Doing Loops: Area ice skating rinks offer chilling experiences

When the weather dips below freezing and the wind is whipping around the buildings, all you want to do is stay inside. But you can’t stay inside forever. So why not celebrate the cold with a little ice skating.

Rinks around the area allow anyone a chance, from the novice to the Tara Lipniski, to whirl around the ice – on their feet or on their butts, as the case may be. After all, if you can beat the cold, why not indulge in it? And besides, after you’ve skated for a few hours, you can reward yourself with a hefty mug of hot cocoa.

The most convenient of the ice skating rinks is located in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden (7th Street and Constitution Avenue, (202) 737-4215.). The rink was recently refurbished to create a modern feel and to update the sound system, which now includes 24 speakers surrounding the rink. The rink is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. During the week, the admission price is $5 for adults and $4 for students with an ID. On weekends, the price goes up 50 cents. Admission to the rink is for a two-hour session. Sessions begin on the hour. If you don’t have your own skates, you can rent them for $2.50 at the rink.

The next most accessible rink is the Bethesda Metro Ice Center (3 Bethesda Metro Center, behind the Bethesda Metro station, (301) 656-0588). The hours of the rink vary so if you’re thinking about heading that way, give them a call first. There is usually an after-school skating session from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $4, including skate rentals. The evening session runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and costs $4 to skate and $2 for skate rentals. You also should call to check on prices because they depend on the day and the session.

For those lucky students who are not bound by the limits of the Metro system, there are a few more ice skating rinks. In College Park, Md., Herbert W. Wells Ice Rink (5211 Calvert St., (301) 277-0654) is a good bet and a likely place to be in the midst of other college students. Two rinks in Rockville, Md., aren’t too far off the beaten trail: Cabin John Ice Rink (10610 Westlake Drive, (301) 365-2246) and Arc Ice Skating Rink (50 Southlawn Court, (301) 294-8101).

If you want to head south of the Potomac River, the closest skating rink is in the Mount Vernon Rec Center in Alexandria, Va. ((703) 768-3224). Because the facility is a county recreational center, the times for public skates are limited.

During the cold winter months, why not spend the time ice skating? And who knows, maybe flitting around on the ice on a rink will make you better at walking on the ice on the ground.

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