Audio Tours of New York City (Pay-What-You-Wish)

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

We are proud to offer our newest, affordable sightseeing option – AUDIO TOURS.  Can’t make one of our guided tours?  Well, we have recorded some of our best tour guides giving their tours and put them on a GPS enabled app.  We’ve also included downloadable PDF maps NYC Audio Toursof each walk, so that you don’t need to have GPS maps running with the app (save your battery).

 

Here is how it works:

  1. Download our free app on (iTunes) or (Android)
  2. Download any audio tour (no cost)
  3. Enjoy the tour for FREE, or……

If you thought the tour was valuable, then consider contributing to help us make more of our public tours available online.  Each tour requires many hours of preparation to write, record and edit.  


Available Tours:

  • Central Park
  • Lower Manhattan
  • Greenwich Village
  • The High Line

DUMBO Main Image

Things to do in DUMBO | A Self-Guided Tour

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

So you’ve seen a lot of Manhattan and you want to explore somewhere new. Perhaps you are looking for somewhere to eat after walking over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. Why not check out DUMBO? This self-guided tour takes you to see charming and historic locations and cutting edge art and architecture in DUMBO. No, we are not talking about the famous Disney elephant. We are talking about the historic Brooklyn neighborhood known by the acronym “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” (DUMBO). It is one of New York City’s hippest, historic neighborhoods with unsurpassed views and the city’s best pizza! Best of all, this tour takes you to the spots where you can take some of the best photos of New York City. Make sure your camera battery is charged and ready to go!

What makes DUMBO so interesting is how its past as a mecca of American manufacturing in the late 1800s-early 1900s has not been erased by the influx of wealth into the area. DUMBO embraces its past by re-purposing the 100 year old warehouses into luxury condos, hip restaurants, cutting edge performance art spaces and tech start-ups like Etsy. The seamless blending of DUMBO’s past and present make it a one of a kind neighborhood to visit.

 

Getting to DUMBO

Where to Eat in DUMBO

 


GETTING THERE Read more »

High Line Tours

High Line Tours | Chelsea and the Meatpacking District

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

This post reviews and compares the various different tours of the High Line, the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, including self-guided and audio tours.  The area around the High Line Park was a vital business district of New York City, supplying fresh fruits, French cheeses and Russian caviar as well as fresh meats to city markets. The hustle and bustle of the streets induced the city to elevate the railroad trains delivering goods to the commercial buildings. When interstate truck traffic made the railway outdated, it fell into ruin, only to be regenerated as an innovative park that is begging for you to explore it.

NOTE: We now have an audio tour of the High Line narrated by one of our professional guides where you can hear some of the same great stories and historical facts you would on our live tour.


Free Tours by Foot

Bus Tours

Chelsea Market



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Metropolitan Museum of Art Tours

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

This post compares and reviews the various options you have for a Metropolitan Museum of Art Tour, including guided and audio tours.  The Met is filled with exhibitions which focus on significant cultural history. These installations are frequently switched out, allowing you to experience something entirely different with each individual visit. Considering how often they change things up, it might be a little difficult to prepare your own self-guided tour. Due to this and other factors, we recommend taking a guided tour of the Met.


Official Museum Tours

Night Tours

Deals and Discounts


 

 

Read more »

Things to Do in Harlem

Things to Do in Harlem | A Self-Guided Tour

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

This is a self-guide tour and Harlem visitor’s guide intended to aid the visitor in discovering things to see in Harlem, places to eat, sleep, hear gospel music and finding his or her way around.  The focus is on finding inexpensive ways to experience this great neighborhood, though it does provide an array of price ranges.  Directly below a self-guided walking tour of Harlem.  To skip to the other sections, simply click on the links below.

Where is Harlem

Events in Harlem

Sightseeing Tours

Food and Entertainment

 

Below is a self guided Harlem walking tour that is based largely on our guided Harlem Walking tour.  This tour should take you just under 2 hours and the total walking distance is about 1.5 miles or 2.2 km.  If you are looking for a tour guide, do check out our Harlem Walking Tour and our Harlem Food Tour.

Read more »

Horse Carriage Image

Best Central Park Horse and Carriage tours in NYC

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

This post is a comparison of the top three Central Park horse and carriage rides. Here you will find exactly what is covered on a ride, as well the differences between the top two providers, including prices and bonus services. Tours vary in length, tour guides take different routes, and there are some spots frequented more often than others.


General Pricing

Top 2 Companies

Walking Tours

 


 

Read more »

Visiting Trump Tower in New York City

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

This post will show you how to visit Trump Tower on 5th Ave. in Midtown Manhattan.  Trump Tower is the most recognizable of all Trump buildings in New York, perhaps even the world. It is the central headquarters for the Trump Organization. It’s also where Donald J. Trump’s penthouse is located. Of course, since Trump was elected president, the building has become even more significant a destination. This post contains information that will help you decide if a visit is worth your time. Find out about the food options, what to see inside and where the luxurious public restrooms are!  

