The thing about ice skating in New York City is that it doesn’t even have to be officially winter (or cold, or snowy) for residents and visitors alike to hit the rink. In fact, a late fall spin, before the tourists and the winds descend on NYC can make for a delightful family diversion. Whether you want photo-ready spots filled with festive skaters or rinks where you can actually have some room to glide and learn, here are our picks of where to take to the ice this season.
photo: Tomas Fano via Flickr
Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park
If a destination skate is what you’re after, then Trump Wollman Rink in southern Central Park should be high on your list. Hemmed in by mature trees and, beyond that, an iconic skyline view, the rink’s setting is so quintessential New York that it has been featured in films such as Love Story and Serendipity. Given its enduring popularity, arrive when the rink opens at 10 a.m., because the crowds and lines can be substantial by noon.
Logistics: Take the A, B, C, D, 1 to Columbus Circle; the N, Q, R to Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, or the F to 57th Street. The rink opens at 10 a.m. every day, closes at 2:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and has different night skating hours Wednesday through Sunday. The youth fee is $6.00 daily, and for adults it’s $12 Monday through Thursday and $19.00 Friday through Sunday. Skate rentals are $9.00. Or, to avoid the lines and enjoy an unlimited snack buffet inside a warm tent, reserve one of 32 VIP passes for $75.
For More Fun: A new option for skaters this year is a special early morning skate before the rink opens to the public on Dec. 25 and 26. Just 100 people will have access to the rink from 8 – 9:30 a.m., as well as their choice of hot beverage and a breakfast pastry. Tickets are $46, and you can skate after the rink opens to the public, as well.
If you enjoy watching the action as much as participating in it, mark your 2017 calendars for the annual Wollman Open Skating Competition scheduled for Sunday, March 5, or the annual Ice Show and Family Skating Party, planned for Wednesday, March 15.
59th Street and Sixth Avenue entrance
Upper West Side
photo: Matthew P. via Yelp
Trump Lasker Rink in Central Park
If you want to get on the ice without much of a wait—and best of all, stay for as long as you’d like—head to Trump Lasker Rink in the northwest corner of Central Park. An enormous round pool in summertime, the space is divided into two large ovals: one for public skating and the other for skate school and youth ice hockey leagues—the Hawks and the Lady Hawks. The crowd is decidedly local and very family-friendly, making this a great place for new skaters of all ages to gain confidence, if not grace!
Logistics: Located within a short walk of the 1, 2, 3 trains at 110th Street and Lenox Avenue, or the B and C at 110th Street and Central Park West. Hours vary with night skating available on Fridays and Saturdays. Cash-only entrance for adults is $8; kids is $4.00. Skate rentals are $7 and you can either bring your own lock or rent one for $3.25.
For More Fun: Take a pass on the vending machine hot chocolate available in the locker room lobby and warm up instead at Café Amrita on 110th Street, diagonally across from Central Park. Or head west to Crepes on Columbus on 109th Street and (you guessed it) Columbus Avenue.
Upper East Side
photo: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr
The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Even if you cannot skate as well as the gilded statue of Prometheus appears to float, few places say “winter in the city” like the Rink at Rockefeller Center—especially if you visit after November 30 when the legendary Christmas tree lights up. Reaching the rink may take some patience given the crowds that flock to the area, but once you’re there it’s undeniably magical. Ninety-minute sessions run from 8:30 a.m. to midnight, with half-hour breaks between each to clean the ice.
Logistics: Many subways lead to the Rockefeller Center area: B, D, F, M, 1, 6, N and R are all within an easy walk (depending on crowds!). Adult rates range from $25 to $32 depending on standard, holiday or peak times, and children under 11 and seniors are $15. Skates are an additional $12. If you are an early bird, you can reserve a 7:00 am first-skate pass for $45 to $55, or indulge in the VIP package for $60 to $125 (depending on the date). Lots of special skate packages are available, including the Rink’s popular Breakfast with Santa.
For More Fun: If you are splurging already just to skate at Rockefeller Center, why not make a reservation to warm up afterwards at Rock Center Café? The subterranean mall also has a number of more casual eateries to choose from.
49th Street and 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
photo: via Bryant Park Facebook page/Colin Miller
The Rink at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Another one of the city’s big destination skates is actually free if you bring your own blades: the popular rink nestled in the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. The 17,000 square-foot rink is surrounded by a European-style open-air market that has more than 125 holiday retailers selling ornaments, jewelry, and unique handmade goods from around the world. (The village’s holiday light display is worth visiting even without ice skating plans.) Don’t own skates? Rent them for $20, and snag a helmet for the child for a $6 rental fee. Skate aids, in the shape of polar bears and penguins, can be rented for $20 and hour for those 10 and under.
Logistics: Take the B, D, F or M trains to the Bryant Park stop, or the 7 train to Fifth Avenue. Open every day from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. Skate rentals are $15 ($19 from November 20 to January 3). Lockers are free but locks cost $9.
For More Fun: A number of kiosks in the winter village sell home-baked goods and warm beverages. Or, if you’ve worked up a bigger appetite, consider the popular mainstay of the green, the Bryant Park Grill. Plus: the park’s charming carousel is still running if the kids want to take winter a spin.
