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Montreal's Best Skating Rinks
Montreal Skating Rinks 2017-2018: The Season's Best Ice Rinks
Yearning to impress on a date night and wondering which Montreal skating rinks fit the bill? Looking for a budget-friendly rink that suits the whole family? Or maybe, like me, you're just aching to glide at maximum speed but are not entirely sure where you can do that in Montreal without bowling over random skaters in the process?
I hear ya. Copious childhood memories of skating at breakneck speed on an Eastern townships 12-kilometre long and 2-kilometre wide lake complete with heart-pounding thin ice incidents flood to mind. Some of the best moments of my life were on its subzero surface, navigating its treacherous ice with the confident nonchalance of a naive, unsupervised child who, after a couple of close calls, figured out how to read the ice, how to better break and when and how to drop and lie flat lest it crack. I never did fall through. I still wonder if that was a result of skill. Or dumb luck.
So in case it's not clear yet, skating is an absolute passion for me, and I bring that to this list of must-skate Montreal ice skating rinks which includes tips and details that only a lifelong skater could offer. Never skated before? No time like NOW. I dare you to give it a try. It's a short learning curve. And once you know how to skate, it sticks.
Even when I haven't hit the ice in months, if years (sad years, those were), that rusty awkwardness doesn't last long. Ice skating is like riding a bike. Everyone falls a few times. And that's part of the fun. The main difference here is that skating tumbles might bruise, but they rarely if ever scrape. Just laugh it off, get back up, and try again.
Visiting Montreal? Compare Tripadvisor's Best Hotel Deals in Montreal
Montreal Skating Rink Conditions: Always ALWAYS Check
Just checked only to find out that it's a mess (or way too cold) out there? Consider this top Montreal indoor skating rink as an alternative.
Should I Buy My Own Pair of Skates?
It all depends on how much you intend to skate and where. If you don't own your own skates, you might consider buying a pair if your wintery plans involve heading out to Montreal skating rinks which don't offer equipment rentals or if you intend on skating more than three times in a season. It can be a worthwhile investment AND a fantastic way to complement a fitness program. The United States Figure Skating Association claims that a 150-pound person can burn anywhere from 600 to 800 calories an hour on skates while improving muscle tone and balance at the same time.
Here's a list of Montreal shops that sell skates at different price points to get you started.
Next: Montreal's Best Skating RinksContinue to 2 of 12 below.
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Parc La Fontaine
One of my favorite outdoor skating rinks in Montreal, no doubt, Parc La Fontaine's charm in the free skating department is the park's long meandering tree-lined ice paths, a welcome alternative to going round and round in a standard oblong-shaped arena, a format ideal for a hockey game but borderline boring for recreational skating.
Parc La Fontaine is the chameleon of local rinks too. Featuring unboarded ice paths as well as two standard boarded rinks, it's a great skating destination for just about everyone, from hockey players who can play a game in the standard rinks to families who require bathrooms, equipment rentals, and proper locker rooms to friends on tight budgets looking for a free admission way to get active and have fun together. It's also got a little something for nature lovers on the hunt for a more authentic woodsy skating experience in the heart of the city. It's even suitable for couples looking to swap smooches in a romantic setting, which Parc La Fontaine offers in spades.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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Right on the Old Port, just below Old Montreal's Marché Bonsecours, the Bonsecours Basin outdoor skating rink ranks high in flash and visual value and is a great place to bring a date, friends from out of town as well as the whole family provided you're ready to pay admission fees in addition to ice skate rental fees. Its refrigerated rink also allows for a longer and more stable skating season. It takes more than a sudden winter thaw to break it down.
But is it a tourist destination? Good gawd, yes. It's in the general vicinity of several Montreal tourist destinations, from one of North America's most beautiful churches to the birthplace of Montreal and of course, the Bonsecours Market.
Speed demons need to slow down on weekends though as that's the skating destination's peak days. Mind you, the Bonsecours Basin is pretty big compared to other skating destinations so you might get lucky: there's still room on that ice, even with a crowd. A ten-minute walk from several Old Montreal hot spots, including Kyo, Flyjin and Velvet.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Olympic Park (Village Mammouth)
Out of all of Montreal's best skating rinks, the Olympic Park's rink is possibly the most desirable skating destination for families in day trip mode, if only for its location, equipment rentals and abundance of activities suitable for kids both big and small, including a 24-foot long snow tubing slide installed since December 2015 courtesy of Village Mammouth.
A few things to keep in mind when planning a day in the Olympic Village is parking. It costs up to $20 to park in the Village itself. Free street parking is available nearby but it risks being an inconvenient if lengthy trek to and fro the skating rink. As for food, there's at the very minimum a restaurant and wafer stand on location. Prices aren't exactly a steal either so do factor in these costs. They add up quick when you've got the whole clan in tow. There's also an admission fee for access to the rink, even if you bring your own skates.
