Which ice skating rink is the best?

February 9, 2022

Looking for the best way to romanticize the frigid northeastern chill and stay COVID-safe? Ice skating is the perfect solution. If you’re wondering which of the multiple outdoor options around Brookline is the best, I went to every outdoor ice skating rink within a 20-minute drive of the high school, and here’s what I found:

Jack Kirrane Rink at Larz Anderson Park: 9/10

Jack Kirrane Rink at Larz Anderson Park: 9/10

Price (for the average student at the high school): $5
Skate rentals (for the average student at the high school): $7
Location: 25 Newton St., Brookline

I started at Larz Anderson, Brookline’s only outdoor skating rink.

The rink at Larz is likely the most well-known among Brookline residents, and the rink was packed with children and adults skating (or trying to). The rink was divided into a beginner’s section off to the side and a larger section for the more experienced, but everyone was welcomed at both. Skaters jammed out to tons of fun 2010’s music, motivating them to dance on the ice, and contributing to a youthful and cheerful energy that encouraged people to skate and enjoy themselves regardless of how many times they fell.

I grew up skating at Larz Anderson (eventually graduating from falling over constantly in the beginners’ section), so the rink brings back lots of nostalgia for me as I’m sure it does for many other residents of Brookline. The rink perfectly demonstrates Brookline’s appeal: overlooking the rest of the Larz Anderson park at the top of a hill, the rink was cheery and relaxing, surrounded by trees but with views of downtown Boston far in the distance.

Kelly Outdoor Rink: 6/10

Kelly Outdoor Rink: 6/10

Price: Free!
Rentals: $3
Location: 1 Marbury Ter., Jamaica Plain

Second, I headed to the Kelly Rink. As it is owned by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, it has free general admissions, making it accessible to a much broader audience and perhaps leaving more room to spend on candy after.

Right next to the MBTA’s Orange Line, the Kelly Rink’s views were not as exciting as those of the Jack Kirrane Rink. Surrounded by buildings, the rink was very much in the middle of an urban environment. The music volume hit the sweet spot between being unable to hear over the rumbling of the T and killing my eardrums. However, it was unfortunately interrupted by ads.

The rink, though inexpensive and easily accessible by public transportation, was also the least populated. Perhaps this was due to the unexciting surroundings; Zipcar and Legal Services Centers’ beat-down buildings nearby were not incredibly picturesque. Fortunately, though, this sparseness allowed clusters to stay intact and skate at their own pace without the risk of a speedy skater crashing into them.

The Kelly Rink mastered the basics of a skating rink for anyone who is concerned about the pure quality of their skating, but it was ultimately just a smooth sheet of ice and not much more. For people more interested in decorations and the hot cocoa after (the “après skate,” so to speak), the Kelly Rink might not check all the boxes.

The Boston Common Frog Pond: 8/10

The Boston Common Frog Pond: 8/10

Price: $6 for people over 58 inches tall (free for those shorter), $12 rentals for high schoolers
Location: 38 Beacon St., Boston

Next, I ventured into the Boston Commons to visit the Frog Pond, which serves as a low pool with sprinklers in the summer.

Inside the rink, it was so crowded that it seemed impossible to skate in a straight line without bumping into someone. A line of at least 20 wrapped around the rink, with people waiting patiently to join in on the fun. Apparently, the idea of skating in the gorgeous Boston Commons with all of its festive, wintery decorations was appealing to more than a few.

The Frog Pond was framed by the tall buildings around the Commons and some colorful string lights hanging from trees. Integrated within the bustle of the city, many strolled by, taking pictures of the rink and the Commons as a whole. However, with the excitement of a city, commotion will almost always be present, and sometimes unpleasant. The weather being 15 degrees out further added to the discomfort of waiting in a mile-long queue. Additionally, with the chatter of many around the Commons and the honking from Beacon St., the music was not as audible as I would have liked.

Skate @ Canal District Kendall: 9/10

Skate @ Canal District Kendall: 9/10

Price: $4
Rentals: $10
Location: 30 Athenaeum St., Cambridge

After this, I headed close by to Kendall Square’s ice skating rink, only a six-minute drive from the Commons.

I was immediately enchanted by the views; surrounded by artfully draped lights and tall glass buildings reflecting their light, the rink felt like a quick little escape from being confined in office buildings. The rink had a small section for warming up off to the side, and skaters could stay separated without collisions even though its squiggly oval shape created the illusion that the rink was larger than it actually was.

Although it’s only a 15-minute drive away from the high school, I rarely visit Kendall Square; it tends to escape my mind when I think about attractions in the Greater Boston area with all of its biotech companies and start-ups. However, the rink stands out from all the buildings and doesn’t deserve to be thrown aside as a skating option.

Without much distraction from the city around it, the music commanded the attention in this little nook between buildings. The only clear downside was the cars frequently driving by and, it felt as though two steps would bring me directly into a conference room.

The Rink at 401 Park: 8.5/10

The Rink at 401 Park: 8.5/10

Price: $10
Rentals: $6
Location: 401 Park Drive, Boston

My final stop was Time Out Market’s Rink at 401 Park St., otherwise known as simply the “Time Out rink.”

Located at the Landmark Center in Fenway, the rink is close to many fun stores and businesses, including the Time Out Market itself, Fenway Park and Regal Theaters. Time Out Market presented a place to warm up, featuring many different cuisines to try out and a variety of board games. Just outside, the small rink size and provided aids to help stabilize beginners and prevent them from bumping into each other seemed to restrict skaters’ pathways.

Unfortunately, the music was slightly drowned out by the adjacent intersection but was still enjoyably loud. However, my favorite part about the Timeout rink was the string lights over skaters’ heads, somehow creating a romantic atmosphere isolated from the bustle of Fenway. With views of the rest of Fenway, the Fens, the Muddy River and a vast sky beyond the lights, I found myself in a charming corner of Boston.

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    Lancia C.Feb 12, 2022 at 11:18 am

    Great article, super helpful!