An hour long wait. Rough and under-maintained ice. An expensive price. While it is probably the best known ice-skating rink in the city, Rockefeller Center should be left to the tourists. New York City has many other rinks that are more spacious and cheaper. And some of the rinks are indoors, allowing for skating all year round.
Open October through February, Citi Pond at Bryant Park (between 40th and 42nd Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues) is a great option because it is free. This small outdoor rink is kept in very nice condition, but skate rentals can be a bit pricey, at $13. However, if you have skates of your own then definitely bring them, because the buckles on their rentals are sometimes broken. Save yourself another $9 by bringing your own lock for a locker.
There is a concession stand that sells hot chocolate and an assortment of snack foods. Citi Pond’s lines can be long, but so are the hours (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 8 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturdays) and the quality of the rink is worth the wait.
Bryant Park’s better known counterpart, Central Park, has two ice skating rinks, Wollman rink and Lasker Rink, but head to Lasker because it is cheaper for admission and less crowded. Adult admission is only $6.50, whereas Wollman’s admission is either $10 or $15, depending upon the day of the week. Lasker has a concession stand, which is a great place to grab a warm bite to eat or a cup of hot chocolate. The rink is located slightly south of the park entrance at 110th Street & Lenox Avenue. It’s open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays, and from12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. There are night sessions from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays. The rink will be open until March 27.
Another Manhattan indoor ice rink is Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers. While it is pricier, at $13 for admission and $7.50 for skate rentals, it is open all year round. The rink is open from 1:30 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, from 3 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 1 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. on the weekends. Chelsea Piers has many other facilities to check out as well, making the trip well worth it.
Though it is out of the way for some, Queens offers the largest New York City Parks recreational complex. Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool & Rink opened just two years ago and is home to the World Ice Arena, an NFL regulation sized indoor rink. The facilities are very modern and clean. More importantly, the ice is well maintained. Adult admission is $5 on weekdays and $8 on weekends. Additionally, skate rentals are only $5. Hours on weekdays are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. and on weekends from 12:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., with an additional session on Saturday evenings from 8:00 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. The Arena is located on Avery Avenue and 131 Street. Unfortunately, there is little public transportation to the area, and while the 7 train stops at Willets Point, it is still quite a trek.
Ice-skating at any of these rinks can be a lot of fun, especially if you are adequately prepared. Warm clothes are a must, particularly for outdoor rinks. Most rental skates are bad quality and uncomfortable, so wear thick socks to protect your feet from blisters, or bring your own skates. Some of these rinks also offer camps over the holiday break if you want to improve your ice-skating skills and stay in shape over the vacation. Visit any of these rinks for an eventful day during the break.