Outdoor Ice Rinks in NYC

It’s a lot of fun to go ice skating in New York City, here are the best outdoor ice rinks where you can learn to trip the ice fantastic in the Winter months. From the iconic rinks of  Midtown Manhattan to the smaller rinks of Downtown NYC, there’s no better wintry thrill than gliding around one of the city’s renowned outdoor ice rinks. New York City has a surprising nine outdoor ice rinks and four indoor ice skating rinks, and we attempt to steer you to the best of them.

To give you an idea of a size perspective, the standard size for a rectangular NHL ice hockey rink size is about 17,000 sq ft. The New York City outdoor ice rinks can vary wildly in size and shape from this standard.  There are the classic smaller rectangle outdoor rinks like the Rockefeller Center rink and The Standard Hotel and then you have the odd-shaped large rink at Central Park’s Wollman Rink and the inside/outside LeFrak rink in Brooklyn. If the weather outside is frightful, head indoors to New York City Indoor Ice Rinks which include ice rinks at Chelsea Piers and the City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City, Queens. Coney Island Boardwalk also has an outside rink that stays open to February. The Riverbank State Park Ice rink, located in Hamilton Heights, does have a roof, but no walls, making it one of two hybrid ice rink in New York City. It will keep the rain and snow off you, but the cold wind will still be blowing in.

The Best Outdoor Ice Rinks in New York City

Winter Skating Under the Famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Ice Rink: Winter Skating Under the Famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center: Ice Rink at Rockefeller

Size: 8,000 square feet Confirmed
Location:
Midtown Manhattan
Cost:
$40
Reverse Direction After Resurface: No
Ice Quality: Poor
Rental Skate Quality: Good

The Hype: The ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza has been around for over 80 years and is located in the heart of the world-famous Rockefeller Plaza. The rink stays open until the end of February each Winter and is quintessential New York City in the grip of Winter. The rink has 90 minute sessions and will run you about $40 per person top skate. Skaters has a constant tourist audience on the elevated terrace, who will often cheer for a jump. They limit the rink to only 150 people on the ice at any one time, so you may have to wait your turn to get your triple toe loop on, but his means that it will never be jammed with people and you will have space to skate. The rink is great for photos with the tree, Rockefeller buildings and statues all adding to the experience.
The Reality: The tiny ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza is a unashamedly a NYC tourist trap, where cynical NYC merchants do everything they can to separate dumb tourists from their cash in exchange for a manufactured 'classic" NYC experience. The ice rink at Rockefeller Plazan shows up on Instagram far too often and is often only visited by Millennials for a few minutes, and only then for the IG moment. The short ice skate session makes it one of the worst choices for skating in New York City for anyone that actually wants to ice skate. The condition of the ice is often very poor, as this is not a permanent ice rink and they do not have an effective refrigeration unit big enough to sufficiently cool the surface when the temperature rises above 32 degrees. The Rockefeller Center Ice Rink is undeniably the worst ice rink in the city and you will never see any local New Yorker skating there. This ice rink is really only popular for Instagram photo-ops and also gets its fair share of marriage and engagement proposals. The Rockefeller rink management leverages that popularity with a plethora of engagement packages that top over $1000 to tempt those young-and-dumb prospective couples. No word yet if you get a refund on the bill if she says no, but here's hoping. No lawyers are on hand to provide prenuptial agreement guidance.
Ice Skating at Bryant Park
Ice Skating at Bryant Park

Bryant Park: The Ice Rink at Winter Village

Size: 17,000 square feet Confirmed
Location:
Midtown Manhattan
Cost:
Free or VIP for $50
Reverse Direction After Resurface: Yes
Ice Quality: Fair

The Hype: The Rink at Bryant Park is one of Manhattan’s better locations for outside seasonal skating and here the cost of the admission is free. Ringed by an expanded holiday shopping bazaar with plenty of food and hot-beverage options, the park is both a destination spot for tourists and a refuge for workers during the weekday. The ice rink is open from the start of November through to the start of March. This ice rink is a good bet for getting onto some outside Midtown ice without the Rockefeller Center madness or the commute up to Central Park's Wollman Ice Rink. For beginner skaters, Bryant Park offers funny-looking skate aids, helping beginners navigate the ice. They do a decent job of the ice resurfacing every hour and even rotate the direction after the Zamboni has cleared.
The Reality: This ice rink may be a good choice in Manhattan if you don't mind waiting a few hours to get in during the busy times. Although the wait to get onto the ice for free during the busy times is well over two hours, a VIP package can get you on the ice much more quickly, but then you will have to pay the big bucks. The ice itself does get packed with people and they often allow over 1500 people to skate on it at any one time, which is far too many people. If you come very early (or very late) the lines are shorter and the ice is in better shape. This rink will not allow anyone to skate backwards, which seems a little backwards thinking in itself. The annual FrostFest event uses up precious space on the ice with bumper cars and other silly distractions that makes the ice rink smaller and then even more crowded.
The Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park
The Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park

