While skiing may be regarded as Vermont’s main winter pastime, ice skating is woven into the fabric of the culture. The long, cold winters mean frozen ponds and rivers, and ice skating is another way to get a little exercise when the winter’s got you going stir crazy. Vermont has no shortage of skating rinks. You’ll find plenty tried and true ice hockey-focused town rinks, as well as charming, seasonal skating rinks. Here is a list of some of the best places to lace up the skates in Vermont.
The Ice Haus is part of Jay Peak Resort’s recreational megaplex, which apart from an ice rink, offers skiing, an indoor water park, hiking, and summer golf. The rink itself is modern and new. Public skate, and stick time happen nearly every day and local youth hockey teams are fun to watch during the season. A highlight of the Jay Peak Ice Haus is it’s focus on skill development. From learn-to-skate, to more advanced freestyle classes, to a variety of renowned hockey camps—the Ice Haus always has something going on.
The Gutterson Fieldhouse is not only the home of the University of Vermont’s Division I ice hockey team, but it is also the largest rink in the state. The classic wooden, barrel-vaulted architecture gives the rink a rustic, collegiate charm. This is a great place for anyone to take in an action-packed hockey game. Unfortunately, if you feel like getting on the ice yourself, you’ll need to be accompanied by a UVM student or affiliate. Their stick and puck times, as well as their public skate, are free to UVM students and their guests. Despite this, Gutterson Fieldhouse is worth checking out on a cold winter night. Even though there might be a chill in the air, the warm wood tones and lively home crowd will keep you feeling cozy. Old-school ice rinks like Gutterson Fieldhouse are a dying breed, so check this one out when you’re in Burlington.
If you’re set on getting the ice yourself while in Burlington, the Leddy Arena is a great option. Its Olympic-sized surface is bigger than NHL-sized rinks. This is the center of the Burlington-area hockey community and is home to the Burlington Youth Hockey Association along with multiple high school teams. As an alternative to hockey, the rink hosts lively broomball games—which as you might have guessed, is hockey with a broom. You’ll find regular public skating and stick and puck hours here, as well as equipment rentals. There’s also a small adjoining “studio rink” available for party rentals. The pro shop stocks all your equipment needs, and there’s a snack bar to satisfy any hunger you work up after a couple hours on the ice.
While Vermont is host to a wealth of indoor skating facilities, it would be a shame not to mention a few of Vermont’s classic outdoor rinks. St. Johnsbury in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont boasts not one, but two beautifully maintained, seasonal outdoor skating rinks: one on the corner of Concord Ave. and Portland Street, and the other in the school yard of the Summer Street School. The citizens of St. Johnsbury have maintained a seasonal skating rink in the Summer Street School yard since 1917. Heating huts are available at both locations, and lights are installed for night skating. Bundle up, pack your skates, and a hot drink, and enjoy the brisk air on your face as you glide around under the winter sky.
There’s a lot to love about this open-air rink nestled in Central Vermont’s ski country. The simplicity of the facilities is charming. Perhaps the best way to experience ice skating is with the cold fresh air in your face and blue sky above. Half of the rink is designated for public skating and the other half is used for stick and puck, making for a lively, yet safe environment. The ice surface is professionally-maintained, which is not always the case with outdoor rinks. However, like most outdoor rinks, skating is free. There is an adorable red barn that doubles as both a warm changing room and a snack bar with an endless supply of hot cocoa and coffee. If you are interested in a pickup hockey game, give the rink a call, and they will let you know if there are any games in the works. Skate rentals are available. This is a great alternative for days when you can’t make it up to the slopes.
The Ice House is a seasonal, outdoor rink at the Okemo Mountain Resort. Although the rink is outside, it is covered and is enclosed with traditional hockey boards, making for beautiful snowstorm skating sessions. This rink wins points for its authenticity and tribute to Vermont’s heritage. Traditional ice-harvesting tools line the walls of the arena, and the lounge area is warmed by a gas-fueled fireplace. Skate rentals are available, and unlimited skating is only $10.00.
The Stowe Ice Arena is in the heart of one of Vermont’s ski regions. The arena boasts all the fixings of a traditional, hockey-focused rink, offering modestly-priced public skating and stick time daily. The Stowe Ice Arena is a versatile facility. During the spring months, a turf is laid down for indoor soccer, football and lacrosse. Unlike many older rinks, the Stowe Ice Arena is a little warmer and offers heated lounge areas, making it a little more fun to be a spectator. Skate and helmet rentals are available.
The Ice Center in Waterbury was conceived to bring neighboring, rural, Green Mountain, communities together. This classic arena caters to the community—hosting a variety of adult hockey teams and figure skating events in addition to youth and high school hockey leagues. Their snack bar is known around town for its crispy fries and hot Green Mountain Roasters coffee. The rink hosts open skate and stick times daily, but if you are looking for something a little jazzier, join them for their First Friday DJ Skate Nights. A pro shop and skate rentals are also available.
As we’ve seen with other rinks in Vermont, the Essex Junction Skating Facility is another popular community hub. The rink is home to a litany of youth, high school, and adult hockey teams and is also the home of the Vermont Skating Academy, which offers lessons to skaters of all skill levels. The Essex Junction Skating Facility opens the ice to public skate most days of the week. Yet, while most public skating sessions are generally an hour long, weekend sessions at Essex Junction can run for two and a half hours, allowing skaters plenty of time to get on the ice and exercise. Essex Junction is a new, state-of-the-art facility with plenty of snack options, a toasty lobby area, and new locker rooms. Stick and puck time is offered on most days, and skate rentals are available.
The Union Arena Community Center is much more than an ice rink. The year-round space is a major hub and hosts a diverse string of events including antique shows, plays, and a circus! Union Arena is also the home of The Bear, a highly regarded youth hockey tournament where young players get to suit up against Boston Bruins alumni. The bright, welcoming rink is a great place to take the kids for public skate or get a little exercise during stick and puck.