When it comes to wintertime in Michigan, you won’t be at a loss to find a fun activity, especially in the outdoors. From downhill skiing to sledding to snowshoeing, you can enjoy the cold and snow of a beautiful winter wonderland.
Another fun and family friendly activity is ice skating. Even with limited experience, ice skating offers exercise, outdoor recreation, and a healthy dose of fresh air. Try one of these outdoor rinks across the regions of Michigan.
- In 2021, the City of Houghton create a new public ice-skating ribbon in the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park. Different than your standard shaped rink, the ribbon loops around the park; five laps makes a mile. The idea came about when the nearby Portage Canal temporarily froze over, and people flocked to the frozen water to enjoy ice skating. Nearby, Laurn-Grove in Hancock and Dodgeville Ice Rink (pavilion style) are also great neighborhood options, and they allow hockey sticks.
- In college town Marquette, Marquette Commons offers 12,000 square feet of well-groomed ice for free skating. You’ll need to bring your own skates as rentals are not available, but there is a warming house on site for breaks between skating sessions.
- You could try ice skating on one of the Great Lakes! Moran Bay, St. Ignace, is an inlet of Lake Huron. Little leagues use this area for practice. Bring your own skates, then head into St. Ignace to warm up.
- Royce Park in Escanaba, is city maintained and free to use, but there are no rentals. Check the website for scheduled hours. There are warming shelters, changing areas, restrooms, lights during evening hours, and music over an outdoor PA system.
- Indianhead Mountain Resort & Blackjack Ski Resort has an outdoor skating rink with rentals available, among its many other outdoor recreation activities on-site.
- Ice Skating Park in Suttons Bay is located at the corner of Broadway and Lincoln. Hockey enthusiasts can enjoy a pick-up game, and families can enjoy spending some time outdoors. The area is lighted, and there are picnic benches at which to enjoy hot cocoa.
- On the other side of the Leelanau Peninsula is The Homestead in picturesque Glen Arbor. The best thing about The Homestead is the amount of amenities. Not only is it free to skate, but rentals are available and there are several dining options to choose from within easy walking distance. The outdoor bar is a favorite spot to grab a beverage (perhaps an adult one for the parents), a light lunch, and warm up by either the fire or under a heat lamp.
- Charlevoix is home to the Mt. McSauba Recreation Area, which has an outdoor rink with very reasonable fees: $1.00 to use the rink and $1.00 for a skate rental. There are various times for open skating so make sure to check the website for details.
- The outdoor ice rink at Millennium Park in Portage offers rentals as well as skate sharpening services if you bring your own. There are concessions and a locker room as well as other on-site facilities.
- A favorite winter destination in southwest Michigan is the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. It has two acres of ice skating and an ice path through the woods. Snow bunnies and those with a sense of adventure will also want to try their hand at the ice luge, embark on cross-country skiing paths or snowshoeing trails, or speed down the sledding hill.
- A treasured winter tradition is ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. There are 50 free walk-up entries per session on a first-come, first-served basis. Sessions run 90 minutes. There is plenty of public and paid parking available. Bring your own skates or rent. Note: The park has been undergoing renovations and should be open to the public in February 2022. In the meantime, ice skaters can enjoy a skate at Van Andel Arena.
Buhr Park Ice Arena is an open-air ice arena in An Arbor. The website notes open skate times on various days of the week. There is a lobby and locker rooms, as well as skate rentals and skate sharpening services. If you’re into hockey, come during the drop-in hockey times or during Sticks & Pucks (for more experienced athletes).
- Known as “one of the best outdoor ice skating locations in Macomb County,” Blake’s Winter Wonderland offer a 2,000+ square foot skating rink that is open seven days a week. Skating rental is available for $5 per person., and admission is $10 per person. Make a time of it by staying and enjoying a Michigan brew at the outdoor taproom or in a cozy igloo.
- Nearby Sterling Heights has a rink at Dodge Park within a large pavilion. The rink is open seven days a week. Residents of Sterling Heights may skate for free, however non-residents need to pony up $5. Skate rentals and skate sharpening are available.
- The rink at Riley Park is open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the rink is open until 11 p.m. While skating is free to the public, there is no skate rental available.
- If you love the action and beauty of downtown Detroit, then The Rink at Campus Martius is the where you should go. Located in the heart of Detroit, on Woodward Avenue, the outdoor ice rink offers a fun space to create new memories. You often see photos of this well-known rink make the rounds around Christmastime, as the city’s tree is located nearby and creates a magical scene. Skate rental is just $5, while admission prices range from $8 up to $11 per person.