2023’s Best Cities for Ice Skating

A young couple smiles while holding hands and skating around a festive ice rink

Whether you enjoy figure skating, hockey, or speed skating, winter is the best time to bundle up and head to your local ice rink.

So, which of the 200 biggest U.S. cities have the most glorious opportunities to glide on ice? 

To find out, LawnStarter ranked 2023’s Best Cities for Ice Skating. 

We looked for cities with plenty of access to ice rinks, skating lessons, and hockey equipment. We also considered climate conditions and local popularity based on hockey teams, figure skating competitions, and Google searches.  

Skate around this winter season with the help of our rankings below.


City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreRink Access RankGear Access RankLessons Access RankPopularity RankSkating Climate Rank
1St. Paul, MN64.81114228
2New York, NY64.25521183
3Boston, MA46.422469337
4Pittsburgh, PA44.871622614
5Minneapolis, MN42.79946958
6Anchorage, AK42.4994620161
7Chicago, IL40.176256129
8Grand Rapids, MI38.2191497404
9Denver, CO37.9694620723
10Madison, WI37.9294630115
11Columbus, OH35.8864696311
12Milwaukee, WI35.87162301922
13Colorado Springs, CO35.8520292033
14Buffalo, NY35.72214205969
15Fort Collins, CO35.2635466542
16Omaha, NE34.65151491350
17Detroit, MI34.076469716
18Providence, RI31.96354630443
19Philadelphia, PA31.9144666566
20Las Vegas, NV30.9516299152
21Indianapolis, IN30.46201420843
22Huntsville, AL30.122014305628
23Cincinnati, OH29.93634663217
24Worcester, MA29.281646306020
25Fort Wayne, IN29.043546305112
26Nashville, TN28.743514301248
27Sioux Falls, SD28.562014303045
28Oklahoma City, OK28.123514202553
29Syracuse, NY27.92946307815
30Rochester, NY27.641261496218
31Anaheim, CA27.09202301498
32Spokane, WA26.902014305058
33Boise, ID26.283546205340
34Salt Lake City, UT25.72631492675
35Louisville, KY25.476346302936
36San Diego, CA25.23351491798
37Irvine, CA25.22631302798
38Vancouver, WA24.85632304377
39Lincoln, NE24.783546302851
40San Jose, CA24.653529710174
41Springfield, MA24.542014976439
42Houston, TX24.423546215183
43Washington, DC24.1535297564
44Raleigh, NC23.912014206856
45Lexington, KY23.6063143013210
46Tulsa, OK23.143514305179
47Kansas City, MO22.883546303170
48Wichita, KS22.523546304470
49Rockford, IL22.1820469718713
50West Valley City, UT22.113546304775
51Knoxville, TN22.056346304063
52St. Louis, MO21.716314206952
53Des Moines, IA21.5020469714016
54Orlando, FL21.4535149723131
55Springfield, MO21.286346305768
56Los Angeles, CA21.106314302498
57Seattle, WA20.996346308155
58Ontario, CA20.892046303698
59Plano, TX20.7263142037159
60Riverside, CA20.2663143033136
61Baltimore, MD20.182046308046
62Richmond, VA20.073514979741
63Tacoma, WA20.0035462035155
64Greensboro, NC19.8035463012034
65Peoria, AZ19.6663143055145
66Miami, FL19.626346301798
67Warren, MI19.5012646971896
68Cleveland, OH19.476346978319
69San Francisco, CA19.416346302198
70San Antonio, TX18.9063463022134
71Reno, NV18.9063463012327
72Bridgeport, CT18.7735463017737
73Naperville, IL18.6263463013329
74Chesapeake, VA18.576346304986
75Joliet, IL18.4863463018229
76Aurora, IL18.4712646977029
77Lakewood, CO18.1763469711423
78Pasadena, CA18.106346303998
79Pembroke Pines, FL18.046346304298
80Toledo, OH18.0320469716647
81Scottsdale, AZ17.90126143046171
82Santa Rosa, CA17.846346305898
83Chandler, AZ17.6663463038145
84Henderson, NV17.5063463045152
85Winston-Salem, NC17.4063469712834
86Newark, NJ17.383546977259
87Oakland, CA17.256346973498
88Albuquerque, NM17.246346307954
89Dayton, OH16.97126469712821
90Aurora, CO16.95126469710123
91Thornton, CO16.72126469714123
92Amarillo, TX15.286346309167
93Columbus, GA15.2235143018891
94Little Rock, AR15.2063463017762
