In downtown Oakland, where parking is abundant on Sundays, the Oakland Ice Center offers public skating sessions for those who dare to try it. 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.
The price is $9.50 for kids under 12 and $10.50 for adults to skate. Rental is $4.50. So a family of four who doesn't own skates will spend $58.00. (That is before your kids see the air hockey table.)
Oakland Ice offers a deal on Sundays: Sunday Family Fun Pack: $45 Family of Four (Must include one adult, Skate rental included)
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.
Stacks of buckets on the ice serve as training wheels for new skaters.
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 of a 90-minute session.
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. I am a fan of the Cock-A-Doodle Cafe, about 10 blocks away, a casual restaurant which is open for breakfast and lunch only, and the Uptown location of Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe is walking distance.
Oakland Ice has holiday hours, offers birthday party packages and hosts ice skating lessons and hockey classes for kids as young as three. It is located at 519 18th Street.
Oakland, CA 94612 (located between San Pablo Ave. and Telegraph Ave.)