Your Complete Guide To The Best Ice Skating: Atlanta Edition

It used to be you only had one choice for a  seasonal outdoor ice skating rink in Atlanta, but now there are lots of places to ice skate during the winter months, each with it’s own character. We’ve visited several Atlanta area ice skating rinks. Here are our favorites and what to consider about ice skating Atlanta style.  We frequently get requests like, “Help me find an ice skating rink near me!” Whether you want to hit Atlantic Station or try the newest skating adventure at Marietta Square or Jekyll Island, we’ve got you covered!

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Photo courtesy of Alpharetta

Atlantic Station | Centennial Olympic Park | Park Tavern | Avalon | Marietta Square | St. Regis | Lake Lanier | Additional Rinks | Best for Teens

Skate Atlantic Station


Ice Skating amid gleaming skyscrapers on a chilly winter evening is magical. Outdoor ice skating in Atlanta has become quite popular over the years, and the Atlantic Station ice rink is one of the coolest venues because of it’s location among high-rise buildings.

ice skating in AtlantaIce skating in Rockefeller Center is an iconic picture of holiday fun. But New York City is a bit far for an evening of skating. If you want to go ice skating in Atlanta amid skyscrapers, just like Rockefeller Center, then head to Atlantic Station’s 10,000 square foot track style rink. DISCOUNT TICKETS HERE

The Atlantic Station ice skating rink is tucked between high-rise buildings, just one block off of Central Park, where the holiday tree is located. For those who aren’t interested in skating, there is ample seating to just watch. After skating, or just watching, there is a lot of holiday fun within the Atlantic Station complex. My favorite is the nightly snow shows. The little ones will like the miniature train that takes them all around the station. A stop at Kilwin’s for hot chocolate or other sweet treats is also a must.

Atlanta area Ice Skating RinksGood to know before you go Ice Skating in Atlanta at Atlantic Station

  • The parking deck for Atlantic Station is underground. If you come up at Central Park, you’ll be one block away from the ice skating rink. Parking is free for up to two hours.
  • The Atlantic Station ice skating rink is completely outside, and uncovered, which makes it really cool, unless it rains, then not so much. The colder it is, the better the ice, so if there are wintery temperatures, just bundle up.

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. For wee ones, double bladed skates are available, as well as skate trainers.

Cons: This ice skating rink is outside, which is wonderful on a beautiful evening, but not so great during rain or extremely cold weather. 

 

Centennial Olympic Park Ice Skating

Ice Skating Rink at Centennial Olympic Park

The Centennial Olympic Park ice skating rink is a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays in Atlanta. It’s been a holiday tradition in my family, and we go every year to skate and look at the lights in the Holiday in Lights display. Based on a few years experience and a chat with a former park employee, here are some suggestions if you plan to go ice skating at the Centennial Olympic Park ice rink.

Go on a Cold Night – The reality of ice skating in an outdoor ice rink in the South is the ice can be mushy, especially on warm winter nights. For maximum hardness (and dryness), go early when the ice is freshest or when it’s cold outside – the colder, the better.
Note: If it’s been warm, call first to make sure it’s cold enough to make the ice. We scheduled a birthday party on opening weekend one year and the ice wouldn’t harden so they didn’t open.

Avoid Crowds, Go Early – Like most attractions, mornings and early in the week are the best times to go if you don’t like crowds. We’ve been on a weekend night before and had a fine time, but if you want to feel like you own the ice, go early in the week (M – W) or early in the mornings.
FYI: If you have a group of 50 or more skaters and pre-purchase tickets, the Park will open the rink privately outside of regular operating hours at no additional cost.

Small Kids, Go Early – If you’re one of those first time parents that frowns at the older kids running around on the playground, you’ll want to skate early. Let’s face it, there are few people in Georgia who actually KNOW how to skate, much less stop. The later you go, the more chance you’ll run into kids like mine that are more interested in speed than brakes.

Do Save Time to Enjoy the Park – Centennial Olympic Park is a wonderful legacy from the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. There are two fabulous playgrounds near the ice rink and a huge lawn perfect for frisbee, football or just running around. Take time to visit the Holiday Light display in the park, and stroll to see the Fountain of Rings. There are light and water shows daily at 12:30, 3:30, 6:30 and 9 pm.

See the Chinese Lanterns – Centennial Olympic Park is introducing a new event this year, the Southeast’s first-ever Chinese Lantern Festival, kicking off Dec. 9 and running through Jan. 15, from 6p.m. -11p.m. each night. South Park, including the Southern Company Amphitheater, will be illuminated with 25 decorative lanterns, handcrafted giant flowers, a three-story pagoda and a 200-foot-long Chinese dragon.

Spend the Day: The Centennial Olympic Park ice skating rink is centrally located steps away from many popular Downtown attractions including the College Football Hall of Fame, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola©, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the IMAGINE IT! Children’s Museum. So make a day of it and take in one of these other classic Atlanta attractions.

