You will have been at the pool and the beach at least 30 times by the end of August, and the rest of the time you’ll probably try to hide in air-conditioned places like a movie theater, a games arcade, or holed up in your living room. But there is a much more original way to deal with the catastrophe of the Israeli summer: by going to a place that offers winter weather all year long – an ice skating rink. Here are four cool havens where you’ll need a sweatshirt and long pants even when the temperature outside is pushing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
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An easy start: Iskate, Tel Aviv
“What? There’s ice skating in Tel Aviv?” That’s the question I was asked repeatedly when I told people where I was headed one recent Shabbat afternoon. So the answer is yes, and it’s a good place. On the outskirts of Luna Park, there’s a cool and not very well-known jewel, with a playlist that includes Justin, Beyoncé and the other Galgalatz radio hits, and a relatively large area of real ice (500 square meters), which guarantees that people won’t bump into each other while they’re trying to figure out how to skate.
The place is especially suitable for beginners because it requires you to wear all the protective gear known to man – knee guards, elbow guards and hand guards. It’s somewhat clumsy and oppressive, but if you want to make sure the little ones (and to be honest, their escorts as well) will survive the adventure in one piece, that’s the only way. In addition to the safety rails surrounding the rink, there are islands in the center next to which you can stop, rest and regain your balance. Overall, this is a pleasant, high-quality skating rink, where they make sure you’ll enjoy yourself and return home without broken limbs.
Entrance fee: 75 shekels per person for the first 45 minutes and 50 shekels for another 45 minutes. If you come with ice skates, it’s 60 shekels for every 45 minutes. 1 + 1 discounts with a credit card from Isracard, Leumi Card and American Express (with points) – by pre-registration.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 3 P.M.-10 P.M., Friday 4 P.M.-10 P.M., Saturday 10 A.M.-10 P.M. Closed on Sunday, but private events can be arranged in advance.
Ages: 6 and up. Shoe size from 28, height at least 1.10 meters (3’7”)
More information: www.iskate-lunapark.co.il/
For serious skaters: Ice Peaks, Holon
As opposed to the enjoyable but amateur skating rink in Tel Aviv, in Holon you’ll find the real thing. This rink was built to a semi-Olympic standard and covers an area of about 2,000 square meters. In addition to the much more spacious rink, there’s a cafeteria, bleachers for spectators and fitness rooms. A visit on Friday afternoon aroused mixed feelings. On the one hand, there’s no question that it’s fun and there’s a happy atmosphere, with a playlist amazingly similar to the one at the Tel Aviv rink. On the other hand, the tremendous satisfaction I derived from being able to move forward without falling was mingled with envy at the stunts performed by serious skaters – and there are quite a few of them.
There’s no question that this is a professional rink that meets the highest standards, with a combination of children and beginners alongside figure skaters who definitely know what they’re doing. The place offers figure skating and ice hockey lessons, and you can register in advance for private lessons.
Entrance fee: Per person, including skates and a helmet – 70 shekels for 45 minutes, 110 shekels for 90 minutes. Multiple-entry tickets and subscriptions are available at reduced prices. Discounts are available for members of many workers’ committees, and there are 1 + 1 discounts with a credit card from Isracard, Leumi Card and Visa – by advance registration.
Hours: Seven days a week, 10 A.M.-12 midnight. See Facebook for updates about additional hours on holidays and vacation times.
Ages: 5 and up.
More information: www.icepeaks.co.il/
Classic, professional, Olympic: Canada Center, Metula
In 1995, a sports and activities center opened in the far north, which for the past 20 years has maintained its good reputation. In addition to the complex that offers swimming pools, bowling, a shooting range, and many other attractions, you’ll find an Olympic-size skating rink that meets the international standard. It’s a really huge rink with seating for 1,100 people for those who prefer watching to skating, music that makes you feel like moving, and of course a continuous cool climate.
If you get to the north and discover it’s too hot to tour, this is a perfect haven. In fact, it’s so perfect that it’s worth coming here just for that. During one of the recent holidays, the pool was filled with swimmers and splashers, and the entire complex overflowed with visitors. But even on that busy day, the huge skating rink had plenty of room for everyone. An additional bonus is that prices at the Canada Center are significantly lower than those in the center of the country.
Entrance fee: per person, including skates – 63 shekels for 90 minutes if you purchase in advance on the website, 70 shekels at the box office. An additional session, 20 shekels. Unlimited skating – 90 shekels on the website with advance purchase, and 100 shekels at the box office. On the website there are updates about discounts for holders of various credit cards, workers’ committees, multiple-entry tickets and subscriptions, and of course there are special packages that combine skating with the pools and spa facilities.
Hours: Monday – Thursday 10 A.M. - 4 P.M., Friday and Saturday 10 A.M.- 5 P.M. The complex is closed on Sundays.
Ages: 3 and up. Shoe size 25-50.
More information: www.canada-centre.co.il
Family experience: Ice Mall, Eilat
In the hottest place in the country, you can combine VAT-free shopping, a respite from the furnace outside, and of course ice skating. In the heart of the mall there’s a spacious skating rink of 1,800 square meters that can comfortably fit in hundreds at a time. All around are cafes, restaurants, innumerable stores, and additional attractions including a movie theater, flight and roller coaster simulators for adults, Babylon games park for children and more.
Entrance fee: 70 shekels per person. No protective gear, but special devices for beginners are available for an extra charge.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday and Saturday, 11 A.M.-11 P.M.; Friday and holiday eves from 11 A.M. to an hour before the start of Shabbat or holiday. (See website for summer hours.)
Ages: 6 and up.
More information: icemalleilat.co.il