As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, your first instinct may be to retreat into semi-hibernation, preferably with a mug of something hot in hand. Don’t let the cold spoil all your fun – get out there and enjoy one of New York City’s best winter activities. Be it with your significant other, your adventurous friends or solo, we’ve rounded up our picks for the best ice skating rinks in NYC.
The LeFrank Center has it all. Recently rebuilt and designed by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the complex houses both indoor and covered seasonal ice skating rinks, a well planned café situated rink-side, and a breathtaking view of the Prospect Park Lake from the green roof. This rink is great for kids and large groups as there’s plenty of room to spread out, while the sleek, modern architecture and seasonal fare at the café offer a more refined edge to your skating experience. The best time to go is early evening, since there are no high rises to block the golden light, meaning that this rink transforms into a gorgeous winter wonderland.
The Bank of America Winter Village is the only free ice skating rink in the city, but be prepared to wait in line for anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour and a half during peak times. The rink is huge at 17,000 square feet, and there’s plenty to do off the ice too, with an indoor pavilion, a two-story restaurant called Celsius and a massive holiday gift shop area for those last minute purchases. Keep in mind that while admission is free, there’s a skate rental charge, as well as a bag check for a fee, so be sure to bring your own lock to use on the free lockers instead. This is the perfect place to bring the kids or to score some alpaca hand mittens for your niece from one of the local retailers.
There’s nothing quite like ice skating in the middle of NYC’s most famous park. Wollman Rink offers a gorgeous view of the New York skyline and is a NY staple having been around since 1950. At 33,000 square feet, this rink is huge, and offers a plethora of learn-to-skate classes for skaters of all skill levels. Skating here feels like partaking in an age old NYC tradition.
North Brooklyn’s only outdoor ice skating rink, the McCarren Park Ice Rink opened for the first time in 2015 since 1984, in conjunction to the major renovation of the McCarren Park Play Center. The rink is a decent 9,000 square feet, and has a newly installed enclosed concessions counter. Best part about this rink is its proximity to the local boutiques, restaurants, bars and clubs that Williamsburg is known for.
The most iconic rink of them all could not be overlooked – The Rink at Rockefeller Center. Admire the sights and scenes of Rockefeller Center as you wait such as the spectacular view of the world famous Christmas tree. The staff here are friendly, the ice is well maintained, and you’ll be skating in pretty much the center of Manhattan. For the optimal experience, go after the 1st of January to avoid the worst of the crowds. For those more used to VIP treatment, the rink offers various packages.
The Standard Hotel Ice Rink deserves an honorable mention, as what it lacks in size (a tiny 3,000 square feet), it makes up for in its location right below the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking district. This is the perfect place to take your date after cocktails at The Tippler, a stroll through Chelsea Market, or dinner at the Standard Grill. From there, it’s a few short steps to the ice rink, where you can woo your date with ultimate smooth moves and treat yourself to some of their delicious hot chocolate.