Ice skating rinks
Hot chocolate, festive music and red-mittened skaters moving merrily on ice. For some, winter isn't winter without ice skating. For others, gliding on a rink is a holiday tradition. But with the warmer winters North Carolinians have been seeing, just where can you skate outdoors?
For outdoor fun, you can count on several options. They include Raleigh's Winterfest, a two-month long celebration that features an outdoor skating rink downtown on Fayetteville Street, along with bands, local entertainers, ice carving and other special activities. The family-friendly extravaganza kicks off in City Plaza on Saturday, December 1, rain or shine (or even snow). (919) 821-6984 or www.godowntownraleigh.com/raleighwinterfest/index.htm.
Greensboro also holds its own Winterfest downtown on N. Davie Street from Nov. 14-Jan. 27. This year, its large outdoor skating rink is even larger, and there's a new 100-foot ice slide. The grand opening on Wednesday, Nov. 14, includes surprise famous character appearances for kids. (336) 207-5216 or www.visitgreensboronc.com.
Charlotte's WBT Holiday on Ice runs from Nov. 21 into January outdoors at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza off E. Martin Luther King Blvd. www.holidayonicecharlotte.com.
North Carolina's ski resorts also boast outdoor rinks. Appalachian Ski Mountain's ice skating arena is set amid the Blue Ridge Mountains and overlooks the ski slopes. It's lighted for evening skating, with a bonfire rinkside. Ice skating dates at the Blowing Rock facility are Nov. 25–March 20. (800) 322-2373 or www.appskimtn.com. Another scenic rink can be found at Beech Mountain in Banner Elk. Its 7,000 square-foot rink is in Beech Tree Village. (800) 438-2093 or www.beechmountainresort.com.
Indoor ice skating is a year-round sport, with rinks that hold ongoing lessons as well as special festivities. A sampling includes Polar Ice House in Wake Forest, located in the Factory Shopping Complex on Main Street, (919) 453-1500 or www.icehousewakeforest.com; the newly reopened Cleland Ice/In-Line Skating Rink in Fort Bragg (open to civilians), (910) 396-5127 or www.fortbraggmwr.com; and Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, with a tavern that serves a range of hot food and hosts karaoke, (704) 882-1830 or www.xicenter.com. And in case you don't skate but your loved ones do, Triangle SportsPlex in Hillsborough offers a full fitness training facility and indoor swimming pool, along with its rink, (919) 644-0339 or www.trianglesportsplex.com.
Note: Ice skating prices vary but generally start around $8 an hour, including skate rental.