Head to the National Mall to lace up your skates for some winter family fun!
Taking to the ice in the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art is one of winter’s finest experiences in the DC area. Skating around the open air rink on a nice day or night can be enjoyed by family members of all ages.
Open daily from mid-November to mid-March, the small size of the rink makes it manageable for even the smallest of skaters. Skating sessions begin at the top of every hour and last 2 hours in duration. Different color stickers identify each patron’s session ensuring that people do not overstay their time slot. Admission for adult skaters is $8.00, children 12 and under, students with ID and seniors (50+) pay $7.00. On weekends, time slots do sell out so you may need to wait up to an hour for admission after you arrive. Tickets for particular time slots cannot be purchased ahead of time unless arranging for a group lesson or birthday party. Skate rental is available for a charge of $3 per person. Skates are available in whole and half sizes with the smallest available skates a toddler size 6. Lockers can be rented for 50 cents with a $5 deposit.
The sound system at the Sculpture Garden rink is good and during our visit they played a variety of current music and “oldies”. If you can arrange it, aim for a session at 4pm or later to ensure that you get a chance to skate under the lights. These come on right around 5pm and made the rink feel really magical.
As with any ice skating experience, proper clothing can make or break your fun. Dress for the elements, bring gloves and tall socks for everyone and consider a helmet for kids. The only restrooms for the ice rink are located in the Pavilion Café building. This means that you need to remove your skates in order to access them. Encourage kids to use the restroom before lacing up to avoid a time consuming trip to the loo.
Most but not all 2 hour sessions will have a break in the middle for the Zamboni to come out and clean the ice. You can pack snacks and drinks with you for the break time or grab a bite to eat at the above mentioned Pavilion Café before or after you skate. Sandwiches, snacks, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, beer and wine are served here Monday through Thursday 10am to 7pm, Friday and Saturday 10am to 9pm and Sundays 11am to 7pm.
Hours of Operation
The ice rink at the sculpture garden is open every day except for Christmas Day and New Years Day, weather permitting. Hours of operation are listed below with the exception that they will close at 5pm on Christmas Eve.
- Monday to Thursday: 10am to 9pm
- Friday to Saturday: 10am to 11pm
- Sunday: 11am to 9pm
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are all accepted for admission. Free and metered parking can be found nearby but more convenient is using metro to the Smithsonian station located on the orange and blue lines. Also note that for night time sessions the skating rink may only be accessed from Constitution Avenue.
Photo by Kim Engstrom