No trip to the Big Apple during the holidays would be complete without a salty pretzel, hot chocolate and, of course, shopping for presents.
Add ice skating in the shadow of skyscrapers, and you've got the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, which on Dec. 5 held a tree lighting event complete with a youth choir and a visit from Santa.
The annual Winter Village features dozens of holiday pop-up shops offering a wide selection, so visitors can check off everything on even the most eclectic gift list.
I found delightfully light animal figurines carved out of balsa wood at Japanwave and a selection of quirky but very cozy fleece onesies at Pook that would go well with a book from the Strand Book Store's outpost.
Want to tell Santa what you want in person? Bryant Park's well-educated Santa (a Mensa member who also happens to be a Nobel Prize winner) will be presiding over Santa's Corner from 1 to 3 p.m., Dec. 14 to 22.
The ice rink at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Photo Credit: TW photo by Hector Fadraga
The food options are plentiful and have holiday must-haves like hot chocolate and cider covered. The mini doughnuts at Doughnuttery were almost as much fun to watch being made as they were to eat. And visitors can escape the elements and still get a bite and a brew at the Lodge food hall.
When you have your belly and your shopping tote full, grab some ice time at the 17,000-square-foot rink under the glow of the village's decked-out 55-foot tree. The rink offers classes, a broomball league and even bumper cars.
The holiday shops are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The rink is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. through March 1. Skate rentals are $33 through December, then $18 most days in January and February. Express skate, which includes priority access and skates, is $48 through December. Bank of America cardholders get 20% off skate rentals all season.
The park is located on Sixth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets behind the main branch of the New York Public Library. For more information, visit wintervillage.org.