Magnolia Bakery NYC

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

Magnolia Bakery, renowned for their cupcakes, started out as a small local bakery in the quaint West Village in 1996. Now it is a worldwide phenomenon- partially due to its 30 second cameo in an episode of Sex and the City, but mostly because they are really darn yummy! Magnolia Bakery has over 30 stores around the globe. Luckily, six of them are right here in New York City, including the original, which happens to be located very close to where Carrie Bradshaw lived! See our post on how to find  Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment).  Below we also include all the locations of Magnolia Bakery and a map to help you find them.  We’ve also got tips on the best times to go, what to try and what not to buy. Lastly we have some suggestions of what you can do near each of the several locations.


Long before Magnolia Bakery made its 30 second appearance on Sex and the City, word was out in New York that their cupcakes were to die for. Locals new how great they were, but there were certainly no lines stretching around the block. The turning point was shortly after an episode of HBO’s Sex and the City aired. SATC  has quite a  cult following. In fact, there are a number of SATC tours that you can take in New York. We have a self-guided Sex and the City tour that includes a stop at Magnolia Bakery. There is also a SATC Bar Crawl – strictly for adults!

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NYC Christmas Movies Tour

NYC Christmas Movie Tour

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

See the side of New York City that you have come to know and love through your favorite holiday movies!  On our brand new pay-what-you-like Holiday Movie Tour of NYC, you can visit some of the most iconic spots from favorite films such as Elf, Home Alone 2, Serendipity, Scrooged and Miracle on 34th Street.  See the spot where Buddy the Elf triumphed in a snowball fight and where Kevin McAllister met the Pigeon Lady!  In addition to film sites, you will get to experience some of the beautiful holiday decorations and displays as we walk through the city.  (Be sure to also check out our daily Holiday Lights and Window Display Tour). We will warm up with a hot chocolate during this tour and end with a subway ride to Macy’s to meet Santa Claus!  (Check the bus tour version).

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Things to do with Kids in New York City

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

Visiting New York City with kids can seem a bit daunting. You might be wondering if they will adapt to the fast-paced busy streets? Will they be overwhelmed by the bright lights and noise? Worse, will they be bored? The answer is an emphatic NO. Unlike adults who have expectations of the Big Apple, kids are open for any experience and New York City will not let them– or you–down. This post contains our kid-approved 3 day itinerary that will keep the whole family entertained.

At Free Tours by Foot, we are very budget-conscious and dig deep to find ways for you to save money on your trip. Because some of the most popular attractions among the young ones (and adults too) are a bit pricey, we include tips and advice on how to get discounts or even pay nothing at all!  Many of our pay-what-you-wish tours are suitable for children, especially our food tours – they gobble them right up! Also, take a look at our 3 day itinerary for first-time visitors with a bunch of suggestions not included in this post.

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Freedom Tower Tickets

Freedom Tower Observatory Tickets and Tours

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

This post is about the Freedom Tower in NYC, how to get tickets, discounts and tours. The Freedom Tower, officially known as One World Observatory, opened to the public in 2015, after 14 years of anticipation and it was worth the wait. Visiting the top of the Freedom Tower and its observation deck is an unforgettable experience. This guide provides the information you need to plan your visit including how to get Freedom Tower tickets, visiting hours, and admission prices. We also have some tips on how to get discounted tickets.

You might want to combine your visit to the Freedom Tower with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and National 9/11 Museum. Seeing all three sights makes for a well-rounded and deeper understanding of the events of September 11, 2001.  The Freedom Tower is the embodiment of inspiration, as it soars to great heights. The Memorial pays tribute to the victims of the tragedy while the 9/11 Museum acknowledges the great acts of heroism on that day. This post has information for the Museum and Memorial, as well as suggestions for tours of the Freedom Tower area that you can combine with your trip to the Tower and its observatory.

TIP: CitySights is offering One World Observatory tickets for just $28/adult, a $6 discount (limited time).  They also are offering a combination bus tour, boat tour and observatory for just $63 adult.  If you can only visit one of the skyscraper observation decks, read our post Which to visit: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock or the Freedom Tower.

