Florida's Gulf Coast is one of the last places one expects to see an igloo. Nevertheless, drivers on I-75 will spot a dome worthy of the Arctic rising as they approach Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, a 115,000-square-foot facility that houses two NHL-size ice rinks. Visitors coast across the well-maintained surface during public-skating hours, while classes in figure skating and hockey skating teach ice-slicing fundamentals to students unaccustomed to getting out of their dogsled and moving on their own. In addition to ice rinks, the sprawling space contains a 13,500-square-foot indoor soccer-and-football field, a fitness center, a video game room, and space for birthday parties.
Skaters blaze across Stardust Skate Center’s retro-themed, 14,000-square-foot rink amid a flurry of spotlights, lasers, and scanning beams. After retrieving their eight-wheeled rentals, friends and families strap in and set out on a circular trip down memory cul-de-sac. A giant disco ball fills the room with refracted light as foursomes choreograph roller dances to DJ-spun tunes that pump from a surround sound system synced up with the kaleidoscope of lights. After an hour or two of hairpin turns and confused wrestling maneuvers, skaters can enjoy well-earned refreshments in the complex's remaining 10,000 square feet of entertainment space. Stardust Skate Center is open for public skating on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sundays starting October 2. Check the schedule for times.
Since the Maganias family opened the first Astro Skate Family Fun Center in Tarpon Springs more than 34 years ago, customers have flocked to the skate rinks for birthday parties, summer camps, and family-friendly fun. At each location, a live DJ cranks out danceable tunes as skaters wheel and glide across a huge lacquered wood floor. Off-rink, kids compete for redemption prizes at a host of arcade games, or take flight in the safe confines of a cushy inflatable bounce house. Astro Skate Family Fun Center keeps things fresh with a schedule of special events, including jump-rope contests, foam parties, and roller-derby matches.
At Super Skate of Pinellas, neon-colored lights surround a disco ball, bouncing their bright hues off its mirrors and onto the rink below. Fenced in by the rink's low barriers, skaters sharpen their skills during open hours or master basics during lessons for beginners on Saturday afternoons. Home to the [Pinellas County Roller Girls](http://gr.pn/HAypiG], as well as a junior roller derby, the rink reigns as the fun center's focal point, but a smattering of tempting attractions encircles it. A 2,000-square-foot indoor playground stretches three stories skyward, its vibrant walkways netted in for safety, and an elevated dance floor hoists visitors high so that they can flaunt moves or gold-leafed sneaker treads. Athletes can also refuel at the snack bar and exercise mental agility while playing arcade games.
When you think about things to do in Tampa, outdoor ice-skating is usually not usually the first thing that comes to mind. But you can experience this quintessential winter activity at Tampa?s Downtown on Ice, the city?s only outdoor ice rink. Here, skaters can practice ice-hockey moves, figure-skating leaps, and carving the alphabet in cursive. The rink is part of Friends of Tampa Recreation, an organization that leads several activities, such as youth arts and crafts programs, sports leagues, and field trips for seniors.
A member of a previously undiscovered species known as skateasaurus stakes its territory, tracing figure eights along the rink's hardwood floor. Dressed in blue-and-white shorts and a red trucker hat, the plush, green-and-yellow dinosaur?otherwise known as Skato?eschews eating children, and instead prompts them to shake it all about in rounds of Hokey Pokey. This fun ambiance extends to the rest of United Skates of America's roller rink, surrounded by lime-green walls and manned by a smiling staff.