My child has been nagging me about the lack of snow for sledding and wanting to visit a spray park. I remembered that there is a place that can quell her desire for winter and summer activities. Enter Mt. Vernon RECenter. It boasts two options including an NFL official size ice rink and a 25-meter indoor pool with beach features.
The indoor ice arena is the only publicly-owned facility in Fairfax County. Open year round, it has a rink, skate rental area, skate sharpening services, warm up area and locker rooms. When we arrived, the public skating session had just ended so there was a hub of activity in the lobby. Several benches are lined up along with drink and snack vending machines.
I haven’t skated since I was a child, so instead of torturing myself from falling down, we decided to be bystanders on the bleachers. My child got a treat seeing the Zamboni cleaning the ice. While waiting for the ice to be polished, we met a young man named Anthony. He along with other participants present were there to practice as part of the Special Olympics speed skating team. He shook hands with my daughter and waved to her as he practiced his relays. It was a special moment for our family. When we were leaving, we noticed young children entering the building getting ready for ice hockey practice.
Hours vary for ice sessions which include public skate, freestyle for competitive skaters, skating classes for all ages, stick and puck, and ice hockey lessons. Calendars can be found on the website. The ice arena normally opens at 6am for freestyle skaters and private lessons and is open until 9pm. Every Friday night from 8:45 to 10:30pm, the rink lights up and a DJ is on hand for “Rock N Blade.” The event admission includes skate rental.
Ice skating fees are separate from regular admission, but you do not have to pay extra if you are only using the rink. Skating fees for county residents are $5.40 for children, $6.50 for adults, $15.50 for a family of up to two adults and three children. Non-county residents pay $7.25 for children and adults, and $21.00 per family. Ages 4 and under are free with a paying adult. There is also a $3 skate rental fee.
As you enter the beach entry area you are greeted with small jets and fountains of water. The big attraction is the colorful tumble buckets that dump water on unexpected swimmers. The beach area has a maximum depth of 3 feet, while the pool area has a maximum of 12 feet. It’s nice that the beach entry area is separate from the main pool and has a lifeguard in both areas. The water temperature and pool area were warm enough upon entry and exit.
We arrived at the pool early on a Saturday afternoon. While the main pool and lap lanes were virtually empty, the wading pool was packed with children. Designed for ages 6 and under, there were kids up to age 8 present, but the lifeguards were great at keeping a close watch on activity and crowd control. The water and temperature inside the pool are comfortable upon entry and exit from the water.
The leisure pool is open from 6am to 9pm Monday through Thursday, 6am to 7pm Friday, 8am to 7pm Saturday and 9am to 6pm on Sunday. Open swim time varies, but generally there is no open swim from 8am to noon due to lessons. Beach features are normally on from 1 to 7pm, however call ahead to make sure they are in operation. Children under age 5 must have adult supervision in the water. Children not potty trained are required to wear swim pants beneath their swim suit.
I was surprised that there is only one family changing room. The locker rooms are equipped with four open showers and two changing rooms along with a baby changing station. Lockers are 25 cents to rent. While the entire facility was very clean, the women’s locker room smelled like cigarette smoke.
Admission to Mount Vernon RECenter for county residents is $8.00 for children and adults, $6.50 for children, and $16.00 for a family of up to two adults and four children. Non-county residents pay $10.50 for children and adults and $30.00 per family. Ages 4 and under are free with a paying adult.
There is a small lounge area with two tables and water fountain in the lobby. It’s a little off putting as the lobby is also lined with gym bikes giving no secluded space. Mount Vernon RECenter hosts pool and ice skating parties and have private rooms to host events.