by Tracy Kapela
on Friday, March 1st, 2019 at 2:07pm.
Madison parks can be used in every season, so there is something to enjoy no matter how cold it gets! There are 13 locations around town offering outdoor ice skating, with five maintained by Madison Parks, seven through the Adopt Ice Partnership, and one by both. West side rinks (nine) outnumber the east side (four), but all have their own unique set-up and charm. In comparison, Milwaukee (a city over twice the size of Madison) offers eight locations for outdoor ice skating.
The most important part of skating is having physical skates. If you don’t own a set, you will need to rent a pair. Elver Park, Tenney Park, and Vilas Park are the three facilities that offer ice skate rentals, staffed warming shelters, restrooms, and concessions, so we will first dive into those, which are maintained by the city.
1. TENNEY PARK
As one of the most picturesque and popular parks in Madison, Tenney Park is the only east side location that offers skate rentals, and it also has the largest ice skating area spanning across most of the southern half of the lagoon. Cross the pedestrian bridge to the island to find the hockey rink, complete with boards, goals, and lights. This Tenney-Lapham neighborhood park is free and open the the public, with restrooms, rentals, and concessions available during open hours.
Location: 402 N. Thornton Ave. Open Hours: Monday - Friday: 3:00 - 9:00pm Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am - 9:00pm
2. ELVER PARK
Located on the west side of Madison, Elver Park offers an array of winter activities including ice skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing (permit required). Elver Park does not offer hockey facilities this winter due to the warm weather and rain in January. Ice skating and sledding are free and open to the public, with equipment rentals for both on site.
Vilas Park sits on the north shore of Lake Wingra and is one of the oldest parks in Madison. With two options to pick from, Vilas Park offers skating on the lagoon and two separate rinks for hockey, one with boards, goals and lights, and they other with just goals. This location also has a large warming shelter, complete with skate rentals, concessions and restrooms during open hours. Skating is free and open to the public and parking lots have a 3-hour time limit.
Location: 1602 Vilas Park Dr Open Hours: Monday - Thursday: 4:00 - 8:00pm Friday: 4:00 - 9:00pm Saturday: 11:00am - 9:00pm Sunday: 11:00am - 8:00pm
The remaining 10 locations are smaller and offer a different array of amenities. You will need your own equipment to enjoy skating at these rinks. Most of these parks offer only street parking and a bench or two for spectating. With the exception of Warner Park, Goodman Park, and Olbrich Park, these rely on community volunteers for upkeep. We will start with rinks that are located on the west side of Madison.
4. GOODMAN PARK
Ice skating at Goodman Park is located on the pond that is north of Olin Ave next to the Parks maintenance facility along Wingra Creek. This Bay Creek neighborhood rink is very large and offers hockey goals, lights, and a portable toilet.
Location: 37 Van Deusen St.
5. HILLINGTON TRIANGLE PARK
This park is nestled in the Regent neighborhood surrounded by mature trees and beautiful homes. The Hillington Triangle Park ice rink is medium sized with hockey goals and some lights strung in the trees along the southern corner.
Location: 435 Hillington Way
6. NAKOMA PARK
Located in the Crawford-Marlborough-Nakoma neighborhood, Nakoma Park offers a medium sized rink over a basketball court and provides a portable toilet.
Location: 3801 Cherokee Dr.
7. RENNEBOHM PARK
This park is located behind Hilldale Mall on the west side of Madison in the University Hill Farms neighborhood. The ice rink is located on the far west end of the park next to the pavilion shelter, and has a portable toilet. There is one light source attached to the roof of the shelter.
Location: 115 N. Eau Claire Ave.
8. SUNSET PARK
Sunset Park, located on the southern end of the Sunset Village neighborhood, has a brand new NiceRink (packaged ice rink structure) for the 2018-19 winter season. While this space is smallest of all locations, it is well maintained.
Location: 300 E. Sunset Ct.
9. WESTMORLAND PARK
In the heart of the near west side Westmorland neighborhood lies Westmorland Park, complete with a small sledding hill, a medium sized figure skating area, and a hockey rink with boards, goals, and lights. The warming shelter offers restrooms during open hours.
Wexford Park is a fairly large west side park spanning just over 20 acres and offers two small-to-medium sized ice skating areas connected by a little iced path.
Location: 1201 N. Westfield Rd.
The east side has fewer locations for outdoor ice skating, but they continue the trend of being unique in the beautiful parks they reside. With the exception of Tenney Park (mentioned earlier), all of the east side locations require the use of your own equipment.
11. OLBRICH PARK
Olbrich Park is one of Madison’s largest lakefront parks between the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather and Eastmorland neighborhoods. The ice skating facilities, located northwest of Olbrich Botanical Gardens, include a lighted hockey rink with boards, maintained by the Adopt Ice Partnership, and a separate figure skating NiceRink maintained by Madison Parks staff. Restrooms are only available during the warming shelter open hours.
Location: 201 Garrison St. Open Hours: Monday-Friday: 4:00pm-8:45pm Weekends: 11:00am-8:45pm
12. HERITAGE HEIGHTS PARK
In the heart of the Heritage Heights neighborhood on Madison’s east side, you can find this beautiful park adjacent to Heritage Sanctuary. This NiceRink was new for the 2017-18 season and provides one overhead light.
Location: 701 Meadowlark Dr.
13. WARNER PARK
Warner Park is located on the northeast side of Madison on the east shore of Lake Mendota. Boasting over 210 acres, this park offers a little of everything, including being home to the minor league baseball team Madison Mallards. Ice skating is offered on the lagoon directly west of the colorful shelter that provides a warming space and restrooms when open. There are also lights and hockey goals available.
Location: 2930 N. Sherman Ave. Open Hours: Monday-Friday: 4:00pm-8:45pm Weekends: 11:00am-8:45pm
Volunteer opportunities are available if you’d like to help at any of the Adopt Ice Partnership locations by filling out a volunteer form on the City of Madison website. Fight the winter blues and get out to enjoy the hard work the parks department and volunteers provide around the city!