Montreal, Canada—home to the Stanley Cup hockey champions, the Montreal Canadiens—contains 300 indoor and outdoor public ice skating rinks within the city's limit. After all, how can you train world-class athletes if you don't start them on skates when they're young? This favorite Canadian pastime can be enjoyed at budget-friendly rinks, free park venues, and on indoor regulation hockey ice. Come winter, the frozen St. Lawrence River also gives skaters access to natural outdoor skating paths located in local public parks. Before slinging skates over your shoulder and heading to your favorite outdoor spot, make sure to check the weather, as rinks may be buried under the snow. Rink conditions can be accessed through the parks' websites beforehand. If all else fails, consider Atrium Le 1000, Montreal's indoor rink, as an alternative.
The small lake that sits at the center of Parc La Fontaine freezes over each winter, creating a spacious subzero platform for people to skate on. The park also offers long, tree-lined ice paths for those who prefer a more authentic, outdoorsy experience. Additionally, two boarded, regulation hockey rinks are on-site for pick-up hockey games. All the park's skating can be accessed for free, making it a regular skating destination for families. Equipment rentals and locker rooms are available to the public.
Located just below Old Montreal's Marché Bonsecours, Old Port Skating Rink is a visual masterpiece—and a place to bring your date. This picturesque rink on the banks of the St. Lawrence River offers a view of Old Montreal, as well as a magnificent light show, come dusk. With two maintained skating surfaces, one natural and one refrigerated, there's always room on the ice, even during crowded weekends. And, their state-of-the-art refrigerated rink allows for a longer and more reliable skating season. Afterward, grab dinner or a drink at one of Old Montreal's hotspots, such as Kyo Bar Japonais, Flyjin, or Velvet, all within walking distance.
The rink at Montreal's Olympic Park Village provides hours of fun for families. Its convenient location and equipment rentals make the itinerary easy, and the abundance of outdoor activities, including a 24-foot-long snow tubing slide, entertain kids both big and small. The downside to this rink is the price. Parking at the village can cost upwards of $20. Once you're in, however, the fee gives you access to the Biodome and the Montreal Planetarium. Round out your trip with nearby attractions like the Montreal Botanical Garden and Insectarium, and suddenly, your parking fee for a family of four or more seems worth it.
Speed demons, this is your rink! The skating surface at Parc Maisonneuve is big enough to provide comfortable spacing between skaters, even on the busiest of days. That's good because Montrealers flock to this park during the holidays. While skating, enjoy the view of Olympic Stadium’s Montréal Tower. Then, come nightfall, the illuminated surface extends your fun. There's a warming hut on-site, but don't forget your skates. Rental equipment is not offered at this park.
Parc Jean-Drapeau provides skaters an outdoor square rink right on the banks of the picturesque St. Lawrence River. This refrigerated rink is well-maintained all season long, even when temperatures climb above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Radio-Canada, and its OHdio app, offer continuous music for skaters to listen to on their mobile device. Round out your day with a cross-country ski on several of the park's tracks or a fat bike ride on 1.2 kilometers of undulating trails. Parc Jean-Drapeau offers a great escape for families and nature lovers who need a break from the city without actually leaving its footprint.
Beaver Lake (Lac aux Castors) is an outdoor skating destination located on top of Montreal's famed "mountain," Mount Royal. Both locals and visitors come to iconic Mount Royal Park to enjoy winter activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and birdwatching. This park can get very crowded, so, avoid the parking hassle by taking the 11 Bus up the mountain (this service is available year-round). However, make sure to time your return ride perfectly to avoid standing out in the cold. This park does not offer a warming hut or a cozy reprieve.
Food-loving skaters will enjoy Parc Jarry's Skating Rink's close proximity to Jean-Talon Market, a local farmer's market that offers tasty treats. Before you munch down, however, take a glide on either one of this expansive park's two hockey rinks or its recreational skating rink. The rinks are illuminated in the winter and restroom trailers and lockers are located on-site. Visitors can rent skates on the weekend, but need to bring their own during the week.
Located at the foot of Mount Royal Park, Jeanne Mance Park's skating rink is more easily accessed by public transit than Beaver Lake's refrigerated rink. Unlike its picturesque counterpart, however, Jeanne Mance Park offers both a recreational rink and a hockey-friendly one, too. Often, you will see local pick-up hockey games taking place on the ice. Bring your own skates to this venue, as equipment rentals are not provided. A heated trailer and bathrooms are on-site for public use.
The Bleu Blanc Rouge ("Blue White Red") program provides donated outdoor rinks to children under the age of 17 as a way to foster a healthy and active lifestyle. This refrigerated rink, made possible by the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation, opens earlier in the season and stays open longer than most natural rinks. The rink's size stays true to official National Hockey League size requirements—200 feet by 85 feet (61 meters by 26 meters)—identical dimensions to those of the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. In the summer, the concrete surface transforms itself into a ball hockey court.
This family-friendly indoor rink provides skaters respite from the winter weather and makes a great skating option if it's stormy outside. Atrium Le 1000 features a glass dome that gives the feeling of being outside, even when you are in. The ice is well maintained and lively music plays throughout the daily skating sessions. But, beware! On a given weekend, this rink teems with adults chasing kids around the ice, and a pleasant afternoon skate could turn into a session spent dodging collisions. So, if crowds aren't your thing, go on a weekday evening. Equipment rentals and a food court offer amenities that some outdoor rinks do not.