What to expect on your visit

Getting There

History and Stats

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Tribeca Image

Things to do in Tribeca | Self-Guided Walking Tour

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

Tribeca is a neighborhood often overlooked by visitors to New York City. Perhaps because it doesn’t offer the iconic images: you wont find the famous skyscrapers, there are no giant neon billboards and no hustle and bustle you find in other neighborhoods. That is the beauty of Tribeca — it gives you the chance to stroll casually along old cobblestone and Belgian-block streets. As you look up at splendid cast-iron buildings inscribed proudly with the year they were built, you can imagine the New York of a bygone era, an era when horses and buggies filled the streets, when slavery was still legal in the South, when commerce was what Tribeca was all about, and not condominiums, as it is today.

This tour will take you about an hour, not including any stops for a snack or checking out some of the shops in the area. You could easily spend a few hours in Tribeca, strolling, shopping and snacking. You may even want to consider Tribeca when choosing a hotel. There are some great hotels in this area and it is certainly calmer than staying in midtown and access to transportation is great. We’ve got some suggestions for you at the end of this post.

If you enjoy this tour, check out our self-guided New York Tours. Or why not join us for one of our many pay-what-you-like guided tours of New York City!

History of Tribeca

How to get to Tribeca

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Best Pub Crawls New York City

Best Pub Crawls and Bar Tours in New York City

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

This post compares the various different pub crawl, bar tours and nightclub packages available in NYC. With over 2,000 bars, pubs and cocktail lounges in New York City, where to dive in?  One of the best ways to discover the best bars in NYC is to join a tour and have someone in the know take you to them. This post covers the different types of pub, bar and cocktail tours with prices, schedules and descriptions of what to expect from that tour.

There are tours galore — from nightclub-themed party bonanzas to those that specialize in the beer brews themselves. You’ve got tours of rooftop bars, secret bars and tours that focus on the extraordinary history of drinking in New York City. (FYI: The drinking age in New York City is 21, so bring I.D. such as a passport or drivers license with you). We do offer pub crawls periodically, be sure to check our tour calendar or take a look at our pay-what-you-wish Night Tours.



Here are our picks for the best pub crawls and bar tours in New York City.





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Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

Taking a food tour is one of the best ways to discover multiple layers of the city. Food tours allow you to discover many neighborhoods of NYC, learn the city’s rich history and taste some of the best foods in the world. There are food tours for every taste and every budget. Most tours are organized by neighborhood so that you are getting both a history and culture tour while tasting what the locals enjoy every day. For example, neighborhoods like the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village are among the most popular food tour destinations because of the sights to see and the bites to eat.


Other tours are ‘theme’ food tours, focusing on one specific food or experience, like a pizza tour. Everyone knows New York’s pizza is one of the greatest foods on the planet – but which is the best of the best? Pizza tours can help you find that perfect slice for you.  If you are a craft beer drinker or cupcake lover, there’s a tour for you. If you are on a tight budget or have extra to splurge, there are food tours for every budget.

With so many food tours offered in New York City, it’s difficult to decide which one to take. That’s why we have compiled a list of food tours we think are among the most interesting and delicious! We’ve included a few of our own food tours on the list (our complete food tours are posted here). But if our guided food tours schedule doesn’t work for you or we don’t offer a specific food tour you’d like to try, below are some great food tours to check out.


Greenwich Village

The Village is probably the one neighborhood that has the most number of food tours out there. This is because its streets are lined with amazing foods, of all ethnicities as well as classic New York foods. Its history is engaging and there are many well-known sights to see. Choosing a food tour of Greenwich Village can be overwhelming. Take your time and see which tours are offered and which is right for you. Most Greenwich Village food tours stop at many of the same locations, so look at prices, number of tastings and what is and isn’t included in the tour when choosing.

