RECOMMENDED: Christmas for kids in New York
For an active family outing that's truly cool, lace up your skates and hit the ice. We've rounded up the best ice-skating rinks in NYC from Rockefeller Center to Brooklyn's McCarren Park so you can get your glide on all winter long. No skates? No problem—you can rent a pair at most of these rinks. While you're at it, round out a day of wintry activities by checking out the best holiday windows and displays and Santa sightings in NYC.
For those who need to learn to skate first, we also have some information on the best ice-skating lessons in town.
Best ice-skating rinks in NYC
Even if the sidewalks are overrun with tourists, your crew will have ample room to skate at the city’s most iconic rink; only 150 people are allowed on the ice at once. Unfortunately, that also means that your family should prepare for long lines—unless you plan on going early in the morning or between 9am and noon on Thanksgiving, expect a one- to two-hour wait. Reservations for the first skate of the day (daily 7am) can be made online and, new this year, families can reserve a spot and stay up late for a Starlight Skate during the final session of the day, 10:30pm–midnight ($45 per person, rentals included). Open from October 10, 2015 through April 2016. General admission $25–$32, children ages 11 and under $15, skate rental $12. Group rates available for 15 or more.Read more
During the winter months, Bryant Park opens a no-charge 17,000-square-foot skating rink. Don’t get too excited: The admission may be free, but you gotta pay to rent skates (or BYO). On the upside: The complex holds 500 people, holiday shops, an indoor pavilion and the Canadian-themed lounge Celsius, which conveniently offers a full children's menu and plenty of hot chocolate. Open from October 30, 2015 through March 6, 2016. Skate rentals $15–$19 per pair.Read more
This $74 million project overhauled 26 acres of the park’s southeast corner and now offers year-round fun. The LeFrak Center houses two seasonal ice-skating rinks—one covered and the other open-air—plus a cafe. Kiddos can get in on skating lessons through the Skate School, take clinics with the Hockey Academy, or even try their hand at curling and broomball. Open October 31, 2015 through March 27, 2016. Admission $6 weekdays, $8 weekends, skate rental $6.Read more
Located on the plaza in front of the erstwhile World Financial Center Winter Garden (it's now called Brookfield Place Winter Garden), this rink brings a much-needed cold-weather option to the seasonally popular outdoor spot overlooking the North Cove Marina. At 7,350 square feet, it's even bigger than the Rink at Rockefeller Plaza. New this season, the rink offer Learn to Skate classes with Olympic medal–winning husband-and-wife team, Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. The ice-dancing pros will lead Intro to Basics lessons and Parent & Me classes throughout the season. Ice-hockey lessons are on offer too, in case your crew's in need of a little coaching. Open from November 14, 2015. General admission $15, skate rental $5.Read more
This Brooklyn park straddles the two hipster-fied nabes of Greenpoint and Williamsburg but continues to be a family favorite, too. There are baseball, football and soccer fields, dog runs, a track, tennis courts, a skate park and more. Stop by on select summer nights for outdoor film screenings, food trucks and music, or a romp in the playground at Lorimer Street and Driggs Ave. And as of 2013, the park has also transformed into a winter destination, now that the ever-popular McCarren Park Pool operates as an ice rink during the colder months. Opens November 2015. General admission $11, children $6, skate rental $6.Read more
Skating newbies can sign up for the learn-to-skate program—it’s the largest in the country. But no matter what your child’s skill level, there’s nothing quite like skating in the middle of our city’s most beautiful park. Open from October 24, 2015. Admission $11.25, children ages 11 and under $6; skate rentals $8, cash only.Read more
This 40-year-old venue began its life as the Ravenhall Baths, a saltwater swimming pool that was quite the Coney Island hot spot in its day. It was destroyed by a fire in 1963, after which the space was converted into a destination for the heavily sweatered and uncoordinated. Arrive at the rink promptly at 12:30pm when it opens; the ice fills fast and it closes at 3:30pm. Open October 31 through March 27. Admission $10, skate rentals $5.Read more
Although this rink offers hockey programs and private lessons, families can enjoy free-skate sessions every day of the week. World Ice also hosts inexpensive birthday parties; the fee ($23–28 per child) includes skate rental, pizza and several hours of ice time. Open through July 3, 2016, open most holidays and school breaks. Admission $6 weekdays, $9 weekends; skate rental $5.Read more
The five boroughs’ only rooftop rink stretches an NHL-appropriate 85-by-200 feet under a weatherproof air dome (if it’s good enough for Canadians, it’s good enough for the wussy New York winter). Stop by Wednesdays from 12-4pm or between noon and 2:30pm on the weekends. At other times, the rink is devoted to skating lessons, hockey practice and private parties. Open yearround. Admission $6 weekdays, $9 weekends; skate rental $5.Read more
There’s no need to wait until winter for your family to glide across the two NHL-size rinks at this megacomplex—they’re open year-round for general skating as well as hockey and figure skating. Unlike most indoor ice arenas, this one doesn’t feel like a cave; ample windows afford sweeping views of the Hudson River to the west. General skating September 14 through December 20, 2016. Admission $10, skate rental $5.Read more
The borough's only year-round ice rink is a skater's dream, offering figure-skating and hockey programs for kids and adults of all levels. Public sessions take place on Fridays from 8–11pm, Saturdays from 2:30–4:20pm and 7:30–9:30pm, and Sundays from 2–3:50pm. Parties and private rink rentals are also available. Admission $11, children $10; skate rental $5.Read more
Located about 85 blocks north of the midtown mayhem, the covered rink here—part of a 28-acre recreational facility—provides some of the least-crowded weekend skating in Manhattan. Riverbank Park overlooks the Hudson, so your crew will have nice views of the river and the George Washington Bridge too. Bonus: Families celebrating birthdays at the rink can reserve tables for after-skate cake and ice cream. Learn to Skate, Ice Dance, Figure Skating and Ice Hockey programs are also on offer. Open November through March, weather permitting. $5, children $3; skate rental $6 per day.Read more