During the winter months (late October until the end of February), Bryant Park opens a no-charge skating rink. Don’t get too excited: The admission may be free, but you gotta pay $13 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.
- Sixth Ave, (between 40th and 42nd Sts)
The most famous of rinks is still as cramped as ever. Unless you plan on going early in the morning or between 9am and noon on Thanksgiving, expect a one- to two-hour wait.
- 30 Rockefeller Plaza, (between 49th and 50th Sts)
This athletic megacomplex offers year-round skating, two NHL-size rinks and classes galore. If you’re looking for holiday accoutrements, head elsewhere.
- 61 Chelsea Piers (Hudson River), 23rd St at the Hudson River, 10011
This rink is less crowded than Wollman, but go for the hockey: Competitive leagues for Gretzky wanna-bes practice here daily. If your tot has a winter birthday, this spot also offers party packages.
- 10826 East Dr (at Central Park N), enter the park at 110th and Lenox Ave, 10026
If you’re a skating newbie, this is the place to be: It has the largest learn-to-skate program in the country. And oh those Central Park views!
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. Bonus: Families celebrating birthdays can reserve tables for after-skate cake and ice cream.
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 1pm when it opens; the ice fills fast and it closes at 4pm.
Aspiring Olympians can choose from gymnastics, rock-climbing, ice-skating or general sports packages, and blow out the candles while improving their form. Pizza or hot dogs (so yummy after a good workout!), beverages, balloons, paper goods, party favors, ice skating coupons for guests, and a T-shirt for the birthday kid are provided. Prices start at $350 for 10 kids; $17 for each additional child.
- Floyd Bennett Field, hangar 5, 11234
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, parties and private rink rentals are also available.
- 3080 Arthur Kill Rd, (between Shore St and Clay Pit Rd)
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 (just $20 per child) includes skate rental, pizza and several hours of ice time.
- 125-40 Roosevelt Ave (Perimeter Rd), Flushing Meadows Corona Park, (at 131st St and Avery Ave)