Best Skating Rink

Best: Cabin John Ice Rink
10610 Westlake Drive, Rockville, (301) 365-2246
2nd Best: Fort Dupont Ice Arena
3779 Ely Place SE, (202) 584-5007
One element of the local skating experience is pretty consistent across venues: Ice is ice is ice. Whether you choose Cabin John or Fort Dupont or one of the rinks in D.C.’s federal core, you’ll enjoy a good surface planed by only the finest Zambonis.Beyond that consideration, the venues tend to diverge. The rink alongside the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, for instance, rents out skates that are unworkably dull. So if you just want to hang out and drink hot chocolate, then fine. Just don’t expect a meaningful skating experience. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, part of the Ballston Mall complex. Two drawbacks here: One, the arena sits atop a parking garage—not exactly the hometown ice-rink feel you’re looking for; two, rentals and ice time are expensive, perhaps because it sits atop such precious real estate.Fort Dupont is a great place to shave some ice. You got really, really nice people manning the admission and rental counters. You got a party room that overlooks the ice. You got a cool set of grandstands from which to watch the action. But even for an ice rink, it’s cold as hell in there. And there could be greater depth in the skate-rental inventory. Cabin John, as you might expect from an entity run by the Montgomery County parks system, has it all. Great, sharp rentals, cheap prices, two rinks, amazing Zamboni drivers, snack bars with all kinds of sugary treats.