Is there a more essential New York winter experience than ice skating at Rockefeller Center? Perhaps ice skating in Central Park. In any event, if you haven’t enjoyed gliding across the ice with the wind in your hair and the Manhattan skyline as your backdrop you haven’t fully experienced New York.

Since 1936, millions of New Yorkers and visitors have skated at Rockefeller Center in the shadow of the city’s most famous Christmas tree, an iconic rink mythologized in literature and film. A $75 premium pass (includes admission and skates) will quickly get you on the ice through the rink’s newly designed Igloo. Rockefeller Center between 47th and 50th St. & 5th and 7th Avenue. Until April 2012.

Among the great ice skating venues in Manhattan, the brand-new Citi Pond 170′ x 100′ state-of-the-art rink in Bryant Park is a gem. Rockefeller Center may be more famous, but Citi Pond offers a topnotch skating experience, and it’s free. You can enjoy a hot toddy overlooking the rink in the “Canadian Bar” Celsius. Open until February 26, 2012.

The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers offers ice skating in New York City year-round. The rink welcomes skaters of all stripes for general skating, figure skating, hockey training and league play. Chelsea Piers, Pier 61. Or check out The Standard Hotel, offering a beautiful ice skating rink in the Meatpacking District during winter months. The outdoor Kaffeehaus serves hot drinks. Standard Hotel, 848 Washington Street.

Of course nothing “trumps” skating in Central Park for a quintessential hit of New York. The Trump Wollman Rink, located near the east side of the Park, is steps away from the Central Park Zoo and The Plaza Hotel. The rink offers ice hockey, a skating school, and party facilities. Open until April 2012. The Lasker Pool & Rink in Central Park converts from a swimming pool in the summer to an ice-skating rink during the winter months. Central Park, between 106th and 108th Streets. Open until early April.

So pack up your skates if you’re heading to the Big Apple this winter, or specifically go to experience New York on its wonderful ice skating rinks.

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