Just Back: New York City

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National Geographic Traveler features editor Amy Alipio (on Twitter @amytravels and on Instagram @amyalipio) recently returned from a family trip to New York City to soak up the holiday glow.

Here are some of the high points of her trip, in her own words:

Biggest selling point: Midtown Manhattan absolutely glowed with holiday bling, from the sparkly trees overlooking the skating rink at Rockefeller Center to the dazzling holiday store windows along Fifth Avenue. My favorite display was at Saks where the six animated windows each featured a classic fairy tale transported to a Deco-themed New York. Witty captions accompany each scene (“Rumpelstiltskin was the most feared spin class instructor in all the land”).

Standout culinary experience: My husband and I celebrated our anniversary dinner at sushi restaurant Suteishi on Peck Slip, a cobblestoned street in the Seaport District that slopes down to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. We had an only-in-New-York view of the lit-up bridge as we shared a plate of sashimi and inventive maki rolls, paired with a Japanese ginger beer (him) and a passionfruit saketini (me).

Must-attend event: Not all the jokes killed—OK, only a few jokes killed—but we thoroughly enjoyed the offbeat scene at the Greenwich Village Comedy Club. This isn’t the more famous (and more sold out) Comedy Cellar a few doors up. As each of the night’s nine diverse comics took the stage in the intimate basement space, I was thinking, this could be great or this could be a car wreck. Maybe that’s how all NYC stand-up should be experienced.

Practical tip: Dining out in a city like New York can get pricey when traveling with the family. To save on cash in the Financial District, we took advantage of the “Kids Eat Free” program, for ages 12 and under, at our hotel—the world’s tallest Holiday Inn, I am told. We had slices at Famous Original Ray’s Pizza. And we followed Wall Street worker bees for lunch at Variety Café on Broadway, a cheap good buffet place where everyone in the family could find something to eat—even the picky ones.

Should have brought: We forgot to bring our umbrella stroller for the two-year-old. As a result, we were forced to enter the enormous Toys R Us at Times Square to buy one—and of course we exited the store with more purchases than just a stroller.

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