Like everyone this year, we’re on the lookout for fun and safe outdoor activities to keep busy this winter. Lucky for us, the greater Madison area has plenty to keep us and the kids occupied (when the weather cooperates!). #nosuchthingasbadweather 🙂
Sara here — around second grade, I wanted to take figure skating lessons and enrolled in one of the local rinks for weekly lessons. I skated daily with a coach for a few years, competed at some regional events, and then hung up my skates around 6th grade when I wanted to put my priorities elsewhere like middle school friends and boys (and realized I was no Olympian!). These old legs don’t have the jumps and spins in them anymore, but I do enjoy getting my kids out skating and have fun watching them learn as well.
Ice Skates: Rent or Buy?
For most people, rentals are going to be the most cost effective if you’re only going to skate a few times each season. With younger kids, they’re constantly outgrowing the skates so it makes sense. The downside of rentals is that they’re usually poorly-fitting and uncomfortable, and you’re at the mercy of the rink to provide rentals and have your size. Usually, rental skates are around $4-6 at local rinks.
Purchasing some used skates is a good option – check the local online marketplaces or used sporting goods stores. This is where I bought my own figure skates and paid a fraction of the cost.
Tip for skate fitting: typically, skates will be sized down one size from your regular shoe size. If you take out the insole and stand on it, there should be one finger-width space at the toe. They should fit more snug than shoes and have adequate ankle support.
One local shop in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin has an option to rent skates for the entire season, which solves many of the above issues. Sun City Cyclery & Skates is located 235 E. Main Street in downtown Sun Prairie. For between $25-45, you’ll get a pair of used skates that fit well and are yours to keep until April 30th. This is what we did for both of my kids this year – my son got a pair of hockey skates for $25 and my daughter’s figure skates were $30. Her figure skates alone would retail at $100+ new so it’s a good deal for us, who will use them several times this year. Should their feet grow in the next few months, we’ll bring them into the shop and exchange for the next size up. Skate sharpening is also included.
Outdoor Skating Rinks near Madison, WI
Monona River Rink in Monona, WI
Visit the website for all the updated information at: Monona Bank River Rink
Rentals available: Yes, $5 per pair (size Toddler 8 – Mens 13 figure skates)
Reservations required: Yes, advanced online booking is required for 90 minute time slots (note, you’ll need to make an account with the City of Monona in order to make reservations)
Cost: $4 per person
Food/drink options: Concessions are closed for the season. However, there are several restaurants that share the patio like Buck and Honey’s, Forage Kitchen, and True Coffee Roasters for takeout
Parking available? Yes, there is a public parking lot and street parking
Warming Shelters? No, there are no indoor changing rooms or warming shelter at this time but limited access to restrooms. Firepits are available on first-come, first-serve basis.
Masks required? Yes, at all times
The Edgewater Ice Rink in Madison, WI
Visit the website for all the information at: The Edgewater Icehouse
Rentals available: Yes, $3 per pair for skate rentals
Reservations required: Yes, advanced online booking required, for 60 minute time slots
Cost: $7 for age 12+, $4 under age 12
Food/drink options: Yes, food and beverage pickup available from SLicehouse Pizza or they’ll deliver to the outdoor tables around the rink. There are also outdoor firepits available to rent.
Parking available? Yes, the Edgewater Hotel has free parking in their underground ramp
Warming Shelters? The indoor changing rooms are closed at this time, but there is an outdoor area with patio heaters to change into skates.
Masks required? Yes, at all times
Tenney Park Lagoon in Madison, WI
Visit the website for all the information: City of Madison: Tenney Park
Rentals available: Yes, during “open” hours. $6 /hour for adults, $3/hour for under age 15. $2 for each additional hour of rental
Reservations required: No
Cost: Free, skate rentals available during “open” hours
Food/drink options: No, concessions closed this year
Parking available? Yes, public parking lot and street parking available
Warming Shelters? No, closed this season. Restrooms available.
Masks required? Yes
There are many, many local ponds around town too. We often like to walk the dogs along the Upper Yahara River trail near Windsor, Wisconsin and there is Sunfish Pond by the parking area on Windsor Road that we’ll skate at sometimes too. The City of Madison has 13 total skating rinks and lagoons listed here, along with their open/closed status, but I haven’t personally been to all of them. Check your local town/village/city parks department website for options near you!