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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.