Most Beautiful Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks Anywhere
A timeless winter tradition, ice skating might be the most festive sport ever invented. There's something downright magical about gliding onto smooth, glassy ice under glittering lights, hot cocoa in hand.
Indoor rinks are fine, but skating under the sun or stars is extra special. These are the best outdoor rinks in the world, from natural frozen lakes to upscale rinks in bustling cities.
39. Canyon Ferry Lake
Location: Helena, Montana
Unique features: 28 miles of open ice
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: The wide-open Canyon Ferry Lake is Montana's third-largest body of water.
The ice is usually thick enough to skate on by mid-December, and the sight of the sun setting over purple-hued peaks is enough to take your breath away.
38. Lake Vanern
Location: Lake Vanern, Sweden
Unique features: A dramatic landscape with thousands of islands to skate around
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Lake Vanern, the largest lake in all of Sweden, offers a natural, raw skating experience.
While the icy lake isn't groomed by a Zamboni and will likely be rough, the expansive stretch of open ice with island after island to explore can't be replicated anywhere else.
37. Lake Bogstadvannet
Location: Oslo, Norway
Unique features: A scenic location among the trees
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Lake Bogstadvannet is one of the most popular lakes to skate on in Norway.
The chilly country has tons of Arctic lakes, but Bogstadvannet is in the middle of a lush forest that's particularly beautiful in the height of winter.
36. Lac de Joux
Location: Jura Mountains, Switzerland
Unique features: The largest free skating rink in Europe
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Switzerland's Lake Joux is a hidden gem located near the country's border with France. It's reportedly the largest ice rink in Europe that doesn't charge admission fees.
Bring a pair of skates and work on your waltz jumps and toe loops for hours. When you get hungry, just grab a snack or a hot drink from one of the on-ice vendors.
35. Lake Weissensee
Location: Southern Austria
Unique features: A maintained track alongside towering peaks
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: A lake in the south of Austria, Lake Weissensee is the place to go if you need some exercise and are tired of walking or jogging. Instead, skate along two-and-a-half miles of somewhat maintained ice with dramatic mountains brushing the sky on either side.
By somewhat maintained, we mean that the ice is cleared of snow, but not smoothed out by a Zamboni. It won't be the smoothest skate, but with that view, does it really matter?
34. Tignes Resort
Location: Tignes, France
Unique features: A natural rink surrounded by snow
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: At a tiny Alpine ski resort, you'll find a natural outdoor rink surrounded by miles upon miles of snow-capped peaks.
At nearly 7,000 feet of elevation, it's one of the chilliest rinks in the world, but the views are phenomenal.
Location: Zermatt, Switzerland
Unique features: An ideal location in a quaint Alpine village
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Why go on the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland when you can skate next to the real thing? The village of Zermatt is located in the Swiss Alps and features two natural ice rinks and a man-made one right in town.
There's no need to rent a car to get there, as gas-powered vehicles are banned in the village. Instead, hop from cafes and shops to the ice rink via horse-drawn sleigh.
32. Lake Morey Skating Trail
Location: Lake Morey, Vermont
Unique features: A 4.5-mile groomed skating loop
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Back in the U.S., ice skating fans adore Lake Morey Resort. Right in front of the hotel lies a 4.5-mile skating loop that takes adventurous skaters on a scenic journey past the White Mountains.
Unlike some outdoor skating spots, this one is groomed, so it should be nice and smooth.
31. Westchester Lagoon
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Unique features: Free hot cocoa
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Alaska is just about the best place in the U.S. to travel to for wintery weather. Westchester Lagoon is a favorite spot among the locals.
First off, skating on it is completely free. Secondly, some days of the week, free hot chocolate is offered.
Lastly, games of pickup hockey frequently spring up, so bring your gear along and show those Alaskans who's boss.
30. Mirror Lake
Location: Lake Placid, New York
Unique features: A central location in Lake Placid
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Lake Placid, a popular winter retreat, is nestled in New York State's Adironack mountain range. It's a bustling hub of winter sports, and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum has tons of artifacts from the winter Olympics of yesteryear.
Mirror Lake is located in the center of the city, and when it freezes, skaters can glide around a maintained track on the lake's edge or play a game of pond hockey in the middle.
