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Real Deals

The Big Apple on a small budget; a thrilling gift for dad

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / May 28, 2006

As the tourism people keep telling us, a visit to New York does not have to be outrageously expensive. Here, with a couple of additions of our own, is a sample of a weekend on a shoestring from NYC & Company (www.nycvisit.com ), the city's official tourism marketing organization .

Begin by looking for a hotel deal. The Hotel Pennsylvania, for instance, offers a Shoppers Special for about $180 a night (plus $27 or so in taxes) that includes a coupon book replete with discounts and gifts at some of the city's top stores. There is no extra charge for the booklet if you book at www.hotelpenn.com .

Having checked in, you can now immerse yourself in culture by visiting the Museum of Modern Art (www.moma.org ), which is free on Fridays from 4-8 p.m. Or take advantage of the ``pay what you wish" policy at the Whitney Museum of American Art (www.whitney.org ) from 6-9 p.m. and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (www.guggenheim.org ) from 5:45 -7:45 p.m. Or consider buying a coupon book from City Pass (www.citypass.com ) for $63, which admits you to the Guggenheim, American Museum of Natural History , MoMA, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum , Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises , and the Empire State Building Observatory. Those admissions would cost you $122.50 if purchased individually. For dinner, NYC & Co. suggests walking across Central Park to the affordable Cafe Mozart (www.cafemozart.com ).

After breakfast Saturday, perhaps at a Café Metro (www.cafemetronyc.com ), ride the Staten Island Ferry (www.mta.info ) for nothing and get great glimpses of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan. On Staten Island, two possibilities are Historic Richmond Town (www.historicrichmondtown.org ) for $5 or the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (www.snug-harbor.org ), an 83-acre National Historic Landmark with free admission to the grounds and modest prices for specific exhibits.

After the ferry ride back, check out The Museums of Lower Manhattan (www.museumsoflowermanhattan.org ), including the Skyscraper Museum (www.skyscraper.org ), which costs $5. Shop for souvenirs or just browse at South Street Seaport (www.southstreetseaport.com ), and dine there Southwestern style at Red (www.arkrestaurants.com ). In the evening, watch movies al fresco for no charge at the Tribeca Drive-In at the North Cove at the World Financial Center (www.tribecafilmfestival.org/ drive-in-info ).

Suddenly it's Sunday. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for a stunning look at the city skyline. Take the subway to the Harbor Defense Museum (www.harbordefensemuseum.com ), the city's only military museum, for free. Then see the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (www.bbg.org ) for $5.

That is one busy weekend. You've seen a lot and done a lot and somehow managed to not spend a lot. To do even more, and get an inside look at a New York neighborhood, contact Big Apple Greeter in advance (www.bigapplegreeter.org ). This is a free guide service that matches a volunteer with your interests. For a variety of discount offers at city stores, visit www.vipoffers.com.

Dear old dad
A gift of travel for Father's Day (June 18) is one your dad won't easily forget. The Best Western Ft. Walton Beachfront in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. , suggests its Birdies and the Beach golf package, which includes overnight accommodations in a beach-view room, 18 holes of golf at your choice of six area courses, a golf cart, continental breakfast, a goodie bag , and a cocktail in the hotel lounge. Prices start at $158 per person and the offer is valid through Aug. 1. (The fine print: Weekend reservations require a two-night stay. )

Call 877-243-9444 or visit www.bestwestern.com/ftwaltonbeachfront .

The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, Calif. , on the other hand, suggests a skydive. After a brief lesson, your dauntless dad will make a tandem jump at 10,000 feet, enjoying views of the Pacific. The package is available through Aug. 31, and includes a night's accommodations, breakfast, and the jump. The price is $359 on Sunday through Thursday and $419 on Friday or Saturday.

Call 800-826-7827 or visit www.cliffsresort.com .

Calling all cowgirls
Even an uptown girl can be a cowgirl in Vancouver, British Columbia. The 28,000-acre Elkin Creek Guest Ranch's Cowgirl Bootcamp program, available June 23-Sept. 8, costs $725 US per person and includes three nights' accommodation, all meals, and the bootcamp program and activities. Participants will learn how to ride and saddle horses, rope, and handle livestock.

Call 877-3-GO-WEST (346-9378) or visit www.adventurewestresorts.com/elkin/ .

Europe with youngsters
Europe is not for adults only. Grand European Tours , which says its itineraries appeal to all ages, is taking 10 percent off for ages 8-16 on the land portion of each trip departing in August. Among the offerings is 10 days in Italy beginning at $2,099 per person before the discount and including round-trip air fare, first-class hotels, and 11 meals .

Visit www.getours.com or call 888-522-3950 .

Fill 'er up
Everyone's talking -- make that griping -- about the price of gas. For the third year in a row, BedandBreakfast.com is having a Tanks A Lot! promotion, in which B&Bs offer free gas to guests. For a list of participating properties, go to www.bedandbreakfast.com, click on Advanced Search, then Special Packages, then Free Gas Promotion.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Contact Richard P. Carpenter at carpenter@globe.com .

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