Between the urban sights of downtown and the rural landscapes right outside the city, when the thermostat drops, Pittsburgh becomes a literal winter wonderland. Which means it’s time to bundle up and break out your skates so you can enjoy all of the best open-air rinks, outdoor frozen lakes and indoor figure skating and ice hockey that Pittsburgh has to offer.
The Rink At PPG
1 PPG Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Why bother going all the way to New York city to wait for hours in a tourist-congested Rockefeller Center just so you can get a few moments on the ice? Pittsburgh has one of the all time best downtown outdoor ice skating experience that’s over 3,000 square feet larger than the Big Apple’s famously overcrowded ice rink. Running though February 17th, the center of downtown Pittsburgh’s PPG Place is transformed into a festive and exhilarating ice skating arena. The Rink at PPG is celebrating its 12th year. While open to the public, it is also available for skating lessons and to rent for parties and events. If you can’t get out to experience the ice skating fun first hand, you can watch it online via The Rink at PPG’s livecam.
Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Named one of America’s Coolest City Parks by Travel and Leisure magazine, it feels like there are no limits to the activities available at Pittsburgh’s own Schenley Park. The enormous park that borders Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh is home to walking trails, golf courses, tennis courts, a public swimming pool, soccer field, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Neill Log House (one of the oldest buildings in Pittsburgh), outdoor movies and, of course, the Schenley Skating Rink. From mid-November though the winter season, the large outdoor ice skating rink at Schenley Park is open to the public. In addition to open skating for all, Schenley Park hosts many public ice skating events including family nights, Skate with Santa, Mascot Skate, where you can hit the ice with your favorite local sports mascots, Valentines on Ice evening and adults-only skating nights. During special events, there will also be music and refreshments. Check out the website for details.
Keystone Lake At Keystone State Park
1150 Keystone Park Road
Derry, PA 15627
About 45 minutes east of downtown Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County rests the 1,200-acre Keystone State Park, home of the 70-acre Keystone Lake. During the warm winter months, locals flock to Keystone for hiking, camping, boating, swimming and loads more. However in the wintertime, when the temperature drops and the lake freezes over, it’s time to break out your skates for a bit of outdoor ice skating surrounded by nothing but nature…and a few ice fisherman who will be sharing the lake with you. Between skating, you can cook up your own meals and snacks on the outdoor charcoal grills and relax in the picnic areas beside the lake. Keep in mind that this is a state park, so the safe skating conditions are dependent on the weather. Be sure to check out the winter report for ice depth and if ice activities are open. You will also need to bring your own skates and charcoal for those outdoor grills.
Related: Pittsburgh Figure Skating Clubs
Island Sports Center At Robert Morris University
7600 Grand Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15225
For safe indoor skating and family sports fun, it’s hard to beat the Island Sports Center at Robert Morris University. In addition to public open skating, Island Sports Center has skating classes, hockey and figure skating. When taking a break from the ice, you can also practice your swing in its golf dome, mini-golf course and sports dome. Because it has so many events and ice sports at ISC, check the website for the specific days and times designated for public skating.
Lake Arthur At Moraine State Park
225 Pleasant Valley Road
Portersville, PA 16051
Yet another state park with great outdoor ice skating sits about 45 minutes south of downtown Pittsburgh. Near Butler County, Moraine State Park has loads of warm weather activities including an amphitheater, bike and boat rentals and two beaches – Lakeview Beach and Pleasant Valley Beach. When the thermostat falls below freezing and the ice is thick enough, Lake Arthur cove by Pleasant Valley beach opens up for outdoor ice skating and ice fishing. Although Moraine State Park is a fabulous spot for open-air skating, the park does not monitor the ice thickness. So be careful and make sure the conditions are right for safe skating. If you have any concerns, it’s best to first contact the park to make sure you follow all of its safety precautions.
Related: Best Spots To Warm Up During Winter
David Cohen is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.