New York City on Ice: Where to Skate as the Weather Cools Down

by  Alex Schechter | Oct 15, 2013
Ice skating
Ice skating / vkovalcik/iStock

Whether you're coming to see the Rockettes, or gaze at the decked-out store windows along Fifth Avenue, New York makes for an incredible holiday vacation destination. Weeks before Thanksgiving, though, the city is already starting to prep for winter, beginning with the opening of its iconic ice rinks. Here's a guide to what's open, how much it costs, and what you can expect before and after you strap on your skates. The best news? There's a lot more ice in New York City than just Rockefeller Center.

The Rink at Rockefeller Center: $40
It behooves us, however, to start here: This iconic midtown rink, with its famous gold statue of the mythic hero Prometheus, is officially open for business this season. Though it offers special packages like "Breakfast With Santa" (from $65 per child) and "Engagement-On-Ice" (from $350), the simplest way to experience
the Rink at Rockefeller Center is to show up for a "First Skate" session. Every morning at 7 a.m., 100 people are admitted onto the ice to twirl around for 90 minutes before the rink opens up to the general public. A $40 pass gets you skate rentals and complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, and a pastry. Open now.

Bryant Park Winter Village: free, skate rental $15

In winter, picturesque Bryant Park packs away its movie screen, used for summer screenings, and installs a  170' x 100' ice rink alongside a small arcade of Christmas shops. The rink is open to the public, and admission is free. So if you choose to bring along your own skates, the only money you'll spend is on a post-skating hot chocolate at nearby hideout Bryant Park Grill. Opens November 1.

Trump Rink: $11.25, skate rental $8
Located at the southwest corner of Central Park, this rink is the quintessential winter wonderland come early December, when all the trees have lost their leaves, and a portion of the Manhattan skyline is visible through the overhead branches. Public skating takes place every day of the week starting at 10 a.m., and Monday and Tuesday evenings are reserved for private classes and hockey games. Take advantage of the 10 p.m. closing times on Wednesday and Thursday for a refreshing after-dinner spin! Opens late October.

Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers: $10, skate rental $5
This year-round, indoor skating rink ensures New Yorkers get their ice fix no matter what the weather is doing. And with a location along the beautiful Hudson River Park, it'll offers some gorgeous river views, too. Though not as festive as other city rinks, it has one big thing going for it: space. Spend a few hours honing your skills here before defecting to prettier places like Rockefeller Center to compete with the crowds. Open now.

Van Cortlandt Park: $5, skate rental $5
At just $10, this Bronx ice skating rink – a 45-minute subway ride from Grand Central Station – is easily the city's best deal. And depending on the time of day, it's also likely to have the smallest crowds. Make an afternoon of it, and spend a few hours exploring the surrounding Van Cortlandt Park. This 1,146-acre plot (that's 300 acres more than Central Park, in case you were wondering) was part of a wealthy family's private estate until 1888, when it was turned into a public park. Today it offers popular attractions like the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Fountain and the Old Croton Aqueduct. Opens November 4.

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