29. Lake Windermere Whiteway
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Unique features: One of the longest skating tracks in the world
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Lake Windermere Whiteway in Canada is one of the longest tracks in the world.
Maintained by the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, the Whiteway encompasses over 20 miles of groomed ice and snow running around the lake, including a track for cross-country skiers, another for skate skiing and a third for traditional ice skating.
It connects the towns of Invermere and Windermere, so feel free to explore.
28. Arrowhead Provincial Park
Location: Ontario, Canada
Unique features: A unique pathway through the woods
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: If scenery is more important to you than ice as smooth as glass, Ontario's Arrowhead ice skating trail is a must-see. The pathway winds through a snowy forest with towering evergreen trees blanketed in white.
The path is bumpy, but as long as you're not worried about nicking your blades, it's the closest to visiting Narnia as you can possibly get.
27. Sokolniki Park
Location: Moscow, Russia
Unique features: Rows and rows of ice boulevards
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Moscow is home to at least 45 different ice rinks. That should come as no surprise considering Russia's penchant for competitive figure skating and the country's frigid temperatures, but Sokolniki Park offers an unconventional experience.
The park includes two acres of ice arranged in tree-lined rows that skaters can stroll through almost like a regular street. Definitely worth seeing if you visit Moscow in winter.
26. Shichahai Lake
Location: Beijing, China
Unique features: Unusual ice toboggans and an ice slide
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Ice skating has been popular in China for decades, and Shichahai is one of the most unique skating spots near Beijing.
When part of an ancient canal freezes over, the lake is turned into an icy paradise, complete with ice slides and toboggans.
25. Curry Village Ice Rink
Location: Yosemite, California
Unique features: Location, location, location
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Figure skaters and hockey players are a different breed of extra. The lengths they'll go to find ice are unlimited, and Curry Village Ice Rink is proof.
Nearly a century ago, the Yosemite Winter Club was so desperate for ice that they flooded an old parking lot to make an ice rink. Since then, the rink has upped its game with a cozy firepit and easy access to hot coffee and restaurants.
Better yet, skaters have an uninterrupted view of the snow-sprinkled Half Dome mountain, Yosemite's most famous climbing spot.
24. Grouse Mountain
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Unique features: Views of Vancouver and holiday festivities
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: At the top of Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, there's a small pond rink with breathtaking views of both the local mountains and the lights of downtown Vancouver.
You have to take a tram to the top of the mountain to reach the rink, but from there, you have the option to go on a sleigh ride, visit Santa's workshop and indulge in a cheesy order of poutine.
23. Red River Mutual Trail
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Unique features: Officially the world's longest groomed ice trail
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Skating on lakes is more common than skating on rivers for a number of reasons, the main one being that the temperatures have to be colder for a moving river to freeze thick enough to safely skate on.
In Winnipeg, Canada, that's not a problem. The icy temperatures turn the Red River and the Assiniboine River into a smooth, 5.3-mile-long ice trail, with convenient stops near restaurants.
Warm up with a hot toddy, then head back out on the ice to skate home under the stars.
22. Gorky Park
Location: Moscow, Russia
Unique features: The largest ice rink in Russia
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Gorky Park is considered the largest of all of Russia's countless ice rinks. It takes up over 190,000 square feet, shaped like a labyrinth of trails and ponds to explore.
The massive rink is well-maintained and tons of fun, including designated areas for families, a hockey arena, a figure skating school and a dance floor.
The park is home to tons of cafes and two restaurants to visit after you've worked up an appetite.
21. National History Museum Ice Rink
Location: London, England
Unique features: A cafe bar and carousel next to the rink
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: The architecture of London's Natural History Museum is the real draw of this particular rink. The rink itself is nothing special, but the atmosphere is hard to pass up.
A towering Christmas tree is planted in the center of the rink, and dreamy lights are draped across the glistening rink.
We can't think of a better spot for a date night, can you?
20. Winthrop Ice Rink
Location: Winthrop, Washington
Unique features: Quiet and scenic location near a small Western town
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Hiding in eastern Washington lies the peaceful Methow Valley. The Methow area offers tons of outdoor recreation all year long, but it becomes particularly magical from December through early March.
Once winter hits, the valley transforms into a winter wonderland. Pick up a new book from the independently owned local bookshop, then enjoy a warm pastry at one of the numerous bakeries.