95Alexandria, VA15.0763463011264
96Tampa, FL14.9935463067131
97Fayetteville, NC14.9963469714755
98Akron, OH14.83126469716242
99Kansas City, KS14.6735469717370
100Jersey City, NJ14.5263469710059
101Phoenix, AZ14.4963143074145
102Austin, TX14.413546307395
103Murfreesboro, TN14.38126469716644
104Mesa, AZ13.8720463092145
105Clarksville, TN13.83126469718148
106Charlotte, NC13.413546978082
107Durham, NC13.35126469710656
108Paterson, NJ12.91126469715959
109Roseville, CA12.5663469747193
110Fresno, CA12.476323096192
111Overland Park, KS12.24126469710870
112Dallas, TX12.2263469766159
113Tempe, AZ12.1763463076145
114Yonkers, NY12.0963463011483
115Olathe, KS11.99126469718070
116Augusta, GA11.54631497185168
117Portland, OR11.3120469787189
118Macon, GA11.3063463019194
119Jacksonville, FL11.2363463082172
120Honolulu, HI11.2263463015798
121Virginia Beach, VA11.226346979486
122Laredo, TX11.08126469719878
123Norfolk, VA10.8763469712886
124Frisco, TX10.73634630103159
125Shreveport, LA10.6463463093178
126Atlanta, GA10.62126149777185
127Chattanooga, TN10.44126469716880
128St. Petersburg, FL10.4163469712896
129Montgomery, AL10.17634630193170
130McAllen, TX10.16126469717081
131North Las Vegas, NV10.081261497156173
132Corpus Christi, TX10.0163469790158
133Escondido, CA9.93634697163136
134Glendale, AZ9.82634697126145
135McKinney, TX9.62634630117182
136Birmingham, AL9.55126469714885
137Newport News, VA9.53126469713786
138Irving, TX9.51634697141159
139Hampton, VA9.46126469715786
140Fremont, CA9.44634697101174
141Modesto, CA9.43126469713892
142Long Beach, CA9.3912646978998
143Fort Lauderdale, FL9.2412646979598
144Port St. Lucie, FL9.21126469714893
145Arlington, TX9.171261497123186
146Pasadena, TX9.171261497200183
147Eugene, OR9.10634630155188
148Savannah, GA9.101264630174167
149Santa Ana, CA9.10126469710398
150Santa Clarita, CA9.08126469710798
151Hollywood, FL9.06126469710898
152Torrance, CA9.03126469711398
153Hialeah, FL8.98126469712098
153Fontana, CA8.98126469712098
155Glendale, CA8.95126469712698
156Cape Coral, FL8.94126469715297
157Fullerton, CA8.93126469713398
157Chula Vista, CA8.93126469713398
157Oceanside, CA8.93126469713398
160San Bernardino, CA8.92126469713898
161Garden Grove, CA8.90126469714398
161Hayward, CA8.90126469714398
163Huntington Beach, CA8.89126469714598
163Miramar, FL8.89126469714598
165Orange, CA8.88126469714898
166Moreno Valley, CA8.86126469715998
167Memphis, TN8.851264697108135
168El Paso, TX8.8063463085190
169Oxnard, CA8.79126469718498
170Rancho Cucamonga, CA8.761264697117136
170Pomona, CA8.761264697117136
172Baton Rouge, LA8.76634697163181
173Waco, TX8.731264697197130
174Corona, CA8.701264697123136
175Lubbock, TX8.611264697196133
176Bellevue, WA8.59126469798155
177Tallahassee, FL8.541264697175141
178Charleston, SC8.531264697161142
179Brownsville, TX8.371264697193143
180Surprise, AZ8.331264697182145
181Jackson, MS8.271264697199144
182Mobile, AL8.171264697190154
183Denton, TX8.111264697171159
184Garland, TX8.101264697172159
185Carrollton, TX8.091264697177159
186Sunnyvale, CA8.071264697103174
187Mesquite, TX8.021264697193159
188Salem, OR8.001264697168169
189Tucson, AZ7.88634630114191
190Salinas, CA7.731264697191174
191Killeen, TX7.701264697175179
192New Orleans, LA7.501264697163180
193Fort Worth, TX7.2912629788200
194Bakersfield, CA7.1035469799196
195Stockton, CA6.86354630108199
196Grand Prairie, TX6.771264697186186
197Sacramento, CA6.5763469786193
198Elk Grove, CA4.501264697148193
199Palmdale, CA3.751264697152197
199Lancaster, CA3.751264697152197
Infographic showing the Best Cities for Ice Skating, a ranking based on access to ice rinks, skating lessons, equipment, hockey teams, and more
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for certain metrics above.

