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Save On The Main Attractions

August 10, 2008|Christopher Reynolds

Quit standing around in museum lobbies. To save dollars and time in line at eight more-or-less mandatory Manhattan destinations, consider a Citypass ([888] 330-5008, www.citypass.com). For $74 per adult (or $54 if you're 12 to 17), this booklet gets you one-time admission to the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and either a Circle Line cruise around the island or a ferry trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The pass is valid for nine days. (Individually, the adult price would be $120 or more.) You can buy a passbook online or at any of the participating attractions.

Stop paying $2 per subway and bus ride. The city sells Metrocards for unlimited trips for one, seven, 14 or 30 days. A one-day "fun pass" costs $7.50; a seven-day card $25. Available at subway booths, subway vending machines and on buses.

Don't forget the Empire State Building (Fifth Avenue at 34th Street; [212] 736-3100, www.esbnyc.com) -- but steel yourself for the hard sell. You can't stay away because the views are unbeatable, especially just after sunset. But from the moment you enter, you'll hear endless pitches for souvenirs and upgrades, and the lines can get long. The basic admission price ($19 per adult) gets you to the 86th-floor observation deck. To reach the 102nd-floor observation deck at the very top, it's $15 more. (The 86th floor, 1,050 feet above ground, was plenty good for me.) It's open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., and you can call ahead to learn about visibility and the length of the line.

Think about how closely you need to inspect the Statue of Liberty. The ferry ride to the island from Battery Park (at the southern tip of Manhattan) costs $12 per adult and allows a stroll around the island and access to snack bars and a gift shop. But to get up on the elevated pedestal and peek at the interior structure, you need to reserve a Monument Access pass in advance (limited number available the day of a visit) and then wait in a second security screening line. And, no, you can't climb to the crown or anywhere above the pedestal. It's been closed to the public since Sept. 11, 2001. (More information: www.nps.gov/stli and www.statuecruises.com.)

-- Christopher Reynolds

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