Which brings me to my next top choice, which is right in the neighborhood and is FREE admission provided you bring your own skates.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Here it is, speed demons. YOUR skating rink. I can't guarantee that there won't be crowds but LOOK AT THAT SURFACE. It's huge. There's still a comfortable amount of spacing between skaters on a busy day on that oblong track. Just remember to bring your own skates. No equipment rentals are offered at Parc Maisonneuve.
And like the Olympic Village skating rink, you're in the thick of Montreal's nature museums, top city attractions in their own right.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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I've got such the soft spot for Parc Jean-Drapeau's ice paths. I suspect part of the reason is the psychological mind game called scarcity: these paths are only maintained for a few short weeks in January and February.
Consisting of a long, 1.5 km skating stretch situated near the St. Lawrence River, Parc Jean-Drapeau's outdoor ice paths offer a delightful forest-lined experience in addition to choice views of the city. Overall, a great option for families and nature lovers who need a break from the city without actually leaving the city. The only pain is having to change into your skates outdoors, as was my experience at previous editions. There are lockers on location. But again, they're outdoors.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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Beaver Lake (Lac aux Castors)
One of Montreal's more recently refurbished outdoor skating rinks, the Beaver Lake (aka Lac aux Castors) outdoor skating destination atop Montreal's sort-of mountain, Mount Royal, is a hit with both locals and visitors, so much so that said rink gets really crowded. What can I say? Mount Royal Park is iconic. And the winter activities on offer at that one spot are unbeatable. You've got snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and SNOW TUBING!
Beaver Lake is a fantastic spot to bring kids and the whole family when travelling by car. Yes. Car. Here's my issue. While I usually encourage folks to hop on the 11 Bus and head up the mountain year round, I would also be the first to admit that herding small children on the bus to Beaver Lake in the winter is not my idea of fun UNLESS you can time things perfectly for the bus ride home. Otherwise, the mountain's winter winds can get bitter at that bus stop. I know. I've been stuck there before, waiting 20 minutes with a wind chill I won't soon forget. And it's not like you can walk to the closest corner store or fast food joint and warm up for five minutes. There aren't any up there.
On the plus side, you can always stay warm in the changing area and equipment rental lodge if you do miss the bus. But one way or another, you'll have to trek back outside and wait since the lodge is not close enough to the stops to wait inside and you can never be entirely sure when that bus will show. Montreal buses are notoriously unreliable in the winter (too early, too late) and most stops don't have bus shelters. The whole setup exacerbates problems like the little ones getting too cold or suddenly having a bathroom emergency. Call it a personal preference but if I've got little ones with me while using public transit and we're travelling in the dead of winter, I want to be within walking distance of my destination once I exit the Metro. If you have the same concerns as myself, try Parc La Fontaine, the Olympic Village, Parc Maisonneuve and Parc Jarry's rinks instead.
Or keep it simple and try out this rink. It's at the foot of the mountain, so it's easier to reach.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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A foodie AND a skating fiend? Get thee to Parc Jarry's skating rink located on its artificial lake. And when you're done, head down to the Jean-Talon Market for some lunch and maybe purchase a few tasty morsels to go.
Just one thing. You'll need to bring your own skates. There aren't any skate rentals on location.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Located at the foot of Mount Royal Park, Jeanne Mance Park's skating rink is more easily accessible by public transit than Beaver Lake's refrigerated rink. And unlike its picturesque counterpart, Jeanne Mance Park offers not just a recreational rink but a hockey-friendly one too.
But do bring your own skates. While there are bathrooms and a lodge to change into your skates, there aren't any equipment rentals.
See Also: Is Buying My Own Skates Worth It?Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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Verdun's Bleu Blanc Rouge
Made possible by the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation, the Verdun skating rink Bleu Blanc Rouge is one of a handful of outdoor rinks in Montreal to be equipped with a refrigerated surface that allows for a longer skating season.
Read: Skating Verdun's Bleu Blanc Rouge Rink: Dates, Details
Costing $1 million to build, the rink stays true to the National Hockey League's official rink size requirements -200 feet by 85 feet (61 metres by 26 metres)- identical dimensions to those of the Bell Centre's rink, the arena host to Montreal Canadiens home games. Welcoming hockey players as well as recreational skaters, Verdun's Bleu Blanc Rouge is not only a sure bet in the winter, it's open year-round: the rink is adapted to suit roller hockey in warmer months.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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Parc St. Viateur
Parc St. Viateur brings the charm with an adorable winding ice path where the Outremont neighborhood park's pond and streams freeze up.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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Atrium le 1000
Too cold to skate outside? Too warm to skate outside? Try Atrium le 1000. But a word of warning. I've never seen a rink as packed as I've seen this one on select weekends. It gets brutally full, so full that most of your ice time is spent dodging crash collisions. On the plus side, that problem has made me a better skater ;-)
But if you absolutely cannot stand crowds, then go on an early weekday evening. It's empty, filling up a bit more on Thursdays and Fridays. By the way, teens love this spot. Plenty of food court eats too. Equipment rentals on location.