For some winter activity enthusiasts, the chill in the air in exhilarating. For others, the perfect winter outing would be spent indoors, staying warm and sipping hot cocoa. There is one traditional option that offers the best of both worlds: indoor ice skating. Who among us doesn’t remember what it’s like to tug those skates onto our feet, wobble our way to the edge of the rink, and pray for the ability to glide gracefully across the surface? Ice skating offers a fun day or evening for all ages, whether it’s a family outing with the kids, a charming date night, or a laughter-infused gathering among friends. And when you’re ready to take a break – or if you’re content to just sit on the sidelines and enjoy some entertaining people-watching – there’s sure to be a cup of hot chocolate waiting for you, too.
Area residents have numerous indoor rinks from which to choose that are all within an easy drive, offering a variety of public skating sessions, private lessons, hockey clinics and leagues, party packages, and more. Amenities usually include pro shops, snack bars, and game arcades. You can bring your own figure or hockey skates or rent them onsite, and there is often special admission pricing available on certain days. Be sure to call or check the rink’s website before heading out to confirm hours and fees. Some nearby favorites include:
WCC Ice Skating Rink at the Woodbridge Community Center, 600 Main Street in Woodbridge, NJ
The WCC Ice Skating Rink has been a Middlesex County favorite since its opening about 12 years ago. Open year-round, the facility operates seven days of week and welcomes skaters of all ages and abilities for general skating sessions, ice hockey, league play, birthday parties, special events, and more. Open public skate times are held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus holidays. At the popular Friday Night Cosmic Skate Sessions, the lights are turned down and they play Top 40 hits along with a spectacular light show. Phone (732) 596-4000 or visit www.njwcc.com.
The Red Bank Armory Ice Complex, 76 Chestnut Street in Red Bank, NJ
Public skating sessions are held on Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoon. They offer learn-to-skate programs for adults and kids, including a summer figure skating camp. The Armory is home to popular hockey leagues for both adults and kids, as well. Phone (732) 450-9001 or visit www.redbankarmory.com.
Jersey Shore Arena, 1215 Wyckoff Road in Wall, NJ
Conveniently located just minutes off the Garden State Parkway and I-95, this arena sits on 15 acres and draws skaters from throughout the tristate region who seek one of the area’s finest facilities for ice skating and family entertainment. The complex boasts three NHL-size ice rinks, the Penalty Box Café (serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner), laser tag, and a booming arcade. You’ll find figure skating and hockey lessons, youth and adult leagues, freestyle sessions, clinics, camps, parties, group packages, and the DJ Skate nights on Fridays and Saturdays, with strobe lights, disco balls, and a live DJ on an upgraded sound system. The facility is home to numerous area skating clubs and high school teams, and public sessions are held seven days a week. Phone (732) 919-7070 or visit www.jerseyshorearena.com.
Middletown Sports Complex, 24 Harmony Road in Middletown, NJ
Home of the Junior Titans Hockey Club and the Middletown High School teams, this rink shares space with the Middletown Swim Club, offering the township and surrounding communities an ideal year-round recreation facility. The Middletown Ice World Skating Academy offers a variety of programs, presented by an international and national senior level coaching staff and U.S. Figure Skating registered coaches. There are learn-to-skate programs for all ages, including special free programs on designated dates, plus public sessions. They even boast a new Ice Lounge, where you can enjoy great food and drink specials all day, watch a game, practice, or ball game on the big screen, or use as a prime spot for private parties or corporate events. Phone (732) 856-9700 or visit www.MiddletownNJsportscomplex.com.
Howell Ice Arena, 269 Squankum Road (Route 524/547) in Farmingdale, NJ
Home to the Garden State Skating Club and several hockey leagues and high school teams, Howell Ice Arena is yet another favorite multi-purpose facility. Highlights include two ice surfaces, including a full-size NHL rink and a 90’ x 85’ rink called “The Pond,” a state-of-the-art audio system, DirecTV and free WiFi access, meeting rooms for both small and large groups, a Subway restaurant, Titans Café, catering, and a party area. There are camps and clinics, and public skating sessions are offered on Saturdays and Sundays in the afternoon and evening hours; check for additional holiday hours. Phone (732) 919-7800 or visit www.howellicearena.com.
Whether you’re shooting for a goal, practicing your camel spin, or just struggling to stay on your feet, ice rinks are great places to chill out and enjoy a fun day trip.