Free Tours By Foot Like all our tours, this is a “pay what you wish” tour.  The same approach goes for food samplings so that you have control over what you eat, how much you eat and how much you spend. All recommended items are less than $4 and you will taste some of the same foods you would on pricey food tours. Be sure to consider  as well as our non-food Greenwich Village Tour.



Mario Batali Greenwich Village Food Tour This tour is ideal for “foodies” – you know the more than the basics of what makes some foods better than others. This tour steps the game up a notch because it was created by world-renown chef Mario Batali. He is NOT the guide of the tour but the guides as  passionate about food as Batali is himself. Tours are capped at 15 people so it is a more intimate experience. Cost is $64 per person and include several food samplings.



Greenwich Village Food and Culture Tour One of the convenient aspects of this tour by Foods of New York is that tours are given several times a day, 7 Days a week, year round. You will not have any trouble finding a time that works for you and your schedule. Tours start between 11:00am & 1:30pm. Included in your ticket are samples from 6 establishments Click here for their schedule and to buy tickets which cost $49-52 per person.

Lower East Side

Lower East Side food tourThis is another area that is popular with food tour companies.  Walking food tours of the Lower East Side are a great way to learn about this trendy neighborhood is known for its blend of cultural diversity and immigrant history. Most food tours will take you to sample the same foods such as knish, bialys, Chinese dumplings, and the best pickles in NYC. Here are a few of the many food tours out there at a range of prices.

Our Lower East Side Food Tour is different from other similar food tours offered because you get the same high quality tour with our entertaining guides and taste many of the same foods you would on other tours, but at an amazing cost-saving value. Like all our tours, this two hour is pay-what-you-wish and you also decide what you’d like to eat and how much you’d like to spend on food. Visit our website for tour dates and details. . (And if you’d like to check out the ‘hood without food, check our Guide to the Lower East Side.)

Big Onion’s Original Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour  takes you to 10 food stops of different ethnicities while highlighting the history of the neighborhood. The cost of the tour includes all small food samplings at local shops and markets. Cost: $27 Adults, $22 Students, Seniors, and Active Military.

The Tenement Museum’s Foods Of The Lower East Side tour is two hours of learning the immigrant experience and how immigrant foods have shaped American food while trying those foods. The Tenement Museum is worth a tour itself. And if you purchase a Tenement Museum building tour, you get receive 40% off their food tour.  Check their tour schedule and to buy tickets.  Cost: Adults $45, Seniors, college students and children (age 6-17),  and Seniors (age 65+) $40; Children under 6 free.

Other Neighborhoods

Taste of Harlem Historical Food Tour

This tour by Taste Harlem is generally 2-4 hours and runs Tuesday, Friday, Saturday at 10am. You do not sit down for a full meal at any one restaurant but instead visit at least four sit-down locations staying 15-20 minutes at those stops. The cost of the tour includes 6 food stops that include sampling tastings at several restaurants, Some of the food representative of the heritage of Harlem are Chicken & waffles, Oxtails, Rugelach, Flan and more. (Vegetarian options available upon request.) Cost: $65-$75 per person.

Chinatown And Little Italy Food Fest

Chinatown Food Tours

Ahoy New York Food Tours is a great way get the best of two worlds – two neighborhoods right next to each other with dramatically different but delicious food. The guide will teach you about the history of the immigrant population and development of these neighborhoods while you oldest Italian cheese shop in America, an Italian specialty shop over 100 years old, an Italian pastry shop, a tasty surprise in Little Italy, an authentic Chinese dumpling shop, and the oldest tea parlor in Chinatown. The tour includes 7 tastings over the course of 3 hours and costs $51 per person

Chelsea Market/Meatpacking District Food Tour

During this indoor market and outdoor tour by Foods of New York you’ll walk through what was once industrial wasteland and now have some of the most popular food destinations in the city. Tour includes 6 food establishments within Chelsea Market and one restaurant seating in the Meatpacking District and covers a wide range of food types and tastes. Cost $52 per person. Check their schedule to see which days of the week the tour is being run.

