Free Tropical Ice Skating Party Brings A Slice Of Florida To Wintry NYC

By now, most New Yorkers are over the thrill of winter’s first snow and eager for a little sunshine.

But if a tropical vacation isn’t in the cards right now, head down to The Rink at Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, January 16, where the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau will be holding a free tropical ice skating party to celebrate its new “Hello Sunny” marketing campaign.

“Tropical ice skating” might seem like an oxymoron, but Fort Lauderdale will certainly try. Look forward to beach balls, breezy music, swimsuit-clad ice dancers and an on-site “Beach on Wheels,” with models tossing out inflatable beach balls and distributing free sunglasses. There will also be free ice skating, including skate rental, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – a great chance to save on the regular $30 cost of admission.

And in case all the palm trees and beach umbrellas fail to distract you from the fact that it’s actually 35 degrees, a trip to Florida will also be raffled off.[Photo Credit: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau]

Christmas Travel: Happy, Budget-Minded Places To Go

Christmas

Many travelers have places to spend Christmas nailed down far in advance. Tradition may have us going back home to join with family and friends in an annual celebration. Airline tickets may have been purchased months ago, cashing in on the best rates. A place to stay is not an issue, we’ll take a sofa at one place or another, surrounded by those we care for.

Others don’t have such happy plans in place. Maybe economic concerns made advance planning impossible. Maybe the whole idea of gifting, taking time off work, getting there and other concerns have them stuck at home with no apparent way out. For those people, we have a list of happy places we can go, scattered around the United States, that offer an alternative to a “Bah Humbug” attitude at budget prices.

New York City
New Yorkers have celebrating Christmas down to a science and the city goes all out this time of year. Christmas trees, lights, Broadway shows or simply window-shopping make for a good time. Ride a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park (about $100), ice-skate at Rockefeller center ($20), or just stand in the middle of Times Square for a hefty dose of Christmas magic.

Christmas, Florida
Odds are pretty good that we won’t see a white Christmas at this central Florida location but a stop by Christmas, Florida, can sure get us in the mood. About 20 miles east of Orlando, it’s Christmastime year-round here with Christmas trees and reindeer on display all the time. Not far is the Fort Christmas Historical Park, a replica of the original fort, built in 1837 during the Seminole Indian War and all the central Florida attractions, all dressed for the holidays.

Woodbury, Connecticut
How about zooming over snow covered hills for a new Christmas tradition? Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area lets us do just that on a zip line ($89 for four hours) or we can fly down a mountain in our own tube. The mountain has three zip line tracks, close to a mile of tubing trails, and over 20 different snow tubing courses. You can also enjoy the areas 12 courses or skiing, snowboarding and snow bikes that are lighted for night use.

Harbor Christmas Parades, California
Scattered around California, are a number of harbor, boat and yacht parades that may be just what your Christmas Grinch needs to get in the mood. San Diego Harbor’s Parade of Lights, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Oakland’s Lighted Yacht Parade are free and host hundreds of lighted pleasure craft. The Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights is a seasonal trip through the harbor’s waterways with views of decorated houses.

Christmas boat parades are not limited to California. Check this video for a look at Portland, Oregon’s Christmas Ship Parade:


Want to find some holiday events close to you? A national listing of all local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s might be a good place to start.

[Photo credit- Flickr user Tom Hilton]

Big City Scavenger Hunt A Fun And Informative Quest

scavenger hunt

Remember scavenger hunts? The game where individuals or teams go out into the world to gather the items on predetermined list? Whoever gets them all first wins? Great.

In a unique twist on the game, UrbanQuest is a scavenger hunt in a great city that ends at a restaurant where reservations have been made. Along the way, “Questers” learn their way around the city in a fun and challenging way and everyone is a winner.

Held Amazing-Race style, groups of Questers download their clue package online then hit the streets to solve interesting puzzles that force teams to be resourceful. The final destination is a mystery restaurant where UrbanQuest has made a reservation for you. Timed to take about an hour and a half to complete, reservations are made for two hours after starting to allow some extra time for slow teams.

After buying a Quest online, it can be launched from your My Quests pages anytime. While the exact restaurant will be a surprise, you’ll pick a general category, just to be sure it is the kind of food the team will enjoy. Get stuck on a clue, see hints and answers on the included clue package that you printed off before starting.

In New York, for example, two Quests are offered. A Walk In The Park is a Quest in Central Park and another one sends Questers around Rockefeller Center. Each is priced at $28.99 per person + tax and the meal.

UrbanQuest is currently available in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, Indianpolis, Louisville, Baltimore, Boston, Princeton, Cincinnati, Portland, Philadelphia, Nashville and Seattle plus a number of Canadian cities and some international destinations with more cities on the way. UrbanQuest customers who have successfully completed a Quest are invited to be QuestTesters, trying out new Quests before they become available to the public

UrbanQuest looks to be great for dates, groups of friends, family outings or office team building and can be gifted via e-gift cards.



[Flickr photo by krandolph]

Video of the day: Season’s Greetings from New York City

We at Gadling love a good time-lapse video. Whether it’s at a busy airport in Moldova or the many personalities on the streets of Laos, there’s something about seeing life pass by at fast (or slow) speeds that’s entrancing. With Christmas a few days away and Hanukkah in full swing, we especially love feeling festive without the crowds, the cold, and the hassle. Today’s Video of the Day is perfect for getting into the seasonal spirit of New York City without actually being there. Photographer Cris Magliozzi of health, fitness and happiness website Greatist shot the video on a walk from Central Park to Rockefeller Center, taking in some of the city’s best decorations, carolers, ice skaters, and other revelry. Bonus: no holiday music! Think of it as our gift to you.

Want to give us something for the holidays? Post a link in the comments below or add photos to our Flickr Group for our next Photo/Video of the Day.

Hat tip to our friends across the pond at BBC Travel for tweeting the link.

Bronx Zoo cobra on the loose takes Manhattan…and Twitter

Bronx Zoo cobraOn Friday, an adolescent Egyptian cobra escaped from New York’s Bronx Zoo.

The reptile house closed immediately after her escape, and zookeepers are saying she could take weeks to come out of hiding. While we can’t vouch for the authenticity of the snake taking Manhattan, you can follow her adventures on Twitter, where @bronxzooscobra has been chronicling the travels of the errant snake with over 25,000 followers and counting. So where does a young snakess on the town go?

She first mused over a Broadway show, then taunted followers with her location in front of “the original” Ray’s Pizza (good luck checking all 46 locations claiming to be the first). After taking in the other wildlife at American Museum of Natural His(s)tory, she went downtown for a workout at Equinox Gym and a slither atop the High Line park. The Bronx Zoo cobra then tweeted about getting tickets for Jimmy Fallon before spotting Tina Fey at Rockefeller Center and heading back downtown to Wall Street. Despite asking for a vegan restaurant near Union Square, she ended up way uptown at Tom’s Restaurant from Seinfeld, where she may have found a hiding spot for the night in an unsuspecting apartment. Where will she go today?

Any New York travel tips for the cobress? Have you spotted any snakes, tweeting or just taking in the sights? While she is just 20 inches long, she is venomous, so watch your ankles!