It's time to sharpen those ice skates. Many of New York City's outdoor rinks are open for family fall, er, winter fun.
Whether you prefer to twirl with the tourists at Rockefeller Center and Central Park's Wollman Rink, or go off the beaten path to a Mommy Poppins favorite such as Lasker Rink, the city offers plenty of options for newbies to polished skaters—even a FREE skate spot. If it ever gets too cold to glide outside, you can always hit one of NYC's indoor ice skating rinks.
Most of these rinks rent kid-sized ice skates, offer skating lessons and birthday party packages. Many also host ice hockey leagues.
Remember, click through to the rink's website to confirm skating times and daily availability before heading out as schedules can change throughout the season, especially during the busy NYC holiday season. Unseasonably warm October or November temperatures could delay some rinks unexpectedly.
RELATED: 50 Things to Do in Midtown for Families and Kids
Bring your own skates and you can glide on the Bryant Park rink for free. Photo by Angelito Jusay/courtesy of Winter Village.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park – Midtown West
October 28, 2017–March 4, 2018
FREE admission; skate rental prices and hours vary
NYC's only free-admission rink attracts massive crowds. The best time to go is early in the season, before Thanksgiving, when the weather is mild and the lines are short (or at least, shorter). Don’t even try to go during holiday break. Later in the season, stick to weekdays before 5pm and early weekend mornings if you can. If you really can't stand to wait, spring for the Express Skate package, which includes entry, skate rental, and bag check for $30. Afterward, grab a hot chocolate or choose from a selection of comfort foods at the Public Fare Snackbar, then hit the always-popular holiday shops. Bring your own blades and locks for a truly free skate session.
Lasker Rink – Harlem
Late October–March; times vary.
This gem of a rink is easy to get to, inexpensive, and not as crowded as most of the others. You'll find plenty of school groups on weekdays, and locals in the evenings and on weekends. Hockey, skating lessons, and parties are all available. Afterward, stick around and explore this lovely part of northern Central Park, including the East 110th Street Playground. Note: It's cash only.
LeFrak Center at Lakeside – Prospect Park, Brooklyn
October 29, 2017–April 2, 2018
Built on the old Wollman Rink site, this Prospect Park complex features 32,000 square feet of skating surface on two rinks: one open-air, the other covered. Skating lessons, hockey leagues, and birthday party packages are offered. Additional amenities include a cafe, restrooms, a bag check, and a green roof with incredible views. In summer, the rinks transform into a roller rink and water play area. Read our full review of Lakeside.
The rink at Brookfield Place is popular among neighborhood kids who fill the ice after school.
The Rink at Brookfield Place – Battery Park City
Opens November 1, 2017, weather permitting
Enjoy stunning views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty while skating around this rink, which returns for its fifth season. The ice is cleaned at the end of every 90-minute session, so don't dawdle getting out there. At 7,350 square feet, it beats the Rock Center rink for space and can accommodate 250 skaters at a time. Prices, however, are steeper than at some other rinks. Parent-and-child skate lessons and hockey classes are offered. Afterward, you'll find plenty more to do in the family-friendly Battery Park City neighborhood. Adjacent Brookfield Place has bathrooms, hot cocoa, and snacks, as well as Santa and plenty of rotating art and winter fun come the holidays.
Riverbank State Park – Harlem
November through March, weather permitting
Many beyond Harlem's borders don't even know about this skating spot in the awesome Riverbank State Park. It's rarely crowded and one of the least expensive rinks for public skating. Riverbank also offers an inexpensive hockey program and skating lessons, and season passes also are available. After you skate, check out the park's other attractions, including an indoor swimming pool, sports fields, and amazing views. While there's a snack bar adjacent to the rink, those in search of something more hearty can visit the newly opened Sofrito NY restaurant near the entrance of the park.
RELATED: Rockefeller Center: Family-Friendly Restaurants
The famed Rockefeller Center ice rink draws big crowds to Midtown. Photo by Rev Stan via Flickr.
Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center – Midtown East
October 7, 2017–April 2018
Every tourist's favorite rink opened for the season October 7. Despite its popularity, three-hour waits aren't always the norm—just when the Christmas tree is lit. Skating early or late in the season is fun and easy—if expensive. (Even during off-season, it's by far the priciest rink in the city.) It accommodates just 150 skaters, hence the wait, but some believe it offers one of the most charming, intimate skating sessions, smack in the middle of NYC. Sign up for one of the special packages such as breakfast with Santa for an extra-special holiday treat. There are plenty of family-friendly sights in the area, too.
The Standard Ice Rink – Meatpacking District
Opening dates not yet confirmed
The Standard hotel's 3,000-square-foot ice rink opens in mid-to-late November, depending on the weather, and it's a surprising gem. Despite the swanky hipster scene at the bar, you'll find loads of local kids on the ice, wobbling around the small rink. Rent or bring your own skates, and there are usually skate buddies (little penguins and other support racks) available to help newbies find their footing. The atmosphere is friendly and low profile. Parents can even grab a drink at the bar and mingle rinkside if the mood strikes. The rink makes a good destination after an icy winter walk along The High Line or a visit to the Whitney.
Wollman Rink – Central Park
October 22, 2017–mid-April 2018
We couldn't do this roundup without mentioning this iconic NYC skate spot in Central Park. Though it is perpetually crowded, every family should skate here at least once. Try to arrive at the start of the first session or right after school to get a few spins in before the hordes arrive. A moonlit, post-dinner skate is always fun, too. You'll be rewarded with one of the most famous views of Midtown, not to mention a perimeter of pretty, possibly snow-dusted trees—as well as tired kids, ready for bed. Lockers are available for a fee. Note: It's cash only.
WWII Veterans War Memorial Ice Skating Rink – Staten Island
Opening dates not yet available
Located in the gorgeous Clove Lakes Park, this is the only outdoor skating rink on Staten Island and is very popular with borough families. If you're interested in skating lessons, call 718-390-7245. We were unable to confirm opening dates for the 2017-2018 season.
Top image: Prospect Park's side-by-side rinks offer plenty of room for kids to practice. Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of the venues.
This article, originally published October 2009, is updated annually.