The Upshot

“Wild” for Ice

What better place to go ice skating than in the State of Hockey and America’s coldest metro? Our top ice skating city, St. Paul, Minnesota, has a whopping 15 ice rinks, the most out of all the cities in our ranking. That means there’s likely more than enough room on the rink for you to land your next triple Axel. 

St. Paul is also home to two professional hockey teams — the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and Premier Hockey Federation’s Minnesota Whitecaps — among other college and youth teams. 

St. Paul’s twin, Minneapolis (No. 5), is another great spot for ice skating and hockey. Minneapolis has numerous indoor and outdoor rinks and hosts the annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

Both cities host figure skating competitions, too. Amateurs are welcome: St. Paul comes in second for its number of beginner ice skating programs.

Local tips:

  • St. Paul: You have several skating options at Groveland Ice Rinks, an outdoor community center boasting five separate skating areas — three of which are for playing hockey. Admission and skate rentals are free of charge, with hockey sticks and pucks available to be checked out.
  • Minneapolis: Grab a drink before hitting the rink at Sociable Cider Werks, a cidery and taproom featuring a parking lot-turned-ice rink for skating and curling enthusiasts. Take a spin on the nation’s largest sheet of artificial ice at the Roseville Skating Center in a nearby suburb. 

Cutting-Edge Cities

Northern cities scored, taking up 19 of our top 20 cities.

New York spun to second place overall, with the most beginner-friendly ice skating programs in our ranking, followed by Pittsburgh (No. 4 overall). NYC and Pittsburgh also have the second-best access to stores selling hockey equipment.

Boston (No. 3) jumped to the top with the second-highest number of ice rinks, tied with Buffalo, New York (No. 14 overall). Hockey lovers rejoice in Boston, which placed third in Popularity with the highest combined number of professional and collegiate ice hockey teams. 

New York, Pittsburgh, and Boston are each home to Stanley Cup-winning NHL teams, among numerous other professional and collegiate teams. 

Local tips:

  • New York: Nothing beats Christmas in New York, especially when you’re at an iconic spot like The Rink at Rockefeller Center. Another famous option is Wollman Rink NYC in Central Park, or you can try to escape the crowds by exploring one of the city’s many other hidden skating gems

Spinning in the South

Some cities in warmer climates enjoy icy escapes at the rink, too. 

Las Vegas (No. 20) isn’t just great for catching a show on ice. The city has multiple ice rinks open year-round and beginner ice skating programs, on top of a professional NHL team, the Golden Knights. With high scores across most metrics, Sin City only enters the sin bin for its lack of cold weather. 

Ice skaters have a couple of rinks to choose from in Huntsville, Alabama (No. 22), and Nashville, Tennessee (No. 26). Nashville is also home to an NHL team, the Predators. 

Additionally, all three cities host a figure skating competition. 

Local tips:

  • Las Vegas: Hit the slots before gambling with your balance on the ice at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino. Every year, they transform their rooftop pool into a winter wonderland, offering plenty of views of The Strip.
  • Nashville: Go for a “yuletide glide” at Gaylord Opryland Resort’s outdoor ice rink, which boasts 9,000 square feet of real ice.

Lacking Goals in the Golden State

Six small California cities fell to the bottom 10 of our ranking. Low scores across the board sent Sacramento and Elk Grove spinning to the end, alongside Palmdale and Lancaster (tied for last place). Of these four cities, only Sacramento has high local interest in ice skating. 

Not all Golden State cities are averse to ice — 11 of them landed in the better half of our ranking. Among them are San Diego (No. 36), Los Angeles (No. 56), and San Francisco (No. 69). 

San Diego and San Francisco host figure skating competitions, and Los Angeles is home to one NHL team, the Kings. These three cities also have beginner ice skating programs and plenty of interest in ice skating, as indicated by high Google search volume. 

Local tips:

  • San Diego: Don’t crash into other skaters while watching waves crash on the beach at Hotel del Coronado’s annual oceanside ice rink, Skating by the Sea
  • Los Angeles: There might not be snow falling from the sky, but you can still pretend that La La Land is a winter wonderland as you skate around Downtown at Pershing Square Holiday Ice Rink.
  • San Francisco: Explore boutiques and restaurants before taking a spin around the Union Square Ice Rink, an annual holiday tradition in the Golden City.

Ask The Experts

It’s easy to lose your balance if you’re not skilled on ice skates. We reached out to some experts to share advice for beginners as well as important safety tips. Read what they had to say below.

