Ice Skating in Union Square

Last holiday, my children saw the ice rinks set up and asked several times to go ice skating. For one reason or another, we could never get ourselves together in time to make it to a rink. By mid January, the rinks in our area were all taken down and we missed our opportunity to make it ice skating. My son made sure to remind me of this almost every weekend. So I knew that this year, we had to make it ice skating or I’d never be forgiven.

If we were going to do ice skating, I decided we would make the most of it, and do it at the ice rink set up in Union Square in San Francisco. We made reservation and made a day of the event. After driving in, we went into Union Square and got a quick snack at the coffee house in the square. Honestly, the coffee was generally OK, and the pastries as well. Later we found food trucks on Second Ave and an area temporary set up for the holidays. Wish we had headed there instead of the coffee house in Union Square. In this holiday area there were a couple of motorcycles with “animal costumes”. For $10 for 5 minutes, it’s a bit pricey, but it was entertaining to watch my kids ride around and narrowly miss tourists and pedestrians as they went by.

Zipping along without any major injuries

Finally, it was time to go ice skating! Since we had reserved our session, we were able to go straight to the front and get our ice skates, which came with the session cost. They do sell hats and gloves, but we came equipped. I wanted to join, but since I was still recovering, my doctor asked that I not get on ice skates this season. (His exact words were, “I’m weary of your yoga with its twisted poses and you want me to let you on ice skates when you’re not really an ice skater?”). I told the kids I would rent the weighted penguins for them to learn. These are little weighted sleds kids can push around to grow more confident on the ice. They were happy and excited on their skates, ready to go out onto the ice.

I walk over to purchase the penguins when I see the sign “Must be less than 48 inches with skates on”. My daughter just barley passed. My son was towering over the line. The attendant would not let me rent one for him. Now this was going to be a problem. My son is the one who is cautious. He was not just going to go out in the ice and skate. He wanted someone to help him. And I couldn’t do it. I gave him some words of encouragement and suggested he start by holding on to the wall and going around. They start to let people on the ice. I told him he’d be great, shouted some instructions, and pushed him on the ice. And they were off!

So excited, ready to get on the ice!

As expected my daughter got ahold of the penguin, and after a few spills and rough start, was quickly gliding confidently around the ring by herself. A one stop around she told me the fun of ice skating was falling on your butt. Clearly that did not stop her. She was having a great time going around the ice. She was a natural.

Look at her gliding around the ice!

My son, well that was a bigger problem. The first time around, he made no attempt to try and keep his balance, never taking a hand off for more than a second. He was wobbling all around, and when he finally made it back to me, begged for a penguin. I kept him by me on the wall, giving him a few lessons, and tried to get him to use his core and learn to balance, while just out of my reach. His second time around was better, and his third, but every time he begged for a penguin to use. He wanted the confidence to go out away from the wall.

He had a hardest time trying to skate with no assistance. I felt so bad I couldn’t help

At this point, I’m noticing other tall children using the penguin. And yes, it looked a little ridiculous, and it was a bit more unstable, but it was better than just staying near the wall. I went over to complain, telling the “penguin” vendor he wouldn’t rent one to me, but rented to other kids who were taller than 48”. So when one was returned, he finally let me rent one for my son. Once he had it, my son had the confidence to get out, further away from the wall and that made all the difference. He was able to get out in the middle of the ice with his sister, and they raced around. He fell a few times, but it didn’t bother him as much as it did earlier. He finally had confidence on the ice, and I felt better that I couldn’t be out there with him

Finally we have two confident skaters

About 15 minutes before the end of the session, my son was complaining of a pain in his ankle, and my daughter fell on her head and started to cry. The sun had also set and the day suddenly got much colder. We decided it was time to head out. The kids got off the ice, and we helped them get off the ice skates. Then we headed out and took some pictures in front of the beautiful tree before heading to a lovely warm Italian dinner at Tratto on Geary Street. Then we headed back to the car and the kids dreamed of ice skating glory as we drove home after our wonderful adventure in San Francisco

Love Union Square this time of year

Safeway Holiday Ice Rink
Union Square, San Francisco

  • Dates: Post Thanksgiving until January 15
  • Times: 10am – 11:30pm, sold in 90 minute sessions
  • Costs: $13 – $25 a session, $6 for the skate helpers (must be shorter than 48” with skates on to use)

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