Ice skating al fresco

skating at ESP

Everything's better with the Egg in the background.

Fresh air is good for you, right? So if you're looking for some cheap fun this weekend, the forecast looks just right for some outdoor ice skating. We found a few options for open air skating that free, or nearly free.

Albany has two rinks you could try. Swinburne Ice Rink in Swinburne Park at Clinton and Manning Avenue, and the ice rink at Empire State Plaza Swinburne isn't totally open. It's covered by a pavilion, but there's plenty of fresh cold air to be had. It's also not totally free, but it may as well be ($1 for adults, .50 cents for kids). You can rent skates anytime for $2. ESP is free and has a great view of the plaza. The rink is near The Egg. On weekends and evenings you can probably park on State Street pretty easily. You can rent skates for $4, but only on weekends.

Saratoga Spa State Park has two outdoor rinks. One is just off the Avenue of Pines. It has a warming hut and lights for night skating. We checked with park officials and apparently there's no official closing time for this skate till the lights go off at no charge. The other rink is smaller. It's further in the park, near the Victoria Pool. No lights here, but you can skate for free all day. Beat that.


Love the site! I'm inspired to skate again. I'd also like to throw in another winter-themed "cheap fun" activity I learned about (and tried) recently.

You can rent snow shoes for $5 at Thatcher Park and tramp around in the cold for up to four hours. I tried it for the first time Saturday. It was fun and great for the frustrated cross country skier. (The snow was shallow and way too crusty for enjoyable skiing -- in my book anyway.) But there was enough of the white stuff for snow shoeing. You can also rent equipment at the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center near Thompson's Lake. I'm headed there next! These two spots even host group outings. There's a full moon snow shoe walk Saturday night. (Too bad we'll be out of town.)

How cool

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For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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