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By Nicole Puhl in New York—
As the winter chill finds its way into New York there are few outdoor activities worth braving the frosty elements, and ice-skating is one of them. NYC is home to multiple skating rinks for appropriately ringing in the holiday season with an icy spin (or fall!) around the rink and a hot chocolate or two.
The holidays are arguably when New York is at its finest, and there are many options to enjoy the glittering lights of the city and simultaneously strut your skating skills. Be mindful that many rinks may be closed certain nights for special events and parties, so be sure to check their websites before venturing out.
Here are four places where you can easily get your skate on:
5th Ave. between 49th and 50th Streets
Hours: Daily, hours vary
Open: October 9, 2010 – Early April 2011
Admission: $14 (Weekend) or $10 (Weekday)
Skate Rental: $8
Given the endless movie and TV scenes set in this famous ice rink, it’s no surprise that it is the ice skating destination for holiday visitors and New Yorkers alike. Though it’s the smallest rink in the city, its popularity means that skaters might wait over an hour to take their spin around the ice with up to 150 others at a time.
The musical playlist here consists mainly of Christmas tunes, appropriately paired with the Rockefeller Christmas tree that towers over the rink before the holidays. It is hard to build up much skating speed though, given the small rink and crowds, but be prepared to suddenly stop for an on-ice marriage proposal! Once the skating wears you out, there are a couple somewhat overpriced eating options on site: Rock Center Cafe, The Sea Grill and Cucina & Co.
The Pond at Bryant Park
5th Ave. between 40th and 42nd Streets
Hours: Sun. – Thurs: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday: 8 a.m. – Midnight
Open: October 29, 2010 – February 27, 2011
Skate Rental: $13
Thanks to Citi, this is the only free skating rink in Manhattan, assuming you bring your own skates and lock, of course! This fact, combined with its easily accessible Midtown location makes it a popular winter destination. Bryant Park draws a hefty crowd around the holidays, which can be bypassed with the purchase of an Express Pass (for a rather hefty $20).
The rink itself isn’t the best–it turns watery when the temperature is warm and it is covered with rivets and holes because the Zamboni can’t keep up with the dense crowds. There are several venues to grab a hot chocolate or snack while exploring the crafting and culinary pop-up shops throughout Bryant Park.
Wollman Rink at Central Park
Central Park South. Enter at 59th St. and 6th Ave.
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. – Closing Times Vary By Day
Open: November 2010 – March 2011
Admission: $14.75 (Weekend) or $10.25 (Weekday)
Skate Rental: $6.25
Nestled in the midst of Manhattan’s iconic Central Park, Wollman Rink offers a more natural setting with amazing views of the park’s trees and the city skyline peeking through. This type of ambiance comes at a bit of a price, though, as admission is $14.75 on weekends, plus $6.25 for skate rentals and $4 for lock rentals. Should you want to bypass the skating altogether, you will have to pay a $5 spectator fee just to watch your friends and loved ones fall around the ice.
If the price isn’t a deterrent and you’re comfortable jumping over a kid or two on the ice, then grab some warm cider or hot chocolate from the concession and game up for a little league hockey-esque skating experience. The rink is much less crowded during the week and stays open until 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers
Pier 61, 23rd St. and the Hudson River
Hours: Daily, hours vary
Skate Rental: $7.50
If inclement weather prohibits you from fulfilling your winter ice skating dreams then you can seek shelter at the indoor Sky Rink of Chelsea Piers. This rink lacks a winter breeze, but it is home to many of the city’s hockey players and figure skaters. What this place lacks in outdoor charm and Christmas carols can be somewhat regained with the stunning views of the Hudson River and George Washington Bridge.
The hours here are a bit erratic because general skating time is embedded in hockey and lesson schedules, but a quick call or look at their holiday schedule can prevent any scheduling conflicts. Sky Rink isn’t necessarily a cheaper option, but is definitely a better place for those looking to seriously sharpen their skating skills or reign in a group of rowdy kids.