Lace up your skates for some icy fun on these rinks, rivers and lakes
Rideau Canal Skateway, Ottawa, Ontario
Every year when I was a kid growing up in Ottawa, as soon as the ice froze, we filled up on hot chocolate, strapped on blades, and skated the entire 7.8-km (4.7-mile) Rideau Canal Skateway. The world’s largest skating rink winds through the heart of downtown Ottawa. It’s not all blades and urban beauty. Wind in your toque, you can stop to warm your toes by a toasty fire or enjoy a tasty snack. I love munching on doughy beavertails (try the classic sugar and cinnamon). For a special treat, visit during Ottawa’s hottest party, the Winterlude festival, from Feb. 1-18, 2013. Three weekends of wine and foodie events, dramatic ice sculptures, Snowflake Kingdom and live music.
The Forks and the Assiniboine River Trail in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Lace up and head for the Forks, a 6000-year old historic meeting place, at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. Over 1.2 km (3/4 mile) of skating trails meander through the park, including the Plaza skating rink and an Olympic-sized skating rink. Rent skates and check out the super cool, architect-designed warming huts. Chill out for free on the Assiniboine River Trail when it transforms into a 9.3-km-long (5.8-mile) skating playground that holds the Guinness World Record for longest naturally frozen skating trail.
Beaver Lake & La Fontaine Park, Montréal, Québec
Mont Royal Park is a beloved all-season retreat for Montrealers. So pull on your toques, mitts and blades and join the smiling locals gliding the ovals on Beaver Lake (Lac des Castors). There’s single and two-blade rentals and free admission. Nearby, La Fontaine Park is ideal for freestyle skaters who love meandering wooded outdoor ice paths. Admission is free and skate rentals are available.
Olympic Plaza, Calgary, Alberta
For a quick lace-up-and-go skate, visit Calgary’s Olympic Plaza. Built for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, this outdoor rink in the heart of downtown Calgary attracts locals on their lunch breaks. Family-friendly Rosemont Rinks in Confederation Park is the beating heart of that community in winter and winner of the Calgary Herald's Best Outdoor Skating Rink in 2011.Just two and a half hours outside of Calgary, take in magical Lake Louise where you can skate until midnight amid towering mountains.
Nathan Phillips Square & Harbourfront Centre, Toronto
Date-night friendly Nathan Phillips Square transforms from a reflecting pool to a romantic skating wonderland in winter. It’s not huge, but for locals this famous outdoor skating rink is a must-do on any winter fun checklist. Enjoy skate rentals and free admission. Also head to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre to skate overlooking Lake Ontario. Saturdays on ice feature DJ Skate Night.
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