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As the holidays approach and the weather gets colder (well, as ‘cold’ as it gets in America’s Finest City), some of our favorite seasonal activities are already underway. Ice skating in San Diego – especially at an outdoor ice rink – is a great family-friendly activity and the perfect way to get into the holiday season.
There are more festive rinks, such as on Coronado Island, and more toned-down spots, like UTC right here in La Jolla. Some are even open on Christmas day! Here’s a quick list to get you started.
Skating by the Sea – Coronado
Returning for its 13th year starting on November 23rd through January 1st, Hotel Del Coronado is the only place you’ll find beachfront ice skating in San Diego. Head to the Windsor Lawn for incredible vistas of Coronado beach and the Pacific, and listen to holiday music while you enjoy some hot chocolate and other goodies to warm up. The Hotel Del’s iconic Victorian Building, adorned with sparkling white lights, provides an awesome backdrop – not to mention a great photo op!
Skating by the Sea is open certain hours each day of the week. Skating is $30 per person and ice skates rentals are included.
Thanksgiving (Nov. 23): 11am – 9pm
Day After Thanksgiving (Nov 24): 10am – 10pm
Nov 25– Dec 17
Weekdays: 4pm – 10pm
Saturdays: 10am – 10pm
Sundays: 11am – 8pm
Dec 18 – 31
Mondays to Fridays: 10am – 10pm
Saturdays: 10am –9pm
Sundays: 11am-8pm (includes Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve)
Christmas Day (Dec 25): 11am -9pm
New Year’s Day (Jan 1): 11am – 9pm
Fantasy on Ice – Liberty Station
Raise money for a great cause while you skate outdoors at Liberty Station! Formerly held in Horton Plaza, the ice rink is now located directly behind NTC Liberty Station Command Center. All admission fees go towards the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.
November 16 – January 7
This ice-skating rink is open daily from 10am-10pm, seven days a week (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days).
Tips for skaters: bring an extra pair of socks (the ice can get a little wet during the day), and do dress warmly and bring a pair of gloves or mittens – it can get cold out there! Admission for adults is $14; kids are $12.
UTC Ice Arena – University City
This rink is open year-round, but it’s especially fun during the winter season. This arena is pretty unique, as it’s located inside the UTC Westfield Shopping Center. Those who don’t want to skate can stay warm in the upstairs, glass-enclosed Dining Terrace and enjoy dishes from one of the many brand new restaurants in the center.
All are welcome, from first-timers to the seasoned figure skater. If you’re a beginner and want to get a feel for the ice before heading to one of the outdoor rinks, try a free intro ice skating lesson held every Saturday morning. They last for about 30 minutes and will teach you all the basics; the next time you skate, you’ll be a pro! There are also year-round lessons and clinics for anyone interested in trying hockey for the first time.
Admissions are $15 for adults and $12 for children under 5. Skates rentals are available for $5.
Public skating hours vary daily, so check their website for a full schedule. Most free-skate sessions last for several hours, and they’re also open Christmas Day for those who want to mix things up a little.
Frozen Fairgrounds – Del Mar Fairgrounds
This winter, the Del Mar Fairgrounds will become home to a magical outdoor ice skating rink. The Fairgrounds are known for their youth, adult, and even semi-pro hockey tournaments, but ice skating is always incredibly popular. For those who would prefer to simply take in the beauty of the regal Fairgrounds, there will be plenty of good food, hot drinks, and holiday music.
The rink is open for the major holidays of December, so if you’re looking for something different to do, you can even ring in the New Year there.
They also have a few theme nights: bring the kids to Skate with the Gulls, where you can skate alongside San Diego’s own professional ice hockey team, the San Diego Seagulls!
Prices range from $10-$25.
December 15, 2017 – December 31, 2017
- Dec 18, 6-8pm, College Night
- Dec 19, Military & 1st Responders Appreciation Day
- Dec 20, Skate with the Gulls, 6-8pm
- Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve
Skate by the Bay – Hilton Bayfront
For those of you looking for ice skating in Downtown San Diego, Hilton San Diego Bayfront is hosting its second Holiday By The Bay celebration! Through January 1, visitors will get the chance to skate right by the San Diego Bay. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for kids and it includes 90 minutes of ice skating plus ice skates rentals. An adult Season Pass is $95; kids’ is $75.
