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By Kristen Oliveri

If you’re a New Yorker, you’ve been living through this brutal winter, dreaming of warmer days. While I, too, hope spring is just around the corner, I’m making the most of winter while it’s still here.

Sure, there are many indoor activities in New York City you can escape to: a movie, a play, a warm and inviting museum. But for those who aren’t afraid to put on a few extra layers to brave the subzero temperatures, I have a novel idea: ice skating.

 

My Bougie Pick (as you might have guessed):

Rockefeller Center

Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 12 a.m., daily

Price: $27 admission, $12 skate rental

During the rush of the holiday season, it’s hard to get anywhere near the ice skating rink as millions of tourists descend upon Rockefeller Center to gawk at the Christmas tree. And frankly, as a native New Yorker, I detest lines and avoid large crowds at all costs.

But after the holidays have come and gone, the rink can be downright empty at times. There’s always something so romantic about this rink in particular for me. When I was a young girl, my aunt who worked in finance took me out to a fancy dinner at the SeaGrill ($$$$) that has uninterrupted views of the ice skating rink. We were having a fabulously lavish dinner, staring out onto the rink when I saw a man drop down to one knee to propose to his girlfriend. She said yes, and they skated around lovingly in celebration. That New York City moment has stuck with me all throughout my adult life.

Today, a skate at this iconic (romantic) landmark will run you a cool $27, and that’s without renting skates. You also have a few upgrade options to make it all the more luxe. In one case, you can take a 30-minute skating lesson for $50 or you can purchase a VIP Skate Package for $60 that offers concierge service amenities like hot chocolate, espresso, and water paired with warm cookies, and premium access to the rink. Skate rentals are free in the VIP package and the skate concierge is there to help with any questions you might have.

My suggestion is to skip the VIP treatment, go for the general admission, and then pop across the street to Saks Fifth Avenue and take the elevator to Café SFA; you can go the hot chocolate route or the cocktail route. I tend to go for cocktails in this scenario, the Café coco martini specifically. It’s made with tequila, crème de cacao, and Drambuie. The cocktail isn’t cheap ($14), but you’re paying for the great views and the lavish atmosphere — very well worth it.

 

My Budget Pick:

Ice Rink at the Standard Hotel

Hours: 12 p.m. – 12 a.m., Monday – Thursday

Price: $9 admission, $3 skate rental

Every winter the trendy Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District puts up a quaint ice skating rink right in front of the hotel’s entrance. Apparently everyone and their mother has known about this rink for years, but somehow the news had escaped me. When I heard one of my favorite spots in NYC had another exciting activity (besides food, as I do love the Standard Grill), I decided to grab my friend and go for a twirl one Saturday afternoon.

The hotel has set up its Alpine Kaffeeklatsch area next to the rink, surrounded by heat lamps with inviting tables to take a load off before or after you skate. We scoped out that area first before deciding to have a pre-skate beverage inside the Garden Room where we sought comfort and warmth. I tried the spiked hot chocolate with Bailey’s ($12) while my friend snacked on a delicious doughnut assortment ($3 each). The Garden Room also offers a full menu of lunch items, snacks, and other sweet treats that were tempting, although we stuck to our guns with the spiked hot chocolate.

We were getting a bit carried away while watching young children skate around as the snow was falling gently, but finally broke from our reverie to brave the elements. Once we got there, we snagged a couple of small penguins used as skating aids and took them for a whirl (and a one-of-a-kind photo op.) I’m sure we annoyed the folks we stopped and selfishly made take photos of us, but what can you do? It was a photo shoot made in Instagram heaven!

Ice Skating The Standard

Image courtesy of Caitlin Paul

Most of the folks on the rink looked to be hotel guests, but in the evenings I’m told there is a bit of a twenty-something crowd that, after a few too many cocktails at the Standard Grill, Biergarten, or perhaps the neighborhood biker bar, Hogs & Heifers, take to the rink.

 

While I’m anxiously awaiting the day when the temperature rises and winter bids us all a fond farewell, it will be a touch sad to hang up my skates. Ice skating is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, no matter which price point you’re working with. But don’t be too budget conscious; a post-skate hot chocolate (spiked or not) is without a doubt a must!


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