The Oaks Park skating rink is one of those Portland institutions I have always meant to try. So when my six-year-old daughter Maggie and I were looking for an indoor—but active—outing, we headed out to Saturday Kids’ Morning Skate. We arrived at the start time of 10:30 to a long line out the door. I started to worry that it would be too crowded once we were inside. But the line moved quickly, and the indoor space and the rink are so large that there is plenty of room for everyone.
Inside, it is spacious, airy and charming—with high-level windows and a pipe organ suspended over the rink. The wooden rink brought back old memories of my old (but limited) roller skating days. After we paid, we picked up our rental skates, which was fast and easy. One adult admission is free with a child’s admission, making this outing an absolute steal at $7.50 (both skate rentals included).
The Kids’ Skate offers an optional group lesson around 10:45. The fifteen-minute lesson was excellent, giving kids and parents a solid introduction on getting up, skating, stopping, and even going backwards. It was really helpful for first-time skaters, and those of us who have not roller-skated in thirty years.
During the free skate time, there were games like the Hokey Pokey and Dead Bug (like a freeze skating game where skaters laid down). Coaches are available for one-on-one instruction for $5 for ten minutes. Again, this was a great deal and Maggie benefitted from some individual help. She was even spinning and jumping by the end of her short lesson!
Skaters ranged from littles as young as three in Fisher Price skates to more experienced and polished skaters up to 10. We saw falls and stumbles, but it always felt safe and comfortable.
Kids’ Skate runs from 10:30-12, which was the perfect length, and we were home in time for lunch. This was a fun Saturday morning outing, a great way to get some exercise, and a nice introduction (or re-introduction) to roller skating.
If you go, here are a few tips:
- You can have a child’s skate wheels set to “beginner,” where the skate wheel axles are tightened to create more friction and resistance. A skater will have more control and not go too fast. But this can also make it harder to skate. Once we loosened Maggie’s wheels, she got the hang of skating much more quickly.
- Wear short sleeves, or layers for skating. It got a little warm.
- Get there at 10:30 to take advantage of the whole time, and be sure to catch the class.
- Take in Oaks Park in the off-season. The drive to the North Gate parking area, and the walk to the rink, offer views of the partially dismantled and empty amusement park, a fun treat on a cool, misty morning.
Oaks Park Kids’ Skate
Saturdays, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Ten and younger only
Oaks Park also offers Preschool Play & Skate Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 10-11:30 am
Six and younger only, and includes a visit from Chipper the Squirrell and snack time
$7.50 per child, one adult free per paid child