Ice skating has been a quintessential winter activity since humans figured out that gliding over frozen water was both an effective means of getting around and also fun. According to some light Googling, ice skating seems to have originated in Finland about 4,000 years ago (they have a lot of ice) and began to resemble its current metal-blades-on-boots iteration somewhere in the Netherlands in the 1300s.
Ice skating back then actually looked much the same as it does today, and this wholesome, family-friendly activity can be found at a handful of pop-up seasonal ice rinks around the city.
Here are three that offer a place to glide, as well as skate rental and hot and/or boozy beverages.
Fifty West Brewing Company
Fifty West Brewing Company has added a quaint winter attraction to its list of ever-growing things to do at its Production Works brewery: an ice rink. It launched the idea last year and, because it was so successful, has brought it back again.
The family-friendly rink is 80-feet-by-40-feet, and tickets ($10) include skate rental and one hour on the ice. Only a small number of people are allowed on the rink at one time, so Fifty West is using a timed reservation system at fiftywestbrew.com, with select in-person purchase options if crowds are light. Kids ages 4 and under can skate for free.
“We want Fifty West to be a place you can come and make memories throughout the holiday season,” says Fifty West founder Bobby Slattery in a release. “We pride ourselves on providing a fun community hub to families and this rink helps our space bridge the gap between fall and spring.”
In addition to the ice skating rink, Fifty West has gone full "winter wonderland," per the release, with large, heated tents; small fire pits; a holiday light display; and hot chocolate and cider (with the option to add alcohol to either).
The brewery also has asked Santa to visit for photo ops, with two remaining dates 4-6 p.m. Dec. 11 and Dec.19. Tickets to see the man in red include a digital and physical holiday photo and free kiddie hot chocolate.
Of course, Santa has something to say about his appearance. “Bobby and Fifty West asked me to stop by and I couldn’t miss the chance to try the burgers I’ve heard so much about,” he says, according to the brewery. Fifty West Production Works, 7605 Wooster Pike, Columbia Township, fiftywestbrew.com.
Fountain Square's ice rink has returned this year and is open through Feb. 22. In addition to skate rental, Fountain Square has brought back 2020’s super-popular bumper cars, which will share the rink with traditional ice skating. Patrons can choose from two types of sessions — either a split rink, where one half is devoted to ice skating while the other half is taken up by bumper cars, or skating only.
Book a preferred time online ($15 for the split session and $10 for ice skating only). Bumper car riders can use the cars as many times as they want during their 90-minute session (a line will form to get on the ride). If you opt for a split-rink session, you can go between the cars and skating, but you cannot wear ice skates in the vehicle; all bumper car riders must wear flat, closed-toe shoes. Concessions will be available and a rink-side warming tent will feature snacks and drinks, including boozy beverages. Masks are required inside the tent when not eating or drinking. Fountain Square, 520 Vine St., Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.
Housed underneath the colorful glass canopy at Summit Park, the Warm 98.5 Ice Rink offers two- and three-hour skate sessions for $7 (skate rental included). Nanny Belle's will be serving up snacks, drinks and hot cocoa. And skate aids (those contraptions that look like a street blockade) will be available to use for free.
"It is such a fun winter tradition, and a great activity for families, friends, or date nights,” says Margaret O’Gorman, general manager of programs and events in the Blue Ash Parks and Recreation Department.
While last year skaters had to make reservations due to COVID restrictions, this year is first-come, first-served.
The rink is open through Jan. 3 and closed for holidays on Dec. 24, 25 and 31, and Jan. 1. Summit Park, 4335 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash, summitparkblueash.com.
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