Fall 2011 Travel: New York, N.Y.

Drive time: About 3 hours.

Staten Island Ferry. (Photo by Malcolm Brown) See more photos below.Fall foliage colors in Central Park last for only a few short weeks, but the lights of Times Square and Broadway dazzle day and night all year long. Of New York’s five boroughs, Manhattan is the smallest, but its larger-than-life personality is what attracts visitors from around the world.

We’re assuming that you’ve been to New York City, so we’re skipping the familiar to offer a new perspective on the Big Apple. But if you still haven’t visited some of the biggies, we’ll tell you how to do it on the cheap or even free.

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Stay Here

One of Midtown’s newest accommodations, the 21-story Strand Hotel is contemporary cool in design and amenities. Catch the skyline view from Top of the Strand lounge and the seafood risotto or truffle-crusted filet mignon at the Strand Bistro (entrées $22-$36). Fall rates begin at $339 (breakfast included); self-parking $37, valet $40. 33 W. 37th St.; (212) 448-1024, thestrandnyc.com.

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Eat Here

Despite its unlikely location inside a home furnishings store, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen was named “Best New Restaurant for 2011” by the James Beard Foundation. Economize by opting for a smaller portion of fancy pasta for ($15-$16) or a whole-wheat pizza ($14-$17). Entrées $22-$32. 35 E. 18th St. (between Broadway and Park Avenue); (212) 475-5829, abckitchennyc.com.

To-Do List

Foods of New York Tours offer three hours of showing, telling and tasting, plus side dishes on neighborhood history, culture, architecture and entertainment. $47-$65. (917) 408-9539, foodsofny.com.

• At the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, guided apartment building and neighborhood walking tours offer a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors who came here during the 19th- and 20th-centuries to find their own American Dream. $20. 108 Orchard St.; (212) 982-8420, tenement.org.

• Head to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for a tour of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid, a National Historic Landmark; the “top-secret” missile command center on the U.S.S. Growler; and the Concorde, the world’s fastest commercial airplane. $24. Pier 86, West 46th Street and 12th Avenue; (212) 245-0072, intrepidmuseum.org.

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Thrifty Tips

• Local volunteer guides from the nonprofit Big Apple Greeter organization provide free orientation tours tailored to your individual interests and preferences. (No tipping!) (212) 669-8159, bigapplegreeter.org.

• By New York City standards the century-old Hotel Walcott is a bargain. $200-$230 for a queen room; off-site parking discount. 4 W. 31st St.; (212) 268-2900, wolcott.com.

• A dynamite Upper East Side doggery, Papaya King has been around for 80 years. 179 E. 86th St. (between Third and Lexington avenues); (212) 369-0648, papayaking.com.

• At Crepes on Columbus, you can try something wild, like tiger shrimp with black-bean paste ($8.75-$12). Or build your own triple-filling chocolate ($6.75). 990 Columbus Ave. (between 108 and 109 streets); (212) 222-0259, crepesoncolumbus.com.

ABC Carpet & Home features 10 floors filled with just about everything in creation to furnish and decorate your home. 888-881 Broadway (at East 19th Street); (212) 473-3000, abckitchennyc.com.

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• Save up to 50 percent on Broadway and off-Broadway blockbusters at TKTS discount booths. tdf.org.

• Many museums and attractions offer free or pay-as-you-wish admission on specific days or evenings. The National Museum of the American Indian (a Smithsonian treasure), Forbes Galleries and a ride on the Staten Island Ferry (with views of the skyline, harbor and Statue of Liberty) are always free.

Our Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs Party is July 25!