Where to ice skate in New York City: 2012 holiday guide

Updated December 2012

A winter visit to New York City isn’t complete without ice skating in the open air, surrounded by skyscrapers, adoring crowds and holiday decorations.

From Rockefeller Center to Central Park, the five boroughs are home to a diverse collection of outdoor and indoor ice skating rinks– and some are even free!

Scroll down for out top picks for the 2012/2013 holiday season.

NYC Bryant Park Citi Pond Ice skating 2011

Ice skating at Bryant Park's Citi Pond, November 2011

Money-Saving Tips

Before setting out, here are a few tips to save you time and money:

  • Avoid the rush and potentially save a few dollars by going on a weekday.
  • Don’t forget to bring ice skates if you have them. Rental fees are not included in the admission price.
  • As an added bonus, many outdoor rinks are open until April. Prices often fall and crowds are lighter at the end of the season.

Outdoor Rinks

The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center is open through April 2013. This iconic midtown rink is framed by skyscrapers and adjoins the famous 30 Rock building, home of “Saturday Night Live.” Adult admission costs $25 through January 7. Prices traditionally drop in March and April, when crowds thin out and the temperature climbs. A premium, no-wait pass is available for $95 per person including admission and skates. Consult the price list for information on skating lessons and ticket discounts.
>> For information: Call (212) 332-7654 or visit the Rockefeller Center website.

The Wollman Rink in Central Park is typically open through early April. This popular rink is located in Central Park and offers spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. The rink can be entered at 59th Street and 6th Avenue and is close to many subways. It is especially popular with New York City children, probably due to the affordable price: $6 for kids under 12 and $11 for adults on the weekdays. Weekend rates are $6.00 for kids, and jump to $17 for adults. For more information, visit the rink’s website .
>> For information: Call (212) 439-6900 or visit the Wollman Rink website.

The Lasker Rink in Central Park is typically open through late March. This is the least expensive option for ice skating in Central Park. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children– on any day of the week. (Ice skate rental is an additional $6 per person). The Lasker rink is located at the north of the park near 110th Street at Lenox Avenue, and attracts fewer tourists than its southern counterpart.
>> For information: Call (917) 492-3857 or visit the Lasker Rink website.

Citi Pond at Bryant Park is typically open through February. This is one of the city’s most famous outdoor rinks and it’s also the cheapest. Admission is FREE, although you’ll have to pay $14 to rent skates. If you don’t want to wait on line, purchase a VIP FastPass ticket for $25 (including skate rental) on Citi Pond’s website. Bryant Park offers plenty of attractions for members of your group who don’t skate. Its holiday market is a great place to shop for stocking stuffers, and the trendy Celsius Bar offers lunch, dinner and drinks.
>> For information: Visit the Citi Pond at Bryant Park website.

The Wollman Rink at Prospect Park is located in Brooklyn and is traditionally an inexpensive place to skate. However, the rink is closed for the entire 2012/2013 winter season due to construction. The much-anticipated Lakeside facility will include an indoor, four season rink.
>> For information: Visit www.prospectpark.org for details on the new facility and re-opening date.

Indoor Rinks

The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan is open year-round and offers general skating six days a week (not on Wednesdays). Prices are higher here than at the outdoor rinks, but there’s no risk that adverse weather will ruin your session. Chelsea Piers is located on the westernmost side of Manhattan and is a short walk from the 23rd Street bus. Admission is $10 for all ages. (Skate rental is $5 per person). The rink is also available for birthday parties and lessons. Check the Chelsea Piers website for details.

City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City, Queens, offers general skating at affordable prices every day of the week. Admission is $5 from Monday-Friday and goes up to $8 on Saturday-Sunday and during holidays. (Skate rental is an additional $5 per person). The rink is a short subway ride from midtown Manhattan; just take the 7 train to 33rd St.-Rawson St. Station. Visit the City Ice Pavilion website for more information.

The World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, is a modern facility that offers public skating every day. Admission is $5 on weekdays and $8 on weekends. (Skate rental is $5 per person). This rink is further from Manhattan than the City Ice Pavilion, but is accessible via the 7 (local) subway. See the World Ice Arena website for driving directions.

Additional Rinks

These are the most popular skating rinks for visitors to New York City, but there are other places to skate. For a full list of ice skating rinks located in public parks, visit the New York City Parks Department website.

“Pop-up” rinks occasionally open at boutique hotels and near city landmarks. This list will be updated throughout the season with any new developments.

What’s your favorite rink?

Share your recommendation by leaving a comment below!

About Leslie Koch

I'm a New Yorker with a passion for travel and art. I founded DowntownTraveler.com after returning from a year-long backpacking trip around the world. Find me on Twitter at @leslietravel.