Enjoy a Holiday Treat – The Centennial Olympic Park ice skating rink also has a concession area where you can funnel cakes, fried PB&J, corndogs or holiday treats like hot chocolate and apple cider. But you may want to venture a little further into the park for a tasty meal. Googie Burger is the perfect place for a little skating break and a one of a kind experience. (you can only get Googie Burger in Centennial Olympic Park) Sure hot chocolate is more in-season, but this is the south, you can eat ice cream and drink milkshakes in the winter and Googie Burger has some good ones. Or if you’d rather, Googie Burger’s fresh cut fries will make you feel oh so merry.

Parking for Centennial Olympic Park Ice Skating – Parking is always a bit of a challenge downtown. There are several parking garages around Centennial Park, and a few surface lots. The easiest parking deck is the one for the Aquarium and the World-of-Coca-Cola. This will put you right at Pemberton Place. The World of Coke usually has a great holiday set up too.

When: November 19, 2016 – January 8, 2017 Visit the webpage for specific times

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.

 

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The Rink at Park Tavern

This rink is a bit smaller than Centennial Park, but the amenities are much nicer. Couches and chairs line the waiting area and there is even a fireplace inside the bar area. Special rink desserts are available including gourmet hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings – Mmmm. For those that just want to watch the little ones, there is a full bar available within the ice rink.

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Tickets for The Aquafina Rink at Park Tavern must be ordered online. You can order them prior to going, or use a computer that has been set up at The Tavern for that purpose. Skate rentals are hockey skates and there is only one kind, so if you’re little princess wants skates like Olympic skaters, better bring your own. DISCOUNT TICKETS HERE.

When: Nov. 24, 2016 – Feb. 20, 2017, go to the website for session times and notes about closed sessions for private events (NOTE: The 8 pm session is for those 16 years or older)

Cost: $15 to skate all day on non-peak days, which includes rental for ice skates.
$20 all day skate during peak season days. *Guests are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets beforehand to verify availability. (Parking at The Tavern is $3 – $5)

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. The Park Tavern does not have trainers or other assistance for young skaters.

 

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Avalon

For more about Avalon Ice Skating, see our full post here: Festive Ice Skating at Avalon Mall

During the holiday season, Avalon will turn the Plaza into an ice-skating rink that will be the size of the intimate Rockefeller Plaza. Open from late Nov.  to mid-February, the rink will be surrounded by twinkling lights, a gingerbread house, and other holiday decorations, creating a magical experience for kids of all ages.

Pros: This Atlanta ice skating rink is similar to Atlantic Station. It’s a very family friendly rink and there are bathrooms nearby, as well as an indoor soft playground for the little ones that either can’t skate, or get a little too cold. Free parking nearby is always a plus. There are also plenty of shops nearby, including  Goldberg’s where you can get a hot coffee and watch the skaters – there are plenty of places to comfortably watch them skate, or just sit in front of the fireplace on a comfy couch (although you won’t see the skaters from here). If your child wants to skate, but they don’t have skates small enough, ask about blades only that can be attached to their shoes.

Cons: This could be a pro, depending on where you are, but we live in-town, so Avalon is a bit of a hike for us. If you live on the north side of town, this rink will be super convenient.

 

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Marietta Square

Not to be confused with the Marietta Ice Center (indoor ice hockey,) Marietta Square announced a new holiday ice rink in 2015. Features include an open-air ice skating rink, Santa’s Workshop, and multi-story Christmas Tree. New for 2016, there are viewing areas on either side- Buddy the Elf can be spotted from there, skating and goofing in the park on Saturdays. There is a 15 foot toy soldiers greeting guests as they arrive, Reindeer Games to play in the park, a new Santa house, a peek inside a Toy Store and they have minted a beautiful commemorative coin to celebrate the holiday.

Pros: The Marietta Square is a quaint, family friendly destination any time of year. Glover Park is surrounded by on street parking and lots of shops, restaurants, museums and even theaters. During the Marietta Square Winter Wonderland festival, there are holiday lights, music and the ice skating rink.  After skating, visit Sarah Jeans Ice Cream for some tasty hot chocolate. This rink is open on Christmas and New Year’s Day, and into February.

Cons: This rink is quite small (for some, this is a PRO!)

 

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St Regis Ice Skating

For a luxurious winter experience, take the family ice skating at the St. Regis Astor ice rink. This rink is more intimate than others around town. Parents sip cocktails ringside while kids glide around, or roast marshmallows nearby for s’mores.

The Astor Ice Rink is located on the 7th floor of the St. Regis hotel in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Ice skating at the St. Regis Astor ice rink is an intimate affair, limited to only 30 people per hour. Reservations are recommended, but when we went, there were still a few reservations that evening, so don’t assume they’re booked. However, as you get closer to Christmas, things do get a bit more crowded, especially on the weekends.

On our trip to the rink, the ice was hard and well frozen. (this can be a problem for outdoor rinks in the South) The St. Regis thanksgiving-st-regis-030Atlanta partners with Ice Rink Events, the company responsible for New York’s Bryant Park rink. There is a 100-ton chiller that pumps glycol gel refrigerant through coils that lay below the ice rink which freeze the ice down to -6 degrees. It’s also the smallest of all the outdoor rinks, which I’m sure helps to keep the ice at the right temperature.

