By Ian J. StarkSpecial for Newsday
The fun of New York needs no introduction and even in the coldest months of the year there is plenty to do and see in the Big Apple. From ice skating to winter sightseeing cruises, here are eight things not to miss this season.
COVID restrictions vary by location; be sure to check what is currently in effect before visiting.
See the city from the Circle Line
This tourist travel agency is currently offering three daily excursions until March 18. The boats also feature climate-controlled interior spaces, an onboard cafe, and free Wi-Fi. The quickest tour is the 90-minute “Landmarks,” which focuses on the Manhattan sights of the East and Hudson rivers, as well as the Statue of Liberty. The two-hour “Harbor Lights” cruise departs at dusk on a water chase to see the city lights. The 2.5-hour “Best of NYC” cruise circumnavigates Manhattan Island, a journey that travels the East, Hudson and Harlem rivers and passes under 20 bridges. Prices vary by date; tickets are available in advance.
NEWS Cruises depart from Pier 83: W. 42nd St. and 12th Ave., Manhattan; 212-563-3200, circleline.com.
Bumper cars on the ice at Bank of America Winter Village
Another way to take advantage of the season is to hop in a single-seat bumper car. You must be over 7 years old and at least 42 inches tall. The rides last 10 minutes and run daily at set times (2pm-8pm Monday-Friday, 11am-5pm Saturdays and Sundays), but if you are nearby between February 18-26 , the hours extend. mornings and late evenings (8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily) before closing for the season on February 27. Tickets are $20; $25 on Saturdays and Sundays; tickets can be purchased in advance at wintervillage.org.
NEWS 40th-42nd Sts., Fifth-Sixth Aves. ; 212-768-4242, bryantpark.org.
The Polar Lounge at Harriet’s Rooftop
Check out this lounge with seats carved out of ice, serving drinks in glasses made from ice and ice sculptures, located on the tenth floor of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a luxury hotel with views of the bridge and the skyline of Manhattan. The standing area is open to the general public until the end of February (5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Sunday). Those making reservations can also step into the indoor Harriet Lounge if they need to warm up. General admission: $25, VIP tables a minimum of $200. Reservations for general admission and tables must be made in advance.
NEWS 60 Furman Street, Brooklyn; 347-696-2500, 1hotels.com.
Visit a zoo
New York has four zoos to visit: the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan (64th St. and 5th Ave.; 212-439-6500), the Queen’s Zoo (53-51 111th St., Flushing; 718-271-1500), the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn (450 Flatbush Ave.; 718-399-7339) and the Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd.; 718-220-5100). There are all kinds of animals to see this season such as king penguins, snow leopards, snow monkeys and you may even spot a snowy owl in one of the zoos. Timed admission tickets are $9.95, $6.95 for ages 3-12 at Queens and Prospect Park Zoos, $19.95/$14.95 at Central Park, and $30.95/$22.95 $ in the Bronx.
Ice skating in Central Park
Lace up and slide around Wollman Ice Rink (at 59th St. and Sixth Ave.), where visitors can also experience the new clubhouse. Open until early April at 10 a.m. every day (until 2:30 p.m. Monday to Tuesday, 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m. Sundays). People can also skate on the water conservatory pond (between E. 72nd-E. 75th Sts.) in Central Park for free when conditions are good (when the ice is reliably 6 inches thick). Tickets are $14 Monday through Thursday, $23 Friday through Sunday and holidays; $6 for ages 11 and under (and non-skating spectators) per day. Skates are $11 to rent; people must bring their own skates to Conservatory Water.
City Skate pop-up concerts
Bryant Park’s ice cream also serves as the stage for the final shows in a series of short shows hosted by the New York Ice Theater this winter, which focuses on the art of ice dancing. Each five-minute lunchtime pop-up takes place at 12:40 p.m., with the remaining dates in February every Tuesday and Thursday until February 17, and all are free and open to the public. Keep an eye on the program’s final week as the 2020 Youth Olympics bronze medalist Alexa Rakic should appear.
NEWS 40th-42nd Sts., Fifth-Sixth Aves. ; 212-768-4242, icetheatre.org.
Tobogganing on Governor’s Island
If you’ve ever dreamed of sledding down a snowy hill while admiring sights like the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, you can make it happen by gliding down mounds on Governor’s Island known as the name of The Hills. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own sleds, but the Blazing Saddles bike rental shop on the island (19 Hay Rd.; 917-440-9094, blazingsaddles.com) also has some on hand. Tobogganing is weather dependent, so check for snow before heading out.
NEWS govisland.com; ferries depart from 10 South St., Slip 7, Manhattan.
‘Bird’ and ‘Wander’ at Green-Wood Cemetery
A National Historic Landmark dating back nearly 200 years, its nearly 480 acres of space is the final resting place of several famous historical figures. Visitors can take part in “Winter Wanders,” 90-minute walking tours that take place around the grounds on Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. until March 13. Attendees can admire the view while learning the meaning of certain images and symbols around the cemetery and hear stories about some of the permanent residents. Birds frequent the cemetery and on Sunday mornings you can take part in a “Birding in Peace” session (until March 6, with a final session on March 20) which takes place at 6:45 or 7:00. Participants may spot birds such as nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows, finches and waterfowl. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance; check-in takes place at the meadow near the main Fifth Ave entrance. and 25th St.
NEWS 500 25th Street, Brooklyn; 718-210-3080, greenwood.com.