Is there anything more enthralling than meeting the cool crisp breeze of a late December evening with a thermos full of hot cocoa and a twilight skate overlooked by the cityscape of the GTA? For me, the holiday break is a time to get outside and truly embrace what it means to be Canadian by taking advantage of our unique climate. Here are the top five spots for that perfect city skating experience.
- Markham Civic Centre — 101 Town Centre Blvd, Markham
When it comes to size alone, the Markham Civic Centre boasts one of the largest outdoor skating rinks in the GTA and is a gorgeous rink for pleasure skating. It’s flat open surroundings make this spot ideal for watching sunsets and skating into the late hours of the night. Colours from the night sky are enhanced by the massive reflective surface that this rink offers making dark blues and cool greens shimmer all night long.
- Christie Pits Rink — 777 Crawford St, Toronto
If you’re looking for a game of shinny while enjoying a view of the city skyline, head to Christie Pits Park. Located on the North West corner of the park, there’s a well maintained hockey rink with pleasure skating, shinny and generous hours, all while overlooking Koreatown. There’s a wood stove in the change room area which adds that extra authenticity for the perfect afternoon of skating.
- Richmond Hill Green Skate Trail — 1300 Elgin Mills Road East
If hockey is not your thing, the Richmond Hill Green Skate Trail offers a unique figure eight trail nestled amongst a natural forest. The trail runs through 250 metres of winter wonderland, provides lights for evening skates, heated washrooms and parking. This is a fantastic spot if you want to get out of the city and reconnect with the outdoors. The figure eight trail offers a unique change of pace compared to the typical rink.
- Nathan Phillip’s Square — 100 Queen Street West
Arguably the most iconic destination in the city of Toronto, Nathan Phillip’s Square doubles as an ice rink during the winter months. Due to its vicinity to the Eaton Center and its reputation, the rink can be one of the busier and more touristy skating spots in the GTA. However, it is one of the best equipped with change rooms, food trucks, skate rentals, snack booths, a sound system and rows of twinkling Christmas lights overhead. With easy subway access and great Instagram potential, you can’t go wrong!
- Rennie Rink — Bloor West Village
If you are looking for the absolute perfect outdoor ice skating rink in the city than look no further than Bloor West Village. Rennie Rink (formerly Swansea Rink) offers something for everyone. The pleasure rink was built around a majestic evergreen and surrounded by forest. With no fences, skaters can truly connect with the forest they are surrounded by and experience the ultimate casual skate. Neighboring the surreal layout of the pleasure rink is a fully functional outdoor hockey rink with NHL quality boards, a scoreboard and a sound system courtesy of Home Depot and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Players looking for shinny flock to this spot and typically play until late in the evening. Lastly, the rinks come equipped with a large change room facility and observation room if friends or family are not feeling up to the cold.