Courtesy Point Ruston
A couple of years ago, a new ice rink slid onto the Tacoma scene, replacing downtown's Polar Plaza. The new rink, Frozen Fountain Ice Skating Rink at Point Ruston, is back for the 2019–2020 season — its third year — and it opens Friday, Nov. 15.
We've got everything you need to know to get your crew out on the ice.
Point Ruston is a fancy condo development in Tacoma overlooking Commencement Bay. Luckily, you don't have to buy a condo there to partake in its fun amenities: great restaurants, a movie theater and gorgeous views. (There's even a playground and summer spray park.)
For the holiday season, the temporary ice skating rink occupies Point Ruston's Grand Plaza, and it's open every day — including on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day — through Jan. 5, 2020.
The first year, I took two of my kids, ages 14 and 10, to check it out.
The rink is enclosed in a big tent, so you can skate rain or shine without worrying about the elements.The skating area itself is not large, but the smaller size is nice for younger kids. There are frames available — a sort of "walker" for the ice — for beginning skaters to use to keep their balance.
While there were plenty of benches in the waiting area for changing into skates, there isn’t much room for sitting to watch skaters and view the rink: Only one end of the rink offered space to stand or sit on benches. Those who come to watch but can't or don't want to stand for long periods might find this a challenge.
During our visit, there was Christmas music playing over a loudspeaker, a few Christmas decorations and red and green colored lights shining on the ice. (If the colored lights aren’t on, ask. They turned them on for us.) Occasionally there is live music or a DJ at the rink; the Point Ruston Facebook page is the best way to keep up-to-date on special events.
Taking a break
The bathrooms are located close by but outside the rink in a trailer. The downside is that you will have to change out of your skates before exiting the tent. Make a pit stop before you go in!
There were two vendors in the tent the day we went: a face-painting station and a shop selling scarves, hats and gloves. I was told that the vendors change from day to day. These were good to check out while the Zamboni did its thing to smooth the ice.
My kids enjoyed the experience and I thought this was a fun family activity for the holiday season. It looked like there were lots of lighted decorations around the area, so after dark might be a fun time to go.
Tips for families
- On the Saturday we visited, the rink was very crowded. I chatted with another mom who lives nearby. She said that weekdays right after school and evenings are great times to visit for a less crowded experience.
- Wear long, thick socks to keep feet warm and to avoid the tops of skates rubbing on tender ankles.
- For newbies, check out our guide to teaching kids to ice skate for pro tips on how to get going.
- Dress warmly. While the rink is covered, it is outdoors and not heated! Definitely wear gloves or mittens, preferably waterproof.
- Some parents favor helmets to protect their kids' heads in the case of a fall on the hard ice. A regular bicycle or skateboarding helmet works just fine.
- There is no safe place to stow a purse while skating, so if you plan to hit the ice with the kids, I recommend bringing as little as possible, what can fit into pockets, or wearing a light backpack.
- Visit the restroom before you enter, because you have to change out of skates to go outside to use the bathrooms.
- If you don’t want to leave for drinks, pack a water bottle (or buy bottled water there) as skating is thirsty work! You can also bring in your own snacks.
- If you forget something, they sell socks and gloves at the counter.
- For more ideas for fun holiday outings in Tacoma and surrounding areas, check out our guide to South Sound holiday fun on the cheap.
If you go...
Open hours: Frozen Fountain is open for the 2019–2020 season Friday, Nov. 15, 2019–Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. It's open daily, including on holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Check the website for detailed info on hours and special events.
Note: Longer hours are available during school breaks and holiday hours differ. No matter the day you plan to go, double-check the hours on the Point Ruston Facebook page, or call ahead (253-397-8445), because all listed hours are subject to change and the rink is available for private rental.
Cost: Adult admission with skate rental is $14.50; $13 with personal skates. Military, seniors, and kids ages 10 and under are $13, with or without skate rental. Skate aids rent for $2 per half-hour. Admission is for all day.
Skate sizes: The smallest size of rental skates available is a child size 9. The rink recommends choosing a skate one size up from your regular shoe size. Note: My kids found the rental skates a little uncomfortable.
Parking: There is free parking on the street or for first hour in the garage; subsequent hours are $2. We parked in the garage right across the street from the shops at Point Ruston.
Eats and drinks: Ruston Point offers a number of choices for purchasing snacks and drinks. Wild Fin, Farelli's Pizza, The Jewel Box Cafe (where we had hot chocolate and coffee) and even a small fish 'n' chips shop were all just steps away from the rink. If you don’t want to change out of your skates, they sell granola bars and Capri Suns for $1 and bottled water for $2 inside the tent. When you pay, you get a bracelet, making it easy to come and go. Make an afternoon or evening of it by getting a meal or catching a movie at Point Ruston's Cinemark Theater.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated for 2019.