November 24, 2017 – January 1, 2018
- November 24 – December 17: Monday – Friday, 4pm-10pm; Saturday – Sunday 12pm-10pm
- December 18 – January 1: Monday – Sunday, 12pm-10pm; Christmas Day 4pm-8pm
San Diego’s Largest Ice Rink – Viejas Casino & Resort
The Viejas Resort has once again transformed into a winter wonderland – and Southern California’s biggest outdoor ice skating rink! Every year, they provide a stunning backdrop for a great winter tradition. When you feel like taking a break, there will be a variety of seasonal snacks and warm hot chocolate available; you can also hit the outlets and take care of all your holiday shopping. It’s also a great place to have a birthday party; low prices make planning for big groups a breeze.
Admission is $14 for kids (12 and under) and $16 for adults and teens; entry is good for a 90-minute skate session and skate rentals.
Their Annual Tree Lighting & Holiday on Ice Performance Show is on Saturday, November 11. For the first time, the arena will be lighting up a giant Christmas Tree and putting on a festive performance.
November 4 – January 28. Hours vary, so visit the Viejas website for complete details.
Snow Day – South Bay
Snow Day in Bonita is not your average San Diego holiday experience. Besides skating in the festive rink, you can hop on the Penguin Polar Express for a ride on a miniature train and take pictures in an enormous snow globe.
More adventurous visitors should try winter tubing – speeding along the hills of a winter wonderland complete with decorative lights, pine trees, and snow, you’ll forget you’re in southern California and not the North Pole.
Children will love the 12-foot-tall gingerbread house, where there will be free treats and a special surprise. You can even take a moment to share the holiday spirit at Operation Gratitude by writing letters to those on active duty overseas.
Located in Rohr Park, this event is only 15 minutes from Downtown San Diego and perfect for families. It’s only open from December 15-30, from 6:30 pm-10:30 pm, so make sure you don’t miss out!
San Diego Ice Arena – Mira Mesa
There’s a reason why this ice center has been in business for more than three decades. The San Diego Ice Arena has something for everyone, whatever level of skill. While some time slots are dedicated to freestyle sessions for more serious figure skaters, there are public sessions all week long, with lots of different themes.
If you have young children, you can visit during Family Party sessions; if you want a more grown-up experience, round up your friends and head over to Adult Night where you can skate to nostalgic tunes from the 80s and 90s.
Admissions are $14 for adults and $12 for kids, including skates rentals. Groups can get a discounted price of $10 per person, although larger parties will need to make a reservation.
Public skating is available 7 days a week, but hours vary, so make sure to check their website for accurate times.
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
Start off the holiday season with a good Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration! Every year, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe opens its outdoor ice rink during one of the most festive events in North County. Beginning at 5:00 pm on December 1, you’ll get to watch the actual ribbon cutting of the ice rink. Later, you can roast s’mores, warm up with soup tastings, and of course, meet Santa. There will also be a lighting ceremony for the 20-foot Christmas Tree.
Sessions at the ice-skating rink are up to 3 hours. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for children under 11, and $10 for groups of 10 or more.
December 1, 2017 – January 1, 2017
- Monday – Friday; 3:30pm – 9:00pm
- Saturday – Sunday; 10:00am – 9:00pm
This indoor skating centre is a mecca for ice sports. Equipped with not one but two Olympic-sized rinks, they have everything from skating lessons to pick-up hockey to live band nights. It’s a great place to celebrate your little ones, too, as they have birthday rooms that a perfect for parties.
On the ice, they offer hockey, figure skating, broomball, and curling. Off the ice, they have all the makings of an upscale hotel: a pool, a full-fledged workout complex, meeting rooms, video games, and more.
Admission for skating is $10 for adults and $9 for children 10 and under. Skates rentals are $3.
IcePlex is open year-round. It’s a good idea to check out the schedule, as public session times vary.