Where to go ice skating in San Diego
In such a mild, warm climate as San Diego’s, where you can pretty much do any outdoor activity year round, ice skating isn’t something we typically engage in like we would, say, surfing. It’s largely a circumstance of geography and climate – we don’t freeze our butts off in the winter, so we don’t indulge in some of the benefits of winter like frozen lakes and ponds. When you grow up with that, ice skating – and ice hockey by extension – is part of your upbringing.
But that’s not to say ice skating in San Diego is a foreign activity native to the Midwest and Northeast – we still like to see how other parts of the country fare in the winter, so we do make attempts to indulge in these things. It might be a part of life in other parts of the country, but to us, ice skating is somewhat of a novelty.
In any event, there are actually several permanent ice skating rinks in San Diego County and, during the winter holiday season, there sprout a few outdoor ice rinks, to get yourself into the winter wonderland holiday spirit. Now, if ice skating indoors in San Diego is a bit out of place, just think how odd it must be to ice skate outside in 70 degree weather. Only in San Diego.
Here is my list of local San Diego ice skating rinks, including the seasonal outdoor rinks.
Kroc Center Ice Skating
The Kroc Center Ice Arena, part of the Ray and Joan Kroc Salvation Army Community Center in San Diego’s Rolando community, is the city’s only ice arena. Kroc Center Ice offers public ice skating sessions, take lessons to skate, learn how to play hockey, drop in hockey, teen in-house hockey, and adult hockey leagues all year.
Even more importantly, the Kroc ice arena introduces ice skating and hockey to a segment of the population that might not perhaps be exposed to the joys of ice skating – inner-city youth. The Kroc ice arena is regarded as one of the best in San Diego, offering an amazing list of classes and leagues at very reasonable rates.
With eight public ice skating sessions per week, admission is a low $10, which includes skate rental for most sessions, as well as weekly specials such as $5 Wednesday Night skating and $7 Sundays skating.
Ice Sports Center at UTC
The UTC Ice Sports Center, San Diego’s most unique indoor ice skating rink, is currently part of the Westfield UTC mall in La Jolla. The facility was unique when it first launched as part of the mall in 1977, and it remains so by San Diego standards. The UTC ice rink, located within the mall’s food court, is a great diversion for shoppers, whether you’re having a snack and watching the skaters or trying your hand at skating in between shopping.
Together with public skating, the UTC Ice Sports Center is very popular with serious ice skaters, as well as recreational kids and adult hockey leagues, and even broomball, which is a type of hockey played on the ice with “brooms,” a ball, and no skates.
Open ice skating admission is $15 per person, including skates, with youth, student, and senior discounts available.
San Diego Ice Arena
San Diego Ice Arena in Mira Mesa is one of San Diego’s oldest ice skating rinks, having been in operation for over 34 years. Along with its well-regarded ice hockey and figure skating initiatives, the facility is popular for birthday parties and public skating sessions, particularly on Friday nights, when it is popular among area teens.
The pro shop at the San Diego Ice Arena is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the area for ice hockey and figure skating. The pro shop is a fully equipped service center staffed by trained professionals who can handle everything from repairs and sharpening to rockering and skate customization.
Admission to public skating is $12, which includes skate rental.
Iceoplex in Escondido is the only dual-rink ice skating facility in San Diego. The facility, which is used by North County skaters and hockey players, also has a fitness and aquatics center, a fully equipped gym, an indoor heated 25-meter lap pool, a Jacuzzi, and a sauna. Along with skating classes, figure skating lessons, and ice hockey leagues, the Iceoplex occasionally offers curling lessons – you know, the one where they use brooms and a large stone that tumbles down the ice.
The cost of public skating is $10, which includes skate rental.
Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice at Horton Square
In the winter, the concrete plaza of Horton Square downtown freezes up and becomes an ice skating rink, Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice. The ice rink, in the midst of Westfield Horton Plaza shopping mall, has become a holiday tradition for San Diegans, lending a bit of New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza essence to downtown San Diego. Typically open from mid-November through the first week of January, the downtown ice rink admission proceeds help benefit the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego.
Skating admission is $14 per person and includes skate rental.
Hotel Del Coronado – ice skating by the sea
It’s probably one of the most stunning – and unexpected – ice skating rink settings anywhere. Who would have expected to see an ice rink on the beach in Coronado, let alone in the midst of the magnificent Hotel Del Coronado? However, that is the setting for Skating by the Sea. Skating by the Sea, a distinctive Southern California experience – outdoor ice skating overlooking the Pacific Ocean – is celebrating its eighth anniversary at the Del. The oceanfront Windsor Lawn is morphed into a spectacular ice rink, with daily skating sessions starting the day before Thanksgiving and running through the first week of January. The Make-A-Wish Foundation® of San Diego will receive a portion of the skating proceeds.
Matinee skating admission is $20 for adults and includes skate rental (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Adults pay $25 for three-hour skating sessions.
Ice Skating at Viejas Outlet
Why would we doubt that it claims to be Southern California’s largest outdoor ice skating rink? The ice skating rink, located in Alpine’s sprawling Viejas Outlet Shopping Center, is a nice diversion for those looking for a break from shopping for name brand bargains at the outlet or taking in some outdoor gratification from the sensory overload of the Viejas casino across the street.
Adult skating admission for a 90-minute session is $12, which includes skate rental. The ice rink in Viejas is open from mid-November to the day after Christmas.