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A Mom’s Guide to the Central Park Ice Skating Loop

Even though I grew up ice skating, it’s actually not something I’ve done for a number of years. But, having two kids of my own now, it is something I’ve wanted to share with them for awhile. When I heard about the Central Park Ice Skating Loop in Maple Grove, I knew I wanted to go. And when you add an extremely rare 40+ degree Saturday in January, the “want” became a necessity.

Growing up in Minnesota, I’ve always loved winters. I learned how to ice skate on a pond in the back of my aunt’s house at a young age. I’ve gone skiing (downhill and cross country), snow tubing, sledding, and created my fair share of snowmen and snow angels. When you live in Minnesota, you know that there are four seasons and the one that feels the longest is not one to ignore. You embrace the cold months and fill them with fun activities.

Even though I grew up ice skating, it’s actually not something I’ve done for a number of years. And by years I mean decades. But, having two kids of my own now, it is something I’ve wanted to share with them for awhile. When I heard about the Central Park Ice Skating Loop in Maple Grove, I knew I wanted to go. And when you add an extremely rare 40+ degree Saturday in January, the “want” became a necessity.

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So my family, with what felt like almost the entire population of the northwestern suburbs, set out to do some ice skating. Any activity I plan for my family never goes exactly according to plan; whenever there’s a four and five year old in the mix, flexibility is your middle name. Which is why I can confidently and excitedly proclaim: the facilities at Central Park made this family outing one of the best.

The “warming house” was filled with ample places to sit and warm up (by a fire, even!) and put on skates. Plenty of cubbies were available to store your boots and kept the room feeling spacious, even though there were a lot of people enjoying a beautiful day. Since we do not own our own skates, we rented them. The facility has ice skates available to rent, from a child size 8 to an adult size 13, for $6. But, if you’re a pro and have your own skates, then you’re in luck—skating itself is free.

Also inside the building is a concession stand filled with snacks and beverages—including the all-important outdoor winter activity accompaniment: hot chocolate.

Once we (slowly) made it outside, the loop awaited us. It’s a curvy path that measures approximately 810 feet around and a little over six laps equals a mile. There is a railing that goes almost the entire way around, with only a few spots where there isn’t one. This is one of the reasons it’s a perfect spot to learn (or relearn) how to ice skate--plenty of spots to grab on for extra support.

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There are also a lot of places to sit and take a break...or recover from a fall. Plus, the way the loop is designed it never felt crowded. There was space for the fast skaters and still room to take it slow with the kids and help them up when they fell. And they fell a lot.

Kids Falling Ice Skating

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Couple of notes for families with kids:

The entire floor of the building (including the bathrooms) is covered with rubber mats which is AWESOME when dealing with young kids and their little bladders. Each time I needed to make a bathroom trip with one of the youngsters I didn’t need to worry about taking the ice skates off, we could simply walk in with them on. This may not seem like a big deal, but I had to make multiple trips to the bathroom and this saved us valuable time that we could then return to skating.

The ice is maintained by a Zamboni. Great because it keeps the ice in good condition, kind of a bummer because it means about 30 minutes of no-skating time, periodically. They posted times for ice maintenance, but it wasn’t exact. We took that time to eat a snack and “warm” up—not that much “warming” was needed considering it was 42 degrees outside!

zamboni 2Zamboni after

(Left: Zamboni action happening; Right: The ice after the Zamboni)

In the end, we had a wonderful couple of hours at the loop. My daughter gave it a beaming stamp of approval!

E Ice Skating Loop

*The building and skate rental hours vary, check the website for the most current information. Skating is permitted on the loop during park hours, from 6am until 11pm, even when the building is closed.

About the Author
Minneapolis Northwest
  • Sara Mutchler

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minneapolis | wannabe minimalist | social media extrovert, real life introvert

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