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Double Date: Ice skating at Riverbank State Park + hot chocolate at The Monkey Cup

Ice skating at Riverbank State Park and the Choco-Monkey at The Monkey Cup

The Winter Olympics in South Korea are only two weeks away, which means (after a four year hiatus) we'll all soon be debating which country's ice skating darling had the best triple Lutz–or was it a Salchow?

The sail shades at the Riverbank State Park ice rink
The ice rink at the Riverbank State Park

In the meantime, why not get a jump start on all that skating talk with a visit to the open-air ice rink at Riverbank State Park? Located at the front of the large recreational facility high above the banks of the Hudson River, the rink has both day and evening hours on the weekends, with special "Open Freestyle & Dance" sessions in between.

At the start of the season, parents can enroll their kids (future Olympians?) in a variety of ice-skating classes, including the Riverbank Figure Skating Club, the Riverbank State Park Youth Hockey Program, and Figure Skating in Harlem, a non-profit focused on advancing the lives of girls of color via academics and skating. Check their websites for special events open to the public, including matches, performances and galas.

The Monkey Cup menu

When you're good and tired, head out into the neighborhood for a well-deserved hot chocolate. One of the funnest is the Choco-Monkey at The Monkey Cup–and not just because of the name.

Pick-your-own-foam-art dice at The Monkey Cup

This friendly, jungle-themed coffee shop finishes off its hot chocolate with foamed milk decorated with one of its signature monkey faces. Kids can pick their own foam art with the roll of an oversized die that has different animal drawings, like a bear or a bunny, on each of its sides

While the Monkey Cup's hot chocolate recipe is quite simple–they use Hershey's dark cocoa–the baristas make sure you get it just the way you like it. On a recent visit they didn't have 2-percent milk, so they happily mixed whole and skim for me. I was also encouraged to add more sugar if I wanted (by my standards it had plenty), a definite plus for anyone with an uncurable sweet tooth.

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