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Finding something to do outdoors in the cold winter months can be a tricky proposition, especially if it doesn’t include heading to the mountains for skiing or snowboarding.
But in every part of the Front Range area — from urban shopping districts, to small towns, and even mountain communities — there’s a chance to tap into a bygone era and get some fresh air at the same time.
Taking to the ice at outdoor skating rinks.
“One of the most common remarks is from parents in awe that their children would choose a healthy outdoor activity over their more typical couch potato tendencies,” said Meg Denbow, director of communications at Boulder Creek Events, which hosts Boulder and Louisville outdoor rinks. “There are countless opportunities available for families to participate together in a Colorado winter experience without having to drive all the way to the mountains.”
We looked at three different options for ice skating during the winter.
Skating in the city
OPTIONS: The Rink at Belmar
464 S. Teller St., Lakewood
Through Jan. 28
Southwest Rink at Skyline Park
16th and Arapahoe, Denver
Through Feb. 14
COMMENTS: The Belmar Rink is entering its 13th season, and the 7,000-square foot outdoor ice rink located on the Belmar Plaza has been a popular skating stop for all ages.
“We get about 20,000 skaters a season who take to the ice here,” said Janelle Hinton, marketing director at Belmar. “It’s amazing to see how many people come, and it’s because of the whole experience they can have here. Visitors can skate, grab a bite to eat, and see a movie, all in the same place.”
The busiest times are evenings and weekends, but with such warm weather this season, Hinton said visitors are hard pressed to find a bad time to skate. But the best is during the night, when all the decorations light up.
“The environment at the rink is so beautiful, and has such great energy,” she added. “We have many repeat customers who come back over and over during the season.”
Small town memories
OPTIONS: WinterSkate at Boulder
1780 13th St., Boulder
WinterSkate at Historic Downtown Louisville
824 Front St., Louisville
COMMENTS: The Boulder rink is celebrating its 19th year, and the Louisville location is starting off its 14th season. The Louisville location features 6,500 square feet of ice, as well as all the components of a classic Christmas.
“WinterSkate is more than a mere skating rink — it’s a full experience for all five senses,” said Meg Denbow, director of communications at Boulder Creek Events, which hosts both locations. “As families huddle around the open fire to warm their hands, the aroma of warm apple cider and the tune of classic holiday favorites waft through the air; in the distance, the clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriage can be heard approaching the pavilion as children gather in line to purchase hot chocolate from the concessions window. It’s a sweet little Rockwell-esque experience for families of all ages.”
With a set-up like that, it’s not difficult to understand why these rinks have become the site of many family memories.
“It’s really amazing watching the kids grow up and come back to WinterSkate year after year, having so much fun with their friends and family,” Denbow said. “In fact, much of our WinterSkate staff is made up of local teenagers who have grown up skating at this little neighborhood rink.”
A quick trip to the mountains
OPTIONS: Evergreen Lake
29612 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen
Dec. 28 through March 4
COMMENTS: People looking for an authentic mountain ice skating experience would be hard pressed to find a better place than the short drive to Evergreen Park and Recreation’s 8.5-acre rink, the world’s largest Zamboni-groomed outdoor ice rink. The lake is home to 11 pond hockey rinks and a huge public skating rink.
“People have been coming up here for skating since the 1920s,” said Brad Bednar, recreation supervisor at the Lake House. “There’s so much to do here, including skating at night and broomball, in addition to hockey.”
The rink is a natural one, which means that it is entirely weather dependent. Due to the warm winter, Bednar said the lake will hopefully open for skating at the end of December or early January. Once it does, visitors can also stop by the Evergreen Lake House, to enjoy hot chocolate and snacks from the concession area near the giant stone fireplace.
“We’re a family-friendly place, and people can bring sleds and strollers for their kids,” Bednar said. “It’s all about the setting up here. This is a real lake, surrounded by the mountains and trees. There are fish swimming under skaters’ feet.”
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