This past weekend, I took a trip into New York City with my family for our annual holiday trip. Yes, it was a little early, but the ice skating rinks are open and the department store windows are decorated. Also going this early meant that the City was less crowded which worked out well for us.
One of the places we spent a lot of time during our trip into the City was at Bryant Park Winter Village. We had been there before, when it was more crowded, and gave it a cursory glance, and kept walking. That truly was a mistake; I wish we had spent more time exploring. You could truly get lost in there and spend a few hours, which we did.
Winter Village is modeled after a European holiday market and it has over 120 shops and eateries. The Village is laid out in a grid format, so it is easy to navigate. You can pick up a map when you enter to help you find your way around. There are a variety of stores from those selling soap, to places selling toys and others selling clothes. We stopped in a few of the stores and bought some early holiday presents.
One of the more unique stores in Winter Village is Mr. Ellie Pooh, which sells items out of elephant dung. My youngest daughter was really excited to go into this store to see what they had. She was a little disappointed when she didn’t immediately notice anything made from elephant poop. The sales lady did show her some books made from elephant dung which made her feel better. I bought two carvings for the girls made out of soapstone, so alas no elephant poop went home with us.
I also stopped into Sabon, which is a luxury soap retailer. You will definitely want to stop in here even if just to get the hand washing treatment that they treat all customers to. We also stopped into the funky clothing boutique, Animated Closet, where all of their designs were splashed with bright funky colors and patterns. The one thing that I left without, but probably will go back for was a warmer that you cuddle with from Hut Hugs; I am constantly cold, so this would be great for me.
After all the shopping, we were a little peckish, so we stopped by La Sonrisa Empanadas and got something to eat. My husband and I both got the Curry Chicken empanadas which were very good with a chimichurri sauce. Both of the girls got cheese empanadas and seemed to love them.
Winter Village also has an ice skating rink, so we decided to do a turn around the ice; in my case, it literally was one turn. I did it once and I was done. My husband took my 4-year old around a couple of times and she enjoyed it and so did he. It is a pretty large skating rink, so you didn’t have to worry about bumping into people and it is technically free to get into if you have your own skates. Otherwise, skate rental is $15 per person. Also, you are not allowed to take bags onto the ice and they do not check shoes. You have to rent a large sack where you can pile in all your goods and give it to them to hold. A small sack costs $8 to rent, but we were able to fit 2 pairs of adult boots, 1 pair of kid boots, 2 backpacks and some toys we had picked up in the bag, so it is definitely a decent size.
We ended up spending around three hours in Winter Village, more than I had expected we would, but we had a fantastic time.
I was provided with complimentary access to the ice skating rink and with gift certificates for stores within Winter Village to facilitate this review, but all opinions are my own.