  1. What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is attempting to ice skate for the first time? 
  2. What is the hardest aspect of ice skating?
  3. Is it better to rent or buy skates, and why?
  4. What are the most important safety precautions to take before ice skating outdoors on a frozen body of water?
Jewell Augustine
Figure Skating Instructor / Director
Rob Thompson
Assistant Athletic Director for Recreation
Michael Mudd
Director of Athletics
Kelly Goonan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, ORPT Program Dir., Faculty Senate President-Elect
Jewell Augustine
Figure Skating Instructor / Director
University of Rhode Island

What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is attempting to ice skate for the first time?

I would say your equipment is very important. Wear skates that fit you properly and offer good support. There is a skate shop in RI that is very knowledgeable. The name of it is Igloo Skates and it is located in Cumberland.

I also recommend wearing a helmet and gloves and to be dressed warmly and comfortably. Also, make sure your blades are sharp. If the facility offers beginner lessons, I recommend taking a few.

What is the hardest aspect of ice skating?

Finding your balance on the skate blades and feeling comfortable.

Is it better to rent or buy skates, and why?

Always buy skates if you are able. Go to a reputable shop to be fitted. Your skates should fit you snugly like shoes. Rental skates are always overworn and never sharpened.

What are the most important safety precautions to take before ice skating outdoors on a frozen body of water?

Of course, check local conditions to make sure the ice is safe and free of debris. Stay close to shore. Dress warm, and wear gloves and a helmet.

Rob Thompson
Assistant Athletic Director for Recreation
Pacific Lutheran University

What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is attempting to ice skate for the first time?

Bend your knees and keep your weight forward. Wear a helmet and be prepared to fall –– it takes a lot of time and effort to learn to skate.

What is the hardest aspect of ice skating?

You’ve got to check your ego at the door. You know that first step onto the ice when everyone is looking at you, and you think to yourself “don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall?” Then you fall and naturally, everyone laughs at you.

Is it better to rent or buy skates, and why?

Buy 100% if you are planning on using them more than once.

What are the most important safety precautions to take before ice skating outdoors on a frozen body of water?

  1. Make sure the ice is at least a few inches thick (3″ minimum).
  2. Don’t go out on the ice alone.
  3. Have warm clothes and backup socks and pants in case you get wet.
Michael Mudd
Director of Athletics
Worcester State University

What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is attempting to ice skate for the first time?

Make sure they are wearing a helmet. If falling, try to fall onto their behind as opposed to putting out arms to break their fall because that’s an easy way to break a wrist. Keep a wide base and knees bent.

What is the hardest aspect of ice skating?

Learning edge control and how to stop.

Is it better to rent or buy skates, and why?

It depends –– if you are only going to skate once per year then I suggest renting skates. Otherwise, owning your own skates makes more sense because they are most likely better quality and they can mold to your feet better.

What are the most important safety precautions to take before ice skating outdoors on a frozen body of water?

  1. See #1 above.
  2. Also, I suggest you know the depth of the water in case you ever did fall in.
  3. Never skate alone or check the strength of the ice on foot alone for obvious reasons.
  4. You probably should have a strong rope or life raft nearby in case somebody falls in.
  5. I would make sure there is a good 3-5 days of temperatures below freezing before I would try to skate or step on a frozen pond, especially if the water is above a person’s head.
Kelly Goonan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, ORPT Program Dir., Faculty Senate President-Elect
Southern Utah University

What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is attempting to ice skate for the first time?

For someone trying ice skating for the first time, I would recommend going to a skating rink since you can be confident that the ice is being maintained and is safe for skating. Also, be prepared to fall and try again! Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t “click” right away, as many activities take more than one try to get the hang of.

Dress warmly with layers: waterproof gloves or mittens, a knit hat, wool socks, base layer top and bottom (long underwear), non-cotton pants, and a jacket. Whether you are ice skating indoors or outdoors, it will be chilly. You will also likely warm up as you start skating, so dressing in layers will allow you to remove and add clothing as needed to stay comfortable. Wearing waterproof outer layers will prevent clothes from getting wet from contacting the ice, which can make you cold.

What is the hardest aspect of ice skating?

For most people, the hardest aspect of ice skating is stopping. There are multiple techniques to stop, so it’s a good idea to ask a staff member or experienced ice skater to explain and demonstrate those techniques. Start out slow and practice stopping. Once you are able to come to a controlled stop, then you can pick up the pace.

Is it better to rent or buy skates, and why?

For people trying out ice skating for the first time, I recommend renting skates. Ice skates come in two basic styles: figure skates and hockey skates. While there are several differences, the most distinct is the shape of the blade –– the metal piece on the bottom of the skate that allows the wearer to glide across the ice. Figure skates have a serrated section on the blade near the toe or front of the skate. This is what allows figure skaters to perform their unique moves.

