Whitewater Center Ice Skating: The Family Day You’ve Been Looking For in Charlotte, NC

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What is it like to ice skate outdoors at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC? The National Whitewater Center offers ice skating from November through mid-February annually and it is totally a blast. My husband and I had an absolutely wonderful time with our teen and pre-teen-aged kids. If you’re thinking about a visit to try some ice skating, we’ve got all the information for you, plus our parent’s review of skating at the Whitewater Center.

Ice skating at the Whitewater Center

About Whitewater Center Ice Skating

If you aren’t familiar with the National Whitewater Center, it is a large outdoor sports facility with many options like climbing, ziplines, ropes courses, mountain biking, and lots more. Tickets can be purchased for a full day of activities or just a single activity. We purchased tickets for ice skating only. The $25 per person fee covered a day of skating as well as our skating rentals.

We visited specifically to go ice skating at the Whitewater Center. The skating surfaces here are unique, much more than a simple oval rink. There are several skating areas for free skating, as well as loops of skating trails. The areas are divided into two sections of ice, which makes for a lot more variety than your typical ice rink!

The first section consists of two free skating areas, and an ice trail surrounding them. In the middle of this area is an off-ice island with benches, high-top tables, and a cute airstream trailer selling hot chocolate and other beverages. The second skating section is a large ice trail loop full of meandering twists and curves. Go around the loop as many times as you want, and you can freely move between the two skating areas!

Ice trails, ice skating at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC

Arriving to Skate

Our first piece of advice is to purchase your tickets and fill out your waivers online. It was easy to do online and it made the process when we arrived ridiculously simple.

When you arrive at the National Whitewater Center, you’ll pay to park ($12) and helpful staff will direct you to the parking lots closest to your planned activities. For skating, once you park, you’ll walk from the parking lot, past a pavilion with restrooms, and down a gravel path to the River Center where you’ll check in. You CAN purchase tickets and fill out waivers here if you need to.

Arriving at 11 am on a Saturday morning we did not wait in line at all. We were able to wall right up to the counter and show them our tickets to be scanned, then it was down the counter to grab our rental skates. Easy as pie.

There are lockers available here if you’d like to leave your personal items locked up. But, most people seemed to just leave their shoes tucked under benches. This is what we did, along with a few discarded jackets as the day went on, and we had no problems.

From the skate rental area, it’s an easy walk down the rubber mats to the first skating surface. And that’s it, you’re ready to skate!

Video Review:

What’s it like to go ice skating at the Whitewater Center? See for yourself in our video tour!

What’s Special About Skating at Whitewater? Parent Review

Our trip to go skating at Whitewater was a day trip. We drove about an hour and a half to get to the Whitewater Center and it was totally worth it. I’ve never gone skating anywhere that wasn’t an oval skating rink. This was so much more interesting, and even when there were quite a few people on the ice, it didn’t feel crowded.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about that crowd. Some skaters clearly had significant ice skating skills, and then there were those, like us, who did not. So, don’t worry if you don’t know how to skate. Rails surround the skating spaces and line the ice trails and you can hang on all the way around if you want!

Arriving at about 11 am was perfect as there were very few people on the ice. It was a bit more crowded as it got into the afternoon, but there was still plenty of space.

Ice skating trails

Eating at the Whitewater Center

Beside the skating area is the Trail Center where you can order from a small menu of soups, chili, and sandwiches. There’s both indoor and outdoor space to enjoy your food, including several fire pits beside Adirondack chairs overlooking the skating rinks.

We did not get lunch when we were at the Whitewater Center, but we did enjoy some hot chocolate from the airstream trailer on the ice! The trailer only serves beverages, but it was such a nice spot to stop and relax for a few minutes of a skating break

The Whitewater Center also has a sit-down, full-service restaurant on site, called River’s Edge.

Hours for the food and beverage services around the center change from day to day. Check the food and beverage portion of the Whitewater website for hours on the day of your visit.

Hot chocolate at Whitewater Center Ice Skating

All the Things Parents Want to Know

How much is ice skating at the Whitewater Center?

$25 per person, and that includes the skate rental. You do not get a discount if you bring your own skates.

When does Whitewater Center Ice Skating open?

Ice Skating is available at the Whitewater Center from mid-November through mid-February. Daily hours change. Check the calendar at the Whitewater Center for pass activity hours to find the hours on the day you’d like to visit. Don’t forget that current weather conditions can change what is available so checking in on the status of activities the day of your visit is advisable.

Ice skating at Whitewater Center

Who will enjoy ice skating at the Whitewater Center?

  • Anyone who can walk is allowed to skate, so even younger tots can enjoy the ice. For little ones, I’d recommend visiting earlier in the day to have as much ice to yourselves as possible.
  • This was an activity that all my kids really enjoyed, even my hard-to-please teens who initially weren’t terribly happy with the prospect of a “family day.”

What does it cost to park at the Whitewater Center?

Parking is $12 per car. There is lots of parking available, so you shouldn’t have any trouble! And, the parking attendants can give you directions towards your desired activities.

Restrooms are plentiful. In fact, you’ll find some clean restrooms right beside the parking lot, which is perfect after a longer drive. You’ll also find clean restrooms between the skating area and the skate rental building. You can’t wear skates into the restrooms though, so, we highly recommend you visit the restrooms before you lace up!

Waivers must be filled out. I highly recommend doing this in advance to save time when you arrive! You can easily fill them out online when you purchase tickets.

Ice skating at Whitewater Center

Go Ice Skating at the National Whitewater Center

5000 Whitewater Center Parkway
Charlotte, NC
Whitewater Center Website: Ice Skating

About the Author
Maria Bassett is a former school orchestra teacher, turned homeschool mom. She and her husband homeschool their 3 sons and 1 daughter, who range from 4th grade through 9th grade. Believing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, this family loves to take their homeschool on the road, around Greenville and beyond.

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