This iconic New York building it has also made appearances in movies including The Dark Knight Rises where it was for headquarters for Wayne Enterprises and it was also appeared in The Wolf of Wall Street. Even more famous is the ‘boardroom’ which was actually a set, though the exterior of the Trump Building was featured in every episode of the Trump Building for the long running NBC series The Apprentice

Getting there

Security and protests

Nearby Attractions and Shopping

 
If visiting the tower is not in your itinerary, you can still take a peek inside by taking this virtual tour:

Read more »

Seaport Main Image

South Street Seaport in New York City | A Self-Guided Tour

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

This self-guided tour will take you through the South Street Seaport area, one of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in New York City.  Much of the area is filled with restored 19th century buildings along cobblestone streets. In 1967, the South Street Seaport Museum was founded to preserve many of the buildings, ships, monuments, and the overall historic area which has become a popular destination for visitors and locals alike.

While the streets hearken to the 19th century when “tall ships” and sailboats filled the river, the shopping in the area is chic and trendy. There are lots of things for visitors to do and the Seaport is a nice area to visit, especially on days when the temperatures are nice and the sun is out. The views from the water’s edge are spectacular. You can see Brooklyn as well as the majestic Brooklyn Bridge. At the Seaport there is something for everyone in your group. History, architecture, food, shopping and of course the beautiful boats.

Insider Tip: If you are considering a Broadway show,  the seaport is one of 3 locations for discount Broadway ticket booth called TKTS.  This location is less crowded than the one at Times Square and if you are down here anyway, check out and see what shows are available! Now onto the South Street Seaport tour.

Getting there

Food & Facilities


GETTING THERE

By subway and bus: Read more »

Lower Manhattan tour

Which Lower Manhattan Tour is Best for You?

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

This post compares and reviews the various different tours of Lower Manhattan available to you, including our pay-what-you-like tours. You could chose from general Lower Manhattan history tours or focus on Wall Street and the Financial District. One company focuses on Revolutionary War history, including a tour focused on Alexander Hamilton.  Many tours include or are focused on the World Trade Center and the National September 11th Memorial (a.k.a. the 9/11 Memorial).  Lastly, Lower Manhattan is also where the ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as well as all helicopter tours depart from.


Walking Tours

9/11 Memorial Tours

Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island


 

FREE TOURS BY FOOT

We at Free Tours by Foot are very proud to offer several tours that include Lower Manhattan.  Below the tour calendar, we detail our Lower Manhattan Walking Tour, but we also offer a tours of the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  For our general history tours, we offer 3 options: a 2 hour tour that focuses on just Lower Manhattan (details below the calendar); a daily, 3 hour Downtown Manhattan Tour, which covers part of Lower Manhattan plus Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo and a 6 hour NYC in One Day Tour, which combines the 3 hour Downtown Tour and adds to it Greenwich Village and the High Line.   Be sure to read our TripAdvisor reviews.


Calendar of all Lower Manhattan Tours (including our pay-what-you-wish tours)

 


Lower Manhattan Walking Tour (Free Tours by Foot)

It is here, as much as anywhere, where American history started. It’s where the first US Congress assembled and produced the Bill of Rights and where President George Washington took his first oath of office. It’s here where the world’s most important stock exchange and one of the most famous bridges stand. And it is here where an unspeakable tragedy took place and where a rebirth is underway.

Join us as we stroll through the ancient streets of Manhattan’s Financial District and explain the rich history of New York City. From a Dutch trading post to a world financial capital, no stone is left unturned.  This tour starts from the Battery Park, where you will see from a distance the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, then makes its way through Wall Street and the Financial District, ending up near City Hall and the World Trade Center area.  At the end of the tour, you will be near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Why not take a walk over it?


Sites we cover on the tour:

*Seen from a distance.  For more information on the sites we will cover, take a look at our self-guided Lower Manhattan Tour.


Tour information

Reservations: REQUIRED. Click here to reserve. Groups of 6 or more should visit our groups page.

Where: At the Charging Bull statue, 26 Broadway. Click our Google map for directions to the tour  or click here for detailed walking directions from nearby subway stations.  Look for your guide with the Free Tours by Foot logo. Tour ends at City Hall Park.

Duration: Approximately 2 hours. Tour distance is approximately 1 mile (1.6K)

When: Every Monday and Friday @10 am.  View Our Full Tour Calendar

75% of this tour is covered on our @10 am daily Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, SoHo and Little Italy Tour as well as our Downtown Manhattan 6 hour Tour, which runs @10 am almost daily.  View our Calendar for the most up to date schedule.

Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done. A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for anyone’s budget.

 


Revolutionary Era Tours of Lower Manhattan

For those interested in Revolutionary War history, we highly recommend that you take a tour with Patriot Tours. This highly-rated tour company uses a storytelling format and review of authentic documents, which will give you as close to a first-hand experience you can get of life as it was during Revolutionary Era New York.  Their tours are not pay-what-you-wish, but group size is small – between 10 and 15 guests and your guides are personable. Patriot Tours has fantastic reviews on TripAdvisor. On their website you can read 5 star reviews from over 250 guests. Highly recommended! Check out these two tours:

Alexander Hamilton Tour

Take a trip back in time to NYC before, during and after the American Revolution and enter the world of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Visit the sites that were part of Hamilton’s everyday life including St. Paul’s Chapel, Federal Hall and Trinity Church Graveyard, some of the oldest remaining historic sites in New York City.

