By Gina Guerra Burgos, Taking the Kids contributor
The holidays are fast approaching – we can see the ads and decorations all around us. But this time of year also means winter fun and what better way to ring in the season than to go ice skating in Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan. My husband Rob and our four-year old daughter Jude had never been skating before and this was the perfect time to try.
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is like a winter oasis in the middle of the bustling city. The main attraction is The Rink, a gorgeous, 170′ x 100′ rink set in the middle of the park and surrounded by the Holiday Shops and Celsius restaurant. Admission is free and there are fees for skate rentals and bag check. You are welcome to bring your own ice skates and there are free lockers but you can also rent a lock. Note that you are not allowed to bring any cameras, bags, pocket books, etc., onto the rink. The baggage check seemed very safe; we were given a very large nylon sac to put all of our stuff into and then were given a claim check. Simple. You can also arrange for ice skating lessons, large groups or even book your child’s party at the PARKa Lounge.
Once we were laced up Rob and Jude made their way onto the ice. I was so surprised that they were able to walk around in their skates since neither one had ever done so before. I had visions of them not making it to the rink! They got onto the ice and the fun began. For a Wednesday evening the rink was pretty crowded but they stayed close to the edge and made their way around. Once Rob got his bearings he was able to pull Jude along. She absolutely loved ice skating! She couldn’t keep her feet still and didn’t have a clue what she was doing, but the look on her face said it all – she was dancing and grooving, thinking she was a real ice skater. And long after Rob had had enough, Jude wanted to keep skating. They both had such a great time! And despite the chilly temperature, the rink was so nicely nestled inside the park that we didn’t feel the cold at all.
When we knew we were all done skating we claimed our bags, returned our skates and had a nice cup of hot cocoa. It was the perfect treat after such hard work. We watched all the ice skaters, seasoned and novices, from the warm comfort of The Rink tent. Afterwards we walked around to check out the Holiday Shops. You could even save your snacks for post-ice skating to explore the many food vendors and boutiques. They had hot cider, coffee, chocolates, macaroons and so much more. The entire park was transformed into a true Winter Village for young and old alike.
A mid-week family night out to The Rink at The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park was such a nice start to this holiday season. I highly recommend everyone take a family break this winter and try out ice skating at The Rink. It’s open all the way through March 2, 2014, so there’s plenty of time to fit it in!