With COVID case numbers once again soaring, now is the ideal time to check out the many great outdoor skating rinks in Toronto. Besides being a low-risk activity, skating is an easy way to burn off your family’s energy and have some fun despite the cold weather. Below we round up 11 of our favourite, family-friendly outdoor ice pads, as well as one bonus icy activity.
Most of these rinks are operated by the City of Toronto, which means that access is free and there are (usually) changerooms, bathrooms, and skating aids available. As always, all City-run rinks require that that kids under six wear a CSA-approved hockey helmet. During current COVID times, City-run rinks require that a mask must be worn around the ice, including when lacing up and interacting with staff, but no face coverings are needed when you’re on the ice.
Unlike last year, reservations are not required for leisure skating. Just make sure to check your desired skating location’s schedule since lessons and shinny time have also returned to City-run rinks. For non-City-run rinks, masking rules vary but all locations on this list do require some level of masking so as always, don’t leave home without one. And if the weather has been unseasonably warm, don’t leave home without confirming that your preferred rink is operational. Multiple rinks were already shut down once this December due to high temperatures.
Family-Friendly Outdoor Skating Rinks in Toronto
250 Fort York Blvd., Toronto
Looking for a skating experience that has a few extras? Then The Bentway is your place! While the 220-metre long, figure-eight trail is the star of the show, extra amenities include hot drinks and a winter art exhibition. Also on site are skate rentals, which are free every Thursday night. Unlike like last year, no advance registration is required, just show up and enjoy the ice.
420 Yonge St., Toronto
Here’s a fantastic downtown alternative to the frequently busy Nathan Phillips Square rink: The Barbara Ann Scott ice trail. Only opened in 2019, this five-metre-wide loop still feels fresh and new. It also happens to be one of the one of the most environmentally sensitive rinks in the city, a fact that is only enhanced by its easy access to the College subway stop and the rest of the TTC network.
65 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr., Toronto
Is this one of the prettiest outdoor skating rinks in Toronto? Let your family judge for themselves while gliding around this figure-eight shape trail. Located down by the lake and surrounded by trees, this destination almost feels like it’s outside of the city. As odd as it sounds, be sure to check out the change rooms, which are built inside a repurposed power plant that also doubles as a great background for pictures.
455 Cosburn Ave, Toronto
One of East York’s most popular rinks is home to both a proper rink and board-less open area reminiscent of a pond. This “double pad” set-up means that leisure skating is available at Dieppe Park from 10am until 10pm. The rink is located next to a large open area that, weather allowing, is great for fort building. There’s also a nearby playground.
550 Bayview Ave., Toronto
This scenic rink, “…weaves through snow-covered gardens under exposed beams from the roof of the old brick factory,” and is open for free leisure skating through the Brick Works’ Holiday Market and Sundays to follow. Unlike City-run rinks, at the Brick Works advance registration is required. Each time slot is for an hour but keep in mind you’ll be asked to exit the rink about 15 minutes before that hour is up; you’re also encouraged to arrive 15 minutes ahead of time, to lace up. Skate rentals are available here, as are free skating aids, for those family members who are still perfectly their stride. Note that kids under six must wear a CSA approved hockey helmet.
150 Greenwood Ave., Toronto
In addition to a skating trail, Greenwood Park is also home to the City’s first covered outdoor rink. The result is ample leisure skating opportunities as well as frequent, dedicated times for shinny. Greenwood Park is also home to spacious changerooms and a party room that your family can rent out for a very memorable birthday celebration.
235 Queens Quay W, Toronto
Skating is back at Harbourfront Centre, this time at a new rink now located by the Concert Stage. This move has meant that an ice loop, located in the South Orchard, has been added in, resulting in even more ice space. Skate and helmet (which are recommended) rentals are available but there are no changerooms or lockers, so leave your valuables in the car or at home.
1873 Bloor St. W, Toronto
The city’s biggest park is where you can find another “double pad” skating rink setup, meaning more ice for new skaters. There’s also lots of change room space, which here includes lockers. While High Park still has parking restrictions on the weekends and public holidays, its other amenities, like its various playgrounds, the always pretty Grenadier Pond, and of course the High Park Zoo, help to make up for that potential inconvenience.
2075 Queen St. E, Toronto
Dreaming of taking a spin on Lake Ontario? Well, we wouldn’t recommend that. But we can recommend that your family stop by this East-end rink, located within eyesight of the lake. While the rink itself is a pretty basic skating pad (complete with boards), a nice nearby element is the fire cage (image a fire pit enclosed by a pyramid-shape metal grid), which is sometimes lit in the evenings.
5100 Yonge St., Toronto
Built over top of the Square’s manmade pond, this rink doesn’t have any boards, which might not make it the best fit for newbies. However, its convenient location, and easy access to snacks, shops, and parking, makes it a good choice for families with more confident skaters who also like to be comfortable. The Square is also well-lit well into the night, in case your family is up for some skating under the moon.
8 Avon Park Dr., Toronto
Here your family will find a skating pad that is frequently home to shinny games as well as a fairly new skating trail. Shorter than the Colonel Samuel Smith Park skating trail, this is a good option for smaller or less confident kids who need somewhere a little quieter and with easy access to multiple benches and sides for support or breaks.
While this destination doesn’t involve skating, it does feature family fun on ice, so we figured we’d include it anyway. From December 21 until December 28 at CF Markville (5000 Highway 7 E, Markham), and from January 2 until the 9 at CF Sherway Gardens (25 The West Mall, Toronto), your family can participate in, “a Canadian twist on mini-golf” in which you’ll, “trade in your golf club and golf ball for a hockey stick and puck to play through nine festive holes outside.” Advance registration is required and costs $5 per tee time, with the proceeds going towards a local charity.