Hell’s Kitchen Food Tour

During this 4-hour food tour by Manhattan Walking Tours you’ll get to try samples from this diverse neighborhood, such as empanadas, custom-made donuts and curry puffs. The guides provide you with an elaborate history of how this unique neighborhood developed into the a popular night spot for a wide range of cuisines. And you’ll learn about the different theories of how this neighborhood came to be known as Hell’s Kitchen. They run the tour starts every day at 12.30pm. Cost is $75 per person.

Midtown Food Tour

You won’t find many food tours of Midtown Manhattan, but luckily Food on Foot offers one and it is an excellent way to try a wide range of foods in one of the most famous and exciting parts of New York City. While you walk from food stop to the next, your guide will provide  mini history lessons about the sights. The price of food is not included, but that gives you the flexibility to decide what to eat and how much to eat. Cost is $38 per person.


Scott’s Pizza Tour

Pizza Tours

Scott’s Pizza Tours are the premier pizza tours of New York City. Most of his tours are pizza walking tours, including a Greenwich Village Pizza Walk, Crosstown Pizza Walk, Lower East Side Pizza Walk and Brooklyn Pizza Walk. On Sundays, Scott offers a pizza bus tour that reaches the outer boroughs of NYC.  The NYC Pizza Bus visits four pizzerias over 4.5 hours while the walking tours visit three pizzerias in 3 hours. All tours include pizza and a Pocket Pizza Journal for every guest (drinks not included).

Free Tours by Foot guests are given $2 off on all of Scott’s tours. To get the discount, be sure to plug in FREEBYFOOT at checkout. Click here to learn about Scott’s Pizza Tours. Check out Scott’s fabulous reviews on TripAdvisor.

A Slice of Brooklyn 

This four and a half hour guided bus tour is a little short on the amount of pizza you’ll taste for what you pay. Just two slices and soft drinks. But the slices you do have are two of the BEST in New York City. What makes this tour different than other pizza tours in that its more of a Brooklyn tour by bus. You’ll loop through Brooklyn ‘hoods like DUMBO, Red Hook, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge and Coney Island. Movie sites are also pointed out like Locations from movies such as Saturday Night Fever, Goodfellas, The French Connection, Annie Hall and many more. The tour begins and ends at easy to reach Union Square in Manhattan. Click here for their calendar and to buy tickets.  Cost is $80 per person.


 Craft Beer Crawl

Join Urban Oyster for a pub crawl based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Not only will you sample some of new York’s best craft beer, you’ll learn how the beer is made, what goes into serving it, and how to fully appreciate beer the way professional tasters do.  The tours include over 10 different beers and light food is included as well. Tours run every Saturday at noon and lasts about 3 hours.  You can book your  tour here. You must be 21 to take the tour which costs $74 per person.

NYC Cocktail Tour – Prohibition Style

City Food Tours is a two-hour casually paced walking (and drinking) guided tour takes you to some of New York’s speakeasy style cocktail lounges. Visiting these ‘secretive’ drinking spots, you can get the feel for what it was like trying to find somewhere to find some liquor during the Prohibition Era when America went dry. The guide will share stories from the era while you stop at 3 of the best downtown Manhattan cocktail lounges and bars. The cost is $65 per person and included 3 half-sized cocktails and light bites. You must be 21 or older to attend. Tours run Saturday nights at 6:30 pm. Click here for tickets.

Self-guided Historic New York City Bar Tour If you prefer to drink at your own pace and choose your own ambiance we’ve got you covered! For even more info on where to imbibe, see our list of New York’s best Pub Crawls and  NY Happy Hours, as well as our comprehensive guide to NYC bars.



Cupcakes, Cookies and Gelato

This 2-hour dessert walking tour in Greenwich Village visits six popular local dessert shops. This is the neighborhood for the tastiest of treats. One can barely walk down the street without bumping into something sweet. Tastings including luxurious red velvet and gourmet chocolate cupcakes. You’ll also sample other desserts like gelato and cookies. The tour currently runs twice a day on Sundays and costs $50 a person.

