If you are looking for a unique ice skating experience, you need to check out the ice skating trail at Howard Park in South Bend, Indiana.
Howard Park has a 16,000 square foot ice trail and pond making it a premiere winter destination in the South Bend region.
This is the best place for families to make the most of the cold-weather season if you want an alternative to an indoor ice skating rink.
Skate on the Ice Pond at Howard Park
You can skate on the ice pond attached to the ice trail if you want a more traditional ice skating experience. This is a great place to start if you want an isolated skating area to keep an eye on younger kids or sharpen your ice skating skills.
This is also where groups can try broomball, a fun fusion of hockey and soccer but with street shoes instead of ice skates.
The Ice Trail Experience
We LOVED our time ice skating on the ice trail! I think that it’s WAY better than skating on a traditional ice rink because it’s such a unique experience.
The diverse terrain of the ice trail really makes the experience more interesting while you skate.
The Howard Park ice trail features gentle, gradual slopes and soft curves that will even allow you to pick up a little speed along the way on parts of the trail.
While you enjoy your time on the ice rink, you can also take in scenic views of the St. Joseph River nearby.
There are hand rails available on both sides of the ice trail to help you feel more secure and build your confidence as you go.
Speaking of confidence, yes that’s me with a little assistance for my first few laps. It had been a while since I’d been ice skating and I didn’t know what to expect on this ice trail.
The extra stability helped me feel more confident to do laps on my own without assistance afterward.
Skate Rentals at Howard Park Ice Skating
Skate rentals are included for free with your admission fee to ice skate.
All of the rental skates are men’s hockey skates and sizing. I’ve found that hockey skates have more stability for your ankle too. You’ll want your ice skate to fit snug to give you the proper support.
We found the ice skate chart really helpful when we needed to share the size for our skates. Howard Park carries skate sizes ranging from children’s size 8 through men’s size 14.
You Can Bring Your Own Skates
There is an admission fee to use the ice but you can get on the ice faster with your own skates and a season pass.
Unfortunately, skate sharpening is not available onsite.
Howard Park Ice Skating Trail Hours of Operation and Zamboni Schedule
For the most accurate ice skating hours of operation, check the Howard Park website.
The Zamboni will typically resurface the ice every 90 minutes (weather depending). Resurfacing the ice takes about 45 minutes to complete.
You’ll want to check the Zamboni schedule before you arrive if you don’t want to wait around to skate.
Avoid the Crowds Midweek
If you want to avoid the crowds, consider skating during non-peak hours during the week. The best days are Tuesday-Thursday and Friday afternoons (for kids and families.)
Ice Skating Admission Prices
*Prices accurate at the time of posting. Check the Howard Park website before you go.
- $10 for adults (ages 15+)
- $7 for youth (ages 3 – 14)
Save With a Season Pass
Season passes are available at Howard Park along with group rates. A Family Season Pass is the best value if you plan on visiting the skate trail multiple times during the winter season.
*The Family Season Pass is valid for 2 named adults living in the same household and up to 6 of their dependent children under the age of 18.
Plan Ahead and Reserve Your Skating Time Online
If you want to guarantee your time on the ice, make sure that you reserve your skating time online.
Warm Up By the Fire
There are multiple fire pits at Howard Park for guests to use. Non-skaters can watch and enjoy the fire pits without an admission fee.
The fire pits are great if you need a break from ice skating or if you have any non-skaters in your group.
There is also plenty of seating within the community center if someone in your party prefers to stay indoors.
Several of the fire pit areas are within viewing range of the ice pond and ice trail too.
Food and Drink Options at Howard Park
You can warm up with a hot chocolate or speciality coffee or enjoy menu items from the snack bar at the “Chocolate Cafe To Go” concession stand by the South Bend Chocolate Company.
I highly recommend stopping by one of the other Chocolate Cafe locations if you have more time while you’re in South Bend.
There is also a full-service restaurant onsite, Howard Park Public House, at the west end of the event center that’s open year round for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You can view their main menu and bar menu to get an idea of their options.
Take Advantage of Introductory Ice Skating Lessons at Howard
On Tuesday evenings the Ice Trail is closed to public skating for ice skating lessons offered to the public at no additional cost to the price of admission.
Class participants can choose a one-time drop in class or 3-week course that builds on skills each week Afterwards they are welcome to stay and practice their skills on the ice trail afterward.
These classes are very popular with limited capacities and you must be registered online in advance.
The classes last 30 minutes and are geared for pre-school aged skaters and cover basic skills for ages 6 and up.
Locker Rentals for Personal Belongings
You can leave your shoes in the unattended cubbies under the benches or you can rent a locker inside the event center if you want your personal items to be more secure.
We took a gamble and left our shoes under the bench and didn’t have any issues.
Enjoy the Colorful Lightshow
Next to the ice skating trail is an art installation with a color changing light show. During the summer months, the public park also has a water feature and a nearby venue that has events with live music.
Dress in Layers for Ice Skating
You’ll want to dress in layers to help you stay warm while you skate. During our visit, it was really windy and I was so glad that I had a sweatshirt, coat, and a hat. You can always remove layers if you get too warm.
Make sure that you wear taller socks if you plan on ice skating so that the top of the skate doesn’t rub against the lower parts of your leg.
Check the Howard Park website for more details on the following events:
- Tuesdays: Learn To Skate Classes
- Tuesdays: $5 Skate Night * Not valid during the holiday week of Dec 20th – 30th.
- Fridays: Kids’ Skate Club (ages 14 an under and their families)
- Fridays: DJ Skate Night
- Saturdays: Yoga On Ice – starting January 2022
Accessible Playground at Howard Park
If kids need a break from ice skating there is a 13,000 square foot accessible playground that’s contained within the surrounding ice trail.
You Can Rent the Ice for a Private Event
During non-public skate hours Howard Park offers private rink rental of the ice pond or ice trail. Contact the park to learn more ice time and pricing.
Where is Howard Park Ice Skating Located?
219 S St Louis Blvd, South Bend, IN
Parking at Howard
There is free parking available along the street or you can use the Zion Church parking lot.
Additional Adventures in South Bend, Indiana
South Bend is most known as the home of the University of Notre Dame. While you’re in the area, stop by for a few pictures on the campus. You’ll also want to come back in the summer to go white water rafting downtown.
Looking For More Unique Winter Adventures?
Check out my articles on the learn to luge experience and the ice skating trail in the woods in Muskegon, Michigan.