Even though flakes rarely brave the Florida sun and Jack Frost will never be grand marshal of the Citrus Bowl parade, some winter traditions are the same no matter where you live. One look at Winter in the Park confirms that. Spanning the holiday-packed days from November 14 to January 11, the festival decks out a portion of Central Park with frosty fun for the entire family. The centerpiece is a chilly ice rink, where skaters loop through delicate figure-8s and wreaths and other decorations help visitors capture the end-of-year spirit without having to find a local polar-bear adoption center. Additional events in Winter Park range from a harvest festival and holiday pops concert to a pancake breakfast, a Christmas parade, and a Hanukkah celebration.
Skaters of all ages and experience levels glide across Universal Skating Center's gleaming maple floors. Friends and families can don pairs of four-wheeled skates and spend a Saturday or Sunday in the indoor rink perfecting twirls, working on crossover turns, or training for an upcoming race against the speed of light while grooving to the buoyant beats of top hits and classic pop music. Pairs can hold hands, romantically circling the expansive rink—which can hold 1,800 patrons or 530 adult walruses—or see who can skate backward the longest without crashing into any walls. After an afternoon of wheel-powered revelry, skaters refuel with the salty sustenance of unlimited popcorn.
Daytona Ice Arena sends skaters glissading across an ultra-smooth, NHL regulation-size sheet of ice. Bleacher seating with room for more than 300 spectators looms behind the glass on one side of the rink, and above, a snack bar overlooking the facility doles out refreshments. While escaping Florida's heat and the panhandling paddleboards that come with it, visitors to the frosty, 35,000-square-foot arena can soak up extra relaxation at the Penalty Box Sports Pub, which accompanies elevated views of the ice with an arsenal of big-screen TVs. The building—located just minutes from the beach—buzzes daily during public skating sessions but also plays host to a medley of other ice-tied triumphs including learn-to-skate programs, birthday parties, and youth and adult hockey leagues.
Family-owned and run, Skate and Shake roller rink has existed, in one form or another, in its existing location since the 1960s.?That means that several generations have glided across the rink's shimmering blue floor, a testament to the timeless appeal of the family-friendly sport. To keep things fresh, the staff often gets creative with the lighting to change the look and feel of the skating rink, turning blacklights on for glow skate nights or swapping in all pink lights to ready it for a kid's birthday party.?In addition to open skate sessions and over 60 themed party options, the rink also plays host to a number of special events throughout the week, including special teen or adult-only nights, hockey, and women's roller derby. And, it even has a licensed after school program for kids that want to study extra hard for the roller skating portion of their SATs.
When things get going at Let's Skate Orlando, it feels like one giant party. Up to 300 people can circle the skating rink at once, fueled by the beats and melodies of bumping tunes. Lights turn the 25,000-square-foot facility into a mosaic of dancing colors, like what happens when you microwave a bunch of markers. In between laps, guests can unwind over hot dogs, pizza, and other snacks at the concession stand. All this makes the rink a go-to spot for birthday celebrations, so unsurprisingly, five party rooms surround the rink, each one done up in a fun, kid-friendly theme such as pirates, princesses, and rock stars.
A snowball’s throw away from the Disney World and Universal Studio theme parks, The Ice Factory of Central Florida extends the season of winter sports to a year-round festival of open-skate sessions and pickup or youth-league hockey matches. During public-skate hours, patrons lace up hockey or figure skates before hitting the NHL- and studio-size rinks to learn the ropes or gracefully carve the name of their favorite zamboni driver into the ice. Weekend DJ skates enliven outings with interactive games and prizes on Saturday afternoons and musical stylings on Saturday nights. After a fun-filled workout on the rink, grownup guests can unwind with a frosty beverage at the rinkside bar and lounge, and kids pass the time at the pool table or ring in birthdays with sodas, pizzas, and bouquets of balloons.
Novice skaters of all ages can master the skills and techniques of icemanship with beginners’ lessons or mock nature’s clearly defined seasons with ice-skating summer camps.