My four year old is such an early riser we managed to pack in Ice Skating, holiday shopping, a walk through Grand Central and a ride on a carousel all by 1:00 on Saturday. It was a fun morning. I’m glad we got the exercise in early because it was a gloomy and rainy second half of the day.
We started our morning at the seasonal ice skating rink in Bryant Park.
Each year the park transforms into Winter Village, sponsored by Bank of America. The ice skating rink is the centerpiece of the village and offers free admission. If you bring your own skates and a lock for their lockers you can have a completely free experience. Or you can rent skates as well as locks or check your bags. No backpacks, purses or cameras are allowed on the ice. They’re also strict about no phones on ice. We rented skates at $19/pair. And checked our bag for an additional $8, so it all added up. It was fun though. So much fun that I’m certain we will be back this winter. My daughter took to the ice like a penguin and sailed across it as if she’s taken lessons before. I have to admit I was totally blown away by her. Santa will probably bring ice skates for Christmas this year and we’ll take full advantage of this ‘free’ rink throughout the season. The rink also offer stabilizing penguins which we saw some kids using to aid in balance but I’m not so sure they made it easier. Based on the amount of slipping happening around them I think it may have made it harder. We brought our own helmet, which I also recommend, you can rent as well. The rink wasn’t too crowded, the staff manages everything well and it’s kept safe so everyone can enjoy themselves. It was unseasonably warm yesterday so we wore just a light jacket and gloves. We probably should have brought a change of jeans or worn water proof pants. We ended up in wet pants for about an hour after skating until they dried.
For the non-skaters, there is plenty of seating available so you can still enjoy the experience rink side. Or you can bypass skating all together and stroll through the open air market set up for the season. They have more than 125 boutique-like shops with items ranging from apparel to jewelry, decorative goods, local foods, and much more. You’ll be able to find something for everyone – adults, kids, and even pets.
We enjoyed some delicious warm churros with nutella after skating and took a much needed break sitting down and watched the hustle of busy shoppers and vendors.
After our refueling we walked around to the front of the New York Public Library and marveled at the beauty of the building as well as the decorated famous lions out front. I always think of Ghost Busters when I see these guys.
After climbing the stairs and checking out the fountains and holiday decorations we walked east over to Grand Central. Their Vanderbilt Hall is currently transformed into a Holiday Fair, full of artisans selling all kinds of unique gift ideas.
While in Grand Central we walked through of one of my favorite markets, Grand Central Market. This is a hall with vendor on both sides selling mostly gourmet foods, many already prepared. This place becomes a zoo around rush hour, but if you’re passing through, it’s worth a stop. Some of the foods, like the spices, can only be found in a few places in New York.
We walked though Grand Central buying time for the Carousel in the park to open. After our Grand Central stroll we headed back over to Bryant Park. By the time we walked back over it was open and swarming with giggling kids, trying to decide which animal to ride. For $3 each we took a ride, which was fairly long for a carousel. The actual carousel is quite small, and nothing particularly special, except that it’s in a pretty awesome part of NYC. It’s really cool riding in circles taking in the views of the park, the skyscrapers and all the holiday shops.
That wrapped up our morning! It was a nice way to have special time with my little girl, getting us into the holiday spirit. If you’re looking for a sweet 1/2 day family adventure, this is a great one if you’re up for being on your feet most of the time.