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Sunday, November 29, 2015

The top 25 outdoor skating rinks in Toronto by neighbourhood

toronto skating rinksOutdoor skating rinks in Toronto are the perfect opportunity to embrace winter and get outside. While the colder months can frequently bring out the desire to hibernate, we're lucky to live in a city that has a generous amount of rinks with a variety of sceneries and activities to nudge us out there.

Here are my picks for the top outdoor skating rinks in Toronto by neighbourhood.

Bayview & Leaside
The Hodgson Rink was rebuilt in 2014, and with that came a bright new change room overlooking the double ice surface. There's a well equipped rink for shinny and one for pleasure skating. CR, WS

With less generous hours than other Toronto rinks, Kew Gardens Skating Rink has a list of amenities to make up for it. They have specific shinny schedules available for men, women and family. Pleasure skating is also available, and there's even a campfire cage that is frequently lit during evening skating to get a true Canadian winter experience. CR, LK, WS

Feel like a game of shinny followed by a less competitive, leisurely skate? You can do both at Dufferin Grove Park Rink, with two side by side rinks appealing to both sides of the skating spectrum. Their shinny schedule is filled with options, including a beginner shinny schedule, for those just getting comfortable with hockey. CR, SR, LK, WS

Bloor West Village
The Rennie Rink (or Swansea Rink) has a hockey rink and a pleasure rink. The pleasure rink is built around a tree, with no fences allowing for many late night skates. The hockey rink has proper hockey boards, a scoreboard and sound system, thanks to a partnership with Home Depot and Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005. There's also a large change room and observation room to watch your friends if you're not feeling up for skating. CR

Regent Park South is equipped with washrooms, cubbies, benches and matting after a well deserved facelift in early 2015. The rink, located at Shuter and Sumach, has a decent schedule for shinny, with lights and fencing for improved playing. CR

Corso Italia
The Giovanni Caboto rink has two rinks available, offering a good schedule for shinny and public skating. CR, LK

The Withrow Rink is a busy spot with a great shinny schedule. While the change rooms are on the small side, the atmosphere is relaxed and has great leisure skating as well. WS, CR

toronto skating rinksDundas WestThe rink on Bathurst just south of Dundas in Alexandra Park boasts two surfaces, one for pleasure skating and one for shinny. The hockey rink, which is a skate park in the summer, is known to be just as busy in the winter with great games of shinny with players of all levels. Another bonus, the rink is walking distance to Starbucks and Tim Hortons to grab some warm beverages. CR, WS

toronto skating rinksEtobicoke
The Colonel Samuel Smith Skating Trail is busy, but it's worth it. It is located next to the historical Power Plant building-which is known to be haunted-and there are large change rooms to store your things, but no lockers. The figure 8 trail offers a change of pace for many Toronto rinks, but there's no shinny available here. If you're looking for shinny in Etobicoke, the Westway Outdoor Rink is a great option. CR

Financial District
Given Nathan Phillips Square's proximity to the Eaton's Centre, it's natural this rink runs on the busier side. However, it's one of the best equipped rinks in the city, with change rooms, snack booths, skate rentals and food trucks, plus its walking distance from the subway. Plus, you can take your photo in front of the iconic Toronto sign. CR, SR, LK

toronto skating rinksHarbourfront
While Natrel Rink can be a bit more touristy than the rest, its location, shape and amenities make for an enjoyable skate. With the CN Tower facing North and the brisk Lake Ontario facing South, there's plenty of opportunities to take some great photos and take in the Toronto landscape. There are plenty of benches along the rink and a large change room to warm up and store your things. There's also a cafe with warm drinks and snacks. CR, SR, LK

Campbell Rink offers the same neighbourhood feel we've grown to love throughout the Junction. There's a snack bar available featuring traditional quick snack items like mini-pizzas and hot dogs, and hot beverages to warm up after your skate. There's no observation room to look over the rink, but there are spacious change rooms. CR, SR, LK

toronto skating rinksJunction Triangle
The Wallace Emerson Park rink is bright and friendly, with great staff offering skate and hockey lending services (with a suggested $1-$2 donation) and a snack bar to keep you there for the afternoon. SR, CR

toronto skating rinksKoreatown
If you're looking for a game of shinny while enjoying the view of the city skyline, head to Christie Pitts Rink. Located on the North West corner of the park, there's a well maintained hockey rink with pleasure skating, shinny and generous hours, all while overlooking Christie Pitts park. There's a woodstove in the changeroom area, but it's rarely used. CR

Greenwood Park rinkLeslieville
The Greenwood Rink has a bright, welcoming warming room allowing non-skaters to still hang out and watch. The rink has been newly rebuilt and has a covered hockey rink allowing for less snow build up and better conditions overall. CR, WS

toronto skating rinksMarkham
Markham Civic Centre boasts one of the largest outdoor skating rinks in the GTA, and is a gorgeous rink for pleasure skating. While shinny isn't available here, it's a great rink to go for a skate outside of the Markham Civic Centre. SR, CR

North York
Mel Lastman square is the place to go for a quiet skate, and is conveniently walking distance from North York subway station plus a Starbucks for a post-skate warm up. There's music and lights in the evening, plus benches to take a break.CR

Richmond Hill
If you're not looking to play hockey, the Richmond Green Skate Trail is a great looped trail nestled amongst a natural forest. If you're looking for an escape from the city and an enjoyable afternoon escaping hibernation, this is your spot. CR

Ramsden Park has two outdoor rinks allowing for the perfect schedule with ample shinny and open skating. Recently renovated, it offers a larger indoor space for staff and guests. WS, CR

Nestled in the courtyard between the Scarborough Town Centre and Scarborough Civic Centre, Albert Campbell Square is another newly renovated rink to get outside and practise your skating. Rumour has it that it's frequently closed, but a friendly letter to the councillor could help that.

St. Clair West
The Cedarvale Rink has a large warming area and maintained rink surface to allow for a pleasurable shinny experience. WS, CR

West Queen West
While Trinity Bellwoods park may be the mecca for Toronto's youth in the summer, the rink is quieter in the winter, offering the perfect atmosphere to go for a skate or play some shinny without the crowds.

toronto skating rinksYonge & Dundas
The Ryerson Rink is the closest you'll get to pond skating in Toronto, and given its close proximity to transit and the Eaton's Centre, it's surprisingly not very busy. Perhaps its due to the lack of maintenance or scheduled activities, but it's a common spot for late night shinny players, as there are no fences for it to ever really be "closed".

Yonge & Eglinton
Two outdoor rinks can be found at the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (Eglinton Park), and have a generous offering of family skating, shinny opportunities and public skating. The rink is well equipped with lockers and change rooms to be well prepared for a full afternoon or evening of skating. WS, CR, LK

Yonge & Lawrence
The Otter Creek Centre may have a well-used warming area and change room area, but the rink itself is a great surface with a variety of skating opportunities scheduled. CR


Changeroom = CR
Skate Rentals = SR
Lockers = LK
Women's Shinny = WS

What did I miss? Add your favourite outdoor skating rinks in the comments.

Photos by Benson Kua, O'Quinn Photo, Michael Monastyrskyj, Martinho, Michael Ishlove and Gregory David in the blogTO Flickr pool.

by Meghan Jeffery via blogTO

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