Travel

Where to Go Ice Skating Near Dallas This Winter

From NHL-quality indoor rinks to iconic pop-ups decked out for the holidays.

Enchant Christmas Dallas
Enchant Christmas Dallas
Enchant Christmas Dallas

Though it’s probably too late to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics, you can perfect your swizzles, tizzles, and death spirals at eight different venues around North Texas-including the option to have an ice rink delivered to the site of your choosing. From year-round indoor rinks to seasonal holiday pop-ups, it’s easy to find a place to spin in circles close to home. Bundle up in your holiday finest, lace up your skates, and book a ticket to one of these eight stellar winter wonderlands around Dallas-Fort Worth.

Photo courtesy of Galleria Dallas
Photo courtesy of Galleria Dallas
Photo courtesy of Galleria Dallas

Ice Skating Center

Galleria Dallas
Dallas’ premiere skating experience can be found at the year-round rink on the lowest level inside Galleria Dallas. Between shopping for designer goods around the mall and indulging in a food-court smorgasbord, burn extra calories under the glow of the tallest indoor Christmas tree in the United States. Private lessons, broomball sessions, and the ability to rent out the entire rink for your own private event for a cool $300 an hour add to the chilly possibilities.
Cost: Tickets run $12 per person; skate rentals run $5 each
Hours: Open daily; hours vary (check the calendar here)

Enchant Christmas Dallas
Enchant Christmas Dallas
Enchant Christmas Dallas

Enchant Christmas

Fair Park
Instead of going around and around a traditional rink, the Enchant Christmas experience at Fair Park features a meandering ice skating trail illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights for a particularly magical evening. Santa will be onsite for meet-and-greets and photo-ops, alongside a Nordic-inspired Christmas market for any last minute shopping you wish to do between trips down the trail. The event runs until January 2.
Cost: Tickets start at $20 per person; VIP tickets start at $179 per person (includes champagne, lounge access, hors d’oeuvres, and priority access to all activities)
Hours: Open daily from 4:30 pm to 11:30 pm.

Panther Island Ice
Panther Island Ice
Panther Island Ice

Panther Island Ice

Fort Worth
Coyote Drive-In goes off-script this holiday season by offering an outdoor ice skating experience under a large pavilion through January 17. There’s covered seating for spectators (or your own personal paparazzi), gas-fueled heaters to stay warm, restroom facilities, and a full menu of treats and drinks, including wine and beer. Make it a double-feature date night and stick around for a movie, too-drive-in movie tickets run $8 per adult, and only $5 on Wednesdays.
Cost: Tickets run $13 per person (includes skate rental)
Hours: Open daily; hours vary (check the calendar here)

Gaylord Texan Hotel
Gaylord Texan Hotel
Gaylord Texan Hotel

Christmas at Gaylord Texan

Grapevine
Among the many holiday-themed activities at The Gaylord Texan-including snow tubing, a winter wonderland cirque show, and a holiday escape room-the mesmerizing 6,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink attracts guests from all over the world.
Cost: Tickets run $17.99 per person (includes skate rental)
Hours: Open daily; hours vary (check the calendar here)

Radiance
Radiance
Radiance

Radiance! Featuring Frozen in Frisco

Frisco
Let all your worries go a la Elsa from Frozen at this massive holiday theme park complete with a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, ice tubing hills, snow ball tosses with real snow, and an outdoor skating rink in the middle of it all. If you really want to ball out, add VIP access for an additional $14.99 and get perks including bottomless hot chocolates, a fast pass to the light show, a holiday cookie, and free parking.
Cost: Tickets run $29.99 – $39.99 per adult (includes admission to shows and activities)
Hours: Open daily; hours vary (check the calendar here)

Classic Holiday Ice Skating Rinks

Uptown
Synthetic surfaces have made ice skating possible in a variety of unexpected venues, but what could be more unique than hosting a holiday skating soirée at the location of your choice? If your house or place of business happens to have a basketball court or ballroom, you’re in luck. Rinks range in size from 1,200- to 4,000-square-feet in size. Throw in extras like artificial snow machines (keeping with the faux-precipitation theme), photo booths, and full lighting options for a holiday party nobody will soon forget.
Cost: Private rink rentals start at $4,995
Hours: Open daily from 9 am to 9 pm.

StarCenter
StarCenter
StarCenter

StarCenter

Multiple locations
The Dallas Stars NHL team boasts seven StarCenter locations around the metroplex, complete with indoor public ice skating sessions in Euless, Frisco, Mansfield, McKinney, Plano, and Richardson, while the Farmers Branch outpost features an outdoor rink through January 9. And even if you can’t skate like a pro (or prefer an outing with less blood than a typical hockey matchup), you can spin around the rink leisurely while enjoying special theme nights when you can skate with Santa or show off your ugliest holiday sweater. The Farmers Branch StarCenter also offers a happy hour on certain days, when skating is free from 5 to 7 pm, plus date nights when skate rentals are on the house.
Cost: Tickets run $12 per person; skate rentals run $5 each
Hours: Open daily; hours vary (check the calendar here)

ICE at The Parks
ICE at The Parks
ICE at The Parks

ICE at The Parks

Arlington
For 19 years, ICE at The Parks has welcomed Arlington locals and visitors to a full-sized NHL regulation hockey rink for casual skate sessions or a hockey match with friends. You can also rent out the rink for a private party complete with lessons from a professional coach, if you’re really aiming to impress. And when it’s all over, hit up the surrounding stores in the mall for some ultra-convenient gift procurement.
Cost: Tickets run $11 per person; skate rentals run $4 each
Hours: Open daily; hours vary (check the calendar here)

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Steven Lindsey is a contributor for Thrillist.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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