NYC: Free ice-skating at Bryant Park
The holiday season really is the city's most wonderful time of year, and it's already getting in motion. At lunchtime today, the Pond at Bryant Park and 125 surrounding holiday shops opened. Passersby crowded around the rink, even climbing onto the park's café chairs to glimpse the synchronized Haydenettes and other professional skaters. Workers were putting the finishing touches on Celsius, a two-story rinkside restaurant and lounge.
Open through January 24, 2010, the Pond has a prime midtown location between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues—in view of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings. It's the only free ice-skating rink in New York City, although skate rentals will set you back $12.
Affinia Manhattan's Real Deal includes accommodations, two skate rentals, hot chocolate, a Macy's discount, an in-suite movie, spa products, and other goodies, from $239 a night—a savings of $125.
Readers' best nighttime photos
You wowed us with submissions of varied nighttime scenes from around the world. We've narrowed it down to 19 fantastic shots, including the illuminated Temple of Luxor, the deep blues of nightfall over a Michigan lake, the twinkling lights of San Francisco's Bay Bridge, and late-night diners in a Roman piazza. See for yourself in our slide show. RECENT READER SLIDE SHOWS Rainbows | Sunsets | National Parks STILL IN SEARCH OF... Photos from your dream trips! The best submissions will be published online and in our 100th issue in March 2010. Upload your photos by December 1.
New York City: What to see with your tween girl
A reader writes:: What hip things can I do in NYC with my teenage daughter when she accompanies me on her first big-girl trip in less than two weeks? Our main advice? Go to shops you can't find everywhere. • The Market NYC: Up-and-coming clothing and jewelry designers sell their wares in booths (FYI, it's also known as Young Designer's Market). 268 Mulberry St., 212/580-8995, weekends only • Dylan's Candy Bar: Flagship of the burgeoning sweets empire of Ralph Lauren's daughter features hard-to-find candy, cute candy-related clothes and gifts, and a retro soda fountain (love the peppermint-striped stools!). 1011 Third Ave., 646/735-0078 • Kate's Paperie: The company's five Manhattan locations are filled to the brim with unique note cards, calendars, journals, handmade wrapping paper, and racks of fine stationery; the SoHo store is the best. And don't forget to catch an up-and-coming hip star in a show on or off Broadway. Of all the shows currently on Broadway, "Wicked," "Billy Elliot," and "West Side Story" are among those that will appeal most. Read Budget Travel's coverage of Broadway Tickets on the Cheap. Quick hint: Avoid the mile-long lines at the Times Square TKTS booth by buying discounted Broadway tickets in advance at playbill.com and theatermania.com. For a fresh perspective, we turned to Amy Langfield, the editor of that essential site Newyorkology, an independent news, travel, and events website.… New York City has plenty to offer a teen girl looking for both the hip to traditional. Check out On Location Tours, which offers a "Gossip Girl" tour of New York City. For the real thing, see the On Location Vacation blog for movie and TV shoots as they happen. If they're shooting a scene outdoors, it's OK to watch. But this is New York, so please try to look bored and pretend you see this stuff every day. And while there are also "Sex and the City" treks, maybe check out one of the crazes it helped spawn, the cupcakes. Besides Magnolia Bakery (the girls' go-to spot for cupcakes, at three locations), see the Cupcakes Takes the Cake blog for a rundown of the "it" cupcakes of the moment. As for shopping, out-of-towners who I assume don't have the Internet are still enthralled by the big branches of Macy's, H&M;'s, TopShop, American Apparel and the like. But your time shopping in NYC is better spent looking for goods you can't get elsewhere. Sample sales may be a bit too hit-or-miss and time-consuming, so maybe best to pick a neighborhood with plenty of boutiques, such as Nolita. The shopping blog Racked usually does a Friday map with the weekend's best sales. It's also worth noting the top floor of the Tiffany's mothership offers plenty of trinkets under $100 that she'll probably keep forever. About a block away from Tiffany's is the 24-hour Apple store and FAO Schwarz. The New York Times just offered up its own list of NYC sights for teenagers, including the High Line, the new park that was built atop an abandoned rail line in Chelsea. Elsewhere, picture-perfect ice skating options include Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and Bryant Park (where it's free to skate and rentals are about $12 a person). With kids, make sure the museums don't sound like a chore. If