The Winter Olympics was a big event in our house over the last few weeks and the ice skating competition was one of my kids’ favorites. Sparkles, Sweetheart and Bruiser spent many an evening trying to imitate a few ice skating moves while at the same time completely destroying my den (at least it wore them out!)
When I told my two older kids, Bruiser and Sparkles, that our Moms Club was having a meetup at our local ice skating rink last week, you might have thought I had just told them they were actually going to get a chance to play on a playground for the first time in however many months (oh please tell me it is going to warm up soon.) They were ecstatic to finally try out their moves on real ice.
Living in West Hartford, we are very fortunate to have the Veterans Memorial Skating Rink right in our town and I was excited to hear that they offer a skate time just for kids ages 2-5 (and adults of course).
The program is offered most of the year (except during the summer) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:45 – 11:15 and we got a chance to head over there last Thursday to check it out.
As with any outing, first you have to figure out how to get there and then you have to figure out where to park. Parking for this venue is actually across the street at the Cornerstone Aquatics Center. I was lucky enough to have my husband with me for this outing, so he dropped us off in front of the skating rink and went to park the car. If you do park and walk, it is a short distance and the parking is FREE.
Once inside, we immediately found the check in area and got to work paying for our skating session and ice skate rental.
Now, ice skating is not an inexpensive outing. Because we are West Hartford residents, the general admission cost was $6.25 for my husband and I and $5.75 for Bruiser and Sparkles. Admission rates for non-residents during the winter season are $7.25 and children 2 and under are FREE. Skate rentals are $4 across the board. So, for the 4 of us to try out ice skating, the cost was $40. Not bad for a general outing, but a little pricey when the kids only wanted to be on the ice for about 30 minutes. In hindsight, though, I realized there were a few options for me to save a little money. Discount coupons were available on line and discount passes for general admission and ice skate rental were available for purchase. I’m sure we will be making a few future visits, so this is something I will be taking advantage of.
So we paid our admission and skate rental fees at the check-in area (cash, check, Visa, and Mastercard) and then headed a section down to pick up our skates. They did have skates available for the little ones and it was pretty fun to see my two little ones try them on for the first time. They were just so excited.
My husband and I laced up as well and attempted to put on a brave face as we prepared to take 2 three-year-olds out on the ice. Neither my husband nor I have any ice skating skills, so I thought this could potentially be a disaster. The woman who checked us in gave me a few tips for taking them out on the ice for the first time. She suggested they (well, probably all of us) spend a few minutes just walking around in the ice skates and getting used to the way they feel. Then, once we were on the ice, she suggested we encourage the kids to march on the ice so that they became more comfortable.
Here is Sparkles practicing her ice skating walking.
She even made a restroom stop donning her pair of skates. Now I think that takes some skill!
Before we headed out on the ice, I took a look at the list of rules. There were A LOT of them. None of them really pertained to us because I had no intention of doing anything other than following the crowd and trying to march around the ice. But you may be waaay more skilled than me and need to read the rules a little more closely.
We actually kept all of our stuff on the benches in the lobby, but you can also place your things on the benches in the skating area or store them in a locker (bring quarters).
Before we got started, we let Bruiser and Sparkles watch the other skaters and try to get an idea of what the experience was going to be like. Because this time is reserved only for adults and kids ages 2-5, the skating rink was pretty quiet. Perfect, because the environment wasn’t overwhelming for the kids (or for the adults attempting to skate with the kids!).
We watched as a few of their friends enjoyed some ice time with their mom.
And after soaking it all in, Bruiser and Sparkles were ready to hit the ice for the first time. Their skates were on and their hats, gloves and jackets were in place. Away we went.
The adventure started off a little unstable.
Sparkles became a little frustrated when she wasn’t able to perform like Gracie Gold on the ice. Here was her disappointed face.
But we practiced our marching and things eventually got better. Here was her happy face.
They needed to hang onto the side a bit and took quite a few breaks.
There were slips and falls and they didn’t last on the ice more than 30 minutes, but we saw enough smiles to make the outing worthwhile.
Plus we ended the morning with two EXTREMELY tired kids who were very ready for some lunch and nap time. Sounds good to me!
Veterans Memorial Skating Rink – Skating Session for Adults and Children Ages 2-5
Phone Number: (860) 521-1573
- During the Fall, Winter, and Spring, skating sessions are offered for adults and children ages 2-5 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:45 am – 11:15 am
- These designated times are not offered during the summer months.
- General public skating sessions are available 7 days a week. Check the online schedule for the latest times.
- Schedules are also subject to change on snow days and during school vacations.
- Admission Rates range from $5.25 – $7.25 depending on the time of year and residency status of the participants.
- Children ages 2 and under are FREE.
- Skate rentals are $4.00.
- Coupons are available.
- Discount admission passes and skate rental cards are available.
- Stroller Friendly: YES. If you want to use a stroller to get your toddler and all your stuff from the parking area to the ice skating rink, you would definitely be able to store it in the lobby area. This is not, however, an outing where you could bring a baby in their stroller while you ice skate with your toddler. I wouldn’t recommend that at all. You will have plenty on your plate trying to ice skate with a toddler. I promise.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES. You can certainly enjoy food and beverages in the lobby area. The rules state, however, that food and beverages are not allowed on or near the ice area.
- Baby Changing Station: NO. At least I didn’t notice one!
- Parking: FREE parking is available across the street from the ice skating rink at the Cornerstone Aquatics Center.
- Food for Sale: YES. There were a variety of vending machines available with food and beverages for sale. There is a snack bar on site but it was not open during the toddler skating session.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES.
- Cash Required: NO, unless you want to use the lockers. Quarters are needed if you want to rent a locker, but cash, check, and Visa or Mastercard are accepted for admission and skate rental payments.
- Dress Code: Dress warmly, it is chilly in there. Bring gloves, hats and jackets for the little ones. Find out more clothing recommendations here.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. While the toddler skate time is only available in the mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are public skating sessions available everyday.
TIPS & THINGS TO BRING:
- If you qualify for a discount, make sure you print out and bring a copy of the coupons available online.
- If it is your child’s first time on the ice, let them walk around in their ice skates before going on the ice to ensure they are comfortable.
- For this outing, you most likely will need one adult for every toddler/preschooler.
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