Minnesota's winters can be quite harsh, but the frequent bursts of arctic air and heavy snowfall from January through March don't deter the people of Minneapolis and St. Paul from getting outside for some good, old-fashioned ice skating. The seasonal activity is taken seriously in the Twin Cities, and many venues around the metro area feature multiple rinks. Some are outdoors, some indoors and open year-round, and most can be found on Rinkfinder, a convenient database by the Minnesota Ice Arena Manager's Association. (See? Very serious.)
Public Parks in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Ice rinks are easy to come by in Minneapolis, especially with 24 of its public parks—Bryant Square Park, Van Cleve Park, Windom Northeast Park, and others—allowing skating on frozen-over ponds and lakes. The City of St. Paul maintains an additional 14 ice rinks in parks across the city, including four refrigerated rinks (CHS Field, Phalen Recreation Center, North Dale Recreation Center, and Palace Recreation Center). Both city's Parks and Recreation Departments offer up-to-date hours of operation, rink openings, and safety guidelines on their websites.
Lake of the Isles
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. It's 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, though, especially early and late in the season.
Wells Fargo's original WinterSkate—which used to be held in downtown St. Paul's Landmark Plaza, but has since moved to CHS Field—has grown into Destination Winter, a more comprehensive event featuring tubing slides in addition to a refrigerated, outdoor rink. Open from early December through February, Destination Winter has in the past thrown special events such as Frozen Family Fun Night, featuring princess appearances and skating performances; however, no events have been announced for the 2020-2021 season.
Rinks in Greater Ramsey County
In addition to the city parks of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department maintains 13 ice rinks and arenas of its own, including 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. Ramsey County arenas are projected to reopen in mid-December 2020.
Parade Ice Garden
The indoor Parade Ice Garden, located on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, features two full-sized rinks and a smaller studio rink, all open year-round. It's a destination for open skating, figure skating lessons, ice hockey tournaments, and a variety of local competitions in ice skating sports. Rentals are available. The 2020-2021 season is expected to start in mid-December.
Augsburg College Ice Arena
The ice arena at Augsburg College is famous as a filming location for television shows and movies like "The Mighty Ducks." While it is open to the community, the arena also hosts a variety of collegiate sporting events at its three ice rinks. The Augsburg Ice Arena offers open skates throughout the year that are free, though guests are required to bring their own skates.
Bloomington Ice Garden
The city of Bloomington has 14 outdoor winter ice rinks, but Bloomington Ice Garden is a favorite, as it hosts three year-round rinks of its own. Originally opened in 1970 with just one small rink, the venue now features an official Olympic-sized rink with a seating capacity of 2,500. It's closed in 2020 until further notice.