Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008

New York, New York

No list of inspirational holiday destinations would be complete without a bite of the Big Apple. New York is at its jolly best at year's end, with extravagant window displays along Fifth Avenue — from the famous toy emporium FAO Schwarz (at 58th Street) to Saks Fifth Avenue (at 50th Street) and Lord & Taylor (at 38th Street) — not to mention the miles of twinkling lights adorning the tree at Rockefeller Center. But the best lights spectacle in New York City is across the East River in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn. Residents of this predominately Italian-American neighborhood (pop. 26,000) bedeck their homes with little restraint — there's a colossal Santa Claus flanked by two 30-foot toy soldiers, and entire miniaturized Christmas villages on people's front lawns. Nearly every inch of the neighborhood, from the eaves to the treetops, shimmers. To help you take it all in, A Slice of Brooklyn offers a three-and-a-half-hour bus tour departing from Manhattan and winding through the streets of Dyker Heights, with guide and Brooklyn native Tony Muia pointing out neighborhood highlights. Tours pick up near Union Square in Manhattan, and tickets cost $55 each; reserve them online.

See 10 things to do in New York City.