Finding THE BEST Ice Rink in New York

There are more than 10 places to go ice skating in New York. However, not all of them are that perfect as you might have thought. Some are expensive, some are packed, some are both expensive and packed. I’ve been visiting ice rinks quite a lot lately – either as spectator, friend supporter or cautious adventurer. This is what I found out:

#5 Rockfeller Center
Probably the smallest, most crowded and expensive of all rinks in NYC. I know it’s magical, conveniently located in a very movie-like environment, but honestly there’s no need to spend $60 to $75 dollars on general admission. 
If you’re looking for VIP experience, be prepared to pay $175. With this luxury ticket, you’ll have access to a reserved skating time, complimentary skate rentals, in & out access to The Rink for the session, refreshments including hot chocolate, Nespresso coffee, bottled water and an assortment of freshly baked cookies. If you think you’re worth it, go for it!
The best part of ice skating in the  Rockfeller Center is checking out their huge Christmas tree!
#4 Brookfield Place
This ice rink is not very popular among tourists which could be a good thing if you’re looking for something less crowded. However, it’s not a good option considering there’s a time limit. They have fixed session times where you have to pay $15 for 90 minutes, plus $5 for skate rental.  
Now the coolest part about this venue is that they offer private skating lessons for men, women and children. The coaches? Oh, just two Olympian skates: Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. No big deal, right? hahaha
#3 Bryant Park
Bryant Park’s ice rink is absolutely the best option in case you already have your pair of skates and is absolutely committed to going there more than once. Why? Well, it’s the only rink that provides free admission. But, of course, there’s a catch. Even if you bring your skates, you will have to pay a  20 dollar fee for sharpening them. After that, you’re good to go! If you’re just visiting, prices for skate rentals are $20. The Rink is open daily and on holidays through March 3, 2019.
If you just want to watch people jump, swirl and well, eventually fall, it’s okay. You don’t need to pay anything to hide from the cold in the Observation Deck!
After that, you can go shopping or eating in the Winter Village shops.
You can find ice rinks in Bryant Park (left) and Central Park (right).
#2 Central Park
This ice rink is massive compared to all the previous ones. But, you know, it’s Central Park. So it really doesn’t better the size because it’s always busy. Unless you avoid peak hours during weekdays or the weekends whatsoever. 
The Wollman Rink can be found on the east side, very close to the Central Park Zoo. It offers ice hockey, a skating school, party facilities, skate rentals, and lockers.
From Friday to Sunday and during Holidays adult pay $19, Kids: $6 and Seniors: $9. Plus you might need to add $10 for skate rentals. If you don’t want to skate, there’s a fee for spectators as well: $5. Ouch! 
All in all, it’ still such a picturesque and memorable experience! You might ask yourself: when am I going to have the chance of ice skating in Central Park again? Yep, that’s good enough to convince anyone. Bring your loved ones, thick socks and enjoy
#1 Prospect Park
Our winning ice rink has a great location for starters: it’s in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. But what really makes it the best option is that it’s probably bigger than the others. There are two rinks available (one indoors and the other outdoors) which distributes the number of people and it makes accidents and kids bumping into each other less likely to happen. It is also a lot cheaper compared to the other spots. 
It’s also the cheapest of all the rinks in this list. Adults and children pay $7.25; $10 on weekends. But attention:weekend pricing begins on Fridays at 4:00 p.m. Skates Rental in case you don’t have your own costs $7 and lockers are available for $3. 
More benefits: they offer programming and events such as Curling, Broomball, Youth and Adult Hockey, and Figure Skating. 
This is also a great opportunity to explore a charming park that is often neglected by New Yorkers themselves. So what are you waiting for? Talk to friends and family and make sure to put this ice rink on your plans.

Five New York Pizzas Worth Your Visit

If you know me just a tiny bit, I’m sure you heard me talking about pizza at some point. It might be part of my genetics, a real addiction or just a plain excuse to get some carbs in my blood. Whatever the main reason might be, I’m truly lucky to live in a city that has so many options of this popular Italian dish like New York City.

Even though I still need more time  – and money – to be able to afford all NYC’s pizzas, I can name five places that have already stolen my heart (not to mention my stomach and wallet). If you’re coming to the Big Apple, I highly recommend picking one of these places below:

– L&B Spumoni Gardens
Located in Brooklyn, this pizzeria has a squared Sicilian slice to die for. Aside from the pizza, you can find great gelato, nice staff and a long history. The family-owned restaurant has been in business for almost 80 years! Pizza pie is a good idea if you’re coming with a big party.

L&B’s Spumoni Gardens: long history and long lines

– Artichoke
Never in my life did I think I’d ever try an artichoke pizza, nor list it in one of my favorite spots. But you need to give it a try. It’s a distinct flavor, in a positive way, and the size of the slice is very generous. In case you’re quite resistant or absolutely hate artichoke, try the other toppings. They’re juicy, warm and tasteful as well!

