Lingering and cold, Boston’s winter should not deter you from doing something that’s definitely cool in the winter -- and exuberant during the other seasons as well. The Boston area’s extensive assortment of ice rinks offer hockey, speed skating and figure skating opportunities that range from well-organized to spontaneous fun. According to WebMD, as a fitness sport, ice skating can improve your flexibility, equilibrium and quickness.
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New England Sports Center and Nashoba Valley Olympia
The New England Sports Center in Marlborough (nes.com) presents six ice surfaces, plus a smaller studio rink less than 30 minutes west of Boston. With an emphasis on a strong hockey program and tournaments, the complex also includes figure skating and some public sessions. Peter Martel, executive director of the Ice Skating Institute, the industry’s trade association that promotes participation in the sport and development of ice rinks, says, “There’s nothing that compares with this facility in New England, as the complex is one of the country’s finest examples of multiple ice sheets and arena presentation all under one roof.” Martel also mentions as noteworthy a three-sheet ice facility, Nashoba Valley Olympia (skatenashoba.com), with good figure skating, learn-to-skate and youth hockey programs. The rink is about 40 minutes west of Boston in Boxborough, with afternoon public skating on weekends.
Pilgrim Skating Arena, Pembroke Arenas, Iorio Rink
Approximately 20 minutes south of Boston off Route 3 is a family-run rink in operation for more than 30 years. The Pilgrim Skating Arena in Higham (skatepilgrim.com) focuses on hockey, learn-to-skate and figure skating, with no public sessions. You can experience a similar program 10 minutes farther south on Route 3 at the two-ice-sheets arenas in Pembroke’s Hobomock Arenas (hobomockarenas.com). The Iorio Rink in Walpole (iorioarena.com) once served as the training rink for the U.S. Women's Olympic Hockey team. Its two NHL- and Olympic-size ice surfaces not only accommodate hockey and figure skaters, but also serve as a training facility for the Bay Area Speed Skaters Club. The site is off U.S. 95, about 25 minutes southwest of Boston.
Massachusetts Public Skating Rinks
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (mass.gov/dcr) owns about 40 ice skating rinks in Boston and throughout the state, including Steriti Memorial Rink, which overlooks the harbor in the North End of Boston. Show up during public sessions and skating is free if you bring your own skates. Admittedly, some of the commonwealth-owned rinks are dated, but more than half of the arenas are managed by FMC Ice Sports. FMC updated many of the ice rinks and offers practical hockey, figure skating and learn-to-skate programs. Its website displays a comprehensive schedule of public ice skating times. A staff member of the FMC-operated rink in Cambridge, Simoni Memorial Rink, highlighted this rink as “near a shopping mall and popular with the college crowd, especially for boom ball games on Sunday evenings.”
Seasonal Rinks and Frog Pond
Some of Boston’s outdoor rinks are in remarkable locations, such as the Charles Hotel Skating Rink at Harvard Square and the artificial ice Faneuil Hall Rink, but they are small and subject to weather closures. However, there is an exception. Peter Martel says that the Frog Pond in Boston Common (bostonfrogpond.com) is an important outdoor rink tradition that started in the 1700s. The park’s wading pool gets flooded during the cold days of November, and a large, 16,000-square-foot ice rink appears -- a stage in a magical urban park scene surrounded by the city’s skyline. It’s where you can ignore winter’s chill and enjoy the ultimate recreational ice skating experience, as most Bostonians have done for almost 300 years.