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August 14-15

The New Yorker's New York

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As New Yorkers make the mad weekend dash to their summer shares in the Hamptons during summer weekends, just as many tourists flock to the city to take a bite of the Big Apple. This means long lines and crowds at popular attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead of wasting your weekend waiting on line, avoid these tourist attractions altogether and spend your weekend as a New Yorker would.

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New Yorkers are an impatient lot, so your best bet is to fly into the city. With a little advance planning and some research, it's possible to find an early Saturday morning flight for less than $200. You'll be in the city before noon. Once on the ground, take a taxi or the bus to deliver you to your hotel. If you're splurging, check out the new, ultra-hip, ultra-luxe Soho Grand Hotel at 310 W. Broadway. Single rooms start at $334, but you can't beat the downtown location for your "New Yorker's New York" weekend, and hey, they give you a pet goldfish to tend to during your stay. For the budget minded, head to midtown to check out the tiny but funky Moderne at 55th and Broadway. Rooms start at about $150 per night — and that's a bargain in New York.

Once settled, take the subway (lines N, R, 4, 5 and 6) to the 14th St.-Union Square stop and stroll through the Union Square Farmer's Market. It's a great place to people watch and observe food-obsessed New Yorkers at work. Grab lunch at Republic on Union Square, a reasonably priced noodle shop with a Pan-Asian menu, big, communal tables and waiters outfitted with headsets for speedy service.

Then, if you're in the mood for more outdoor shopping, head uptown to the 26th Street Flea Market (at the corner of Sixth Avenue) and browse through stalls filled with antiques, vintage clothing, handmade jewelry and other funky finds.

If the weather's nice, hop back on the subway and head to the tip of Manhattan (South Ferry stop) and board the Staten Island Ferry for a cheap sightseeing cruise of New York Harbor. You'll pass the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Governor's Island and catch a spectacular view of the New York skyline to boot.

Since you're in the area, might as well stop in at Century 21, (22 Cortland St. between Broadway and Church St.) the legendary fashion source for designer clothing at close to wholesale prices. You'll have to fight a crowd and sift through lots of frightful stuff, but you may get lucky and find a Dolce & Gabbana ensemble to wear to dinner.

Before dinner though, you'll want to wind down with a cocktail. Check out Layla at 211 W. Broadway, an upscale and exotic Middle Eastern restaurant that counts Robert DeNiro among its high-profile owners. The bar snacks — spicy pita chips — are positively addictive, and a slew of house cocktails made with pomegranate juice should quench your thirst nicely.

For dinner, head to celebrity chef Mario Batali's Po, on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village, for simple yet elegant traditional Italian fare in an unpretentious trattoria setting.

Hop in a cab and end your evening at the seedy Continental Divide, 25 Third Ave at St. Marks Place, for some live, loud and home-grown rock. The beer is cheap, shots are $10 for five rounds, and earplugs are sold for $1 behind the bar.

If you catch a case of the midnight munchies, fend them (and tomorrow's hangover) off at Pommes Frites, 123 Second Ave. between 7th and 8th streets, with some crispy, salty Belgian-style fries ($2.50) dunked in one of 28 toppings.

Sunday is a lazy day for New Yorkers, as it should be for you before you head back to the airport and small-city living. Stop in at a corner deli, pick up a copy of the Times and a bagel with a shmear or an egg on a hard roll and head to Central Park for breakfast and a leisurely stroll. Make sure you check out the skate circle (enter the park at 72nd Street) near the Central Park band shell for a thoroughly entertaining show. Disco-dancing roller-bladers and skaters gather here on warm weekends to strut their stuff, most of them dancing to the beat of their own private drummers. If this isn't quintessential New York, then nothing

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