Washington is known as a year-round city; the Mall and museums are open regardless of the temperature. But to do one of the most unique things this city has to offer, one needs to wait until the temperature drops, and the leaves are all but gone from the trees.
On the corner of 7th Street and Constitution Ave NW, stretching two blocks back to 9th Street, sits the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. And amid the eclectic mix of art – giant granite chairs, a twenty-foot wide bronze spider, an army of headless bronze girls – resides an ice skating rink.
About half the size of a regulation ice rink, the Sculpture Garden’s rink is only open from the middle of November to the end of February, as weather permits. Since it’s only open for a brief time, it is often crowded, full of parents teaching children to skate and couples sharing embraces. But despite the masses, it is enchanting nonetheless.
It is a beautiful site to behold, perfectly laid out in the middle of the park. One end of the rink faces a small clearing among the trees and across the street, skaters see the hulking National Archives. Bathed in a gentle light, the massive building and its beautiful Corinthian columns add to the atmosphere of the rink.
That’s not the only sight that can be seen from the rink. Skate over to the east side of the ice and you can catch the top of the Washington Monument, jutting above the leafless trees and several office buildings.
Around the perimeter of the rink rest carved marble benches, a perfect place to relax when your feet are heavy from doing laps around the ice.
But the best part of the entire experience is that it is inexpensive. Two hours of skating at the rink costs just seven dollars a person, and six for children. And skate rentals are just three dollars each.
While it’s true that many of D.C.’s best attractions are free, sashaying around on frozen water, with air so frigid you can see your breath and massive works of art everywhere you look, is worth every cent.
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