Courtesy Point Ruston
Fans of downtown Tacoma's Polar Plaza skating rink were disappointed to find out it wasn't returning for its seasonal pop-up gig this year. Not to worry, there's a new seasonal ice rink in town, Frozen Fountain Ice Skating Rink at Point Ruston.
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 those gorgeous views. (There's even a playground and summer spray park.)
For the holiday season they’ve added a temporary ice skating rink right in the Grand Plaza, open daily through New Year’s Day. The great thing is that the rink is enclosed in a big tent, so you can skate rain or shine without worrying about the elements. I visited recently with two of my kids, ages 14 and 10, to check it out.
The skating area itself is not large, but the smaller size is nice for younger kids. The rink has 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 viewing the rink: Only one end of the rink offered space to stand or sit on benches. Those who come to watch but can't 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 rink. (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.
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 day we visited, the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, 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 wear 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 for $2) 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...
Location: Point Ruston Grand Plaza, 5005 Ruston Way, Tacoma
Hours: Open daily through Jan. 1, 2018, Monday–Thursday, 4–9 p.m.; Friday, 4–10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. The rink will be open daytime hours on weekdays during winter break when schools are closed, and is also open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Check for holiday hours if you're planning a visit on one of those days. Also, a note on the site says that hours are subject to change so call ahead if you want to be certain the rink is open; it is available for private rentals.
Cost: Adult admission with skate rental is $12.50, with personal skates it's $10. Military, senior, and kids ages 10 and under are $9, with or without skates. 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 said the rental skates were a little uncomfortable.
Parking: There is plenty of free parking on the street or in a garage. We parked in the garage right across the street from the shops at Point Ruston.
Eats and drinks: Ruston Point offers plenty 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.