THAT PICTURESQUE BACKDROP: Many seasonal rinks, those here-today, gone-in-a-few-weeks ovals that delight those looking for a dose of wintry recreation, boast stunning or at least highly picturesque backdrops. We like our alfresco ice skating to look a bit like a greeting card, and the towers of Rockefeller Center and the historic shops of Union Square, and the skyscrapers of Pershing Square all lend ice skaters in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles that sense of occasion and grandeur. But finding a natural sight is the aim of some alfresco fans, a mountain or treeline that lends a rink pomp. Yosemite has it, with the annual ice rink at Curry Village (that's Half Dome in the background, natch), and the pop-up Christmas skate place at the Hyatt Indian Wells Resort & Spa has it, too, courtesy of the striking Mount San Jacinto and some pretty palm trees. Of course, the quirky thing about that particular mountain is that it overlooks the desert resorts, so skaters who see it while they're spinning are actually spinning in a fairly unlikely spot for cold recreation. The twist? It's a nighttime rink, unlike most of the other December-January ice spots that have popped up around the country, so "skating under the desert stars" is the theme.
MORE HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS: There are a number of bells-on doings around the 45-acre property, which underwent a major refresh a couple of years back. Beyond the pirouette scene at the palm-pretty outdoor rink, guests can attend the Friday and Saturday Dive-in Movies through Jan. 3 (there's a five-buck Hot Chocolate Bar) and snap a photo with Santa. A game room is live through the holidays, and, for the over-21 people in the house, there's a Margarita Class on Tuesday and Saturdays (we didn't know we needed such a thing in our life, but making a better margie seems like a solid lesson heading into the new year). As for NYE? The sparkle is on at Agave Sunset, complete with a bubbly toast and performer Gina Carey on stage. A special hoiday dinner at Lantana rounds out 2015 in a celebratory way. Raise a glass to the old, the new, and unusual sights like San Jacinto and skaters, a vision not seen every day of the week.