Whether it's ice skating, gift shopping or just enjoying the holidays, New York City and Washington, D.C. both have unique markets for city dwellers hoping to capture the festive spirit. You can eat, drink and buy to your hearts' content in these outdoor malls featuring local vendors and cool products.
Not sure where to start? Here are some of the best places to go:
Bryant Park Winter Village in New York City
Bryant Park is home to one of New York City's longest lasting holiday markets. The Winter Village runs through March 5 and includes the city's only free ice skating rink. Located in Bryant Park between 40th to 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, the market offers locally crafted jewelry, apparel and foods and is a good place to purchase unique gifts for the holidays. Holiday movie screenings also take place on certain days.
The ice skating rink is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST daily, while the shops are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST daily.
Union Square Holiday Market in New York City
New York City's other most famous holiday market is held on the southern side of Union Square Park between Broadway and University Place. The market includes vendors selling drinks, jewelry, clothing, gourmet food items and more and is open through Dec. 24. Live music and a kids craft studio also make this a great place to enjoy the holiday atmosphere in the city. Look for an "artisan pledge" on some items, signaling that they're made in New York, organic, fair trade and either recycled, reused or vintage.
The Union Square market is open from 11 a.m to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST Sunday.
Downtown Holiday Market in Washington, D.C.
From Nov. 25 to Dec. 23, Washington, D.C. holds its annual holiday market in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum between 7th and 9th Streets NW. The market includes more than 150 regional vendors selling an array of items like art and clothing. While you're shopping and enjoying the seasonal entertainment, check out the food options, which include mini doughnuts and empanadas.
The market is open from noon to 8 p.m. EST every day.
Harbor Holiday Market in Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C.'s Harbor Market is another place to purchase gifts or just enjoy the holiday spirit, though it's only open on Saturdays and Sundays. Through Dec. 21 on American Way, more than 160 vendors will be selling fresh produce, local gifts and festive foods. Organizers will also show movies like "Elf" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and host kid-friendly events.
The Holiday Harbor Market is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST on the weekends.