you venture into any of the biggies such as the Met, MoMA, Whitney, or Guggenheim, keep in mind it's OK to just dip in briefly. (Also note that many museums, including all those mentioned above, have free, pay-as-you-wish or suggested donation hours.) But most importantly, don't overestimate your teen's need for cool. Institutions that sound stuffy—such as Carnegie Hall or the NY Philharmonic—do a number of excellent programs geared for kids. New York has the great ability to stretch kids' minds, plant seeds and show them a gazillion things are possible and within reach. Learn more at Newyorkology. MORE TIPS, FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Need hotel recommendations? Read our reviews of New York City hotels at a price that's right. Instead of the Empire State Building—with its three-hour long lines, why not try Top of the Rock—the three-floor art deco observation deck atop the GE Building in Rockefeller Center—is superior in every conceivable way. First, there are the views: Instead of the Empire State Building's jailhouse bars, you get glass panels that look like they were washed that morning; the first floor (of three total) also has large indoor areas for those who'd rather not venture outside. Second, the top floor, because it's set back from the edge of the building, has totally unimpeded views. Third, the art deco details will take your breath away; wandering around, you feel a bit like Lex Luthor in his evil (but sumptuous) aerie. Fourth, the visitor experience is infinitely better: The workers treat you like a human being, rather than use the fact that you're waiting in line as an opportunity to give you the hard sell. Finally, there's the elevator ride. Stand in the back of the car, to the right as you enter. Then look up. 877/692-7625, topoftherocknyc.com, adults for $21, ages 6-12 for $14. EARLIER ON THE BLOG Where to eat and sleep in New York City? (40+ comments)
Iconic Italian designs on view
Even as fewer things are made there, Italy remains a persuasive lifestyle brand—a shorthand for effortless style and timeless quality. A new exhibition in Rome, Disegno e Design, sheds light on Italy's reputation and the design process by bringing together sketches, advertising clips from the RAI archives, original patents, and products dating from the early 1900s to the present. A Moka Bialetti espresso maker, a 1940s Vespa scooter, and a Ferragamo shoe are among the best known. The exhibition will stay open through January 31, 2010 at the Ara Pacis Museum (€6.50/$9.65), which is an example of modern design in its own right. Architect Richard Meier unveiled the glass-encased home for Ara Pacis, an ancient Roman temple, in 2006. You can pick up a made-in-Italy souvenir from the museum's gift shop. I'm a fan of the clever Rome-inspired products from Tre Tigri, founded by two industrial designers in 2008. They just so happen to make iron-on graphics of Vespa scooters and Moka espresso makers (which you could apply, say, to a T-shirt or throw pillow). ELSEWHERE IN ROME... The MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts, conceived by Zaha Hadid, opens to the public this Saturday, November 14, for a two-day preview. (It's slated to officially open in early 2010.) MAXXI gets a rousing review from NYT architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, who guesses that Pope Urban VIII would have been equally ecstatic. Ouroussoff writes: "The completion of the museum is proof that this city is no longer allergic to the new and a rebuke to those who still see Rome as a catalog of architectural relics for scholars or tourists."
Literary Paris: A lesson in pictures
Shakespeare & Company, the legendary left-bank English-language bookshop, has long been a magnet for literary talent. Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and George Orwell all frequented the store. So did the sultry Anaïs Nin, along with her lover Henry Miller who described the place as "a wonderland of books." The shop even published James Joyce's Ulysses when no publisher would touch it. New portraits of these and seven other Lost and Beat Generation writers were recently unveiled at Shakespeare & Company, thanks to the pen of a young English artist and blogger who calls herself Badaude. Her series winds up the very narrow staircase leading to a library where customers can sit and read for free. This is the same space where, after hours, young writers can sleep in exchange for work. To read more about the inspiration behind these portraits, check out Bomb magazine's recent interview with artist Badaude/Joanna Walsh. And for more information about Shakespeare & Company, including free English-language events like the one we described here, check their site. Shakespeare & Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 5th arrondissement, 011-33/1-43-25-40-93.