In downtown Oakland, where parking is abundant on weekends, the Oakland Ice Center offers public skating sessions for those who dare to try it. A while back, Heather and I both went with our own two children – kindergartners and 3-year-olds – and concluded that this activity is best for ages five and older. Unless you believe that hockey runs through their blood, of course.
What you need to know about skating at Oakland Ice
Tickets: Pre-registration is required for two-hour sessions; space is limited.
Price: $13 for 13 years and older, $12 for children 12 and under. Oakland residents can save 10% with ID.
Rental: $6/skate (rentals must be preregistered with ticket admissions).
Covid-19 Update: Masks are optional for vaccinated individuals.
Parking: Metered street parking (FREE Sundays); nearby parking lots and garages (rates vary); free validated parking weekdays after 4 pm and Saturdays at the Dalziel Garage.
A family of four who don’t own skates will spend about $68 (that is before your kids see the air hockey table!). Rental skates come as small as toddler size 6, so if your 3-year-old is game, it will be no problem to get her on the ice. We recommend dressing the kids in snow pants to make falling on one’s bum a little softer. Dress warmly and wear gloves.
The facility has two ice rinks, and watching hockey practice is one of the main attractions. My children also loved watching the Zamboni, so although as new skaters (they) were done skating after about 20 minutes, we stayed the length of the open skate session to watch the machine clear the ice.
When my daughter got the hang of skating, at age 9 after four or five challenging visits to ice rinks, she began to enjoy skating for the full-length session.
Little Kid Ice Skating Lessons at Oakland Ice Center
Oakland Ice offers a variety of indoor ice skating lessons. Skating lessons are typically sold as a bundle of 12 sessions, for beginners onwards. We initially enrolled in the Parent and Tot skating class where one adult skates with their child. This is better for the 3- to 4-year-olds who need to get acclimated to the ice with their own parent. After the first two classes, my 5-year-old preferred me in the stands cheering for her, instead.
Switching classes was easy for us: we spoke to the instructor, there was no price adjustment, and they made the change since she showed progress. One caveat to keep in mind is that the Beginner Class consists of a half hour of instructor-led class with the next half hour of kids skating/practicing on their own with the teachers coming by occasionally to offer pointers. In hindsight, my newbie daughter could have used a little more attention to improve the techniques. Overall, the instructors are very friendly with the kids, and the price for lessons is reasonable, but it will take more than one set of lessons to develop top-notch skills on the ice.
Where to eat around Oakland Ice with kids
There is a snack bar on the premises, but the food is traditional amusement park quality fare, so if you are fussy, bring your own. There are a number of eateries within walking distance. One of our favorites is Xolo Taqueria. It’s just around the corner and has menu full of great options for delicious Mexican food for the whole family.
Plan your visit to Oakland Ice
Oakland Ice has holiday hours, and offers birthday party packages, summer camps, ice skating lessons, and hockey classes for kids as young as three.
Location: 519 18th Street, Oakland (between San Pablo Ave. and Telegraph Ave.)