Few things can put you in the winter holiday spirit more than going ice skating. And what better place to hit the ice than in one of the most beloved Christmas destinations in the world: New York City. There are plenty of amazing places to skate in the Big Apple, from outdoor parks to indoor rinks, so narrowing down this list to only five was a challenge for The Elf Squad. While some of these entries are completely expected, others just might surprise you.
1. The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Admit it. This was the first spot that came to mind when you saw this list, right?
Whether you’ve been to NYC or not, everyone knows about the iconic skating rink at Rockefeller Center. While it was only meant to be a temporary attraction when it opened on Christmas Day of 1936, it continued to return each year to the delight of millions. From November to April, tourists and natives alike flood in for their chance to skate beside the large bronze-gilded statue of Prometheus. And when that’s joined by the Rockefeller Center Tree in December, it really feels like the perfect New York Christmastime experience. In fact, it’s so popular that they’ve now capped it off at a 150 capacity and 60 minute time limit. Yet despite the long wait, we say it's worth it for a quintessential NYC winter experience… just as long as you don’t mind all the spectators watching you.
2. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Bryant Park hosts one of the most popular holiday markets in NYC, and its 17,000 sq. ft. ice rink truly makes it stand out from the rest. So when you’re not buying gifts or tasting the amazing food and drinks, you can either bring your own skates or rent a pair for some wintertime fun. It's also the only entry on our list with free admission, making it the perfect option if you’re on a budget. You can keep your belongings in on-site lockers and rent a helmet for additional safety. They even offer one-on-one lessons or small group lessons for anyone who wants extra practice. And when you’re finally done, you can unwind in the lodge deck or book some time in one of their cozy igloos.
3. Wollman Rink in Central Park
Another iconic part of NYC’s holiday season, Central Park’s Wollman Rink offers a much different setting than Rockefeller Center. Here, you’ll surround yourself with fantastic views of both the park and the surrounding skyline in the distance. Among the landmarks you’ll see while skating around are the Plaza Hotel and the always-charming Gapstow Bridge. And when snow starts to fall, it feels all the more magical. Not to mention you’ll have plenty of places to sit nearby and an on-site cafe to help you warm up. While it’s gone through many changes in recent years, especially when it comes to ownership, this rink still has the same unique charm that’s drawn people in since its 1950 opening.
4. LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park
We’re now heading over to Brooklyn for both a change of scenery and some exciting choices.
LeFrak Center hosts plenty of fun year-round activities for families and groups visiting Lakeside Prospect Park, from boating and biking to roller skating. So it’s no surprise that they have not one but two outdoor ice rinks for you to choose from. One is completely out in the open while the other is covered and lighted. If you’re not content with just running around on the ice, they also offer lessons in figure skating, hockey, curling, and even broomball for some extra excitement. You’ll even get a great view of the sunset as you enjoy the natural setting around you. And, as an added bonus, the Bluestone Cafe and Bar offers plenty of seasonal food and drinks.
5. Abe Stark Rink in Coney Island
Even when Luna Park closes and the Brooklyn Cyclones stop playing for the year, the Abe Stark Rink still has people flocking to Coney Island. Since it first opened in 1970, this rink has become a favorite weekend spot for families, couples, and anyone looking for holiday and wintertime fun. It also offers private lessons and serves as the designated practice location for many local schools and hockey leagues within the New York City area. Despite its limited schedule, its consistently low prices make this a fun and inexpensive experience for everyone enjoying the holidays with the five boroughs.
Looking for more fun winter activities? Here are some of The Elf Squad's favorite things to do in New York during the holiday season!