Where can you skate for free in NYC if you bring your own skates? What rink has a holiday market around it? Which rink has several food choices close by? Bryant Park in Manhattan has all of these.
Bryant Park borders 42nd Street and 41st Street behind the main branch of the NYC Public Library. It is about two blocks from Grand Central Station. Between Thanksgiving and the beginning of January the park also hosts a Holiday Market. There are a booths outside carrying a variety of items from clothing to food and gifts.
Yes, if you bring your own skates it is free. They have a changing area. Skating starts early in the morning. There is food available in the lodge, an indoor area near the rink. There is also a Whole Foods across one of the streets it borders and other restaurants and shopping nearby. There are also permanent food kiosks in the park.
It is a rink with some nice views of Midtown Manhattan. It does not get the crowds that the rink at Rockefeller Center gets. I recommend this rink over the others because of that and the close proximity to food and shopping.
Whether you ice skate or not, it is worth visiting Bryant Park in winter. Watch the action or catch a bite to eat and enjoy the scenery of Midtown Manhattan.
Many towns put up a large Christmas tree somewhere central and have a tree lighting to mark the start of the Christmas season. Some towns in New England have a tree lighting, but the tree may not be pine or spruce. These trees are made of lobster traps in homage to the local fishermen.
Plymouth started their lobster trap tree tradition in 2013. This one is on the town wharf.
Some say Gloucester started the lobster trap Christmas tree tradition. They have the oldest tradition in New England. Their tree is stacked with 350 lobster traps. The tree has buoys hand painted by local youth.
Newport, Rhode Island
This tree is next to the harbor. It had buoys, lights and garland.
More New England towns are starting to put these up instead of traditional Christmas trees. There are others in Maine and elsewhere. If you are in New England in December, see which towns nearby have one. These towns put a local flair to Christmas.
What hotel near Boston has a lot of Christmas spirit? Are you looking to plan a trip to the Boston area or North Shore in December? I highly recommend the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The Beauport has a nice location. Its on the beach in Gloucester. Its a short drive to Rockport, an artsy town on the sea. Marvelous sunrises and sunsets are to be had in their rooms facing the water. It is really a great location all year long.
The Beauport had numerous holiday displays. They had multiple Christmas trees up stairs and down. The seating around the two fireplaces, one in the bar area and one outside the restaurant is grand. The mantles are decorated beautifully for the season.
The Beauport is about the only gig in town on Christmas Day for food. I was told the only other option was Chinese. They had the choice between a four course meal or something off their menu. They were booked at the restaurant in advance, but no worries. I was able to order food at the bar which included the four course dinner if that is what you fancied.
The service at this hotel is top notch. They have doormen that will assist you. They have a van service. The drivers will take you to where you want to go locally for free. I used them twice since I messed up my foot prior to my trip and wanted to walk as little a possible. It also helped me get to know the area from a local before I tried to drive around and explore. You woke up Christmas morning to a large candy cane hanging on your door and they came around at night offering chocolates. They had a nice store within the hotel that was open even on Christmas selling snacks, lovely gift items, clothing, etc.
This trip was last minute so to speak. I am trying to finish some photo projects for a class. I may have booked the room a day or two in advance. What I paid was much less than their regular rates in the warmer months.
If you want a quiet vacation with lovely decor, great service, delicious food, and marvelous views, stay at the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I highly recommend it.
Where can you see some great doors leading up to Christmas? Head to Newport, Rhode Island. On the streets intersecting Thames Street in the historic waterfront area you will see some nice old houses and buildings. Some date back to the early 1700s.
The doors are perfect paintings; a relief from the picture world I’ve created for myself. Gary Hume
I am partial to doors and windows. I enjoy seeing unique ones on my travels. Are you partial to doors?
Are you looking for lighthouses that are readily accessible? Are you looking for one right on the ocean with nice views? Are you interested in one associated with an interesting story from history? One such lighthouse is the Old Scituate in Massachusetts (the c is silent in Scituate).
This lighthouse was built and activated in 1811. It has an interesting story behind it. During the War of 1812 the first lighthouse keeper, Captain Simeon Bates and his family lived at the house. During the war Scituate was attacked and some of its vessels were burned in the harbor. Months later while most of the family was away, two of the keeper’s children, Abigail and Rebecca saw two barges approach filled with red coats from a British warship. The girls sent their brother to warn the town and gathered a fife and drum. They hid behind some trees and made such a noise that they were mistaken for an entire regiment and the British made a quick retreat. The girls were credited with preventing the British from ransacking the town. The fife is said to be on display in the keeper’s house.
When I had trouble finding lighthouses to get up close to open one area north of Boston someone nicely recommended this one and ones nearby. Scituate is south of Boston on the South Shore. It is on Lighthouse Road on Cedar Point in the town of Scituate. The area around the lighthouse is mostly residential but nearby is the town. They have some nice restaurants and shops.
