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Travel tips. `For kids only' vacation in Florida . . . wildlife-watching in northern Scotland . . . new guide to country homes in France

Manhattan in the winter. Native New Yorkers enjoy January, February, and March in the city, when tourism is down. They find excellent theater seats and choice dinner reservations more easily attainable and museums less crowded. With this in mind, New World Bed and Breakfast, a New York City B&B association, is sponsoring ``The Island Vacation Special,'' which provides Manhattan guests who ask for it a 20 percent discount. B&B accommodations range from lofts in Soho or walk-ups in Greenwich Village to Upper East Side high-rises or West Side Brownstones. Call toll free 800-443-3800 for reservations. Discounts apply through March 31. Freebies for kids on family vacations. Throughout the travel industry there's a growing trend toward inducements for parents to include children in their resort stays. The most recent addition is the Hotel Bonaventure in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which has begun a program for children aged 5-12. While Mom and Dad enjoy the sun, spa, golf, or tennis, the children can participate in a day of supervised activities at no extra charge. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. trained counselors teach swimming and other sports, organize trips to the beach, zoo, planetarium, and newspaper offices, as well as supervise skating, conduct cooking lessons, or give puppet shows. A nursery provides care for children under 4 daily from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. The ``For Kids Only'' weekend package price is $49 per adult per day (double occupancy), and 1 or 2 children (under 17) can stay at no extra charge. Daily accommodations for each additional child cost $10. For brochure or reservations phone 800-432-3063 (in Florida), or 800-327-8090 (from outside). Birding at Borrobol, Scotland. A new series of tours emphasizing birdlife, wildlife, and the history of Scotland's far north will begin in April and continue until mid-July. The location is on Europe's northern migration route, where not only birds but herds of hundreds of red deer can be spotted. Accommodations are at Borrobol Lodge, a private 22,000-acre baronial estate in the county of Sutherland. Cost for a one-week program that includes accommodations, daily bird-watching trips with an experienced ornithologist, some sightseeing, and all meals is $975 per person (double occupancy). For more information, write Michael Wigan, Borrobol, Kinbrace, Sutherland, Scotland KW11 6UB, U.K. Telephone from the United States is 011-44-1-381-0745 (London) and 011-44-4313-268 (Scotland) after April 1. French country home catalog. Travelers looking for a vacation in rural France will appreciate the new listing of 500 country homes (or ``gites'') available to tourists. The book includes a photograph and description of each home, plus information about the region and leisure activities nearby. Cost for the two-week minimum stay in July and August ranges from $180 to $840. For a catalog, send $5 to the French Experience, 390 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018. Rental flats and cottages in England. Pilgrim's Way Ltd. is a new travel service offering flats and cottages in London, Kent, Devon, Dorset/Wiltshire, and the Cotswolds. All housing has been selected to meet American standards and provide easy access to medieval cathedrals, the seashore, hiking, and historic homes and gardens, among other attractions. According to Anne Pilgrim, president, ``Our service leaves our clients free to follow their own interest in England, while doing away with the problems and wasted time of not having housing arrangements made ahead of time.'' Contact Pilgrim's Way Ltd., PO Box 1307, Havertown, Penn. 19083. Phone (215) 649-1868. Senior citizen travel directory. Travel industry discounts for seniors continue to grow in popularity. Harry H. Henry of Oakland, Calif., has completed a new ``Senior Citizen Travel Directory'' that lists special rates available in the most popular destinations in all 50 states, with some cities in Canada, Britain, and Mexico. General information includes discounts for air, rail, bus, and ship transportation, and a list of home exchange organizations, guest houses, hotels and motels, and some campgrounds. For a copy, send $3.95 to Senior Directory, PO Box 1822, Oakland, Calif. 94612. Tours of Italian villas and gardens. Garden-lovers may be interested in the new tour to Italy announced by Serendipity Tours Inc., which specializes in garden tours abroad. The tour offers five days in Rome with day trips to some outlying villas famous for their historic gardens. It then goes to Siena (via Porto Ercole) and includes many private gardens not open to the public. The tour ends with a five-day trip to Florence and its many museums and villas, including three historic Medici gardens. Among the tour leaders are experts in Italian gardens, landscape painting, and architecture. For information, contact Serendipity Tours, 3 Channing Circle, Cambridge, Mass. 02138. Phone (617) 354-1879.

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