Hockey skates, however, are smooth all the way down the blade. The blade on hockey skates is also more narrow than the blade on figure skates. You may find that you prefer one style over the other. Renting skates is also a great option for people who go ice skating occasionally. If you really love ice skating and plan to go frequently, buying skates is a nice way for you to choose the specific features you want.

What are the most important safety precautions to take before ice skating outdoors on a frozen body of water?

The safest option for outdoor ice skating is skating at an outdoor ice rink. These areas are maintained and monitored to ensure the ice is strong enough to hold the weight of the skaters and does not have any hazards like cracks, large chips, or thin spots. There are many beautiful outdoor ice rinks that provide a safe and enjoyable ice skating experience.

Judging the strength of ice on natural bodies of water –– like lakes or ponds –– is very difficult to do without special training and equipment. Even on very cold days, the ice may not be suitable for skating. It is important to understand that the risk of injury is much higher skating on natural bodies of water than at a rink, and skating on frozen bodies of water is not advised.

If you do choose to ice skate outdoors on a frozen body of water, take the following precautions:

  1. Do not skate on river ice or ice covered in snow.
  2. Stay away from white ice.
  3. Do not skate if you see cracks in the ice.
  4. Ice should be clear and at least 4 inches (10 cm) thick. Check multiple areas to ensure there are no thin spots, cracks, or white ice.
  5. Wear a life jacket over your winter jacket. This may sound silly, but wet clothes will be heavier and make it more difficult to get out of the water or keep your head above the surface if you do fall in.
  6. Go with a buddy. Never go ice skating outdoors on natural bodies of water by yourself.
  7. Research and practice self-rescue skills for falling through ice into water.
  8. If someone falls through the ice, do not go after them. Call 9-1-1 immediately. If you are able, reach or toss an object like a rope, ladder, or tree branch to the victim. If you have an item they can hold onto to help them stay afloat, like an extra life jacket, toss that to them as well. Talk to them and remain calm while you wait for professional rescue crews to arrive.

Ice Skating by the Numbers

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Behind the Ranking

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into five categories: Rink Access, Gear Access, Lessons Access, Popularity, and Skating Climate.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 199 because of a tie between two cities). (Note: The “Worst” among individual factors also may not be No. 200 also due to ties.)

MetricWeightingLowest ValueHighest ValueBest Value
Rink Access
Number of Ice Skating Rinks3015Highest
Gear Access
Number of Hockey Equipment Stores103Highest
Lessons Access
Number of Beginner Ice Skating Programs2013Highest
Average Monthly Google Searches for Ice Skating Keywords Over Past Year213036,800Highest
Has Pro, College, and/or Youth Hockey Teams2023Highest
Holds Figure Skating Competitions (1 = Yes, 0 = No)101Highest
Skating Climate
Average Yearly Number of Very Cold Days20191Highest
10-Year Difference in Yearly Number of Very Cold Days2-3418Highest

Sources: Find Skating Rinks, Google Ads, Learn to Skate USA, National Weather Service, NHL, USA Hockey, USCHO, US Figure Skating, and Yelp

Skating Through the Nation

Whether you prefer gliding around in an indoor rink or on a frozen body of water, ice skating is a festive way to get your body moving in the winter. 

If you don’t want to risk bruising your tailbone, it’s just as fun to be a skating spectator while enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate on the sidelines. 

Today, ice rinks can be pretty glamorous (and are definitely less pungent than they used to be). Check out some more of the nation’s best ice rinks below. 

Chicago: Skate around under the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (aka “The Bean”) at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park. Admission is free, but you have to make a reservation online. There are also free beginner ice skating and hockey lessons available each weekend.

Photo Credit: Jordan Fischer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Dallas: Shop for last-minute gifts before hitting the ice at Galleria Dallas Ice Skating Center, a year-round rink located on the lower floor of the mall. You might even catch Santa spreading cheer by showing off his figure skating skills. There’s a similar ice rink located in the center of the food court at The Galleria in Houston.

Photo Credit: bk1bennett / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Washington: Have a romantic winter weekend in the nation’s capital, where you can stroll through the Smithsonians along the National Mall and skate around the National Gallery of Art’s Ice Rink at the Sculpture Garden

Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Ice skating is fun, but ice and cold weather can take a toll on your lawn. Not sure what to do? Read our article on How to Repair Winter’s Damage to Your Lawn.

Main Photo Credit: iStock


Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate of the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.