Famous Fat Dave Food Tours

How better to try all the classic New York foods than to try them with your own personal guide driving you from one bot to another in a classic checkered cab? Tours are also offered in  a minivan for larger groups and also on foot. Choose from several tours such as the Chunky but Funky Monkey Package, The Junk in the Trunk Package, The Fat Elvis Package. Tours range in length from 2 hours to 4.5 hours depending on which tour you choose. Check the website for prices and information on how to book one of these unusual tours.

Food Truck Tour

Sidewalk Tours will show you that food trucks are much more than just a quick way to grab a cheap bite.  The food truck industry has become serious about the culinary arts and some of the best foods in New York are found at these restaurants on wheels. The trick is to know which ones to try and where they are parked on what days. This tour works that all out for you. You try 5 different trucks during two hours. Cost is $50 per person.


If you are considering getting a tourist pass, such as City Pass or Explorer Pass, some passes include food tours.  If you aren’t sure about getting a tourist pass, check our post to determine whether or not a tourist pass is for you.  Viator is a site that lists dozens of food tours and theme food tours offered by different companies and at deep discounted prices. Also, Groupon continually offers a wide array of food tours at discount prices. You can save a lot on a food tour by purchasing through Groupon. Sometimes as much as 75% off!

Bon apetit!


Written by Courtney Shapiro

Greenwich Village Restaurants

Best Greenwich Village Restaurants

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

There are over 25,000 food establishments in New York City, with hundreds of them located in the lively neighborhood of Greenwich Village. Here is a list of great restaurants to help you narrow down your choices.

It’s likely during your visit you will want to spend some time in this part of town. What’s great about the Village is that you can find cuisine for every type of eater – from fussy kids to carb-lovers, gluten-haters, haute cuisine to food trucks. But the choices can be overwhelming. To save you some time, we’ve compiled a list by category of restaurants to meet your needs and palates.


N.Y. Dosas  50 Washington Square South at Sullivan St.  Follow your nose and the trail smells of fragrant Indian spices at the south end of Washington Square Park and you will find this vegan food cart that has been serving inexpensive street food way before food trucks became the trend.  Try the vegan drumsticks, masala dosa with coconut chutney. $ Read more »

New York city pass banner

New York City Attraction Passes | Which One Is the Best to Buy

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

New York is a large city that is filled to the brim with exciting things to see and do.  Most people that visit like to see as much as possible, but paying individual admission at NYC’s most iconic attractions can really start to add up!  For this reason, several companies have created New York City passes that include admission to several attractions for one price.  Additionally, there are discounts to other attractions and tours.  Depending on what you have planned for your trip and how long you’ll be visiting, these New York City passes can really save you a lot of money. However, it can be difficult to know what will be best for your particular trip when it comes to purchasing passes.   Which one (if any) is right for you? (en español) (auf Deutsch)

Which New York Tourist Pass is BestTo Buy or Not To Buy Tourism Passes?

There is a pretty wide assortment of passes available for visitors to NYC.  Depending on your travel plans, interests, tourism stamina and budget they can be a really good way to see some of the best that New York has to offer.  Most of them offer cheaper passes for children, so they can be a good option for people traveling with a family.  In general, having an idea in advance of what you would like to see/have time to see will help you choose the pass that is right for you.

New York Pass

Smart Destinations: (à la carte)


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Where to see the Fireworks on 4th of July in New York City

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City.

What do you call 50,000 fireworks going off for 25 minutes with the New York Skyline as a backdrop?  The annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks!  This year the spectacular display will be launched from five locations in the East River: four barges near Midtown Manhattan and two barges below the Brooklyn Bridge.

The start time is 9 pm, but the show usually starts at about 9:25 pm and lasts 25 minutes or so. The “official” viewing locations are on the FDR Drive along the East River, specific locations at the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Access to the FDR drive will open at approximately 7 pm, but head over early as there will be thousands of people and once public viewing areas are filled, the entry points will be closed. Below the video is a list of entry points and also recommended ‘unofficial’ viewing locations.


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