Looking for a fun and family-friendly winter activity? Ice skating at Strawbery Banke Museum’s Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond in beautiful, historic Portsmouth, NH, is your answer.
The excellent Strawbery Banke Museum in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is dedicated to bringing more than 300 years of American history to life through its gardens, restored houses, preservation programs, and events. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum invites guests to explore the 10-acre outdoor living-history museum to learn about everyday life dating back to the 1600s. While the facility is fully staffed and open for tours from May through October, the museum was previously only opened for special events during winter. In recent years, however, the ice on Puddle Dock Pond, named for the historic waterway that once flowed under what is now the museum, has been cleared for skating. Ice skating at Strawbery Banke brings a classic New England winter activity home.
The idea to create an ice skating rink at Strawbery Banke Museum was proposed in 2012. A volunteer planning committee worked tirelessly though legal battles and enough money was donated through members and businesses in the community that the ice skating rink was open to the public December 11, 2014. It is officially known as the Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond.
Now the rink, which is located in the open lawn area between the Visitor Center and the Cooper Shop, is a popular annual Portsmouth winter attraction.
Admission to skate varies for adults, children, peak days, and non-peak days (click here to learn more), but no rate is higher than $11 for a peak adult ticket in 2018. Rental skates are also available for a $5 fee. The rental skates come in hockey style and figure skates and run from sizes kid’s youth 6 and to men’s 12 hockey.
During peak season (weekends and holidays), Puddle Dock Pond hosted as many as 200-500 skaters in a single day, but no more than 180 people are allowed on the ice at one time.
The rink is 12,500 square feet of professionally maintained ice surface, supported by a chilling system. Strawbery Banke Museum contracts with a management company for ice maintenance to ensure that the surface is always perfect for skaters. They also use a Zamboni to keep a professionally maintained ice surface at all times.
The rink is surrounded by a post and rail fence, and the posts around the rink also support speakers that play music. In the middle of the rink there is a fire pit.
Since the rink is outdoors, employees say weather is a big factor that affects the crowd, with the cold likely keeping some people away. When it snows, a snow blower and the Zamboni are used to keep the ice clear. During major snow events, if they can’t keep up with the snow, they will close the rink until the storm passes.
For those who would rather be a spectator or just need to warm up after being out on the ice, there is a warming room right next to the rink, with windows and a small heater.
Another option for staying warm is the White Apron Café, which is located right next to the entrance for the skating rink. It is open for seasonal food and beverages and provides indoor and outdoor seating. On hand are hot drinks, snacks, and light meals.
We think a day of skating at Puddle Dock Pond (perhaps followed by a delicious dinner in downtown Portsmouth?) would be a perfect winter day.
Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond operates from the end of November through March, or as weather permits.
Have you visited the Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond?
Strawbery Banke Museum. 14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth, NH. 603-433 1100; strawberybanke.org/skateThis post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.