Enjoy winter with a guide to DC’s best ice skating spots


The ice rink at the Sculpture Garden (Photo courtesy of Ruby Mason)

Annette Leber and Ruby Mason

With January comes cold weather, which usually means spending time inside doing nothing. But you don’t have to wait for spring to enjoy outdoor activities like ice skating. With all of the rinks in DC it can be hard to decide which is the best one to go to. We’ve compiled a list of our top 3 choices of places to skate around the city. 

  1. Sculpture Garden Constitution Ave NW & 7th Street, Washington, DC 20408

Surrounded by art and bustling DC city life, important buildings and monuments rising up on all sides, who wouldn’t want to ice skate here? Very accessible (you only have to take the green or yellow line to the National Archives and cross the street), the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink is by far the best one on this list. It is significantly less crowded than the Washington Harbor rink despite being smaller. It is also significantly less expensive. The entrance fee is $8 with a student ID and it costs $4 for skate rentals, only $12 in total. The ice rink is also right across from the Pavilion Cafe, where you can get hot chocolate and pastries. The only thing that is lacking a bit is the atmosphere. With less people comes less excitement, but bring friends and you won’t even notice. 

  1. Washington Harbor 3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007

The location of the Washington Harbor Ice Rink is probably the best quality of this rink. Surrounded on three sides by restaurants like Guapos and numerous sports bars, and the glistening (and admittedly dirty) Potomac River on the other, it is undeniable that this is the place that you want to be. However, the amazing location does make for a large crowd. Even though the rink is quite large, it is almost always packed with people skating so close to each other if one person fell, the rest of them would go down too. Also, the price is not exactly ideal. Adult admission is $10 and skate rental is $6. That’s a total of $16, which is a little more than anyone would like to spend, but it is cheaper than watching a movie at the theater across the street. In the end, if you don’t mind big crowds or a little spending, then the festive environment of this rink is the best place to go. 

  1. The Wharf 970 Wharf St SW, Washington, DC 20024

The District Wharf Ice Rink is in a prime location for shops and restaurants with the Anthem only a couple doors down. However, out of the three, the Wharf is the least accessible with a 15 minute walk from the Waterfront metro stop on the green line. While the ice rink itself is relatively small, it sticks out into the water providing a great view of the waterfront. In addition to being the smallest on the list, it also ranks as the most expensive with an entrance fee of $12 plus $7 for renting skates, bringing it up to a total of $19. While the price and location may not be in your favor, it’s usually not that crowded and is worth visiting if you’re on The Wharf.