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, and 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 close some rinks unexpectedly.
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
Bryant Park, 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
October 29-March 5, 2017
FREE admission; skate rental prices and hours vary, check website.
NYC's only no-cost 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 $28. Winter Village debuts a new Danny Meyer snack bar, Public Fare, this season, and the always-popular holiday shops return, too. Bring your own blades and locks for a truly free skate session.
Lasker Rink – Harlem
Central Park; enter at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues
Late October-March 2017; times vary.
$8 for adults; $4 for children; skate rental is $7 and spectators pay full price. All payment is cash only.
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.
LeFrak Center at Lakeside – Prospect Park
171 East Drive in Prospect Park; enter at the Parkside/Ocean Avenue or Lincoln Road/Ocean Avenue entrances
October 28-March 26, 2017
$6 weekdays; $9 weekends and holidays; skate rental is $6. Note: Weekend hours begin at 4pm on Friday.
Built on the old Wollman Rink site, this 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.
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The rink at Brookfield Place is popular among neighborhood kids who fill the ice after school.
The Rink at Brookfield Place – Battery Park City
230 Vesey Street between West Street and North End Avenue
November 12-March 2017
$15 per session; visit website for updates.
Enjoy stunning views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty while skating around this rink, which returns for its fourth season. The ice is cleaned at the end of every 90-minute session, so don't dawdle getting on the ice. At 7,350 square feet, it beats the Rock Center rink for space and 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, there are plenty of places in the family-friendly Battery Park City neighborhood, and great events happening at the adjacent Brookfield Place, where you will find bathrooms, hot cocoa, and snacks, but also Santa and plenty of rotating art and winter fun come the holidays.
Riverbank State Park – Harlem
679 Riverside Drive; enter park at 145th Street
November 5-March 2017
Hours, rates and skate rentals vary; visit website for updates.
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 ($5/adults; $3/children). 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. Note: Helmets are required for those younger than 12, but the park can provide them.
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The famed Rockefeller Center ice rink draws big crowds to Midtown. Photo by Rev Stan via Flickr.
Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center – Midtown East
Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets
October 8-April 2017
Hours, rates and skate rentals vary; visit the website for updates.
Every tourist's favorite rink opened for the season October 8. 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. In fact, 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.
The Standard Ice Rink – Meatpacking District
848 Washington Street at 13th Street
The 2016 operating dates and prices are TBD.
The swanky Standard hotel's 3,000-square-foot ice rink reportedly will be back again this winter, though it hasn't yet confirmed details. Though it is open to all ages, the scene has always been more hipster than family, but it makes for a good destination after an icy winter walk along the High Line.
Wollman Rink – Central Park
Central Park; enter at Central Park South and Sixth Avenue
October 23-mid-April 2017
Monday-Thursday: $6 for children ages 11 and younger, adults $12; Friday-Sunday and holidays: children $6; adults $19. Skate rental is $9; there is a $5 fee for spectators. Only cash is accepted.
We couldn't do this roundup without mentioning this iconic NYC spot. 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 iconic 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.
WWII Veterans War Memorial Ice Skating Rink – Staten Island
Clove Lakes Park, Victory Boulevard west of Clove Road
Opening November 12
Hours, rates and rentals vary; visit the website for updates.
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.
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.