Blast from the Past: The Best Roller Skating Rinks in America

Bring out those pom-pom socks

If you're anything like me, the last time you went to a roller skating rink was when you were still sleeping with stuffed animals and thought chocolate milk was humanity's greatest invention. (Full disclosure: I still love chocolate Yoo-hoo.) I figured skating rinks had gone the way of landlines and scrunchies. But as it turns out, roller skating is alive and well—there's even a Roller Skating Association chock full of information on how to start your own rink. Established in 1937 and still going strong today, they pride themselves on being the "voice of the roller skating industry." Mind=blown.

But just because you haven't been roller skating since you were a kid doesn't mean you can't have a terrific time at a rink today. Slap on some hot pants and get ready to boogie at America's top roller skating rinks!

Oldies but goodies

Northridge Skateland, California – this LA-area roller skating icon has entertained over seven million visitors throughout its 60-year history, including celebrities. Several television shows have been filmed here, including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Parks and Recreation, and The Office. It was even the backdrop for a Jay-Z music video. Northridge Skateland's family ownership, loyal fans, and commitment to change with the times has allowed it to prosper, even as other local business slowly vanish. Their song library boasts over 7,000 songs, and DJ requests are usually honored unless it's incredibly busy. The experience can be a bit of sensory overload, with giant televisions screens displaying special effects and music videos sprinkled throughout the rink, so just keep your eyes on the person in front of you. If this is your idea of a dream wedding, you're in luck—Northridge hosts every event you can think of, including birthday and anniversary parties, fundraisers, corporate training events, and anything else you can imagine.

Oaks Park, Oregon – one of the oldest and largest skating rinks in America and home to a competitive skating club (yes, it's true), this rink has hosted thousands of happy skaters since its grand opening in 1905. It's part of the Oak Parks Amusement Park in Portland, a park which also includes miniature golf, carnival games, and enough amusement park rides to make you wish you hadn't wolfed down that second chili dog. Not to be outdone by newer skating rinks, Oaks Park actually hosts an organ player who sits overlooking the rink (visible through a glass window), playing live music on the last Wurlitzer pipe organ in a roller rink in the United States. Apparently, organs in skating rinks were all the rage in the 1940s and '50s. Who knew? You'll whizz around on Oak Park's polished maple floor, and with this 100'x200' space, there's enough room for you to practice your best moves without fear of a hockey-style pileup.

SkateDaze, Nebraska – The Cernik family started opening roller skating rinks in 1947, and eventually came to own and operate a total of eight. This particular location––which came to be known as SkateDaze––was a relatively recent addition, having opened in 1982. The interior would not be out of place in Saturday Night Fever. Hundreds of multi-colored lights reflect off the maple hardwood floor. If you get bored with roller skating, there are plenty of other entertainment options to choose from, including laser tag, bumper cars, and arcade games. Like many other rinks, it also offers ample room for celebratory gatherings of all ages. With a full-service bar available, you risk some serious injury if you opt to imbibe, but at least you'll have a legendary story to tell the day after.

Modern madness

Pier 2 Roller Rink, New York – Considering you can now drop $18 on a cup of coffee in New York City, this open-air skating rink in the heart of its finest borough may well be the best bargain you'll encounter. Located at Brooklyn Bridge Park, on a clear day you'll have the iconic Manhattan skyline winking at you from across the East River. In springtime it offers free public skating from 10 am – 12 pm, then from 12 pm to 7 pm it costs just $9.00 for entry. Tots and balance challenged individuals (no shame!) can rent Skate Mates to help them maneuver across the floor without incurring serious injury or crashing into a more graceful participant. If you're looking to up your party game for your kid's birthday, Pier 2 offers party packages starting at $275 for ten attendees. This lofty price tag may raise some eyebrows amongst people living outside of New York's high-priced world, but for NYC it can almost be considered a deal.

United Skates of America, Florida – In 2015 Money Magazine ranked Tampa as one of the 5 Best Big Cities in the United States. No doubt this was primarily due to its low cost of living and anticipated job growth, but perhaps United Skates of America also factored in? (Okay, probably not, but it's still a pretty sweet rink.) Not only can you skate to your heart's content, but you'll also get schooled: USOA offers educational STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) field trip adventures for kids and teenagers. The instructors teach scientific concepts using roller skating, acoustics, and rink design as real-life examples. The outing includes one hour of STEM education and two hours of skating. This beats the pants off of a stuffy visit to the state capital. If that wasn't enough, USOA also offers skating camp for kids during the summer, a café serving fried everything (Chicken tenders! Mozzarella sticks! Churros!), and an arcade for the less athletically inclined.