– Luzzo’s 
If you’re a big fan of thin-crust pizza, Luzzo’s is the place for you. It follows a Neapolitan style and it’s actually made the time you get there in a coal-burning oven. It tastes incredibly fresh and light. I recommend trying one of their desserts as well. You won’t regret it!

Luzzo's in Brooklyn -  thin-crust pizza
Luzzo’s – Brooklyn. There’s also one in Manhattan.

– Joe’s Pizza
Most likely the most famous pizza in all New York City. A regular slice will do wonders in your mouth. I don’t know their secret, but all I know is that they don’t need much to work their magic. Many celebrities have visited Joe’s many locations. While you’re eating, you can spend some time checking out who has also been there. Photos of actors like Anne Hathaway, Owen Wilson or Bill Murray are displayed on the walls. Because it’s always busy, your food will surely come warm. Just a heads up: it’s cash only!

There are several stores in Manhattan. This one in on Broadway, close to Times Square.

– Joey’s Pepperoni Pizza 
From the $1 dollar pizzas out there, I’d say this one is a smart pick. It’s my go-to spot when I am broke and craving a cheesy pizza that is both good and cheap. Can’t get any better than this, right?

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Five Markets To Visit In New York City

If there’s something I love to do anywhere I go is to grab something to eat and do the occasional window shopping. If you’re also the type of person who likes to do these things, I recommend taking some time to visit New York markets. These locations provide affordable options whether you’re looking to fill your stomach or your house.

Chelsea Market 
By far the most popular market! It is usually crowded – specially on the weekends. In spite of being very touristy, it is worth your visit. Conveniently located in the beautiful neighborhood of Chelsea, it does justice to its cool reputation as it has a wide variety of restaurants and stores.
Things you can find here: pastries, coffee, seafood, chocolate, ice cream, oyster, tacos, ramen noodles and so on. If it is shopping what you want, head to the end of the venue to find Artists & Fleas, where local vendors showcase clothing, vintage, jewelry, design and art products. The market also has some brands inside its facility, such as Anthropologie, a pricey but cute home & fashion retail store.
Now that you’re full and spent some money, go for a walk on The High Line, an adorable elevated linear park that once used to be a railroad.
Open hours: Monday – Saturday: 7am to 2am, Sunday: 8am to 10pm

Location: 75 9th Avenue (Between 15th and 16 Streets), New York, NY 10011

Canal Street Market
I usually avoid going to Canal Street because it is very messy. My problem here is not really avoiding the tourists, but the people selling maybe-not-so-original goods on the streets. Luckily there’s a train station very close to Canal Market, which it’s actually a pretty cool place to check out. It has shops and eateries as well, but much fewer options. Shopping findings: fashion, art, jewelry. Eat: salad, lobster roll, ice cream. Drink: bubble tea.
Open hours: (Retail) Monday – Saturday: 11am to 7pm / Sunday: 12am to 6pm 
                     (Food hall) Monday – Sunday 10am to 8pm
Location: 265 Canal Street, New York, NY, 10013

The longest line in Canal St Market was to get bubble tea at Boba Guys.
The Pennsy Food Hall
As the name indicates, this is dedicated to food only. Don’t get disappointed though. The Pennsy’s address is in Midtown Manhattan, aka every shopper’s wonderland. There are all sorts of shops in every direction you go! I recommend visiting during Happy Hour because there’s a bar with indoor and outdoor dining spaces. Aside from beer, you can get cookies, pizza, sushi, tacos or vegan food. This lively and modern high end food hall is based above Penn Station.  Website:
Open hours: Monday to Sunday: 11am – 9pm
Location: 2 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10121

Dekalb Market Hall
Cross the East River to find this exclusively food hall in Brooklyn. It’s quite busy during the weekend but the lines are impressively short. I think it is due to the wide range of restaurants here (40 vendors!). The environment is very laidback and attended by mostly a young crowd. Among its selection, you can try Korean, Latin, Hawaiian, Chinese, Barbecue, and many other menus with also veggie choices. And now the best part: grab some ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery, a heavenly local ice cream. If you really need to shop, there are a lot of retail stores in the surroundings since it’s in the basement level of a mall. 

PS: Need to buy groceries? Trader Joe’s is right there as well!

Open hours: Monday – Sunday, 7am to 10pm 
Location: (Basement Level of City Point) 445 Albee Square W, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Try the legendary sandwich from Kat’z at Dekalb Market Hall
You won’t regret eating Ample Hills Creamery ice cream!

