Ice-skating, the quintessential winter activity in New York City, is a favorite for families, friends, lovers, tourists, locals, and everyone in between. Our mental picture of the city during the holiday season is not complete without a couple holding hands in an ice rink or a young girl skating circles around her father. So where is the best spot to find that holiday magic? There are six main stops in Manhattan. Each rink offers skate rentals in addition to general admission. If you have a pair of skates lying around, you are in luck! You can save your $$$ and spend it on the vendors that line many of these parks. Bring on the hot chocolate. OH. And don’t forget your down coat!
Bryant Park is the best deal in town. You get the ultimate city ambience and are offered free general admission. Skate rental is an additional $15. But they also give you a clever option to avoid the worst part of NYC ice-skating: long lines. Visitors to the rink can buy VIP passes to skip the crowd. These are $28 at the rink but only $23 online. Season passes and family passes are also available for purchase at the rink, open daily from 8am – 10pm.
One of the most sought after options, the location that paints many mental pictures of city skating, is Rockefeller Center. But you are going to pay for that beautiful tree to the background of your ice-skating Instagram “selfies.” The General Admission alone is $27 plus an extra $12 for skates. Luckily there are child rates and group rates to soothe the purse pain. But there is a reason for the ridiculous lines, the high prices, and strictly enforced schedule – Rockefeller Center is simply gorgeous during the holidays.
The Wollman Rink in New York’s Central Park is another vision of NYC grandeur. Wollman rates change from weekends to weekdays, $18 Fri-Sun and $11.25 Mon-Thurs. The rink, near the Central Park Zoo, opens at 10:00am every day. But make sure to bring some bills. This rink is cash only.
The Standard’s rink at the Highline, Meatpacking’s hot new commodity, is another option for winter skaters. The Standard, known for its charmingly irreverent image, caters to the night owls; the rink is open til 12:00am on weekdays and 1:00am on weekends. This is one of my personal favorite places to skate because the price is right - $12 admission and $3 skate rental. Not to mention the rink is lined with incredible food vendors. Yum…
For those looking more for skating as an athletic endeavor, there are two other options. The rink at Chelsea Piers and the Lasker Rink in Central Park are both great places to avoid overwhelming holiday chaos. Chelsea Piers offers $10 admission and $5 rental, but unfortunately their hours are short and irregular. Open skating lasts only from 1:00pm – 3:50pm on weekends. Lasker is great for the price: $7.50 General Admission and $6.50 for Skate Rental. The Senior and Children rates are even cheaper.
Needless to say, there is something for everyone looking to dive into NYC’s iconic winter activity. But there is no time to waste. Some of the rinks begin closing as early as February. Don’t let the winter weather trap you indoors. Bundle up in your SNOWMAN Coat and enjoy!