Minnesota's winters can be quite harsh, with bursts of frigid arctic air and heavy snowfall in January through March, but don't let the weather stop you from stepping on the rink and enjoying one of the most fun activities of the season.
Many of the locations around the metro area feature multiple rinks, and while some are outdoors, some are indoors and open year-round. There are many local parks and smaller rinks around Minneapolis/St. Paul—which you can find using the Rink Finder website—but these are the best the Twin Cities have to offer.
Ice rinks are easy to come by in Minneapolis with 24 public parks featuring outdoor rinks that open when the weather cools down, and the ponds and lakes freeze over completely. Additionally, the city of St. Paul maintains 14 ice rinks in parks across the city, including four refrigerated rinks. Check the official Parks and Recreation Department websites for both Minneapolis and St. Paul for up-to-date information about hours of operation, rink openings, and safety guidelines for visiting the parks during the winter.
Featuring a curated rink, free skate loaners, and a warming room the Lake of the Isles was created by a city Parks and Recreation project in the early part of the 20th Century and has since become a staple of the region. The Lake of the Isles is perhaps the most popular Minneapolis lake for ice skating and hockey once the ice is thick enough. Be sure to observe warning signs of thin ice, especially during the early and late winter.
In downtown St. Paul, the city and Wells Fargo host WinterSkate, an outdoor, refrigerated ice rink from the Saturday after Thanksgiving through the end of February. Like all city ice skating rinks, the Landmark Plaza facilities are free to use, and skate rentals are available. Landmark Plaza also features several special events throughout the winter and holiday seasons.
In addition to the city parks of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department maintains 13 ice rinks and arenas in Ramsey County, including the St. Paul's Charles M. Schulz Highland Arena, which is open year-round. Other favorites in the area include Beaver Lake, Lake Gervais, Lake Owasso, White Bear Lake, and Poplar Lake county parks.
The Parade Ice Garden is an indoor rink in Minneapolis that is open year-round with two full sized rinks and a studio rink. The Gaden features open skating, figure skating lessons, ice hockey tournaments, concession stands, and a variety of local competitions in ice skating sports. Visiting the Parade Ice Garden makes for a great daytime activity any time of year.
Check the website for official hours as there are certain times the rinks are reserved for professionals and students.
The ice arena at Augsburg College is famous as a location for filming television shows and movies like "The Mighty Ducks." While open to the community, the arena hosts a variety of collegiate sports events at its three ice rinks. The Augsburg Ice Arena also has open skates throughout the year that are free for the public, though you'll have to bring your own skates.
The city of Bloomington has 14 outdoor winter ice rinks, but the Bloomington Ice Garden hosts three rinks that are open year-round. Originally opened in 1970 with just one small rink, the Bloomington Ice Garden now features an official Olympic-sized rink with a seating capacity of 2,500. Check the full schedule for upcoming events, open skating days, and information about private rentals.