At the heart of Boston Common, one of the oldest and most treasured public parks in the US, sits the Boston Common Frog Pond. Although it’s named for the melodious creatures that once dotted the site, today, the pond’s placid surface is the natural habitat of visitors from around the world. The pond changes with the seasons; during the winter, park officials replace the water with ice for skating school and public sessions. During the spring and the fall, visitors cast pensive looks into the reflecting pond; in the summertime, those looks are trumped by the squeals of laughter from children cavorting around the spray pool and carousel.
No matter the season, the Frog Pond Café stays open, serving hot cocoa and soups to warm up winter guests, as well as year-round snacks including burgers, hot dogs, iced tea, and juice.
The Zamboni finishes its final methodical sweep across the Kendall Square Ice Skating Rink, leaving behind only a smooth, glassy surface. The illuminated floors of the surrounding office buildings and the twinkling holiday lights of the nearby trees reflect vividly off the ice for a precious moment before the calm is broken by scores of skaters spilling out into the rink?sliding, dashing, and casually loping through the cold evening air.
This is the scene at the 2.5-acre Kendall Square each day from mid-December through mid-March, provided the weather cooperates. Skaters can rent hockey and figure skates or bring their own blades for spins around the rink. They can pause between laps to warm themselves with a hot chocolate from the snack bar or a bear hug with an unsuspecting stranger.
A landmark in the Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods for more than 80 years, Chez Vous Roller Skating celebrates one of America's favorite pastimes by ushering guests onto a gleaming floor for some spins around the rink. Visitors without their own roller skates can rent a pair before heading out to glide and get down to tunes from the '70s?the golden age of roller rinks?and beyond. General skating is the main attraction for everyone from youth trying out trick moves to adults seeking a nostalgic activity, but Chez Vous also hosts birthday parties and special events featuring live DJs.
Home of the Babson College Beavers, and thus naturally formed by a dam made from half-chewed hockey sticks, the frozen expanse of Babson Skating Center provides plenty of space for skaters to etch figure eights in its smooth, glistening surface. Professional instructors impart skills in hockey and figure-skating lessons for all experience levels and ages, and public skating or pickup hockey matches allow students to test their newfound skills. Off the ice, the onsite skate shop's staff sharpens skates and keeps mouth guards, laces, and tape on hand in case hockey coaches need to fix up their injured starting mannequin.
Hat Trick Training Center and Stop It Goaltending develops the next generation of hockey stars, teaching them the skills necessary to get hats thrown on the ice while they're on offense or to prevent that from happening while they're on defense or in goal. Throughout the year, the facility buzzes with activity as youngsters work on their skills during learn-to-skate programs, shooting clinics, goaltending lessons, and strength-and-conditioning sessions. The center even rents out its ice, allowing skaters to treat it as their very own backyard rink where they can play pick-up games or build a snowman best friend out of snow-shower remnants.
With whirling colorful lights and a top-40 playlist, Roller Kingdom could give visitors the illusion that they're in a nightclub. But instead of dancing on the floor, guests strap on rollerblades or roller skates to glide across it. Novice skaters can improve their form during lessons or trade in their skates for laser-tag equipment and duel it out with friends in order to win prize tickets and the right to wear a homemade laser-tag championship belt made out of tinfoil. Outside the rink and laser-tag den, guests can play arcade games or belt out their favorite songs on the karaoke stage.