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A DAY IN NEW YORK: Touristy

Sunday, May 4, 2008

WHAT TO DO:

· Admission to the 86th-floor observatory of the Empire State Building (350 Fifth Ave., between 33rd and 34th streets, http://www.esbnyc.com) is $19, but if you want to go to the head of the line, buy an ESB Express Pass ($45). Admission to the 102nd-floor observatory is $15 extra; tickets can be bought only on-site. Line updates: 877-692-8439.

· Tours via NYC Ducks (888-838-2570, http://www.nycducks.com) start in Times Square and cover a relatively small area for $19. But the guides are fun, and the plunge into the Hudson is a hoot. Just be aware that the tour is sensitive to weather, and wear sunscreen.

· "SonicVision" is shown Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. at the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th Street, 212-769-5200, http://www.amnh.org). Tickets are $15.

WHERE TO EAT:

I'm more of a grab-as-you-go kind of guy, but I did pause long enough for Thai food at Pooket (945 Second Ave.), where a couple of beers, some decent pad Thai and attentive service was about $20, with tip. Love the all-day breakfasts at the Applejack Diner (1725 Broadway at 55th Street); it's ridiculously tight, so try to time it when the wall of windows is open. A cheese omelet and coffee is about $11.

For a late-night snack, the Mee Noodle Shop (922 Second Ave. at 49th Street) awaits. Order inside, pick up outside; a small veggie lo mein was less than five bucks. New York's hubcap-size cookies are everywhere; I got mine at Roxy Delicatessen (1565 Broadway between 46th and 47th streets) for $2.

-- J.D.

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