41 W. 40th St.
photo: via Brookfield Place Facebook page
The Rink at Brookfield Place
This Battery Park City rink located just outside the complex’s Winter Garden opens for the season November 12 this year. The rink welcomes back United States Olympians Melissa Gregory and Denis Petkhov for the 2016-17 skating season. The pair serve as the pro ice skaters in residence will be offering upscale skating lessons for men, women and kids. New this year to the rink: Intro to Hockey lessons (non-contact play).
Logistics: Take the E to World Trade Center; A/C to Chambers st., or the 2/3 to Park Place. Open weekdays, 1 – 8:30 p.m.; weekends, 10:15 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. A 90-minute skate session is $15, and individual and family season passes are also available. Skate rental is $5, and if your little one needs some help, skate aids are $15 for 30 minutes.
For More Fun: Post-skate, warm up at Brookfield Place’s heavenly food court Hudson Eats, featuring Little Muenster’s grilled cheese, Mighty Quinns BBQ, Umami Burger and sweets from bakery Sprinkles.
200 Vesey St.
Battery Park City
photo: Nick A. via Yelp
The Rink at Riverbank State Park
A true insider’s secret, Riverbank State Park—the only state park in Manhattan—is home to excellent facilities for recreational sports of any season. Although few New Yorkers who live outside the surrounding western Harlem area have ever heard of it, the park is one of the most visited in the state. From November to March, its summertime roller skating rink is converted to an ice skating spot Friday through Sunday. Opening day this year was November 5.
Logistics: Take the 1 train to 145th Street and Broadway. Kids 12 and under are required to wear helmets while skating; the rink provides them free of charge. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 11 and under, and $6 for skates.
For More Fun: Riverbank is home to the Puerto Rican-inspired restaurant, Sofrito On The Hudson, which offers spectacular views of the George Washington Bridge. You’ll also find a number of additional restaurants to consider along Broadway.
679 Riverside Dr.
Upper West Side
photo: Jane K via Yelp
World Ice Arena
Named for the two World’s Fairs that once graced its larger grounds, the World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens is open all year and is a great place to go if want the time and space to skate. The park may be out of the way for denizens of other boroughs, but the hugely-ambitious outdoor art alone is worth the trip, including the iconic, gigantic Unisphere globe.
Logistics: Take the 7 train to the Flushing stop. Open from 9:00 am to 5:15 pm weekdays and starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday, with varied closing times and nighttime hours. Admission is $6 on weekdays, $9 on weekends and holidays, and skate rental is $5.50. Lockers can be rented for .75.
For More Fun: For food, there’s an on-site cafe (no outside food is permitted.) While you’re in the park, visit the renovated Queens Art Museum, housed in the onetime New York City Building of the 1964 World’s Fair. The Queens Zoo, which is home to a detached petting and feeding zoo, is also situated in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
13135 Avery Ave.
photo: via LeFrak Center
LeFrak Center at Lakeside
If it looks as though the day you’ve long reserved for skating might be too cold or blustery for everyone in your group, plan your skating adventure at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center Rink. It offers two, 16,000 square-foot rinks—one open air, one enclosed— and they’re connected to each other for easy passage. It’s a gorgeous complex surrounded by the park’s natural beauty, and in additional to ice skating, you can also curl, play hockey or even broomball here. Take note!: you can try any of these for free on “Try it For Free” day on November 12!
Logistics: Take the Q, B and S trains to Prospect Park, the 2 or 3 to Grand Army Plaza, or the F and G to 7th Avenue. Opens at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, closes at 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Weekday admission is $6, weekends $9, and skate rental is $6.
For More Fun: The LeFrak Center at Lakeside features a seasonal menu at the Bluestone Café. Stop in for a hot chocolate and other tasty treats, and enjoy the view of the rinks from a table indoors or out.
171 East Dr.
Prospect Lefferts Gardens
photo: Joe Cingrana via nycgo.com
Abe Stark Ice Skating Arena Coney Island
Calling all Polar Bears! If you love Coney Island but hate the heat and the crowds of summer, Abe Stark Ice Skating Arena is the place for you. This rink is located right on the Coney Island boardwalk between 19th and 20th Streets, and from November to March, it’s open weekends for public skating.
Logistics: Take the D, F, N or Q to Coney Island/Sidwell Avenue. Open Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3:30 pm. Admission for adults and children is $10 and skate rental is $5.
For More Fun: Visit the New York Aquarium which, in addition to numerous displays on marine life, also has a 4D theatre that plays action-packed short films featuring many favorite cartoon characters. Or, stroll down the boardwalk to Brighton Beach and warm up in one of the authentic Russian restaurants in the neighborhood.
Coney Island Boardwalk and W. 19th Street
photo: via moleculea on Flickr
For those of you across the river in Jersey, rejoice in knowing there’s a rink you don’t need a tunnel to reach. It’s Newport Skates, a small outdoor expanse of ice on the Manhattan side of Jersey City.
Logistics: The closest PATH station is the Newport stop; the rink is also on the right hand side of the Holland Tunnel exit coming from Manhattan. Admission is $7 and skate rental is $6. Newport resident gets half-off admission with proof of address.
For More Fun: If you go in for malls (and really, who doesn’t?) you’re in luck because Newport Centre Mall is just a few (Jersey) blocks away.
95 River Dr. S.
Where do you hit the rink with the family? Tell us in the comments below!
—Cheryl de-Jong Lambert