Spending 4h in a car with a stranger COULD be awkward, but not with Dave – he is easy company and conversation was never less than absorbing.
We got off to a great start, with an unexpected and rare (for winter) appearance by the Checker. Such a beauty, and we weren’t the only ones who thought so – passers-by would constantly stop to look and take pictures. Disconcerting at first, yet understandable and quite good fun!
As for the food, we placed ourselves in Dave’s capable hands. By continuously gaging our preferences and appetites throughout the tour, he ensured a well-rounded experience. Everything was excellent, from the beautiful Dominican drink Morir Soñando (orange juice, condensed milk, vanilla and ice – it really was as good as it sounds) in Williamsburg, to the moistest and most gorgeous pastrami washed down with Cel-ray Soda at David’s Brisket House in Bed-Stuy. To the flavorsome, spicy doubles and aloo pie at Trini Gul. To the improbable Gargiullo burger (burger, hot beef, onions, cheese, the whole lot dipped in beef broth) at Brennan and Carr in Homecrest. To the chewiest think pizza at New Park Pizza in Queens. I could go on – you get the idea.
We ended the day full and happy and with a greater understanding of New York than any guidebook could give you. Thoroughly recommended, and if/when we visit New York again, we will definitely repeat it.
I participated in a Photo Safari in April during a short holiday to the States. I had been to NYC before and wanted to try something different. I thought I was just going to have someone show me where to take the pictures but instead I got real instructions on how to actually make the picture better! It was a complete surprise and a delight. I had a lot of fun, learned a lot and was able to return home with some pictures I'm proud to share too.
I'm just delighted with my experience and can't recommend it enough.
The CityPass is a booklet of vouchers you can buy in advance of your trip to NYC which gets you into a number of tourist hot-spots for a discounted price.
To make it worth its money, you do need to try and use most of the vouchers and I would say that you need at least four days in NYC to allow yourself enough time to do so.
The vouchers get you entry to:
The top of the Rock or the Guggenheim
Empire State Building
Statue of Liberty or Cruise around NYC.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Natural History Museum
The Museum of Modern Art
I really enjoyed all the things apart from the cruise - it was utterly tedious after the first 15 minutes. I'd strongly advise anyone to go for the Statue of Liberty option instead.
The absolute best thing about the pass was that it constantly allowed us to jump the often very long queues of people and get priority access. This was absolutely fantastic and saved us so much time.
These walking tours of various areas in NYC (Greenwich Village, Central Park, the Financial District) teach photography while using the city as the classroom.
Tours begin with a talk on photography that features pointers on taking better pictures. At each location a bit of the history of the area is given and then people are set free to capture the area with their cameras.
During the free time to photograph, you are able to ask for feedback on your photos or for help with understanding your camera better.
It's a different way to see NYC while also learning to capture what you see in new ways.
Bicycle - this is one of the best ways to see NYC. There are a lot of bike friendly areas, like Central Park, Hudson River Park bicycle path, Brooklyn Bridge. These company offers nice bicycles for hire. We chose a bike tour in NYC. These guys showed us best places in New York and it was a lot of fun. So for those who like cycling - i strongly recommend this company, they located just one block from Central Park.
I tried public tours and while they are cheaper, a private tour is much more personalised and inclusive. The group size is small and limited to friends (or family). Their New York City walking tours are pretty comprehensive yet leisurely.
In New York the best value sightseeing tour is that relaxing Circle Line boat trip around Manhattan Island. For just $34 those aboard get to see it all with great commentary. Remember: sit on the left (or port for more seasoned voyagers) side of the boat!
On Location Tours is New York City's only TV & Movie Tour Company. They take you behind the scenes of your favourite TV shows and movies filmed in NYC: Sex & the City, Friends, Gossip Girl, Seinfeld, Ghostbusters, and more. The tours are all led by New York actors and actresses who really know their stuff.
Experience New York City up close and personal with a native New Yorker who has a passion for this incredible city. Gotham Walking Tours conducts informative and entertaining public and private walking tours of multiple New York City neighbourhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn, highlighting the political, social, architectural and cultural history of the city's diverse communities. All tours are conducted by a licensed tour guide who holds advanced degrees in American history and in law from Harvard University and from NYU School of Law, and who has been researching and reading about New York City's multifaceted history for over twenty years.
Big Apple Greeter is a voluntary organisation which was set up to give visitors to NYC a personal insight into the Big Apple.
A Greeter meets you at your hotel and you get an hour's walking tour of your chosen neighbourhood, and it is all free. You even get a subway pass for the day. We had a great time. Check the websites for details.