The Wollman Rink at Central Park South:

Size: 34,000 square feet Confirmed
Location:
South section of Central Park
Cost:
$20
Reverse Direction After Resurface: Yes
Ice Quality: Good
Rental Skate Quality: Fair

The Hype: This ice rink was Famously constructed by Donald J Trump in the 1970's, when New York City was unable to pay for the rink construction. The non-rectangular Wollman Ice Rink is located in one of the most picturesque areas of Central Park and provides a timeless ice skating experience. The rink gives both New Yorkers and visitors alike a great place to skate from late October to late February, depending on the weather. Skating here is accentuated by the stunning views of the New York skyline to the East, South and West. Novices and experts are all welcome on the ice.  The Wollman rink has been featured in many movies including Serendipity and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. During the off-season, Wollman Rink is transformed into Victorian Gardens and a skate park. Spectators have to pay a fee here and the cost of skating is about $20/ The Wollman Rink also has a VIP service that provides a concierge service with guaranteed admission to the rink and up to three hours access to a rink adjacent heated tent, where they provide the VIP's with a storage locker and unlimited hot drinks like tea, coffee, hot chocolate and hot apple cider. No alcohol is provided. To further keep the hunger pains at bay they also provide fresh-baked cookies, fresh fruit and granola bars. Not bad for just $75!
The Reality: There are often a lot of skaters on this ice rink they do not employ a rule regarding the maximum number of skaters that means that there may be thousands of skaters all vying for the same slice of your ice. Because of its irregular shape, this ice rink is a terrible venue for ice hockey, which may have been Trump's idea all along as he is reportedly not a fan of Ice Hockey at all, especially The NYC Rangers, whom Trump has called "Perennial Losers". The ice gets beat up quickly, but the two Zamboni's provide a quick resolution. The ice is often dissected by cones for skating tuition and VIP's, who cannot cope with skating with the New York masses.
Trump Lasker Rink at Central Park North
Trump Lasker Rink at Central Park North

Trump Lasker Rink at Central Park North:

Size: Two ice rinks at 10,000 square feet each
Location:
North section of Central Park
Cost: $20
Reverse Direction After Resurface: No
Ice Quality: Good

THE HYPE: At 110th Street in Central Park there is yet another Donald Trump ice rink. In addition to the Wollman Rink in the South section of Central Park, Trump built two outside rectangular ice rinks. The Trump Lasker Rink is located at the north end of Central Park and is great for novice skaters and hockey players. The less-crowded venue offers ice skating classes with professional instructors and much thinner crowds. The quiet setting is a great place to learn to skate. The cost to skate here is very low at around $10. Trump designed these rinks to be ice hockey compliant, whereas the its Southern sister rink, the Wollman rink, is not rectangular at all and cannot accommodate an ice hockey game.

THE REALITY: Due to its too-many hockey programs, the Trump Lasker ice rink public-skating hours are somewhat limited. Much like the other Trump ice rink, there is a spectator fee, to keep out the riffraff, but there is no wall.
 Riverbank State Park Ice Skating Rink
Riverbank State Park Ice Skating Rink

Riverbank State Park Ice Skating Rink

Size: 34,000 square feet
Location:
South section of Central Park
Cost:
$20
Reverse Direction After Resurface: No
Ice Quality: Poor

THE HYPE: Riverbank State Park is arguably in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights neighborhood, but it is much better known as the ice rink in West Harlem. The ice rink is set on a 28-acre concrete structure that rises 69 feet above the Hudson River, that houses the New York City dump underneath it. The rink is a semi-covered roller-skating rink in the summer and then transforms into an ice rink in the Winter (early November through March). The ice rink is covered by a roof, but it has no walls, so skaters are open to the weather on the sides. 
THE REALITY: The refrigeration unit at this ice rink is poor and the ice suffers, even when it is cold outside. The ice often looks more like a super-sized slushee, rather than an effective skating surface. A third of the ice at this rink is often cordoned off for learn-to-skate tuition and ice skating here can be tight and fast and a little bit dangerous. The rink is well patrolled by skate staff, who may take their job a little bit too seriously, often acting more like Darien Long from the Metro Mall in Atlanta, than your traditional pimply teenager security skate guard. It costs about $10 to skate here but forget trying to park a car within two miles of this place because there is no parking for ice rink customers at all, foot traffic only. Most of the ice skaters here are from Hamilton Heights and you may see more than one physical altercation transpire here. As this is New York State property, The New State Police patrol the park and the ice rink and often kept busy by incidents that are often common in this neighborhood. This park closes when there is a government shutdown, which can be very frustrating, and the effect of  close down is to put juvenile delinquents on the street.
Pier 17 South Street Seaport: Winter Wonderland Ice Rink
Pier 17 South Street Seaport: Winter Wonderland Ice Rink

