Whether you want to practice your Flying V or polish your toe pick, Minnesota’s outdoor ice skating rinks are the perfect surface for winter fun.
Found in every corner of the state, ice rinks form on frozen lakes, ponds and even rivers as soon as the ice is thick enough, with refrigerated rinks popping up around Thanksgiving or even earlier. In addition to skating, most of the rinks on this list have skates available for rent, as well as warming houses and/or other perks like concessions and special events. So channel your inner Neal Broten or Kristy Yamaguchi and head out to these ice rinks across the state.
Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
When it comes to ice skating, few places do it better than the Twin Cities. Both St. Paul and Minneapolis host free ice rinks beneath their shimmering downtown skylines (Wells Fargo WinterSkate and WinterSkate in Loring Park, respectively), and countless neighboring cities have their own impressive rinks.
You can skate North America’s largest outdoor refrigerated rink in Roseville, or head to Maple Grove to carve your way across one of the country’s only refrigerated ice skating trails. If frozen lakes are more your style, head to Edina, Buffalo, or one of three lakes in Minneapolis (Lake of the Isles, Nokomis and Powderhorn). Pair holiday shopping with skating on the ice rink outside Mall of America in Bloomington.
In Fergus Falls, the local Noon Kiwanis club hosts an annual Winter Karnival to kick off the skating season on Lake Alice, complete with frozen lake golfing, horse-drawn carriage rides, snow coloring and roasting marshmallows. The lake is plowed for both a skating rink and a track around the lake, and remains open for as long as conditions allow.
In St. Cloud, Lake George is the place to skate, or head to Blackberry Ridge Golf Club in nearby Sartell, where you can fuel up before or after your skate at the club’s Grill 19. Other places to skate in this region include Alexandria, Pine River, Hutchinson, New York Mills and the Brainerd Lakes area, which features rinks on Gull Lake for guests staying at Cragun’s Resort or Grand View Lodge.
The towering bluffs of southeast Minnesota make a beautiful backdrop for skating in Winona, a year-round destination for outdoor recreation. But lakes aren’t the only bodies of water that freeze in the winter. The Straight River, a 55-mile tributary of the Mississippi, has hockey and skating near downtown Owatonna, or you can skate on an inlet of the Des Moines River in southwest Jackson.
Several outdoor skating rinks can be found in Albert Lea, Mankato and Rochester, where you can skate on a frozen running track. Or head to Fairmont for the Southern Minnesota Pond Hockey Championship and skate under the lights before the tournament begins.
You can’t skate on Lake Superior, but you can get pretty close at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth. After the Bentleyville Festival of Lights wraps up, the park transforms into an ice skating rink in early January, with hot chocolate and live music on Friday nights. Further up the North Shore, outdoor rinks can be found in Knife River, Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Tofte and Grand Marais.
Ever wish you could ice skate in a national park? Now you can, with a new rink and sledding hill open on Lake Kabetogama, one of the entry points to Voyageurs National Park. Elsewhere in this area, just south of the Canadian border, you’ll find rinks in International Falls and Ranier.
Further south in the hockey-loving Iron Range, there are rinks in Biwabik (minutes from the Giants Ridge ski resort), Hibbing and Virginia. While on the Range, pay a visit to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth. Or head to Grand Rapids for your choice of four outdoor rinks, including a covered one at the IRA Civic Center.
Bemidji is no stranger to fun on the ice. In addition to the city’s four indoor ice arenas, there are two outdoor skating destinations. Warroad, whose nickname is “Hockeytown USA,” has a free outdoor rink behind its two indoor ice arenas. Duck inside both buildings for a look at the town’s impressive hockey history. Further south, Detroit Lakes’ Peoples Park is another skating destination in this region.
Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.
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