A tradition that my father first started many years ago, and that I still cherish today, is going ice skating on New Years Day. We used to go to the indoor rink in Danbury, but ever since I discovered the beauty of Connecticut’s outdoor rinks I haven’t been back inside to skate. Finding a local rink was difficult, so I have compiled a list of my top six outdoor ice skating rinks (and ponds) to help you find the best outdoor skating experience for you. My motto this time of year is when life gives you a freeze, skate!
(All the photos in this post are from the Bushnell Park rink or the Foxwoods ice rink.)
This lovely pond in Darien is like a postcard. Darien is a lovely small town, especially when covered in snow. If you like a traditional outdoor pond skating experience, then this pond is your place. It is very popular with the hockey crowd this time of year.
I adore the feeling of community that this park brings to the town of Farmington. This is another pond skating experience to add to your winter wishlist. However, this park does have memberships (or fees for non members) that you should plan for before your visit.
This rink is so much fun because of its large size and the fact that even though it is outdoors, it has a roof for those snowy or drizzly days. There is a small fee for using the rink, but skate rentals are only $5 and they have a sharpening service available if you bring your own skates. Weekdays before 2 p.m. have special discounts.
I love a free skate rink and this one is one of the best! Although a humble sized rink, it has some of the prettiest winter views as you skate near the state’s Capital building. All skate rentals are also free.
The Westport PAL rink is one of the more expensive outdoor rinks in Connecticut (at $13 for adults and $10 for kids, only slightly less on weekdays), but oh is it worth it! This rink is very large so there is plenty of room to glide. The best part is that it is located in a park overlooking the long island sound! The sunsets here are incredible. Make sure to check the schedule to plan your visit during an open skate time as there are hockey groups and skate lesson meetups that schedule the rink at certain times of the day.
It may surprise you that my number one outdoor rink is at a casino, but check out the photos in the link to see why. This is one of the most beautiful outdoor rinks in the state. With 100,000 Christmas lights, gorgeous hill views, a thirty foot Christmas tree, and lovely places to sit by the fire and you will be hooked too. Right inside you can pick up a nice treat and a warm cup of hot chocolate to bring out and enjoy on the winter patio. Parking at the casino is free and the fees for skating are very reasonable. It may become crowded at times so plan for a less busy part of the day. The best perk is that your pass is good all day long so you can visit one of the many restaurants for lunch or dinner and come back to skate. You have to skate just once after dark when the rink is all lit up with Christmas lights. This rink has plenty of ice crutches for kids learning how to skate, which makes this rink ideal for families.With views like this, it is one of the most romantic winter spots in Connecticut.
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