrives, but outdoor activities put you right in the middle of the season's beauty—and adventure. One of the best ways for the entire family to enjoy a Midwest winter wonderland is ice-skating. Whether you're channeling your inner Gretzky or working on your best Ice Princess moves, chances are you don't have to go far to find some gorgeous places to skim along. While you've probably already got a favorite place to skate at home, be sure to check out these spots when you're on a road trip or weekend getaway.

Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink Grand Rapids Michigan
Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink. Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

Rosa Parks Circle, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Rosa Parks Circle, named for the civil rights activist and designed by globally renowned artist Maya Lin, is a favorite winter destination in Grand Rapids. Below the ice, 166 fiber-optic lights represent the sky of Michigan as it appeared at midnight, January 1, 2000. Another bonus: Admission includes free skate rental.

Ice skating at Maggie Daley Park Chicago
Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon. Bob Stefko

Maggie Daley Park, Chicago

This spot is so cool it's called an ice ribbon, not a rink. The outdoor skating experience in Maggie Daley Park features a smooth quarter-mile path with slight elevation changes that swirls past a rock climbing wall. It's glittery and gorgeous all winter long, with an incredible city skyline view. And all of Chicago waiting to be explored when you're done.

Ice skating Millennium Park Chicago holidays
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. Courtesy of Abel Arciniega/Choose Chicago

Millennium Park, Chicago

Right next to the ice ribbon is another Chicago must-skate location: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Here, too, city lights sparkle all around, and spying lights reflect off the silver Cloud Gate (aka "The Bean") is a quintessential winter experience in the Windy City. (Admire the Bean from a distance this winter—the surrounding plaza is undergoing updates and will reopen in spring 2024.)

Centennial Lakes Park, Edina, Minnesota

When winter hits Minnesota, it's time to hit the ice. Centennial Lakes Park in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina is the perfect urban oasis to try out twirls or pick up some speed. A 10-acre outdoor skating area includes three main ponds connected by narrow canals. Apartment and office buildings line the park; at night, the ice reflects their glowing lights. When you've had enough of the cold, head to the warming house for cozy fireplaces and plenty of hot beverages.

Crown Center Ice Skating Kansas City Missouri
Crown Center Ice Terrace. Courtesy of Jill DiMartino

Crown Center Ice Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri

Each November, Kansas City's Crown Center entertainment district opens its iconic Ice Terrace, now in its 51st season. The rink stays opens through mid-March, weather permitting, but it's especially festive during the holiday season. Skaters get great views of the Mayor's Christmas Tree, a 10-story-tall Douglas fir decked out with thousands of twinkling white lights plus red, gold and silver ornaments.

Tenney Park Ice Skating Madison Wisconsin
Tenney Park. Nick Berard/Courtesy Destination Madison

Tenney Park, Madison, Wisconsin

Madison's 37-acre Tenney Park, just off Lake Mendota, includes a lagoon that runs through it. Once the water freezes solid, it's a terrific spot to meander along the ice. Tenney Park's lagoon loop takes skaters under bridges and through a good portion of the park. Throughout the season the park hosts special events, including a Glow and Glide and even movie nights on the ice.

Ice skating at Main Street Square Rapid City
Main Street Square. Courtesy of Visit Rapid City

Main Street Square, Rapid City, South Dakota

From November to February, Main Street Square in Rapid City transforms into a lively ice rink. Surrounded by festive lights and the sounds of the season, it's a favorite spot for both locals and visitors to revel in the winter spirit. In addition to group skating, the Rapid City square hosts local events such as Winter Market and an All-Ability Skate Day.

The Rink at Wade Oval, Cleveland Ohio
The Rink at Wade Oval, Cleveland. Kayla Lupean/Destination Cleveland

Rink at Wade Oval, Cleveland

The Rink at Wade Oval, open from early December to late February, sits among popular attractions like the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Another bonus: Free skating lessons each Saturday at noon. Holiday lights glow at Christmas, but the fun's not over then—on Valentine's Day weekend, the rink twinkles in red and pink lights.

Nicholas Conservatory Rockford Illinois ice skating
Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens. Courtesy of Rockford Park District

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, Rockford, Illinois

In spring and summer, Rockford's Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens comes alive with color at floral landscapes outside and tropical displays indoors. But in winter, there's another draw. When the ice is thick enough to be safe at the gardens' Eclipse Lagoon, a 500-foot pond gets new life as an outdoor skating spot. Conditions permitting, visitors can glide from the glass conservatory down to the Sinnissippi Rose Garden.

Steinberg Ice Skating Rink St. Louis
Steinberg Skating Rink. Steve Jett/Courtesy Forest Park Forever

Steinberg Skating Rink, St. Louis

Steinberg, the largest outdoor ice-skating rink in the Midwest—at 27,600 square feet—offers public ice-skating in Forest Park every day, including holidays, from mid-November to late February (and roller-skating in summer). Warm up with a pizza or a cup of chili at the rink's Starlight Cafe, and think about all the memories made here—the rink originally opened more than 65 years ago, in November 1957.

More Places to Ice-Skate

In Omaha, the newly reopened Heartland of America Park added a skate ribbon for ice-skating in winter and roller-skating in warmer weather. Indianapolis' new Ice Rink at Holliday Park offers three types of lessons for different ages as well as public skating sessions from late November through January. In Des Moines, skaters head to Brenton Skating Plaza downtown for open-air ice-skating with skyline views from November to March.

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