Travel in Brief

Tonianne Lubrano of the Brooklyn, N.Y., walks over the Brooklyn Bridge to her job in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. A walk across the bridge, one of the city’s most important landmarks, is one of New York’s best free activities for visitors, offering great views of the skyline and a close-up look at the bridge’s famous arches. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK – In a city with some of the world’s most expensive hotels and restaurants, many of New York’s best attractions are free.

So many that it’s hard to narrow them down. Most New Yorkers likely would agree on these five must-sees:

Times Square: A vibrant public space like no other. Plenty to buy, but the lights, sights and people-watching are free, 24/7.

Central Park: A green space where New Yorkers can escape to skate, bike, jog, picnic, walk a dog or climb a rock. Stroll serpentine paths and ponder how well the park fulfills the goal of its 19th-century designers to create the illusion of nature in a city.

Staten Island Ferry: This humble boat takes commuters between Manhattan and Staten Island 24 hours a day, and it’s free. It offers classic views of the Statue of Liberty, harbor and skyscrapers.

Brooklyn Bridge: When it opened in 1883, the bridge was an engineering wonder. It remains a beloved symbol on New York and an aesthetic triumph, with Gothic arches worthy of a cathedral and a delicate filigree of cables.

High Line: A newer attraction, the High Line is a narrow park built on an old elevated freight railway along 10th Avenue on Manhattan’s West Side. It offers a unique look at the urban landscape from 30 feet above ground.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. – The main roadway leading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is set to reopen on Tuesday for the summer season.

Grand Canyon National Park officials say the historic Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim and all North Rim facilities also will reopen that day.

Arizona State Route 67 leading to the North Rim was closed for the winter in November. Rim operations also include camping, camper services, food services, groceries and a service station. Park rangers present daily programs. The more popular South Rim is open year-round. Visit

STAMFORD, Conn. – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide plans to open 40 new hotels in the Middle East and North Africa over the next five years, the hotel operator said.

The company now has nearly 70 high-end hotels in the region, including a recently opened Westin in Abu Dhabi and St. Regis in Qatar. It has a long history in the area, beginning with its opening of a Sheraton in 1966 in Kuwait.

Starwood said the region is its second largest growth market after China. The company expects the number of tourists traveling to the region will double by 2030.

The company, based in Stamford, Conn., has 1,103 properties under brands such as St. Regis, W, Westin, Le Meridien and Sheraton.

DENVER – The National Ski Areas Association trade group says preliminary numbers show U.S. ski areas tallied an estimated 51 million skier and snowboarder visits this past season, which represents a roughly 15 percent drop from the previous season.

Many U.S. ski resorts weathered a mild winter with below-average snowfall in the 2011-12 season.

WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian Institution has an exhibit featuring Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ more than 300 technology patents on the National Mall with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The exhibit, which opened Friday, titled “The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Art and Technology That Changed the World,” is on view through July 8 at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center.

It will include a 1985 Apple Macintosh computer, mouse and keyboard.

See /stevejobs

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Three Tennessee Valley Authority visitor centers have opened for the season.

They are at Fontana Dam in North Carolina, Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant near Chattanooga and Norris Dam in Norris, Tenn.

The three offer information about TVA history, how the agency operates its electric system and how it manages the Tennessee River and its tributaries. The centers have maps, videos, displays and information on TVA history and each site. See

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Daredevil Nik Wallenda says he’ll cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope on June 15.

The seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas figures the 1,800-foot walk on a two-inch steel cable will begin in early evening and take 30 to 40 minutes.

AZTEC, N.M. – Aztec Ruins National Monument is slated to play host to a National Geographic “geotourism” trail of the Four Corners.

The launching of a geotourism trail is scheduled June 2 at the ruin site in Aztec, N.M. The launch will include Indian ceremonial dancers and excursions to nearby geotourism sites. Geotourism helps the geographic character of a place, its environment, culture and heritage.

National Geographic will release a map titled “Four Corners Region: Trail of the Ancients,” with details on archaeological sites, landscapes and wildlife viewing areas.

Wire reports