February 1, 2017

4 More Outdoor Ice Rinks Perfect for History Buffs

  • By: Meghan White

The nights may be longer and the days colder, but that doesn’t mean you have to huddle in blankets beside a fireplace inside until spring arrives. Ice skating, one of the most popular winter pastimes in America, is a perfect opportunity to spend time with friends and family outdoors—bonus points if you can find a venue in a historic setting, which, as any architecture buff or history lover will tell you, can elevate the overall experience.

To help you out, we've rounded up a few more ice rinks in historic settings around the country that will make you want to lace up your skates and try them out for yourself. (See three other ice rinks that originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Preservation.)

The outdoor ice rink at Manssas Virginia borders a 200-year-old train depot

photo by: Harris Pavilion

The outdoor pavilion in Manassas holds plenty of events throughout the year.

Harris Pavilion Ice Rink at Manassas, Virginia

Address: 9201 Center Street, Manassas,VA 20110

Historic Fact: The railroad junction at Manassas was the scene for two battles during the Civil War, in 1861 and in 1862. The battles left the town almost in ruins, though it was successfully rebuilt.

The outdoor ice rink at Manassas, Virginia, backs up to the railroad tracks and the 103-year-old train depot. Though the trees surrounding the Harris Pavilion ice rink are decorated with lights for the holidays in December, the white lights on top of the pavilion twinkle all year round, giving this ice skating venue an old-fashioned and inviting atmosphere.

The ice rink is located near the main corridor of Manassas, a certified Main Street that was awarded the Great American Main Street Award in 2003. After an hour or two skating at Harris Pavilion, check out the more than a dozen restaurants that have popped up within the last decade within walking distance to warm up.

The outdoor rink at University of Michigan-Flint borders historic Saginaw Street

photo by: University of Michigan-Flint

The outdoor rink at University of Michigan's Flint campus is located near the University Pavilion.

University of Michigan-Flint Skating Rink

Address: 300 block, Saginaw St, Flint, MI 48502

Historic Fact: In the early 20th century, Flint served as the headquarters for the newly established General Motors, drawing people to the city and creating a housing boom.

Located just steps from the brick-paved, historic Saginaw Street in downtown Flint, the University of Michigan-Flint outdoor ice rink re-opened in 2015 after a 25-year-long hiatus.

The reopening of the ice rink coincides with what many residents of the town are calling a "renaissance." Thanks in part to local universities like University of Michigan-Flint, more young people are attracted to the historic town, and end up staying.

After spending time downtown checking out the popular farmers' market and other local shops, head to the skating rink to experience Flint from the ice.

The ice rink at The Edgewater overlooks Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin

photo by: The Edgewater

The picturesque views from The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Edgewater Resort Ice Rink in Madison, Wisconsin

Address: 1001 Wisconsin Pl, Madison, WI 53703

Historic Fact: The Edgewater has hosted numerous celebrities, including Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, and Sammy Davis Jr.

Since 1948, The Edgewater has brought guests inspiring views of the Wisconsin State Capitol Dome, downtown Madison, and Lake Mendota. While the luxury resort is an obvious choice for business professionals, university faculty, and politicians to hold meetings and conferences, there is no lack of relaxation and entertainment choices after the last meeting of the day.

The 4,000-square-foot ice rink opened in the Grand Plaza after a recent renovation of the resort. The Grand Plaza, a public waterfront terrace, was constructed adjacent to the original hotel building. The terrace is open year round and hosts free concerts, movies, and, of course, the ice rink in wintertime.

Few would disagree that this outdoor ice rink ranks as one of the best spots in Madison to watch the sun set over the water.

The ice rink at the National Gallery of Art is located in the center of the Sculpture Garden off Constitution Ave

photo by: Kevin Harber/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

Skate in one of the most popular spots on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink

Address: 700 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Historic Fact: Though the current ice rink opened in 1999, there was actually an ice rink on the premises as early as 1976–and before that, ice skating on the Mall was a popular past-time that dates to the 1800s.

Located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the six-acre National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden opened in the early 1990s. Come winter, the central fountain is transformed into an ice rink that overlooks the NGA and the National Mall. Skate while surrounded by large-scale sculptures by contemporary artists including Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Tony Smith, and many others. Never skated before? The rink offers plenty of private and group lessons, so you can learn how to glide around the ice in one of the prettiest settings in our nation’s capital.

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Meghan White is a historic preservationist and a former assistant editor for Preservation magazine. She has a penchant for historic stables, absorbing stories of the past, and one day rehabilitating a Charleston single house.

Join us in protecting and restoring places where significant African American history happened.

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