From there, it's only a 10-minute walk over a scenic bridge to the rink, which offers both public sessions, freestyle sessions and pickup hockey.
19. McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Unique features: Free public skating
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: You can't visit Chicago in winter without visiting the McCormick Tribune Rink. It's most beautiful at night, when the lights of Chicago's skyline reflect off the ice.
That said, it's much less crowded early in the day, so lace up in the morning if you want to practice your jumps and spins.
18. Fuji-Q Highland
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Unique features: A surprising location inside an amusement park
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: It never occurred to us that skating near Mt. Fuji was an option, but it is. The main attraction at Japan's Fuji-Q Highland amusement park is its seven frighteningly fast roller coasters, but it's also home to over 165,750 square feet of groomed ice.
The uniquely shaped rink is decked out in colorful holiday lights, and if you go before dark, the snow-capped Mt. Fuji will keep you company in the background.
17. Princes Street Gardens Ice Rink
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Unique features: The biggest open-air ice rink in the U.K.
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: The United Kingdom has a ton of outdoor ice rinks in winter, but this one in Edinburgh takes the cake. Each November, locals flock to the Princes Street Gardens to skate in the shadow of Edinburgh's magnificent castle.
When you're tired of skating, go on a few fairground rides, watch a show at the nearby live theater or take a stroll through their annual Christmas market.
16. Sun Valley
Location: Sun Valley, Idaho
Unique features: Outdoor ice skating even in the summer
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Sun Valley doesn't sound like it would be a prime spot for skating, but don't be fooled. It's one of the only places in the U.S. that you can skate outdoors year-round.
There's an annual summer ice show featuring former Olympians, and the rink only gets more breathtakingly beautiful in winter. As a bonus, there's no shortage of opportunities to ski and snowboard while you're there.
15. Tower of London Moat
Location: London, England
Unique features: Located next to one of England's oldest structures
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Something about skating on a frozen moat makes you feel like a bad**s. Come on.
You're wearing shoes with knives on them while gliding across a moat that was probably home to crocodiles at some point. OK, maybe not, but it's still pretty freaking cool.
You can almost taste the history as you skate across the illuminated rink in the shadow of one of England's most iconic landmarks.
14. Nathan Phillips Square
Location: Toronto, Canada
Unique features: Archways of light and a central location in downtown Toronto
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Canada wouldn't be Canada without ice skating. Right in front of Toronto's city hall lies Nathan Phillips Square.
Over the summer, live concerts and performances take place. Come winter, the reflecting pool freezes into an outdoor ice skating rink lined with festive holiday lights.
The urban backdrop is a completely different experience than some of the more natural outdoor rinks we've listed, but it's beautiful in its own way.
13. Skating Ribbon
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Unique features: State-of-the-art architecture and modern art
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: One of the newer ice skating rinks on this list, the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago is unlike any other ice skating experience you'll encounter.
The park isn't completely flat, and instead of fighting it, the Skating Ribbon changes in elevation along its winding quarter-mile circuit.
While it's not the best spot for figure skating, it's totally worth experiencing the sensation of riding silky smooth waves of ice.
12. Somerset House
Location: London, England
Unique features: Theme nights with DJs and live music
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: The 18th-century courtyard of Somerset House transforms each winter into an upscale outdoor ice skating rink.
The cultural center's dignified architecture makes an entrancing backdrop, and the Somerset House has become known as one of London's best places to ice skate.
11. The Eiffel Tower
Location: Paris, France
Unique features: It's on the Eiffel Tower. Need we say more?
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Skating on the Eiffel Tower is the most romantic, frozen adventure imaginable.
There are actually two different rinks, one with a view of the Eiffel Tower from a distance, and another on the first observation deck of the tower itself. The rinks get crowded during peak season, but the setting is too beautiful to care.
After dark, the whole city lights up while skaters sip on glasses of mulled red wine sprinkled with cinnamon and skate near some of Paris's most popular tourist attractions.
10. Rockefeller Center
Location: New York, New York
Unique features: One of the most recognizable rinks in the world
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Rockefeller Center isn't the best rink in the world, but no ice skater can visit New York City without stopping to take a few laps.
