The following is a guest post by our resident travel and event expert Claudia Santino…
New York City makes it easy to tap into the holiday spirit. With lots of good stuff happening throughout its boroughs, it’s a great way to check all the cool and creative stuff happening in the neighborhoods you’ve been meaning to explore but just haven’t made the time to visit. For you local folks, the holidays offer a unique opportunity to treat your hometown like a destination and look at it with fresh eyes. Chances are you’re entertaining friends or family, in which case you need to up your game. I know this can sometimes feel like a chore but if you take some time to create a little itinerary of one or two activities, you just might be surprised by the experience.
Anyone with an appreciation for design and the way things are built might want to head to the Bronx. The New York Botanic Garden Holiday Train Show once again opens up its doors to children of all ages, which pretty much pertains to a lot of us older kids. Celebrating its 22nd year, the show features more trains than ever before and with over 1,200 feet of gauge-1 brass track used in the exhibition. Train aficionados will appreciate the craftsmanship and detail of the G-gauge and a large-scale steam locomotive which can measure over 2 feet long and weighs as much as 10 pounds.
Set with the enchanting atmosphere of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, are more than more than 140 scaled iconic buildings and structures. They include such famous landmarks as the Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Set under twinkling lights, these miniature structures are a delight to behold. Whether you travel by rail or car, getting there is pretty easy.
Brooklyn’s much awaited, brand-spanking new ice-skating rink opened its doors this week. Located in Prospect Park, the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside features two rinks under a skating pavilion with 32,000 square feet for seasonal activities from ice-skating to water play. With 15,000 square feet of landscaped viewing terraces in the park, you’ll feel like you’ve gone out of town. If you prefer to stay on solid ground, grab a treat in the new café. Depending on the day, rink admission is $6-$8, and skates rent for $5, making it one of the few simple pleasures of life that won’t break the bank!
Created to help the neighborhood after Hurricane Sandy devastated its business and residencies, See Change has brought life back to the Southstreet Seaport in downtown NYC and December greets visitors with some pretty cool festivities. If you’re into Christmas carols, The Mistletones Carolers will inspire your spirit with their holiday cheer. There’s also a brand new, open-air, ice rink. With skate sharpening, lessons, rentals, and food treats at Skate Shop, you can easily enjoy a day out without leaving the island.
Deck The Halls
Anyone looking for a unique experience may want to hop an A train to The Cloisters Museum & Garden. Located in the woodsy atmosphere of Fort Tryon Park with stunning views, it’s a wonderful place to visit anytime but during the holidays this medieval museum decks its halls with real boughs of holly and other natural flora and fauna that would have been used back in the day. Family workshops for the rest of the month include things like medieval entertainment and glorious glass. Get lost in the tapestry and artwork of the middle ages, with the forest outside you’ll feel like you not only left the country but this century as well. Afterwards, snuggle in at the New Leaf restaurant for a hot toddy. Just a short walk away, it’s the perfect spot to hang onto the peace and quiet you’ll want to hang to, to get you through the holidays.
Those are just a few activity stocking-stuffers to get you off the couch. There’s a lot happening around the town. Tis the season, please share what’s happening in your neck of the woods.