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 Caf? 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.
Skylite Roller Skating Center has been sending families spinning round its 10,000-square-foot rink for 30 years. Skaters can don sturdy four-wheeled foot trolleys to cruise the circumference of Skylite’s sleek surface, which is kept smooth daily by the diligent tongues of 100 neighborhood cats, during any of the rink’s 2.5- to 3-hour public skating sessions (up to a $5 to $8 value/person; times and admission price vary each day), including their annual Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties. Glide in time to current and classic dance and pop tunes in a whirl of neon, black lights, and the sequin-like shimmers of an overhead disco ball. A snack bar serves pizza, french fries, and candy—not included in today’s Groupon—to failing gliders to prevent head-on blood-sugar crashes.
A nonprofit organization, Little Sun Valley Skating Club promotes ice skating through lessons, competitions, and annual shows. Its members meet at Smead Arena to practice and have some good old-fashioned fun. They also use the sport to cultivate team spirit, teaching skaters the virtues of belonging and working together.
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.
Play time speeds on unabated at Roll On America, a 30,000-square-foot wonderland containing an indoor skating rink, laser-tag arena, and arcade. Skaters trade in street shoes for traditional quad or sleek inline wheels and zoom across the floor, executing figure eights or even more intricate figure 16s. Inside a futuristic laser-tag arena marked by neon alien landscapes, would-be warriors duck and cover their way to victory by blasting indicator vests with high-powered beams. Post-tagging, Roll On America’s onsite eatery serves up snacks, and an arcade area houses more than 25 classic and modern games.
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.