Flakes of ice float through the frosty air, twinkling in the light. Rosy-cheeked children skate across the glittery ice, clutching their parents' gloved hands and shrieking gleefully. Though it seems as though it belongs in the pages of a winter fairy tale, this is the scene of a typical August afternoon at Polar Ice House. The hot summer sun burns brightly outside, but the temperature inside the vast indoor ice rink remains a brisk 45 degrees.
Although the wintry conditions make the rink a less than ideal venue for a bikini fashion show, the cold environment is perfect for the skating lessons, hockey games, and public-skating and hockey sessions that the rink hosts year-round. The center's attentive instructors lead students of all ages and experience levels through fundamental skating skills, progressing to advanced techniques, such as jumping, spinning, and karate chopping aggressive abominable snowmen, once students have mastered the basics.
The sound of rubber wheels rolling and clacking across a hardwood floor is a familiar one to generations of American families. At Jellybeans Super Skate Center, those wheels roll to the beat of both contemporary pop music and golden oldies in a winking nod to roller skating's timelessness. As the music mingles with the sound of laughter, colored lights trace patterns on the hardwood floor and the skaters gliding along on both quad and inline skates. During breaks, skaters can also refuel with pizza and snacks at the concession stand and give their upper extremities a workout in the arcade. In addition to open skates, the center hosts birthday parties and skating classes, which teach four-wheeled fundamentals to aspiring skaters.
Atop Raleigh Center Ice’s freshly zambonied rink, skaters zip and twirl through nearly daily public-skating sessions. After lacing up the provided rental skates or strapping ice cubes to sneakers, guests can glide over the frost-encrusted Carolina Hurricanes’ logo, jettisoning down the length of the NHL–level rink. Ice jockeys of all levels can fly across the ice in tandem or barrel toward figure skaters in synchronized quartets almost any day of the week, practicing snowplow stops or full-chested hockey slams. The recently remodeled rink aims to accommodate the youth hockey groups and freelance skaters of the community, and boasts a lofty new lobby complete with plans for a pro shop and sports grill.
When you pull up to Releigh Iceplex, the first thing that grabs you is the facility's sheer size. Similar in enormity to airplane hangars and the closet where the President stores all his neckties, the building has to be this sprawling for a reason: it holds a rink that's even larger than NHL regulation. One of the only facilities of its kind in North Carolina, it's capable of hosting a slew of activities for kids and adults throughout the week, including hockey and figure-skating lessons, camps, and birthday parties. Outside the ice, a gaming room and rock-climbing wall offer even more entertainment options, making it easy to spend the entire day there.
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.
At Jellybeans Skate Center, lights dance over a maple hardwood floor. The focal point of the family-friendly center, the sprawling surface beckons skaters to take a spin on its sleek expanse as they twirl, practice backward maneuvers, or play vinyl Frisbee with the DJ during his break. Elsewhere, the snack bar refuels skaters with cookies, popcorn, and pizza, and a fun center buzzes with air hockey and arcade games.