Pier 17 South Street Seaport: Winter Wonderland

Size: 4,000 square feet Confirmed
Location:
At Pier 17, South Street Seaport on the Lower East Side
Cost:
$30
Reverse Direction After Resurface: No
Ice Quality: Poor
Rental Skate Quality: Poor

THE HYPE: Surrounded by magnificent downtown and city skyline views, this downtown low-rise rooftop ice rink is located atop the Pier 17 building at the South Street Seaport, overlooking the Wast River. The building also houses the ESPN TV studios and a number of upmarket bars, making it the new downtown destination. With warming rooms and lots of space for before and after ice skating, this venue offers a full evening of entertainment. This ice rink may be ideal for couple dates and ice skate beginners, due to the limited skating room, but ample after-party.
THE REALITY: Ice skating at Pier 17 is not a satisfying experience. The top of the structure is designed as a party/nightclub space and it appears that the designers may have just decided to add an ice rink as an afterthought. The ice rink is tiny and has an irregular legume shape, making it difficult to skate around. At a little over 2500 sq ft, the surface of this rink is barely bigger than three decently sized NYC apartments and it is often dangerously jammed with people. The ice surface can often be terrible, and although they have a full size Zamboni, they rarely resurface this rink. By the end of an ice session, this rink often has huge potholes and divots, no wonder they require all ice skating participants to sign an electronic  waiver before you enter this ice rink. The ice skate guards do their best to keep injuries to a minimum, but falls and crashes here are common, due to the poor size and shape of the rink. Unlike any other rink on the ground level, this ice rink actually moves when someone falls on it, which is both disconcerting and potentially dangerous. With tremors from the fall, making others fall, it is an experience worth trying at least once, but you should expect it to be a one and done. 
The Standard Hotel Ice Rink
The Standard Hotel Ice Rink

High Line: The Standard Hotel Ice Rink
CLOSED FOR 2019

Size: 4,000 square feet, the size of three one bedroom apartments (confirmed)
Location:
High Line
Cost:
$20
Reverse Direction After Resurface: There is a direction? What resurface?
Ice Quality: Pretty Bad
Rental Skate Quality: Fair

The Hype: Located next to the world famous High Line, the Standard New York is as much a downtown nightlife scene as it is a hotel. During the Winter, this popular hotel sets up a small ice rink right outside the main entrance. The ice rink opens soon after Thanksgiving and is accompanied by a patio with Swiss inspired drinks and eats that include sugared waffles, apple cider, hot toddies and the inspiring hot chocolates. Kids are allowed to skate here, but this ice rink is really for the adults. In the evening this ice rink ramps up and feels more like a Vegas party, than a Westchester creche, so you may need your fake ID from China and a designated skater to get you back to the safety of the barrier. Standard Hotel guests skate for free here.
The Reality: This ice rink is barely bigger than a postage stamp. At half the size of the Rockefeller rink, this rink is all about about flash for cash, and not about skate and date. At barely 4000 sq feet this rink is a paltry 63 feet wide, making this the smallest ice rink in NYC. It is so small that more than 10 skaters on it and it feels packed. The quality of the ice is quite poor and it's one of those one-and-done NYC activities, do it once and never do it again. It is, however, always fun to watch the drunk ice skaters fall over, as there is a high accident rate here, given the availability of alcohol, the late night opening and a semi-dangerous activity like ice skating all happening at once. Patrons should sign away their rights at the door and wear body armor.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn: LeFrak Center at Lakeside
(Formerly The Kate Wollman Rink)

Size: 32,000 square feet Confirmed
Location:

Cost:
$20
Reverse Direction After Resurface: No
Ice Quality: Fair

Coming soon, as soon as we can get to it

Abe Stark Rink at the Coney Island Boardwalk

Size: 17,000 square feet  Confirmed
Location:

Cost:
$20
Reverse Direction After Resurface: No
Ice Quality:

Coming soon, as soon as we can get to it