While the rink is well-maintained and illuminated by the light of a towering Christmas tree and a glowing fountain, it gets crowded in a flash.
Consider visiting first thing in the morning. You'll miss the lights, but you'll also miss the crowds.
9. Wollman Rink
Location: New York City, New York
Unique features: A picturesque location in the southern part of Central Park
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Pretty much every Christmas movie ever made in New York City has a shot or two of the ice rink in Central Park.
With a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline and three times the square footage of the rink at Rockefeller Center, Wollman Rink has been a prime skating spot for more than 60 years.
8. Rideau Canal
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Unique features: Miles of maintained ice
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Leave it to Canada to make some of the most creative ice attractions on the planet. In the middle of Ottawa, visitors can skate on a nearly five-mile-long stretch of the Rideau Canal.
The skateway was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its scenic walkways and unmatched city views. Even better, the ice is well-maintained to ensure it's safe and smooth enough to skate on.
7. City Park Ice Rink, Budapest
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Unique features: Views of the Vajdahunyad Castle
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Travel to the capital of Hungary to test out one of the biggest ice skating rinks in all of Europe. The City Park Ice Rink is located right next to the stately Vajdahunyad Castle.
After the kids have burned off all their energy at the rink, take a tour of the castle, visit the Budapest History Museum and Mattias Church, which was built all the way back in the 13th century.
6. Royal Pavilion Ice Rink
Location: Brighton, United Kingdom
Unique features: Located next to Brighton's Indian-style Regency Palace
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: At first glance, Royal Pavilion Ice Rink looks like it's set in India. In reality, it's located in front of Brighton's Indian-style Regency pleasure palace.
One of the most delightful places to skate in the U.K., Royal Pavilion Ice Rink features a rink-side bar and restaurant and cozy spots to shake off the chill before hopping back out on the ice.
5. Vienna Ice Dream
Location: Vienna, Austria
Unique features: Mulled wine bars, live music and unbelievable city views
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Just before Christmas, downtown Vienna transforms into an astonishingly beautiful holiday attraction.
The front of Rathaus, Vienna's city hall, becomes Vienna Ice Dream, an annual skating event with ornate light displays, live music and mulled wine bars.
Nearby, there's also a 1,361-foot ice skating trail through Rathauspark.
4. Red Square Rink
Location: Moscow, Russia
Unique features: Views of the colorful and ornate St. Basil's Cathedral
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: In the center of Red Square near the massive GUM department store lies Moscow's most famous and beloved ice rink. Taking up nearly 9,000 square feet, there's plenty of room to work on landing your axel. Or just try to stay on your feet.
It's near the walls of the Kremlin and has views of the renowned architectural masterpiece known as St. Basil's Cathedral.
3. Lake Louise
Location: Banff, Canada
Unique features: Miles of natural ice with breathtaking alpine scenery
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Outdoor skating doesn't get much more beautiful than this. In Banff, Canada, is one of the most beautiful, crystal-clear lakes on the planet. In winter, it freezes over into a sparkling ice rink. Unlike most natural ice skating spots, Lake Louise is Zamboni-groomed by the Fairmont Chateau Resort, so it's perfectly smooth.
If you really luck out, you might get a chance to skate on clear, aqua blue ice. It only happens a few times a year when the ice has just frozen and there hasn't been any snow to cloud the surface.
2. Evergreen Lake
Location: Denver, Colorado
Unique features: Small rinks available for rent on a 40-acre lake
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: Just a few miles from Denver, ice skating enthusiasts flock to Evergreen Lake. The large lake freezes into a pristine natural ice rink each winter, rimmed by mountains spotted with snowy pine trees.
The lake is divided into several smaller rinks that groups can rent out, in addition to larger spaces for hockey games and broomball.
1. Keystone Lake
Location: Keystone, Colorado
Unique features: The largest groomed outdoor rink in North America
Reasons to add it to your bucket list: If Evergreen Lake wasn't enough to get your ice skating fix, drive over to Keystone Lake while you're in the area.
Keystone Lake is much smaller, but it's the biggest Zamboni-groomed outdoor rink on the continent, and it's drop-dead gorgeous around Christmas.
The lake is surrounded by the twinkling lights of the Lakeside Village, and a giant tree in the middle completes the picture.