Monday, November 24, 2008

Apple #352: Skating at Rockefeller Center

So earlier today, I was watching highlights of the football games that happened today on NBC, and at one point, either just before or after a commercial, they showed people ice skating at the rink in Rockefeller Center in New York. I thought, That might be fun. I wonder how it actually works. I mean, how do you get there, how much does it cost, do you bring your own skates?

These people found out how to go skating at Rockefeller Center, and they're actually doing it!
(Photo from Wired New York)

  • Most years, the skating rink opens in late October through early April. Basically, when it's cold enough for the ice to stay frozen.
  • It's open every day, usually from 8:30 in the morning until midnight.
  • One site recommends going before 4 pm on weekdays, or else early in the morning on weekends because that's when it's not as crowded.
  • That's an issue because the rink is fairly small; only about 150 skaters can be using it at one time.
  • You pay by the session, and each session lasts an hour and a half.

This little girl is bundled up and ready to get on the ice.
(Photo from the Hudson and Abella photo gallery)

How Much
  • The cost depends on what time of year you go, whether you go on a weekend or a weekday, and how old you are.
  • Oh, and it's cash only, folks.

Time of Year
Age Group
November 7 – 20, M-TH
Children / Seniors
November 7 – 20, F-SUN
Children / Seniors
November 21 – January 9
Children / Seniors
January 10 - April, M-TH
Children / Seniors
January 10 - April, M-TH lunchtime (11:30 – 1 pm)
January 10 - April, F-SUN, and holidays
Children / Seniors
  • Looks like the best time to go is lunchtime during the week, after the winter holidays.
  • Be sure to check The Rink at Rockefeller Center for any possible changes in rates or times, especially if, by the time you're reading this, it is no longer 2008/2009.
  • They also have group rates for large parties, birthdays, etc. You can also pay for skating lessons.
  • If you want to propose to your sweetest on the ice, you can do that too, but it'll cost you around $200. As far as I can tell, you and your honey can have the ice all to yourselves for as long as it takes them to play your favorite song while you propose and then skate one "victory lap" around the ice. Then you have to get off the ice, go into the lounge, and drink a champagne toast.
  • If you want to rent skates, they cost an additional $9 per session if you go before January 10. The cost goes down a whole dollar to $8 per session starting January 10.

How to Get There
  • I'm guessing that, since New York is an enormous city, driving yourself there is the worst possible idea.
  • Since I don't live there, I'd have to fly there first. So I'll assume I'm coming from Laguardia Airport.
  • If I took a cab, Yahoo Maps tells me it's just under 9 miles, and would take 17 minutes. I regard that time estimate with a big fat dose of skepticism.
  • To get from the airport straight to Rockefeller Center, I'd have to take the bus and then the train. Which bus depends on what time I get to the airport, and which train depends on which bus I got on. The whole trip ( to go 9 miles) would take about an hour. Yeesh.
  • If I were taking the train from elsewhere in the city, I'd take either the F, B, or Q trains to the 47th-50th Streets/Rockefeller Center stop.

What the stop looks like on the map in Manhattan.
(You can download the complete DK Eyewitness Map to New York direct to your Blackberry for $19.99)

The Skates

(Image from Summit Sports)

  • Whether you choose to rent skates on site or bring your own, selecting a pair of ice skates that will fit your feet is crucial. Even an hour and a half's worth of skating can give you some wicked blisters if your skates don't fit right.
  • Generally, skates fit one size to one and a half sizes smaller than your street shoes. But different manufacturers' skates fit differently, and some "recreational" models are sized to match street shoe sizes. So you're just going to have to try them on.
  • I can, however, recommend things to do when trying on your skates to find the right size:

Pay attention to where your heel hits in the heel cup and where your toe hits in the toe cap.
(Diagram from Summit Sports)

  1. Make sure you're wearing the kind of socks you'll wear when skating. Some moms say you should wear extra-thick socks, or even two pair of socks. Hockey players and figure skaters think that's a terrible idea, and they wear no socks at all, or very thin socks, which gives them a greater feel for the ice and actually less slippage in the skates.
  2. After you put the skate on and before you lace up, kick the heel of the boot onto the floor a few times to get your heel as far back in the skate as possible. Then lace up the both skates to be snug, but not so tight that your foot is throbbing. At the turn to the ankle, you'll want to lace up tighter.
  3. Once they're tied, stand up and bend your knees. You should feel your toes just brushing the toecap, but not pressed all the way to the end.
  4. When you find a pair that you think is a good fit, keep the skates on, walk around the store, really get a feel for them for about 15 minutes.
  5. Skating aficionados say it takes about 2 to 5 hours of ice time to break in your skates. So if you've just gotten new skates, definitely break them in before you go off for your special trip to Rockefeller Center.
  6. Best ways to break in your skates? Skate in them. Next best is to wear them, bladed but with skate guards on, around the house. Go up and down stairs, do deep knee bends. It's best to keep these sessions brief, so you'll have to do the breaking in over several occasions.

Maybe after a successful journal, with the properly-fitting skates and just the right skating dress, this could be your Apple Lady. Except about 19 times less graceful.
(Photo from some now-mysterious location on

Patina Restaurant Group, The Rink at Rockefeller Center
NYC Tourist, The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center (note that dates and prices are three years old)
New York City Transit Trip Planner
Scott Noble, Ice Hockey Skate Buying Demystified
Summit Sports, Selecting a Hockey Skate
eHow, How to Fit Ice Skates


  1. Dear Apple Lady,

    This is my first Daily Apple read via an RSS feed. Now, I don't really know what this means, but it works!

    I loved this entry. I got me thinking about the holidays, and how much I love winter (even though we don't really have winter in Florida).

    I've been to Rockefeller Center in March, and I almost went ice skating. But I didn't, and I wish I had.

    I have a suggestion for your readers. I've had trouble getting to Rockefeller Center. When you're on 49th St. you kind of enter from the side, but if you enter from 5th Ave (right across the street from Sak's) it's right there!

  2. Thanks for the tip, Jarred!

    Anybody else have other suggestions they'd like to add?


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