By Sue Rodman
I always wanted to be an Olympic ice skater when I was little. I’m too old for Olympic gold, but not to have fun with my kids at these outdoor ice rinks in Atlanta. Our family has visited the three original rinks, and we’re working on the two new ones, the PNC Bank Skate Atlantic Station and Verizon Wireless Ice Skating Rink at the Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Island. As we visit those we’ll update this post. In the meantime, here’s our take on comparing the various rinks (including links to our original posts with information on dates, prices, photos and video)
The Southwest Rink at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park
Pros: This rink is housed in a tent on the Park Tavern patio, so unlike the others, it’s semi-inside. I loved the comfy couches and toasty fireplace. There’s also a full bar if you need an adult hot chocolate. The kid friendly version is pretty awesome too. The location off Piedmont Park can’t be beat and has a beautiful view of the Midtown Skyline. This rink is open through Valentine’s Day, so if you don’t get there over the holidays, there’s still time to skate after the other rinks end their season.
Cons: After 9 pm this rink is adults only. Parking in this area is tricky. You may want to go ahead and spring for paid parking in the lot next to The Park Tavern.)
PNC Bank Skate at Atlantic Station
Pros: This outdoor ice rink feels most like one of the big city rinks in New York City. The rink is tucked in between skyscrapers with a seating area for folks to watch if they don’t want to get on the ice. They have a pretty good sized zamboni to keep the ice smooth too. When you are done with skating, check out
the nightly snow shows, ride the train or just admire the huge Christmas tree in Central Park. There is a concession stand within a retail store front and a pleathora of food, drink and shopping options all around. Personally, I think Kilwin’s should set up a hot chocolate hut right outside the skating rink for some gourmet hot chocolate treats.
Cons: This ice skating rink is outside, which is wonderful on a beautiful evening, but not so great during rain or extremely cold weather. Free parking is available in the deck for up to two hours.
The St. Regis Astor Ice Rink
Pros: This is an intimate setting, only 30 people on the ice at a time. Perfect for younger kids who aren’t too sure of themselves. Staff wait on you as you would expect at the St. Regis. The hot chocolate is like drinking a chocolate bar and I loved the crunchy jimmies on top. If you’d rather, there is a full bar, so you can enjoy an adult beverage while the kids skate. If you have an extra $12, buy a s’more kit and roast marshmallows by the poolside fireplace. The life-sized gingerbread house in the lobby is not to be missed.
Cons: Price. At $30 for an adult and $18 for kids, this is the most expensive option and it’s only an hour of skate time.
Centennial Olympic Park Ice Rink
Pros: This rink is the least expensive of the three above. I love the location in Centennial Olympic Park and at night the holiday lights in the park and on nearby buildings add a festive atmosphere. This is probably the biggest of the three rinks as well, so there is more space for skating.
Cons: This is by far the busiest of the three (at least when we went) and the little ones can get a bit overwhelmed with the crowds. The larger rink can also be a bit scary for those that don’t know how to skate. Parking downtown can be expensive.
Polar Ice Skating Rink Presented by Coca-Cola at Lake Lanier Islands
Pros: This rink is right in the middle of the action at the Holiday Village. When you’re tired of skating, roast some marshmallows by the fire pits, shop in the holiday store or ride some carnival rides. It’s a decent sized rink and they have a zamboni golf cart that cleans the ice every two hours, so it’s fresh for guests.
Cons: The ice rink is in the middle of the Magic Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Island, so you’ll want to see the lights while you are there as you’ll have to purchase an entry which is based per car. If you only want to skate, visit after 5 pm when skating is free.
Additional Ice Rinks we have not visited:
As Field Trips with Sue visits the ice rinks below, we’ll update this post with a review. In the meantime, if you’ve been and have some insight to share, please let us know in the comments.
Got an opinion on these ice skating rinks in Atlanta? Tell us about it.