The Bowery Market 
Found in NoHo, it’s a fun designed outdoor market with local vendors that offer very diverse cuisines, such as Mexican and Asian. They also have an ice cream stand! However, it’s probably the one I liked the least given the fact that it’s tiny (I only saw three stands) and closes way too early. The website mentions the establishments close at 10pm, but I went there on a weekend and they had resumed service before six. I honestly thought about not including this place here, however the atmosphere is pleasant and full of bars nearby to explore. So even if you don’t like the market itself, I’m sure you’ll love getting to know that area. 
Open hours: Monday -Friday: 9am to 10pm, Saturday & Sunday – 10am to 10pm (not reliable!)
Location: 348 Bowery @ the Northwest Corner of Bowery & Great Jones

The Bowery Market is unique but tiny.
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You Should Visit This Park in New York. No, It’s Not Central Park!

Tourists often neglect a very vibrant area of New York City: Union Square Park. This is where I often go on the weekends since it is surrounded by shops, restaurants, art, street market, students and, at times, protesters.

Located between 14th and 17th street, this is the place to go shopping, see unique creatures or grab a quick bite. All I can say is: you won’t regret sparing one day of your trip to explore such an eccentric part of Manhattan!

Why Union Square? Because it is an economical, cultural and political location as it gathers all sorts of establishments and people. But more than that, it’s close to everything and incredibly easy to get around. The park is sort of in the center of the island: move south and take pictures at the Washington Square Park. Now, if you choose to walk north, you’ll stumble upon the popular Flatiron Building, Eataly and Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. All the way to the West, you’ll see the Whitney Museum of American Art. On the opposite side, you’ll find East Village – a great neighborhood to explore the local nightlife. 

So here’s what I think you should do:

Start your day with some shopping at the farmer’s market, buy a book at Strand Bookstore or Barnes & Nobles or go thrift shopping at Goodwill or Beacon’s Closet. If you are an athletic kind of person, make a stop at Paragon Sports! But if you’re looking for great brand deals, find Burlington’s store or Nordstrom Rack. Walking left towards Sixth avenue, you can shop at Marshalls, Bed Bath & Beyond and TJ Maxx. Need some new electronics? Best Buy is right there.

If it’s food you’re most looking forward to, don’t worry: I am your person. There are all kinds of options in Union Square. Fast food? Taco Bell, Wendy’s, McDonalds, Joe’s Pizza. Craving sugar? Max Brenner Chocolate Bar for the best hot chocolate (try the Italian one), or Ben’s cookies for dessert. On a diet? Wholefoods Market is right there! Full of healthy options including a salad bar if you want to have a nutritious lunch or dinner. Head east and find Vanessa’s Dumplings for incredibly cheap Asian food. Some tasty Italian pasta?  My pick is Al Vicoletto. 

To end your day on a high note, go for drinks at a petite pub named Park Bar, watch a movie at Reagal Union Square or simply do some good people watching. You’ll be amazed to see how interesting – or crazy – new yorkers can be.

I know there’s a lot to explore and planning a trip to New York demands a lot of work if you want to avoid the obvious. But I’m very surprised many people never include this lively  part in their itinerary. So don’t make this mistake and I’ll see you in Union Square!

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The Best New York Ice Cream Shops

We all know New York is a place for foodies. Famous for having all types of cultures and cuisines spread all over its five boroughs, there is a lot to to try here. Of course you will need to eat some of the best NYC’s pizzas, bagels and cheesecakes. Nonetheless, you ought to include one more item in your craving list: ice cream. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold or hot outside, this is an opportunity for the books. I chose three new yorker shops located in different parts of the city so your odds of finding them are higher and your excuses of not eating them are lower. I know, I’m quite an ice cream ninja guide. You’re welcome!

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Made from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, this amazing ice cream now found in every corner began its path ten years ago in a “buttery yellow truck on the streets of NYC”. On their menu you can find classic, vegan and current special flavors. Prices are pretty much standard but the serving size is definitely generous. Aside from buying on their shops and food trucks, you may also order online or grab a pint in grocery stores.

Ample Hills Creamery
This Brooklyn-made ice cream is to die for! Now found in many parts of New York, its factory is based in Red Hook. My advice here is not about which flavor you should get, but which time you should visit it: try to avoid peak hours as this shop is usually very busy. In case you do encounter a long line, be patient. I swear it’s worth the wait! Also, if you want to kill time, write down some unusual suggestions of flavors. If they love your idea, it can be added to their list. Check online for permanent and seasonal locations!

Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Height

Il Laboratorio Del Gelato 
Whether you prefer ice cream or sorbet, this business doesn’t joke when it comes to offering a long list of flavors. Just take a quick look at the incredible variety on the company’s website. Yep, it will take you many trips to try them all. Interested in visiting? Well, one of its addresses is in a very lively neighborhood of Manhattan: East Village (188 Ludlow St). Across the street, you can also find another popular foodie destination: Katz’s Delicatessen – a sandwich shop landmark . But if you feel like getting ice cream and savoring every bit of it in a more relaxing environment, head to their other branch near Washington Square Park (56 University Pl).