BEST FOR WEEKDAYS
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
42nd St. at Sixth Ave.; 212-661-6640
Open: Sun. through Thu., 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 8 a.m. to midnight; fifteen-minute Zamboni breaks every 95 minutes
Price: Free admission, $15 for skate rental, $8–$10 for bag check, $9 for lock rental, $6 for helmet rental; $25–$28 for VIP FastPass that includes skate rental, bag check, and no waiting in line
Though it's no longer the city's only free rink (the other is the new South Street Seaport Rink), this popular spot still sees long lines and congested skating on weekends. Head there on a weekday, however, and you'll find that the 17,000 square feet of ice feels practically roomy, and there's a lot of open seating on the sidelines.
BEST FOR EVENINGS
Trump Wollman Rink
Central Park S., enter at 59th St. at Sixth Ave. (follow the footpath); 212-439-6900
Open: Mon. and Tues., 10 a.m to 2:30 p.m.; Wed. and Thurs., 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Zamboni breaks vary
Price: $11.25–$18 for adults, $6 for children under 11, $5–$9 for seniors, $8 for skate rental, $5 (plus $6 refundable deposit) for lock rental
There's no time when you won't find dizzying crowds here, but if you bring your own skates to avoid the crazed skate-rental process, its sheer size (30,800 square feet) more than makes up for any hassles. Though it's busier, night is still the best time to go because the setting is so spectacular.
BEST FOR OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS
The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Fifth Ave. at 50th St.; 212-332-7654
Open: Daily, 8:30 a.m. to midnight; 30-minute Zamboni breaks every 90 minutes
Price: $27 for adults, $15 for seniors and children under 11, $12 for skate rental
The world's most famous skating rink draws huge crowds (wait times can exceed an hour) and commands the city's highest prices. Still, the setting is iconic and it's kind of a must for holiday visitors. The rink is tiny compared to others in midtown, but the number of skaters is limited to 150, so it's a surprisingly pleasant experience once you're on the ice.
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
Central Park N. nr. Lenox Ave. entrance; 917-492-3857
Open: Mon. through Thu., 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sat., 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sun., 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Price: $7.50 for adults, $4 for children, $2.25 for seniors, $6.50 for skate rental, $3.25 (plus $4 refundable deposit) for lock rental
Central Park is also home to these two smallish oval rinks, split between hockey players and skaters. It's not the most exciting pick, and the music is grating, but it's a good experience for anyone with crowded-rink phobia.
BEST FOR AVOIDING CROWDS
The Skating Rink at Riverbank State Park
679 Riverside Dr., at 145th St.; 212-694-3642
Open: Mon. and Thu., 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Fri., 6 to 9 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.
Price: $5 for adults, $3 for children, $6 for skate rental
Similar in size to Bryant Park's rink but lacking the long lines, this well-maintained Harlem destination manages to feel empty even during peak hours. The only potential drawback is the ongoing sound of traffic on the West Side Highway.