Where I grew up, cold weather and snow meant it was time to dig out my brother’s and my ice skates. Fast forward to raising my own kiddos in the East Bay, ice skating is more of nostalgic activity for me, and something novel for my children. We like to get in at least one skate sesh every winter season and there happen to be a variety of both temporary and permanent Bay Area rinks nearby to choose from, making ice skating more accessible than ever!
Thanks to Walnut Creek on Ice, Walnut Creek Downtown, and Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau for sponsoring this roundup of places to skate in the Bay Area this winter.
East Bay Ice Skating Rinks
Walnut Creek on Ice (Walnut Creek)
The partially enclosed ice rink in the heart of Downtown Walnut Creek at Civic Park welcomes skaters of all ages and abilities to skate daily. More details >
When: Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 – Jan. 20, 2020
- Nov. 9, 11 am – 1 pm: Children’s Winter Festival kick off the ice skating season with live skate performances including a performance by Sochi Olympian Polina Edmunds, Rocco’s pizza, hot chocolate, face painting, free giveaways, and more. Free admission and skates for the first 250 guests; $5 admission and skates until 5 pm.
- Jan. 11, 11 am – 1 pm: Frosty & Friends meet a variety of fantasy characters including princesses and furry friends.
Oakland Ice Center (Oakland) is our (510) permanent rink that offers public skate with the classic cling-to-the wall experience. Discounts on Tuesdays and family specials on Sundays. Kids can use plastic buckets for support on the ice. Details >
Old Oakland Holiday Ice Rink (Oakland) is a pop-up rink just for the season opening mid-December at the corner of 9th and Washington, near Jack London Square. Last year, families loved the holiday beverage garden at the rink from 5-10 pm Thurs.-Sun. Details >
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo) if roller coasters aren’t your thing, rent some skates and visit their temporary rink after November 23. There is no additional charge to skate once you are inside. Details >
Sharks Ice (Fremont) is the sister rink to Oakland Ice, a permanent fixture for recreational skating and competitive training. Also offers public skate sessions. Details >
Fremont on Ice (Fremont) is a temporary rink that is planned, details not yet available.
Ice at The Veranda (Concord) strap on skates and take a spin on the ice this holiday season at The Veranda Nov. 8, 2019 – Feb. 17, 2020. Details >
Kristi Yamaguchi Holiday Ice Center (San Ramon) is open from 10 am to 10 pm most days Nov. 15 through Jan. 5. More details >
San Francisco & San Mateo Ice Rinks
The Winter Park Ice Rink at Civic Center (San Francisco) made its debut last year and will return for a second year of outdoor ice skating and holiday festivities November 22 to January 5th.
Holiday Ice Rink (San Francisco) Opening November 6th at the Embarcadero, this temporary rink is the Bay Area’s largest outdoor ice rink. Details >
Union Square Ice Rink (San Francisco) This glorious under the tree experience is over-crowded and often sold out. If you can manage to buy tickets in advance AND show up for your brief window, go for it! November 6th through January 20th. Details >
Yerba Buena's Ice Rink (San Francisco) is adjacent to a bowling alley and close to the Children's Creativity Museum and other SF treasures. It is open for public skating sessions daily, including the holidays. More details including schedule for public skate >
San Mateo on Ice Holiday Ice Rink (San Mateo) will be open for a 4th season opening November 10th, 2018 – January 13th, 2019. Fun fact, it’s setup on a baseball field. Details >
Plan for skating with kids like a pro!
Tykes on ice can be hard, but being prepared doesn’t have to be.
- Cover little hands. I’ve learned that wearing a pair of knit or ski gloves can keep little hands warm and somewhat dry while also protecting from hard ice during any falls.
- Protect ankles. We wear longer athletic socks to protect our ankles in rental skates, footie socks would be uncomfortable.
- Layer up. We also dress in layers so it's easy to discard if wet, or too warm. Ski pants are totally acceptable if you really want to get in the winter spirit.
- Change right away. We like to bring an extra pair of pants for post-skate change since my California child likes to play in the “snow” ie. ice sludge on the side of the rink.
Find more to do in our East Bay Holiday Activities Guide.
Thanks to Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau and Walnut Creek on Ice for sponsoring this guide. We are looking forward to many special days playing on the ice.
[All photos courtesy Walnut Creek on Ice, unless otherwise noted]