What do you do when the temperature creeps above zero on a Saturday and there’s a new skating rink in town? Well, you grab your daughter and your niece and (finally!) head down to the University District to check out this cool new park that everyone is talking about!
Being a figure skater, at least recreationally, I’ve been known to get a little fussy about skating outside. The weather is too cold or the ice is too bumpy, as a rule. Plus, life gets busy, you’re tired after work, and your teenagers never want to go play. But so many people were talking about the new rink at Central Commons Park in the University District: friends, fellow skaters, strangers I met at work … it was obviously time for me to check it out myself.
I have a teen daughter who dabbles in figure skating and a 3-year-old niece who is just learning how to skate. We timed our visit to arrive just before sunset, so we could see the lights come on. The park is tucked in the heart of the newly-developed University District, with easy access to stores and restaurants. Created to be a destination in every season, in the winter, the park has a large ice surface in the centre that is regularly resurfaced throughout the day. The rink is surrounded by benches, chairs, picnic tables, and everything you need to make your visit enjoyable and relaxing. You’ll find a couple of gas fireplaces adding to the ambience (they were on when we visited, but we’ve heard they aren’t always on) and special light features. There are also public washrooms — always an asset when going places with kids.
What You Need to Know
Skating at Central Commons Park is open from 8 am – 10 pm and is not monitored. No rentals are available and skating aids are welcome, but hockey sticks, pucks, and sleds are prohibited. Take advantage of the free underground parking while you’re there — the entrance is on the corner of University Ave and McCaig St. (If you’re heading east on University Ave, turn right after Staples, and turn immediately right into the parkade.) Register your plate for 3 hours of free parking and head up the stairs to the park.
There are loads of benches and picnic tables if you want to pack a picnic lunch, but the park is also right beside all the shops and services on University Ave. We stopped by McDonald’s, but they are other options for those who eschew the Golden Arches. (We had $3 Happy Meals and the most attentive service I’ve ever received at a fast food restaurant!)
What else do you need to know? Nothing — pack your skates and helmets and just go! We expected to enjoy ourselves, and it was even more fun than we anticipated, with a touch of winter magic.
University District’s Central Commons Park:
Open: 8 am – 10 pm
Where: Central Commons Park (Nestled between Borough Bar & Grill and Banquet Bar in University District)
Address: 4019 University Ave NW, Calgary, AB