Hampton Roads might not have much by way of frozen lakes and ponds, even in the depths of winter, but it does have outdoor ice skating rinks. Two of them, in fact, and a third made of a synthetic surface similar to real ice.
Families who glide around rinks at MacArthur Center in Norfolk, the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton and Legacy Hall Skate Rink in James City County say the fresh air and surrounding views make the experience cooler - albeit occasionally much colder - than going to an indoor rink.
"You get to feel the sunshine on your face," said Abby Barbour, 13, a Chesapeake resident who likes MacArthur's rink. "It's almost exactly like rollerblading. Also, the hot cider is awesome."
Jamie Earley of Newport News, a father of two who has been to the rinks in Hampton and Norfolk, said he likes being chilly when he skates. "I used to live in Michigan," Earley said "It's not hard to keep warm once you get going. It feels great. It gives me energy."
There are two new additions to the outdoor skating scene this year. Legacy Hall Skate Rink, which debuted in November, is made of a synthetic surface called EZ Glide 350 and suited for all skill levels. "Our rink skates as similar to real ice as possible but is about 75 percent the speed," said Jerrod Hurr, Park Coordinator for James City County. "The surface will get faster over time but will always be slower than real ice."
At MacArthur Center, the rink now sits beside a winter carnival that includes a 55-foot tall Ferris wheel, 20-foot tall fun slide, small roller coaster and train designed for young kids. "If you go after dark, you see all the rides and buildings and trees lit up," said Emily Husselbee, a 13-year-old skater from Virginia Beach. "It's really pretty."
At all three spots, be sure to dress warmly, including a hat and gloves. Rink operators also recommend bringing helmets for beginners and children - and cameras to record memories. Finally, check rink calendars in advance for hours, special events and multi-pack ticket offers, and be aware that sites may close unexpectedly due to poor weather or mechanical issues.
MACARTHUR ON ICE
Runs through Jan. 21
Where Corner of Monticello Avenue and Freemason Street, adjacent to MacArthur Center in Norfolk. The site includes a kids' rink for toddlers, concession stand, lockers and restrooms.
Hours Vary by day, but generally Mondays-Thursdays 3-10 p.m., Fridays 3-11 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sundays 12-8 p.m. Scheduled hours on the last day, Jan. 21, are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Price $6 per person, or $4 with a valid military ID. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for $5; offerings include child and adult sizes, double-runners for toddlers and a limited number of hockey skates. A 15-minute instructional session is available for $12. Admission to the winter carnival is separate; prices range from $1 for a single ride ticket to $35 for a package of 50 tickets. Paid parking is available in either of the two garages attached to the mall.
Some special dates:
- Skate with the Norfolk Admirals and Mascot Salty: Jan. 2 from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. (Salty) and Jan. 16 from 6 p.m. -7 p.m. (Admirals players)
- Learn to skate lessons: Jan. 12 from 9-9:45 a.m. Free with the purchase of a ticket for the 10 a.m. session
- Exhibition by the Tidewater Figure Skating Club: Jan. 11 from 7:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
- Cheapskate Mondays: Jan. 7 and 14 from 3 p.m. -5 p.m., $1 off admission
- Student Skate Nights: Jan. 8 and 15 from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., $2 off with valid high school or college ID
More information Call 314-4409 or visit www.macarthuronice.com.
DOWNTOWN HAMPTON ON ICE!
Runs through Feb. 3
Where Virginia Air & Space Center, 600 Settlers Landing Rd. Go through the museum's main entrance to buy tickets.
Hours Monday-Thursday closed, Friday 4 p.m. -10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
Price $7 per person, with a $1 discount for museum members. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for $3. A free parking garage is available about a block from the center.
More information Call 727-0900 or visit www.vasc.org.
LEGACY HALL SKATE RINK
Open through Jan. 13
Where Sullivan Square in New Town, 4301 New Town Ave. Parking is available on the street and behind the development's movie theater.
Hours Monday-Thursday closed, Friday 4 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-7:30 p.m. New skating sessions start every two hours, although people can join sessions already underway if there's room. Each session is 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Price $5 per person for a session. Bring your own ice skates or rent a pair for $2 more. Skate sharpening is available for $5.
More information Call 259-5360 or visit jamescitycountyva.gov/recreation
Source: Tidewater Parent Magazine