Unusual Ice Rinks of the Golden State

Twirl near Half Dome or try a couples' skate near the ocean.

ICE RINK CHIC: If you grew up going to the local ice rink, you probably fell a little in love with the setting, as you should have: The Plexiglas separating the bleachers from the rink action had its own look, as did the snack bar, which always seemed to be lined, along the counter at least, with those packets of instant cocoa and cider. And you probably got annoyed when people plunked down on the benches placed for those skaters needing to don their blades, people who only wanted to hang and not put on skates. But an ice rink can come in many flavors -- er, styles -- and the classic snack-bar-skate-shop-bleacher set-up isn't always required. Seasonal rinks pop up hither and yon from November through February, and the outdoor locations are always interesting: Sometimes a city, sometimes the woods, and sometimes a national park. Eager to try out fresh ice that has a little something different to it? Blade up and glide for...

CURRY VILLAGE: The Yosemite National Park rink is indeed a winter thing -- it is set to be "open daily" through the beginning of March -- and the backdrop couldn't be more national-park-y if Ken Burns came in to film it. (Hmm, well, maybe.) That's Half Dome in the distance, which makes any pictures you take on the rink really and truly one-of-a-kind.

ICE SKATING BY THE BAY: You and your skates won't be all that far from Monterey Bay at this wintertime rink at Custom House Plaza in Monterey. That means lunch on Old Fisherman's Wharf, of course, and maybe a hot drink along Cannery Row after your session.

SKATING BY THE SEA: Picture it... on one side of you, the Pacific Ocean. On the other, the turret-pretty Hotel del Coronado. The sand-close rink is so picture-perfect that marriage proposals are a thing. Nice, but we don't want the proposer to take a spill and land on the ring, if it happens to be hidden in a backpocket. Glide carefully, lovebirds.

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