Finish Dashing Diva Nail Spa (30 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck)
Distance About 0.6 miles along Middle Neck Road.
Time Depends on how much you shop; put aside 2-4 hours
Parking There are plenty of metered spots along Middle Neck Road. Time limit is two hours and cost is 25 cents per hour. Parking in the Gussack Plaza garage (Middle Neck Road at Cutter Mill Road) and Maple Garage is free, even in metered and permit spaces, after 3 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends.
When to go The best time to find most stores open is between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Some stores are closed on Saturdays for religious observances.
Coupons Save $5 on purchases of $25 or more, $10 on purchases of $50 or more and $20 on purchases of $100 or more at participating Great Neck stores, restaurants and salons until Jan. 31, 2012. To download coupons, visit shopgreatneck.com.
Start at the green Great Neck Chamber of Commerce sign, where you will find a painted giraffe, the town's mascot. The mascot was chosen after a giant sculpture by former Great Neck resident Nat Epstein, the Kensington Giraffe, found its home on the village green across from Middle Neck Road in 1980. And it's particularly apt: Think about it -- what has a "greater neck" than this species?
Head northwest and walk up the north side of Middle Neck Road.
Bruce's Bakery and Restaurant (34 Middle Neck Rd.)
Don't shop on an empty stomach! Start your morning at a Great Neck staple, Bruce's Bakery and Restaurant. Browse photos of owner Bruce Zipes with his celebrity fans and take in the aroma of fresh baked cupcakes, rugelach, babka and cookies as you walk to the dining room. Share a bakery basket, with assorted pastries, mini-muffins and rolls ($7.95 for two) over a cup of coffee, or fuel yourself with an omelette ($6.95-$11.95), strawberry shortcake pancakes ($10.95) or a smoked fish platter ($13.95-$35.95). The bakery basket comes free with most meals.
Nikia (26 Middle Neck Rd.)
Now that you've been caffeinated, it's time for your first store. "We're the city store in Great Neck," says Allyn Fried, who runs Nikia, a SoHo-style boutique owned by two Great Neck brothers. The first thing you'll notice is the fashion jewelry and designer handbags on display, but ask Fried to show you the Shawlux pashminas ($139), printed with city scenes including Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Hollywood Hills. Designers featured include Rebecca Minkoff and Alexis Bittar, but shoppers on a budget can find scarves for $35 and other items for as low as $29, says Fried.
Jildor (42A Middle Neck Rd.)
Step into Jildor, one of Long Island's most popular shoe stores. Jildor is on top of every footwear trend from preppy Hunter rain boots and Stuart Weitzman pumps to Kate Spade flats and Sperry Top-Siders. It also has its own signature Jildor line, which mixes suede and patent leather. New shipments come every day.
Camp & Campus (42 Middle Neck Rd.)
Now that your feet are up to speed, there's no better place to find Long Island's top clothing trends than Camp & Campus. The store is an old family tradition for the Wolfs -- Heidi, who grew up in Great Neck, is now running her grandparents' place with her dad, current Great Neck resident Mark -- but it has moms and daughters rushing in for the hottest items of the moment. Popular right now? The Holey Sweater ($64), made exclusively for the store. With cut-out holes to expose the layers beneath, the sweater comes in one size and a variety of colors, with white on its way for spring. Also flying off the shelves are the Malibu Sugar bra camisoles, $24 in tie-dye and $18 in solid colors, and the Chaser rocker tees. Get ahead and try a pair of sparkle jeans ($94) in glittery gold, silver and other holiday-ready colors.
Flair (48 Middle Neck Rd.)
Make a quick stop at Flair for the perfect Hanukkah gift, an Israeli prayer necklace ($79), at the counter. While you're in, browse the racks of fur and outerwear.
Fantastic Kids Toys (50 Middle Neck Rd.)
Don't forget the little ones on your nice list this year. The cluttered windows of Fantastic Kids Toys lead to a store chock full of goodies, including imaginative Tellatale puppets ($18.99) and a full stock of Melissa and Doug dress-up outfits for girls and boys.
Lazar's Chocolate (72 Middle Neck Rd.)
The holiday season is known for bringing out a sweet tooth in just about everyone, so stop in at Lazar's for chocolate Santas, Hanukkah gelt, personalized candy bars and other little ways to say you care. Good luck getting out without buying a nibble for yourself!