For those who scoff at the idea of rhythmically gliding across polished floors with top 40 hits reverberating through your body, take note that roller skating torches almost 600 calories per hour. And it's way more fun than having someone scream in your face to feel the burn as you sweat through yet another spin session. Roller skating may be retro, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun!

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Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!

Travel Tips

8 of the Best Donut Spots In the United States

Celebrate National Donut Day with our favorite treats across the country.

November 5th marks one of 2020's two National Donut Days.

Occurring in both June and November, National Donut Day allows fans of those delectable yeasty treats to embrace their sweet tooth. But like any niche food group, people often take their donuts very, very seriously, and there are countless places to get your fix.

Below, we've rounded up some of the best donut spots across the country. From coast to coast, these bakeries are sure to impress even the pickiest donut-heads.

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop – Modesto, CA

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop

If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's worth taking a short trek out east towards Modesto for some of California's best donuts. Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop has remained family owned since its opening over 30 years ago, providing both tried-and-true classic donuts as well as experimental flavors and holiday specials. Even their 24-hour service doesn't diminish the line that trails out the door most mornings.

Dough — New York, NY

Dough \u2014 New York, NY

Donuts might not be the first circular, doughy treat you think of when it comes to New York City. If you've had your fair share of bagels, the Big Apple also boasts some spectacular donuts at Dough, a go-to spot for both tourists and locals alike. Here, you'll find a host of Latin American-inspired flavors that are hard to come by anywhere else; their Dulce de Leche flavor is a customer favorite, while the tangy Hibiscus donut is just as good for Instagramming as it is for eating.

Blackbird Doughnuts — Boston, MA

Blackbird Doughnuts \u2014 Boston, MA

Boston's Blackbird Doughnuts is a no-frills donut spot specializing in both brioche "raised" donuts and old-fashioned cake donuts. With a small menu of year-round donuts and a rotating cast of seasonal flavors, Blackbird keeps it simple and classic. Why mess around?

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — Brooklyn, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop \u2014 Brooklyn, NY

For over 60 years, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been calling the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint home. Since then, the bakery has remained a popular spot for both regulars and new visitors passing through the area. Here, you won't find uber-trendy decor or gimmicky recipes, just damn good donuts that prove the power of long-standing local businesses.

Pip’s Original — Portland, OR

Pip\u2019s Original \u2014 Portland, OR

In both their mobile catering van and brick-and-mortar locations, Pip's Original is a staple for small, sweet treats in Portland. They're known for their tiny donuts that come in inventive seasonal flavors like marionberry-lavender and mango ghost pepper. But even if you opt for one of the more traditional flavors, Pip's Original proves good things can come in small packages.

Round Rock Donuts — Round Rock, TX

Round Rock Donuts \u2014 Round Rock, TX

Founded in 1926, Round Rock Donuts—located just north of Austin—are impossible to miss. These donuts' distinct yellow-orange color, caused by fresh eggs in the original recipe, make them stand out among the crowd. While this classic outpost can easily churn out hundreds of dozens of donuts a day, they also offer Texas-Sized Donuts, which are just as ginormous as you'd imagine. Round Rock Donuts are not only delicious and easily recognizable, but they're a slice of Lone Star history.

The Holy Donut — Portland, ME

The Holy Donut \u2014 Portland, ME

In Maine's Portland, you might not find tiny donuts or a decked-out catering van, but you will find a slightly healthier alternative. The Holy Donut was founded on the premise of creating tasty donuts that used all-natural ingredients to make a treat you could feel good about eating. The secret ingredient is fresh, mashed Maine potatoes, which make these donuts delectably moist without sacrificing flavor.

Donut Friend — Los Angeles, CA

Donut Friend \u2014 Los Angeles, CA

As expected of a city so focused on entertainment, Los Angeles' Donut Friend puts an edgy spin on their inventive donut flavors. Their year-round menu features donut flavors with names like Green Teagan and Sara, Fudgegazi, and Bacon-182 that are sure to delight the rock music nerds. For everyone else, the delicious donuts speak for themselves.