Best and Worst Ice Rinks in New York City

It’s great fun to go ice skating in the winter in New York City – Here are  the best and worst spots to take a turn on the ice, from the iconic rinks in Midtown Manhattan to New Jersey’s  Olympic medal machine. There’s no better wintry thrill in New York City than gliding around on one of the city’s ice rinks. And there are a surprising number of great options around the city. There are classic rinks like Rockefeller Center and Central Park’s Wollman Rink. If the weather outside if frightful, head to indoor rinks at Chelsea Piers and the City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City, Queens. The borough of Brooklyn is also home to some clean ice, both on Coney Island’s Boardwalk and in Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center. These rinks are all open during the day if you are bringing the kids, while some are open late into the evening, perfect for date nights.

Winter Skating Under the Famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center
Winter Skating Under the Famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center

The Rink at Rockefeller Center
The ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza has been around for over 80 years and is located in the center of the world-famous Rockefeller Plaza. It stays open  until the end of February and It doesn’t get more quintessentially winter-wonderland New York than this.  Its undeniably a tourist trap, has a short 90 minute session and will run you just under $50 per person, making it one of the worst choices for skating in the city. The condition of the ice is often very poor, as this is not a permanent rink, but the tiny ice rink gets its fair share of engagement proposals and the rink management leverages that fact with $1000 packages to tempt the prospective couples. No word yet if you get a refund if she says no.

The Rink at Winter Village in Bryant Park
The Rink at Bryant Park is one of Manhattan’s best locations for seasonal skating, and admission is free. Ringed by a n 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. Open from October 29 through March 5, 2017, this is your best bet for getting onto some Midtown ice without the Rockefeller Center crowds. For the more nervous smaller skaters, the park offers Penguin and Polar Bear Skate Aids, helping beginners under 10 navigate the ice for $20 for a half-hour and $20 for a hour. Open daily, 8am to 10pm; Free admission. Skate rental: $20 to $28. Helmet rental: $6. Bag check: $10 to $12; Between 40th and 42nd Sts. & 5th and 6th Aves.;

Wollman Rink in Central Park
Located in one of the most picturesque areas of Central Park, the Wollman skating rink provides New Yorkers and visitors alike with a place to skate from October 22 to late February. 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, but there are a lot of them. It was also featured in Serendipity and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. During the off-season, Wollman Rink is transformed into Victorian Gardens. Word of warning: Even spectators incur a $5 fee at this rink. This year the rink (branded as a “Trump” property) offers VIP entrance with a pricetag that might also bear the Trump brand: for $75pp, you’ll get concierge service (i.e., someone waiting for you with your free rental skates), priority guaranteed admission and three hours of reserved seating in a heated rink-side tent where you’ll find not only a private storage locker but also unlimited access to a snack buffet of coffee, hot cocoa and cider, filtered water, fresh-baked cookies, fresh fruit and granola bars. Open daily; hours vary; Adults: $19, Kids (11 and under): $6, Seniors: $9; Spectators: $5. Skate rental: $8; Use entrance on W. 59th St. and 6th Ave.;

The Standard Ice Rink
Located on the High Line, the Standard New York is as much a downtown nightlife scene as it is a hotel. For a few months each year, the Meatpacking District’s most popular hub is also a great spot for ice skating. Open “late every night,” the miniature skating rink — which is set to open some time after Thanksgiving (depending on the weather; keep an eye on the hotel’s website for info) — is accompanied by a patio with Alpine-themed eats and drinks including doughnuts and waffles, apple cider and hot toddies and black-and-white hot chocolates. Kids are welcomed, but this spot is definitely geared toward adults, especially in the evening when the rink feels more like a party. And if you can’t skate, the Standard offers a “cute Standard skater” to help you keep your tooshie off the ice. Open daily; hours vary; Adults: $12; Kids: $6. Skate rental: $3; 848 Washington at 13th St.;

Trump Lasker Rink
Great for novice skaters, the less-crowded Trump Lasker Rink on the north end of Central Park offers classes with professional instructors and thinner crowds. The serene setting is a great place to learn, but due to its many hockey programs, Trump Lasker’s public-skating hours are somewhat limited. Check for special holiday hours. And, like Trump’s Wollman Rink, there’s also a spectator fee at the Lasker Rink; here, though, it’s the same price as admission. Open daily; hours vary; Adults: $8; Kids: $4; Seniors: $2.25. Skate rental: $7; 110th St. and Lexington Ave.;

Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers
The indoor skating rink at Pier 61 is regularly open six days a week through December 18 (closed Wednesdays) and accommodates skaters of all ages and ability levels. The twin-rink facility is available for general skating, but it also houses the Sky Rink Skating School, in addition to training programs for ice hockey and figure skating. With its party rooms, 3,400 square-foot Sunset Terrace and on-site food services, the Sky Rink is also a popular spot for birthday parties and private get-togethers. Check the rink’s site for the current schedule; Admission: $10. Skate rental: $5. Helmet rental: $4.25; Pier 61, Hudson River Greenway at 23rd St.;

City Ice Pavilion
This rooftop skating facility in Long Island City is open year-round. Its NHL-size skate rink offers public skating, hockey programs for youths and adults and the City Ice Pavilion’s Skating School. With its “private party locker rooms,”this enormous skate destination also offers various packages for birthday parties and corporate events. Check the rink’s site for the current schedule; Weekdays: $6; Weekends and holidays: $9. Skate rental: $5; 47-32 32nd Pl.;

Riverbank State Park Ice Skating Rink
Riverbank State Park in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights neighborhood is a 28-acre structure that rises 69 feet above the Hudson River. The state-of-the-art facility has a covered roller-skating rink that transforms in winter to an ice rink (early November through March). With its 150-seat restaurant and 800-seat cultural theater, visitors can turn their skating excursion into a full-day event. A broad range of sports, arts and recreational programs are offered year-round. Fridays, 6pm to 9pm. Saturday through Sunday, 1pm to 4pm and 6pm to 9pm; Adults: $5; Kids: $3. Skate rental: $6; 679 Riverside Dr.;

Abe Stark Rink at the Coney Island Boardwalk
Coney Island is a hot beach destination during the summer but quiets down during the winter months. At this rink by the famous boardwalk, public skating is available on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (October through March of 2017). The rink also hosts hockey as well as ice skating classes. Saturday through Sunday, 1pm to 3:30pm; Holidays, 12pm to 4pm; Admission: $9. Skate rentals: $5; Coney Island Boardwalk and W. 19th St.;

Lakeside Prospect Park
Brooklyn’s massive Prospect opens its newly renovated Lakeside skating rink from October 28 to March 26, 2017 . The $74 million project includes two rinks (one covered, one open air) and 32,000 square feet total for skating. Visitors can join one of the many classes offered for everyone from toddlers to beginner adults, or bring the family down for open skate sessions. Open daily; hours vary; Admission $6 to $9; Skate rental: $6; Use Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance to the park;