We're normally people who cringe at the idea of organised tours but after a couple of days touring the city by foot and subway, it was nice to let someone else do the work.
It's impossible to get a true handle of the neighbourhoods in an open top bus but it's a good way of getting your bearings and snapping some good photos.
The guys selling the tours are polite but really just after the sale so don't really offer much in the way of explanation or advice. I don't think English is often their first language but that's no reason to to be fearful as all the tours are totally legit.
I do recommend the Brooklyn Tour. Although the photo opps are less than in Manhattan, we were entertained for a good couple of hours by the guide (Mr Siegel, didn't catch his first name). A true Brooklynite, he regaled us with his own family history and his own upbringing outside of The City. It was refreshing to have someone combine the official tour script with his own political opinions, his feeling about Manhattan and his hatred of the LA Dodgers! Make sure he serenades the bus with the Frank Sinatra song or ask for your money back!
Get on the main city tour and then hop off at the South Street Seaport to get your connection. Watch your timing as the last tour to Brooklyn starts about 3pm.
Get on at 8th and 49th, or 45th and Times Square.
Connection at South Street Seaport.
Get a free (but make a donation) personalised tour of New York for your family/small group, led by an NY born citizen.
You can suggest some things you'd like to see, they'll show you how to use the subway and bus - or anything you and they like. Book well before you go. It made the rest of our stay so much easier - and we'll use them again.
Now that you cannot go up the Statue of Liberty, we found the ferry tour to the island a bit of a waste of time. The line is very long (it took us over an hour).
To skip the queues go to the Staten Island ferry terminal and head to the back of the boat. You'll get exactly the same view of the Lady, without having to queue up. I think its a better view and quicker.
Check out my NYC guide here:
Totally customized private tour of New York City. Very personal and personable guide. Before you arrive, they work out an itinerary with you by email. Then, their guide takes you all around. It is much cheaper than you might think. Depending on the number of people in your family or group, it may actually be the best tour bargin in New York.
Get a rickshaw ride round Times Square. If you've never been to Times Square before you'll come out of the subway and be overwhelmed by it all. We found this a great way to soak it all up and it was definitely one of the funniest experiences we had in NY. We managed to get a 15-minute tour for $20, which I thought was a bargain (about £6 each between two people). You're bound to get a cool guy or girl with a story to tell who will give you a individual and real tour of the city - they live there after all. A lovely Israeli guy picked us up. Revel in being a proper tourist for a bit, being ferried round in the open air. You won't feel overly secure dodging in and out of the Times Square traffic but that was all part of it. If you don't take it too seriously, like a gondola ride in Venice, you will love it, laugh a lot and be glad you did it.
Just hail one down. Preferably choose the best looking one because you will have a view of their arse the whole time.
Buy a day ticket for the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus. I would seriously recommend the downtown tour for your first day-there is a tour guide on each bus if you’re interested in the history of the places, and if not, you can sit back and enjoy the views or try to follow your route on a map to get your bearings! You can get on and off at any stop-which are at all the main downtown attractions, buses are quite frequent and the tour guides are very friendly-pleased to answer any questions or help you figure out which stop you need!
These hop-on, hop-off tours are a fantastic way to start your sightseeing. Running out of Times Square, Gray Line do tours of Downtown, Uptown, Brooklyn and a night tour. You can buy tickets from the many sellers in Times Square and your best buy is the All Tour pass, which is valid for two days for all the tours at about $46.
Each bus is open top and comes with a tour guide, who is usually true New Yorker and has plenty of information on the places you pass through, as well as plenty of recommendations for restaurants, shops, cafes etc.
The night tour is not to be missed as you go across to Brooklyn shore and get a beautiful view of Lower Manhattan. Be warned that it gets very chilly sitting up top at night, no matter how hot it has been during the day, so take a sweater.
The buses stop at all the major points of interest and run from 8am until 6pm, with the night tour starting around the same time until about 9pm.
Main point:Times Square or any stop
Lasted three hours, costs about the same as the Statue of Liberty trip. We had the same views of the statue plus toured the rest of Manhattan. No x-ray/search as per Statue of Liberty and Empire State so much more enjoyable and relaxed.
It leaves from pier 83, which is right next to the air and space display and concorde so all in all great value plus you don't get the disappointment of finding out after the security etc to get to the Statue of Liberty that you can now only go up the base not the actual statue.
On Location Tours specialise in guided tours to locations around New York and New Jersey which have been used in film and TV shows. I recently did the Sopranos and Sex and the City tours. If you're a fan of either show I would highly recommend them. The Sex and the City Tour is particularly good for finding out about good bars and restaurants in the city.
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