For New Yorkers, tourists are usually one thing – in the way. And although it may be hard to hold back expletives when they walk too slow or stop mid-stride in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures with their selfie sticks, we can take a cue or two from our visitor friends.
Tourists take advantage of what we sometimes take for granted. Blissfully unjaded by the daily hustle of life in the Big Apple, they revel in the energy of the city and take time to explore its culture and history, stopping to gawk at its sheer massiveness along the way.
Take on that mentality – go out and be a tourist in your own city. Because no matter how long you’ve been a New Yorker or how much you’ve already seen, there is always something new to discover and learn (while still avoiding Time Square like The Plague). Now is as good a time as ever to go on one of the many NYC tours available.
Circle Line Tours
Pier 83, West 42nd Street and 12th Avenue
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises are an icon in their own right. Now celebrating 70 years, their leisurely tours (typically 1- 2 ½ hours) feature picture-perfect views of Manhattan, with experienced guides that point out the most famous sights and locations and provide fun facts and trivia along the way. Cruises operate year-round and have enclosed viewing areas to accommodate guests in any kind of weather. During the warmer months, thrill seekers can hop aboard “The Beast” speedboat for a high-speed tour through New York Harbor. Use your AAA membership to save 15% on tickets.
Double Decker Bus Tours
See all the sights from the top of a Double Decker Bus. Experience the Bronx, Brooklyn, uptown or downtown Manhattan, or all of the above. With the ability to hop on and hop off as you go, you can travel the city at your own pace and pick up a bus from anywhere, anytime, with tours up to 72 hours. Options and packages include guided walking tours and drop-offs at other sightseeing locations such as cruises, helicopters and skyscraper observation decks.
Liberty Helicopter Tours
Downtown Manhattan Heliport 6 East River Piers
212-967-6464 or 1-800-542-9933
View the New York City skyline like you never have before—from above! Choose from several tour options that will have you flying over the Hudson River, past the Statue of Liberty and by other famous landmarks. Show your AAA card at the ticket window to save 10%.
Central Park Bike Tour
203 W 58th Street (7th Avenue)
A bike ride in Central Park is one of the best things to do in NYC. Pedal through the top sights and attractions such as the Onassis Reservoir, Shakespeare Garden and Strawberry Fields on a two-hour leisure bike tour or art and architecture tour. Tours are run by Bikerent.nyc, which in addition to bike rentals in Central Park, offer rentals at Brooklyn Bridge and Broadway locations for self-guided tours and city exploration.
A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours
Learn where to find the best pizza in Brooklyn from true “Brooklynites” on A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours. Pass through famous neighborhoods and familiar movie locations while on your way to enjoying some of the best pizza around. Stops include Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge and L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst. In December, the Christmas Lights Tour of the extravagant light displays in Dyker Heights is not to be missed. All tours conveniently depart from Manhattan. AAA members save 15% on A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours when booking online. Read about our experience on the pizza tour!
“Museum tours for people who don’t like museums,” is how Museum Hack defines their service. Specializing in private, small group tours, Museum Hack tour guides take a non-traditional approach to museums, highlighting fun facts and quirky tidbits to make your museum visit anything but boring. Experience the Met or the Museum of Natural History in a new light!
Grand Central Terminal Tour
89 East 42nd Street
Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the world by number of tracks, but it is much more than a commuter portal. Over 100 years old, it holds a lot of history and many secrets, not to mention some of the most remarkable examples of architecture and design. Did you know that in the dining concourse there is an unmarked “Whispering Gallery,” where due to the unique acoustics, one person can whisper something into the corner and another person across the way can hear them as if they were right next to them? Learn this and more on a Grand Tour, a 75 minute walking tour led by an expert. “Local” and “express” audio tours are also available; obtain headsets at specially marked “GCT Tour” windows in the main concourse or downloaded straight to your phone.
On Location Tours
New York is the most filmed city in the world. Get transported to your favorite movie and television scenes on a guided bus tour of famed locales. Drink cosmos and shop in Greenwich Village on the Sex and the City Hotspots Tour, take pictures in front of famous backdrops on the Turner Classic Movie Film Tour, or enjoy a date night like your favorite on-screen couple on the Romantic Movie Moments Tour. If you’re into celebrity gossip, the TMZ Celebrity Tour NYC showcases over 50 of the stars’ favorite hangouts. AAA members save 15%.
The Enthusiastic Gourmet Food Tours
Some may argue that the best way to experience New York is to taste your way through it. For tour guide Susan Rosenbaum, a well-traveled epicure, it is her passion to show you the way. Specializing in small tours with a maximum of 8 people, Rosenbaum guides hungry sightseers through a leisurely walking tour of New York City’s top food neighborhoods. Learn about ethnic flavors and traditions while sampling knishes and bialys on the Nosh Food Tour through the Jewish Lower East Side, cheese and cannoli on the Melting Pot Food Tour through Little Italy, and dumplings and pork buns on the Chinatown Food Tour.
The Radio City Stage Door Tour
1260 Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave and 50th Street)
Go behind the scenes of one of the most famous theaters in the world. On this guided tour, you will get the inside scoop on the design, the history, and the secrets of the stage. Plus, meet a Rockette! Save 10% when you show your AAA membership card.
Gain a new appreciation for the city on one or several of these NYC tours. If not a formal tour, take a self-guided adventure. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, ride the Staten Island Ferry, visit the Statue of Liberty or climb to the top of One World Trade. You may be surprised how fun it is to be a tourist!
Have another NYC tour to suggest? Tell us in the comments!