Michigan Bucket List: Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks

Shandra Martinez

| 5 min read

Ice skating is a fun way to get your aerobic exercise during the winter. You don't need to pull off an arabesque to experience the health benefits. Skating gives the cardiovascular system a workout and helps build endurance. According to Harvard Medical School, ice skating can burn more than 200 calories per hour.
This quintessential winter sport puts nearly every muscle group in the body to work, and it requires synchronized movement of the legs, key for joint flexibility. Regular visits to the ice rink will build up the leg and abdominal muscles. Even at leisurely speeds, ice skating improves balance and coordination.
There's nothing quite like the experience of ice skating outdoors. A great way to stay active during winter is to lace up your skates in some of Michigan’s best outdoor skating rinks. Here are some fun places to embrace the chill of winter while practicing your crossovers and backspins.

Southeast Michigan

Campus Martius Park, 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit. The Rink at Campus Martius Park is a popular ice rink that sits in the heart of Detroit with dazzling views of the city’s skyline. The skating season kicks off with the official lighting of the city's 60-foot Christmas tree in November and lasts through mid-March.
Buhr Park Outdoor Ice Arena, 2751 Packard Road, Ann Arbor. This outdoor rink is an Ann Arbor winter staple that is available for open skating, drop-in hockey or can be rented for a party. Located in the 39-acre Buhr Park, this open-air arena has a covering and a cooled subfloor that allows skating even if the temperature rises to 60 degrees. Skating is offered from November through March.
Dodge Park Ice Rink, 40620 Utica Road, Sterling Heights. A winter jewel in one of Sterling Heights’ largest parks, this ice rink is a popular community gathering spot. Located in the Farmers Market Pavilion, the rink is open throughout the winter.
Riley Park Ice Rink, 33113 Grand River Ave., Farmington. This 4,800-square-foot refrigerated rink in downtown Farmington opens in mid-December. Admission is free, and there’s a selection of skates available to borrow if you don’t have your own.
The Rink at Royal Oak, 221 E 3rd St, Royal Oak. During the winter, downtown Royal Oak's Centennial Commons becomes a community ice rink. The 60-by-90-foot refrigerated ice sheet can hold up to 250 skaters. The season runs to mid-February. One of the perks of this rink are the surrounding fire pits and warming stations.
Hutton Ice Rink at Patterson Park, 16096 Essex Ave. Grosse Pointe Park. The season at this rink at Patterson Park opens around Thanksgiving and extends through March with daily skating hours. A Zamboni keeps the ice in tiptop shape for skaters, and there’s a lodge with treats to warm you up. It offers public open skate lessons, but the rink is off limits to hockey and speed skating.

West Michigan, Southwest Michigan and Mid-Michigan

University of Michigan-Flint Ice Rink, 303 Saginaw St., Flint. This on-campus attraction is popular with both students and the community. In 2016, the University of Michigan-Flint, the Hagerman Foundation and Kettering University partnered to reopen the ice skating rink in University Pavilion that had been closed for more than two decades. The rink’s season runs through the end of February.
Hoyt Park Ice Rink, S. Washington Ave., Saginaw. Located downtown next to the Saginaw Children's Zoo and across from the Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House, this rink in historic Hoyt Park is a popular draw. The outdoor winter facility is available both for open ice skating and pickup hockey games, and it has a warming house, hot chocolate and skate rentals
Rosa Parks Circle, 135 Monroe Center St. NW. Grand Rapids. Ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids is a picture-perfect winter outing. The public gathering space is transformed into an ice rink in early December. It is ringed by fiber optic lights that represent the winter sky in Michigan. The rink is wheelchair accessible.
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, 462 N. Scenic Drive, Muskegon. With a two-acre rink and an ice path through the woods, this complex has some of the best skating opportunities in West Michigan. The rink, built with natural ice, is near the lodge, and it provides opportunities for family skating and pick up hockey games. Skaters can take advantage of nighttime skating and a quarter-mile figure-eight loop through the woods.

Northern Michigan/UP 

Petoskey Winter Sports Park, 1100 Winter Park Lane, Petoskey. With a skating rink the size of a football field, the Petoskey Winter Sports Park has one of the largest rinks in the Mitten State. There's two ice rinks, one for hockey and one for open skating, and a warming building. This park is typically open from late December through mid-March. Skate rental and sharpening are offered. On the weekends, there's often a bonfire at this family-friendly destination.
Marquette Commons, 112 South 3rd Street, Marquette. You may not be able to skate on Lake Superior, but now you can skate pretty close to the lake, but with the Marquette Commons outdoor ice rink you can get pretty close. The 12,000 square-foot outdoor rink in downtown Marquette is free for skaters, and comes with a view of Lake Superior.
Moran Bay, 587 N. State Street, St. Ignace. This outdoor rink may be the ultimate Pure Michigan experience because it sits on a frozen Great Lake. It's built on Moran Bay in Lake Huron. During the winter, little league hockey teams use the ice as a practice rink and the bay is free for the public to use. In February, this natural ice rink is home to the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championships.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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