The grounds around the lighthouse tower are accessible all year. It has a large parking lot which was quite empty on December 26th. You can walk around the lighthouse, but not on the property of the actual house where the keeper would have lived. Someone resides in there today and that part is not open to the public. The tower is open the few times a year they have open house. There is a stone wall you can climb which is a buffer between the house and the ocean. If someone has issues walking or is in a wheelchair they can take the path around the grounds. It is fairly flat.
There is a jetty going out from the lighthouse into the ocean. People can walk on that, but I do not recommend doing that when the waves spray up onto it.
The story behind the lighthouse makes it interesting to me. Some say if you listen, you can hear a fife and drums playing in the waves. Regardless, it is one that is nice to look at and is accessible.
How easy is it to view New England lighthouses? I found it is not as easy to get a peak was you would think.
There are many reasons they are difficult to view. Some are on islands off shore. A few I tried to get near in Massachusetts or Rhode Island are on private land or rich people own the land with the best views of them. You have to get permission from the landowner or try to find a spot to view them from a distance. In one area of Massachusetts the roads were private in these areas of mega mansions. You were allowed to drive on some of those roads, but you were not allowed to park on them or walk in the parks in their neighborhood, which most likely gave you a good view of a certain lighthouse.
This lighthouse is on private land near Newport, Rhode Island and I asked permission to walk to it on an island. They allowed access starting around 7 a.m. That happened to be good timing sky and light wise.
I am glad they do allow access to this one if you ask during certain hours but I wish more were accessible to view. If you get to Newport, Rhode Island, check this one out, but ask permission first.
Most small towns have their Christmas celebrations in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With the exceptions of some church services, there is not much going on Christmas week in most small towns. I drove around Rockport on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and found out they were the exception.
I was surprised many businesses and restaurants were closed December 24th as I was traveling in Massachusetts. From locals that sounds typical. For many stores and restaurants in New York December 24th is important and they stay open at least part of the day. I found that some Rockport businesses were open on December 24th.
I also discovered that Santa arrives to visit the townspeople by the tree on Christmas morning. He arrives in vintage Chevy pick-up and passes out bags of fruit and candy to everyone. He even poses for a picture. I was told this is a favorite yearly tradition.
No businesses were open on Christmas as expected, except one, a coffee shop. The owner would not accept payment. Coffee, tea, and a pastry was free that morning while she was open. Many were leaving tips in the jar regardless.
Rockport is a wonderful little coastal town. It has many shops with a vibrant art community. One fishing stage in the harbor is said to be the most painted building in art classes in the United States.
It was fun walking and driving around town looking at holiday wreaths and decorations. Some used local plants or shells.
Many visit Rockport in summer. It is also a nice destination in winter, especially during Christmas.
New York City has several Holiday/ Christmas Markets that are currently running, but did you know this year there is one straight from France? It’s the Christmas Market of Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse. This was the first year this market was held in the city.
This market was sponsored by the cities of Strasbourg, Colmar, and Mulhouse. The Alsatian tourist board set up the market that included 30 chalets brought over from the French region of Alsace. The city of Strasbourg actually holds the oldest Christmas market in France.
This market was located in Bowling Green Park in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan at Broadway and Whitehall Streets.
What Was Available
This market had a variety of foods and crafts from the Alsatian region of France. Unfortunately today was the last day. It ran from December 5-22nd. Drinks included mulled wine and other alcoholic drinks such as champagne. Other food items included jams, chocolates, pastries, chestnuts, soup, and tarte flambé among other things.
Tarte flambé is an iconic Alsatian dish. It had a very thin crust with a mixture of cream and soft, smooth cheese. You could choose to have onions and bacon on it or cinnamon apples. This was wood fire grilled in an outdoor oven. Everyone who bought it seemed to be very pleased with this offering. This booth had a long line.
Santa was available in a tent. Most of the people I saw posing with him were adults. Most of the items in the market were geared towards adults, however, I did see some families with children who seemed to be able to go outside the box on food choices.
They did have a seating area near where the alcoholic drinks were served with tables.
This market only accepted credit cards. That was a disappointment for me as I like to pay cash. I feel others need to be aware of that.
This market was a nice way to have access to another culture and its offerings. It was a good way to experience a European Christmas market on a small scale. Let’s hope this one returns or another region from Europe brings in their own products and experiences next year. For those of us who have always wanted to experience the European Christmas markets, but are unable to go, this was a nice introduction.
Did you know there were holiday markets outside Europe? Where can you find holiday markets in New York City? One location is at the southwest corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle.
Monday- Saturday 10-8 Sunday 10-7
More than 100 vendors sell hand crafted items and specialty foods. Some items are environmentally friendly. There is a food court area with vendors and tables to sit at. In other areas vendors sell hot drinks and other food items as well.
If you are interested in buying a unique handmade item, head over to Columbus Circle- 59th Street and Central Park West by December 24th. You may be surprised what catches your eye.