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You can taste the Big Apple without its taking a bite out of your wallet

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / October 8, 2006

Sure, you can spend a bundle in the city, seeing the hottest shows and eating at the priciest restaurants. But you can also fill your days in the Big Apple with worthwhile attractions that cost $12 or less, usually with discounts for children, students, and seniors. Here, with some help from NYC & Company (the city's marketing agency), is a small sampling:

I am among those who have spent many an entertaining hour at the Museum of Television & Radio at 25 West 52d St. You can watch or listen to more than 120,000 programs and ads dating to 1918. You simply choose a program and watch or listen to it on a console, alone or with up to four people. Come on now, you've been dying to hear Archie Bunker bellow just one more time. Adult admission is $10.

Visit www.mtr.org and click on New York or call 212-621-6800.

Watch those dolphins leap at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island. It's the city's only aquarium, with more than 8,000 creatures. No matter your age, you will learn and be entertained. Adult admission is $12.

Visit www.nyaquarium.com or call 718-265-FISH .

Manhattan's only remaining Dutch Colonial farmhouse is eight miles and a world apart from Times Square, and costs but $1 admission. The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum at 4881 Broadway at 204th Street lets visitors see the parlor, dining room, and farm office; the Relic Room features photos and artifacts of Inwood from the last two centuries. Many of the objects date from the Revolutionary War period, when the Hessians -- German soldiers serving with the British -- camped there.

Visit www.dyckmanfarmhouse.org or call 212-304-9422.

Everyone should visit the Statue of Liberty and especially Ellis Island to live the story of American immigration. You will learn , for instance , that Annie Moore of Ireland celebrated her 15th birthday on Jan. 1, 1892, the day she became the first of more than 12 million immigrant steamship passengers to be processed by 1954. There is no admission charge but an adult ferry ticket is $11.50.

Visit www.nps.gov/stli or www.nps.gov/elis or call 212-363-3200 . For ferry reservations, call 866-STATUE4 or visit www.statuereservavations.com .

There are so many low-cost attractions in New York; for even more, along with city information, go to www.nycvisit.com and click on Visitors, then Things to Do. A guided tour of the United Nations (www.un.org/tours; 212-963-8687 ), for instance, costs $12. But I have always maintained that the greatest attraction is the vibrant city itself, especially Manhattan with its sights and lights and characters. Whenever I visit, I walk until my feet protest.

Web world
A trip to www.vipoffers.com will get you a raft of discounts, such as 15 percent off the Daniela Trattoria on Eighth Avenue, a free bottle of wine at 2 Rivers Restaurant and Bar on Murray Street downtown, and a $12 brunch buffet at George O'Neill's Steakhouse & Piano Bar on 50th Street off Lexington.

On the higher side
The Shoreham Hotel on West 55th Street is running two specials: The Spa-Tacular Weekend package, valid through March 31, starts at $519 a night but includes a Junior Spa Suite (with a five-head rain shower and Jacuzzi tub), facial or manicure at Spa Chinois across the street, two signature I Shoreham Happy martinis, continental breakfast for two, late checkout, and a champagne toast upon arrival. Also until March 31, the Sexy Weekends package starts at $499 a night and includes a deluxe one-bedroom suite, two VIP tickets to the Museum of Modern Art (worth more than $40), two tickets to the Museum of Sex (read all about it at www.museumofsex.com ), and continental breakfast for two. The Shoreham completed a multimillion-dollar renovation at the end of last year.

Visit www.shorehamhotel.com or call 800-553-3347.

On the sky-high side
You won't find tables or slots, but you can live it up Vegas-style with a High Roller package at the Hotel Gansevoort in the city's trendy Meatpacking District . For $5,000 a night for two people, the offer includes a stay in the duplex penthouse, an excursion on a 42-foot private yacht or use of either a Lamborghini Gallardo or Ferrari 360 Spyder for a day; breakfast daily at Ono ; a table for 10 and magnum of vodka at Lotus ; a private midnight dip in the rooftop pool; a 60- minute custom facial, 60- minute massage, and manicure/pedicure per person; a bottle of Dom Perignon and chocolate strawberries upon arrival; round-trip transfers from the city's airports or addresses within 20 miles of the hotel; two monogrammed Hotel Gansevoort bathrobes; fresh flowers; and even hangover tonic, which may be most useful as you consider what you've spent.

Visit www.hotelgansevoort.com and click on Getaway Specials for lower-priced packages, or call 877-426-7386 .

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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