There’s more than just ice skating at the St. Regis Astor ice rink

In addition to ice skating, don’t miss the hot chocolate. It’s made with chocolate shavings, real whipped cream, more chocolate shavings, sprinkle beads and marshmallows. You literally need a spoon to eat the topping (the beads give it a nice crunch) and when you get down to the hot chocolate, it’s so thick, you can see lumps of chocolate at the bottom.

You can also purchase a s’more kit and roast the marshmallows in the fire pit on the pool deck. If you’d rather, relax with an adult beverage while the children skate.

The St. Regis Gingerbread House

Leave a little time to explore the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel as well. In addition to a beautifully decorated tree, there was a life-sized gingerbread house that makes the lobby smell delicious. As you walk through you’ll notice gummie bear lights, lollipop flowers and even a chocolate dipped gummie dog!

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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.


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Special thanks to Southern Family Fun for this sweet picture of her daughter at the rink.

The Polar Rink at Lake Lanier

There’s exciting news for Lake Lanier fans: Ice Skating is now included with admission to Lanier Islands Christmas. Skate rental and ice skating are free after 5pm.

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 we 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.

    • Ice Rink at Sugar Hill. 5039 West Broad Street, Sugar Hill | 770-945-6716
    • Marietta Ice Rink This is an indoor hockey/skating facility, not a holiday rink.
    • The Cooler, Alpharetta. This is also an indoor hockey/skating facility, not a holiday rink.
    • Olde Town Conyers Pavilion. Experience an indoor/outdoor rink for the family in a botanical setting.
    • Athens on Ice.  The Classic Center is home to the only indoor NHL-sized Ice Skating arena and outdoor skating pavilion. From late November to early January, the rink will be indoors, then moved to the outdoor pavilion from late January through mid-February.
    • Reynolds Plantation. If you happen to be staying with Reynolds Plantation this year – and holy cannoli, do they have some great holiday packages and events – then you an experience ice skating and a life-size gingerbread house. WOW!
    • Jekyll Island Ice Skating Village. The ice skating village at Jekyll Island is right off the beach!

 


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Best Ice Skating in Atlanta with Teens

Ice skating at one of Atlanta’s outdoor rinks is the perfect teen date night or outing with friends because you can only do it for a few months out of the year. The limited availability makes it new and exciting each time. Plus the festive environment adds a bit of magic to the evening. Here is our pick of the best ice skating in Atlanta with teens.

The best ice skating in Atlanta with teens are at rinks that are easily accessible, and offer options for other things to do, just in case the skating gets a little too cold or wet. Here are some of our favorite rinks and why they might be a good choice for teens.

The Rink at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park

This rink is housed in a tent on the Park Tavern restaurant patio, and it’s pretty much enclosed in a tent, so weather isn’t an issue. There are comfy couches (but not too comfy) and a fireplace if kids want to get off the ice and warm up a bit with some hot chocolate. The location off Piedmont Park can’t be beat and has a beautiful view of the Midtown Skyline, a perfect backdrop for selfies with friends or romantic view. Teens can feel grown up in the restaurant setting, and parents can feel good knowing there are other families skating too. Note: After 9 pm this rink is adults only. There is paid parking next to the Park Tavern and I’d suggest going ahead and doing that rather than trying to find free parking on the street. Police will boot your car in adjacent lots.

Skate at Atlantic Station

My favorite part about this rink is the setting amid the sky-scrapers. It makes me feel like I’m at a NYC rink like Bryant Park or Rockefeller Center. If teens get tired of skating, they can walk a block to Central Park to look at the Christmas tree or stroll amid the shops under the holiday lights. Kilwin’s is a great stop for something sweet or a hot chocolate. Parking here is underground and free for the first two hours.

Centennial Olympic Park Ice Rink

I always see lots of teenagers at this skating rink. I’d go here with friends more so than on a date. Not sure why I say that, perhaps because it always seems busy with big groups of kids. When you’re done skating, it’s fun to walk through the lights in the park. Even though this is Downtown Atlanta, Centennial Park is the center of the tourist attractions in Atlanta and usually very active. There are several parking lots around Centennial Park, or if you’d rather not park in a lot, the Aquarium deck is also a good option.

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Sue Rodman | Travel Editor & Advertising Manager

Sue Rodman is a mother of three boys, a PR professional, writer, and ice cream lover. For eight years, Sue published an award winning family travel blog called Field Trips with Sue, and produced a TV segment with the same name on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta. In Sept. 2016 Field Trips with Sue merged with 365 Atlanta Family. In addition to writing blog posts and managing the advertising and public relations for 365 Atlanta Family, Sue does freelance public relations and her writing has appeared online at TravelingMom, Trekaroo, Minitime Family and other family travel sites. She has contributed to print publications such as Family Fun, Simply Buckhead, BuckHaven and Publix Magazine. In addition, Sue has appeared on local and national news talking about family travel. Sue believes anytime is a good time for dessert and there are no bad field trips, just better stories.

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