Our second pandemic holiday season is now upon us, and while there are plenty of fully-vaxxed indoor festivities available this year, outdoor activities still definitely hold appeal, both for COVID reasons and for getting out there and feeling that crisp winter air. To that end, here's a look at New York City's outdoor ice skating rinks, a somewhat surprisingly short list that ranges from the new and tiny, to the classic, expansive, renamed, and revamped.
WOLLMAN RINK IN CENTRAL PARK
The city's largest outdoor rink is also graced with one of its prettiest settings, the southeast corner of Central Park, hard by the Gapstow Bridge and the reliably ducky Pond. And there have been some changes to the 71-year-old rink. Gone is the Trump name, and new management pledges, as the NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff put it in a press release, "to operate the rink with inclusivity at the forefront." Most of the interior is new, too, and Harlem's legendary Melba's is operating a food kiosk on The Overlook, where non-skaters can hang without having to pay the $6 "spectator" fee. The sheer size of the ice is the biggest plus here though, giving serious skaters room to really move. More pricing info: getting out on the ice will cost you anywhere from $5 (senior, off-peak) to $11 (for "community partners") to $23 (adults, peak); skate rentals are $11, and lockers $7.
Located at the southeast corner of Central Park, entrance at East 59th Street and 6th Avenue and then walk inside the park. More details here.
THE RINK AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER
For a classic NYC Christmastime experience, it's tough to beat taking a few leisurely laps around the historic rink at Rockefeller Center, with holiday music floating through the air under the twinkling lights of a 79-foot Christmas tree. It's not cheap, that's for sure--timed-entry tickets run anywhere from $20 to $54, depending on the date and time you choose, and skate rentals are an additional $10--but it definitely makes for a bucket-list type of night. Plus there are a ton of new, really good food options in Rock Center these days, including JJ Johnson's Field Trip, David Chang's Fuku, and Ignacio Mattos's Lodi.
Located between 49th and 50th streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, can't miss it! More details here.
THE RINK AT WINTER VILLAGE IN BRYANT PARK
The skating rink in Bryant Park may have shrunk a bit over the years, to make room for more of that sweet, sweet commerce at Winter Village, a now-sprawling complex of gift shops, igloos, food stalls, and boozy lounges. No matter! Skating is still free here thanks to heavily-advertised corporate sponsorship, though rental skates cost between $15 and a whopping $45 depending on when you come, and large lockers for your crew's shoes run as high as $15. It's quite the lively crowd scene here, too, which is either festive-feeling or slightly unnerving, depending on where you are at this stage of the pandemic.
Located at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue, Manhattan. More details here.
RIVERBANK STATE PARK IN HARLEM
One of the city's larger rinks (and also the least crowded, and least expensive) sits out over the Hudson River near 145th Street at Riverbank State Park, that 28-acre sports and leisure complex they built atop a sewage treatment facility in the early 1990s. It's only open on Friday nights and weekends, and it's a bit of a hike from the nearest train, but it costs just $3 (kids) to $5 (adults) to skate, plus $6 for rentals. Plus there's spacious stadium seating for non-skaters, and a roof to keep things cozy.
Located at 679 Riverside Drive, Manhattan. More details here.
THE RINK AT BROOKFIELD PLACE IN BATTERY PARK CITY
Located behind the luxury mall at Brookfield Place, the rink here in Battery Park City offers dramatic harbor views, a larger ice surface that you'd expect from one of these makeshift deals, and the soaring Winter Garden in which to warm up, use a bathroom, and maybe get a snack or two. Tickets range from $5 to $17 to skate, and rentals cost an additional $5.
Located at 230 Vesey Street, Manhattan. More details here.
IC ICE RINK AT INDUSTRY CITY IN SUNSET PARK
This may be the dinkiest rink of the bunch—the scene is very much parents pushing around little kids in those "skate aids"—but Industry City is popping these days. The multi-building space is packed with great restaurants like Hometown BBQ, Sahadi's market, and the vegan Renegades of Sunset — plus bars, bakeries, a gameroom, and the delightful Japan Village. Skating costs $12, rentals are another $10, and the overall vibe of the place makes it worth the trip.
Located at 220 36th Street, Brooklyn. More details here.
THE RINK AT MANHATTAN WEST
New this year, along with everything else over at the office-residential-retail-restaurant development Manhattan West, is this impressively spacious rink. But it isn't quite open yet (they were still working out some kinks in the freezing coils (?) when I stopped by this week). When it does open to skaters, the costs should be on par with Brookfield's other rink in Battery Park City. One advantage to Manhattan West skating over going down to BPC: there's a Daily Provisions right by the ice here, with a full array of first-rate sweet and savory treats.
Located at 385 9th Ave, Manhattan. More details here.
LEFRAK CENTER AT LAKESIDE IN PROSPECT PARK
Not just one but two open-air ice skating rinks came to the southwest corner Prospect Park in 2013--one truly outdoors, the other with a roof--and there have been packs of kids tearing around here every winter ever since. The soundtrack emphasizes hip-hop bangers over holiday tunes, and the Bluestone Cafe takes care of all your food and beverage needs (including beer and wine). There's also seating for spectators to sit and chill. Admission onto the ice costs $8 during the week, $12 on the weekend, and skate rentals are $8.
Located at 171 East Drive, Brooklyn. More details here.
WWII VETERANS MEMORIAL RINK ON STATEN ISLAND
You'll probably need a car to get to the WWII Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink at Clove Lakes Park if you're coming from another borough—it's a few miles inland from the ferry. But once you're there it's a great open-air rink, and on Friday nights and weekends you can glide around here for $11, plus $6 for rentals.
Located at 1305 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island. More details here.