Ice skating is a beloved winter pastime and public skates are the perfect way to sharpen your skills, hang out with friends, have a romantic evening, or just embrace the season.
With so many local rinks to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you – so we’re going to make it easier. Here are some of the best ice rinks around, with some important info you’ll want to know. Remember that hours at outdoor rinks are subject to weather.
The Ice at Canalside, 130 Main St. (436-7100)
Perhaps the most obvious choice when it comes to ice skating in the city, The Ice at Canalside offers a variety of options and services. It's a great place to take your significant other or your family, offering beautiful views of the city. However, it does tend to get crowded. I’d recommend coming here during a weekday or earlier in the morning on weekends if you want to try to beat the crowd.
Hours: 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1 to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday except for some holidays (Presidents Day, MLK Jr. Day, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve). Hours may vary depending on weather, special weekday hours in effect during school breaks.
Costs: Admission is 13 and older, $6, ages 6 to 12 and military, $4; 5 and younger, admitted free. Skate rentals are $4; $5 during holiday hours including Feb. 18 to 24.
Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza, 20 Fountain Plaza (856-3150)
A five-minute drive from Canalside, the charming Rotary Rink may be smaller, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Rotary Rink is situated at a prime spot in Fountain Plaza, with gleaming views of the Electric Tower and Goldome (now M&T Bank). At night, the area is illuminated by lights strung around the railings.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
Costs: Admission is free; skate rentals are $2 for children, $3 for adults.
Buffalo RiverWorks, 359 Ganson St. (342-2292)
RiverWorks is home to a plethora of activities and events, ranging from the Music Is Art festival to ziplining. With two outdoor rinks right outside of the building, there are opportunities for open skate. Just be sure to check the online schedule.
The rinks are covered by roofs that block some of the chilly weather without completely sheltering you from the elements. Go for a skate and stick around for a pint from RiverWorks Brewing Co. and maybe a bite to eat. I recommend the Wheeler Wheat.
Hours: RiverWorks doesn't have set open skate times, but they are posted on its website here.
Cost: Admission and skate rentals are $5 each.
267 Rees St. (878-6698)
SUNY Buffalo State’s Ice Arena may not be the first rink that comes to mind, but this rink is an excellent, affordable choice. It’s a cozy indoor rink. The wooden bleachers make for a more “rustic” feel that is pleasing on the eyes.
Hours: Vary, but open skate is generally held noon to 1:50 p.m. with some evening hours. Check the online schedule for accurate times.
Cost: Skating is $3; free for Buffalo State students with valid ID. Skate rentals are $2.
Northtown Center is a clean complex with several interior rinks. It’s a big, spacious facility with concessions and a pro shop. Public skates usually aren’t busy, especially on weekdays. Formerly known as the Pepsi Center, Northtown is a great place for beginners and seasoned skaters alike.
Hours: Check website for hours.
Cost: Skating is $8 general, $5 with Town of Amherst Resident ID card. Skate rentals are $5.
1 Grigg Lewis Way, Lockport (438-7698)
With two NHL-sized rinks, Cornerstone Arena offers super cool features that should make for memorable experiences, and will leave you wanting to come back for more. On top of regular public skates, it offers Ice Jams and ice bumper cars. Perhaps the best feature is that the facility is ADA compliant, giving special-needs users a warm welcome.
Hours: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Check out the Ice Jam, Ice Bumper Cars, Cheap Skates and After School Skates for different times and prices.
Cost: Skating is $7 general; free for ages 4 and younger with adult admission. Skate rentals are $5.
The Healthy Zone Rink, 41 Riley St., East Aurora (805-7582)
The Healthy Zone Rink in East Aurora is one of the unique rinks in the area. It was built as a tribute to the Winter Classic game the Sabres played in 2008. The rink is outdoors with a roof and indoor changing areas and facilities. It’s a great rink to learn how to skate, and its location leaves a lot of ideas for post-skate plans in East Aurora.
Hours: 7 to 8:45 p.m. Friday, 1 to 2:20 p.m. and 7 to 8:45 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 2:20 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $6 ($1 off admission for BlueCross BlueShield of WNY members with card). Skate rentals are $4.
Hamburg Town Arena (Nike Base)
2982 Lakeview Road, Hamburg (649-8771)
An indoor rink with a great atmosphere, Hamburg Town Rink is a popular choice in the Southtowns. It tends to get pretty lively on weekends.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 8 to 9:50 p.m. Friday and 2 to 3:50 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: Residents, $5 adult and $4 youth. Nonresidents, $6 adults and $5 youth. Skate rentals, $3; helmet rentals (required for ages 14 and younger), $2.