Our first trip to Citi Pond at Bryant Park was two years ago. We stumbled on it while in Manhattan when my mother-in-law was visiting. I was immediately taken with the idea of skating outdoors in a place not nearly as crowded and over populated as Rockefeller Center. Having grown up in Montclair, I used to skate both outdoors and indoors throughout the winter. As the recent winters don’t seem to offer the same outdoor skating opportunities as in my childhood, any opportunity to skate outside is both welcomed and appreciated.
The whole excursion only takes a few hours, depending on the traffic, the weather and the endurance of your skaters. We drove into Manhattan and then parked at Port Authority. From there, it’s an easy 20-minute walk across town to the 40th street entrance of Bryant Park. There is usually a line, so be prepared to wait. In our experience it did move, but I always feel like when you’re traveling with kids this is a good thing to know in advance. Once inside the “rink” there are skate rentals, a snack bar and rest rooms.
Skating is free if you bring your own skates. Let me say that again: It’s free if you bring your own skates. I love free outdoor skating. (This is the part where I deny the cost of gas, parking, and tolls because as I see it, I’d be paying that anyway even if we weren’t skating.) Lockers are also free, but you need to bring your own lock. Our first time there, plenty of people just had their boots stored under a bench which is exactly the same thing people do at rinks here. I’m inherently a trusting person and I can tell you that all of our shoes (including a pair of UGG boots) were still there when we were done skating.
The pond opened on October 27 and will remain open through February 26. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to midnight. I don’t remember the last time I skated outside in the dark, but I think it would be fun.
For any non skaters or younger children, there is an outdoor carousel (very cool) and a plethora of small shopping kiosks (open through January 8) with plenty of items to purchase.
And as a final thought, for the duration Citi Pond is open, there is a room for private parties. It’s heated and refreshments are served, including but not limited to, the Citi Pond signature cupcakes. So if you’re looking for a fun place to have an outdoor winter party this makes a unique venue without a doubt.