Pixel Moda (72 Middle Neck Rd.)
You can try to walk past this space, but chances are the window display will lure you in. Italian designer Gil Loloi has original silicone watches and jewelry designed in his studio in Milan, and sells them out of his Great Neck flagship store. New right now are the Diamond Candy silicone rings ($59.99), which come in 12 fun colors, each with a genuine diamond in the middle. Loloi believes in the importance of aesthetics, so each ring sits in a bright colored tin case. It's a unique gift with a playful European edge for the funky fashionista who needs a little sparkle in her life.
Preview (84 Middle Neck Rd.)
If speaking with Gil Loloi in Pixel Moda puts you in the mood for "la dolce vita," head over to Preview, where all clothing and accessories are imported from Italy. Popular with woman ages 30 to 50, this is the place to find fashion luxury for the busy woman in your life, whether it's your mom or the missus.
Cross the street and head south to explore the other side of Middle Neck Road.
Tasti D-Lite (87B Middle Neck Rd.)
If you;ve spent a lot of money and time on your feet already, Tasti D-Lite is an easy mid-way point to stop for a guilt-free treat. It may be cold outside, but frozen yogurt in flavors like peanut butter caramel and coffeecake never go out of season. Sit down, enjoy a quick lick and update your shopping list before moving on down the road.
Steven Dann (81 Middle Neck Rd.)
Fashionistas will feel at home as soon as they step into this boutique, where fashion-minded quotes from icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sophia Loren grace the walls. You'll find a small collection of red-carpet-worthy dresses, designer sweaters and cozy Vince hoodies for men, with some killer heels from Giuseppe Zanotti and Tory Burch in between. Can you say belle of the Christmas ball?
Michele Lynn (79 Middle Neck Rd.)
While you're feeling like a celebrity, reward yourself with one-of-a-kind bling from Michele Lynn, a fine jewelry boutique that could double as an art gallery. The precious jewels, designed and sold by a local husband and wife team, are delicate yet fashionable and have been worn by Real Housewives and models. Prices range from $300 to about $3,000, but if you don't have the money to spend, just stop in for an eyeful.
LiLi (67 Middle Neck Rd.)
Speaking of art, stop in this gallery just to browse contemporary paintings by a wide range of artists or to pick up a memorable gift for the creative collectors on your list. After hanging one of these pieces on their wall, they'll think of you all year long.
Lonnys (57 Middle Neck Rd.)
Sitting stylishly on the corner, tempting shoppers to come inside, Lonnys is an easy place to update your winter wardrobe or pick up a fashionable gift. You'll find women's wear by designers such as Vince, Diane von Furstenberg, Jay Godfrey and Minnie Rose, of whom Kate Middleton is a fan. Popular this time of year for their chic cruisewear, the store also sells J Brand Jeans and shimmering party dresses by Elizabeth and James, the Olsen twins' line.
Infinity Clothing- Jj Laz (47 Middle Neck Rd.)
If you still haven't found just the perfect gift for the diva on your holiday shopping list, you've come to the right place. Infinity has monogrammed jewelry, Free People tops and popular Flowers by Zoe swimwear for girls going on a winter vacation. "We're trendy but classic," says manager Judy Benaim. "You can find items here for lower prices than at other stores."
Oo La La (39 Middle Neck Rd.)
A useful stop for the indecisive shopper, Oo La La owner and Great Neck resident Judy Malekan will act as a personal stylist for everything from party dresses to bikinis. "We have things you don't see in department stores," Malekan said, adding that she handpicks pieces from Brazil, Europe and all over the world.
Maddy B's Children's Boutique (37 Middle Neck Rd.)
Last and littlest but not least, don't forget the babies. Stocked with everything from flower headbands to miniature couture dresses and bubble jackets, this cozy little shop concludes your shopping adventure.
OPTIONAL DETOUR: muddworks (6C Bond St.)
Feeling creative? Continue south on Middle Neck Road and make a left at the first corner. Around the block on Bond Street you'll find muddworks, where you can paint your own personalized pottery. In the window you'll find Christmas- and Hanukkah-themed inspirations.
Dashing Diva (30 Middle Neck Rd.)
By now your feet are probably aching, so make one more pit stop and reward your hard work with a luxurious pedicure. Thursday and Friday nights are "girls' night out," so grab a free cosmopolitan with any treatment, sit back and relax before lugging your shopping bags back to the car.