It is a happy talent to know how to play.

The shopping, the menu planning, the holiday card (and maybe event the holiday card photo) will all get done… somehow.  And, perhaps that will happen in a less anxious and more intentional fashion if, in the midst of it all, you take a brief refuge to indulge in one of winter’s beloved pastimes – ice skating.  It’s not just for children, and the sport offers up a wonderful opportunity to embrace the season, reconnect with life’s lighter side and play.  You’re never too old to play, and it’s a surefire antidote to stress – seasonal and otherwise.  No wishing for rivers here!  The Greater Boston area is home to a bounty of indoor and outdoor skating rinks – many of which are now in operation and available for public skating.

“It is a happy talent to know how to play,” so declared our fellow New Englander Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Taking his cue, we suggest you steal an hour, grab a pal and forget about what the calendar says.  Let’s bring all that asana practice to a new surface.  Here are our top picks for some ice time this holiday season.

Back again this season along Atlantic Avenue is the Boston Harbor Hotel’s open air Winter on the Wharf skating pavillion.  Breathtaking views and a playful atmosphere come together at the Hotel’s approximately 2,500 square foot (80 ft. by 30 ft.) Rotunda Rink.  Made with real ice, the Rotunda Rink can accommodate up to 75 skaters.  Framed by spectacular views of both the harbor and city, the public skating rink is now open daily for the next three months, weather permitting. “After a spin on the rink, skaters are invited to warm up with après-skate treats.  Timeless winter indulgences like specialty s’mores, hot cocoa and Rowes Wharf Sea Grille’s seasonal Frost Tea are sure to warm children’s hearts and make adult spirits soar.”

Just across town ice skating at Boston Common’s Frog Pond is a beloved annual winter tradition.  The Frog Pond opens for public skating every morning at 10 AM.  Admission price is based on skater’s height: 58-inches and over?  $6.00. Under 58-inches? Free!  The Frog Pond also offers skating lessons and can be booked for private parties.

Grab your scarf and mittens and strap on a pair of skates to experience Harvard Square in a whole new light at The Rink at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge.  Skate rentals are available for $5, and admission for adults is $5 (children under the age of 12, $3).  They also offer a family rate of $10 (2 adults and 2 children).

Offering gorgeous views of the city is Brookline’s Larz Anderson Skating Rink. Just southwest of downtown Boston, the property was donated by Isabel Anderson in memory of her husband Larz.  Part of that parcel was converted into a regulation size hockey rink – The Kirraine.  Some of the rink’s amenities include warming buildings and changing rooms with a full snack bar and onsite parking. The Kirraine Rink is open daily with extended hours over the school vacation week!

Patriot Place, home of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, is a popular spot for lots more than football.  Dining, shopping and Winter Skate at Patriot Place hosts a  60 x 140 foot outdoor ice skating surface for both day and evening public skating.  Winter Skate offers a free on-site parking lot for patrons, and admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children under the age of 12 and seniors.

North of the city Market Street in Lynnfield kicked off its holiday season by welcoming back its open air skating rink on the green in the heart of the bustling shopping and dining center.  No equipment required as guests can rent skates for $4.  Admission is free for children ages 3 and under, $6 for children ages 12 and under, and $8 for those ages 13 and up.  The rink is now open daily and can also be rented for private parities and events.

Heading west of Boston, The Skating Center at Babson College in Wellesley offers a number of windows for (indoor) public skating including Sunday afternoons from 2 – 4 PM and Tuesday and Thursdays from 11 – 1 PM.  Skate rentals are available for $5.

With our unpredictable New England weather, we gently advise you call (or click) ahead before venturing out…