  • Tours are 2.5 hours and run on Wednesdays at 10am, Saturdays at 11am, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at Noon.
  • $40 per person.
  • BOOK HERE

 

 

Revolutionary War Walking Tour

Follow your guide through what was once British-occupied precolonial New York. Learn about what daily life was like in New York in the 1770’s as well as learn about infamous spy rings, some of which met secretly at Fraunces Tavern, which you will visit. Learn more about the famous historical figures you already know such as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton as well as lesser known but just as important patriots like John Jay. This tour also takes you to historic, tree-lined Brooklyn Heights. This tour is perfect for fans of the TV show Turn.

  • Tours run 10 am Wednesdays, Fridays, 11 am Saturdays, 12 pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays.
  • $40 per person.
  • BOOK HERE.

 


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BUS TOURS OF LOWER MANHATTAN

There are no bus companies that exclusively cover Lower Manhattan and the Financial District on it’s own, but several do spend some considerable time.  We have listed a quick summary of the companies that have stops in the area below, but do take a read of our post comparing the various NYC bus tours.  Several of these companies offer combo and discount tickets, that include boat tours and could really add up in savings.

 


Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tours

All the major hop-on, hop-off bus tour companies, including Big Bus, CitySights and Open-Loop offer stops in Lower Manhattan.  There are 4 main stops (and the nearby attractions):

  • City Hall Park – Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall and the World Trade Center
  • Wall Street – New York Stock Exchange, Trinity Church and Federal Hall
  • Battery Park – Ferries to Statue of Liberty and Staten Island Ferry
  • South Street – South Street Seaport and boat and helicopter tours.

Learn more about hop-on, hop-off bus tickets.

 


Other Bus Tours

Other bus tours also visit Lower Manhattan.  These companies usually make two stops, one at the World Trade Center and another on Wall Street.  Some, like USA Guided Tours, also include a boat cruise past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

 


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BIKE RENTALS AND TOURS IN LOWER MANHATTAN

Lower Manhattan has miles of waterfront bike lanes and is a great place to safely bike along, whether on your own or on a guided tour.  There are several bike rental and tour outfits located in or near South Street Seaport.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE SIGHTSEEING

Pick up bikes and tour at 110 South Street near the South Street Seaport (map). Open daily from 9 am – 7 pm.

This company offers a 2 hour bike tour that rides over the Brooklyn Bridge and then rides through Lower Manhattan.  The prices are listed below, but this tour is included at no additional cost if you purchase either the New York Pass or Explorer Pass (tourist attraction discount passes).  If you use promo code FTFB you will get a 20% discount.

Bike Tour Prices (reflect discount)

Rental Prices (reflect discount):

  • 1 hour = $12
  • 2 hour = $16
  • 3 hour = $20
  • hour = $24.
  • Day Pass = $32  (9 am until 5 pm (17:00))
  • Book here.

 


C – BLAZING SADDLES 

Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport (South Street and Fulton Street) or Pier 84 at Hudson River Park at (12th Avenue and West 43rd Street).  Open 9 am daily.

Prices:

  • between $14-16 per hour
  • $44-$69 for 24 hours

Prices vary depending on the type of bike you choose.  Locks, helmets, and detailed map come included.  Free 24-hour rental of a Beach Cruiser style-bike with a New York PASS.

 


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BOAT AND HELICOPTER TOURS IN LOWER MANHATTAN

Lower Manhattan is the launching point for several boat tours and services, including several sightseeing cruises with stops in Lower Manhattan, including South Street Seaport and Battery Park.  Be sure to read our post comparing all boat tour options that you have in NYC.

There are 2 budget options:

The area is also the location for the tourist heliport.  Be sure to read our post on choosing the best helicopter tour for you.

 

Flatiron Feature

The Flatiron Building in New York City

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

When Daniel Burnham’s design for the George A. Fuller company’s office building was completed in 1902, it was named after Fuller himself, the Fuller building. But much like 56 Leonard today has come to be known as the Jenga building, New Yorkers gave this building a name of their own, the Flatiron building, because of its similarity to the household appliance, a flat iron.  With the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue forming a triangle, there was no room for a traditionally shaped building if the developer wanted to use all of the real estate available. Instead, this plot of land, (which had always been known as the Flatiron) suggested that this, and many other buildings made at intersections would come to look like.
 

 


Visiting the Flatiron Building 

Map of Flatiron

The Flatiron building is located at the intersection of Broadway and 5th avenue on 23rd street. The closest subway stations are the N/Q/R/W at 23rd Street Station in Madison Square Park, right in front of  the building. You can also take the 6 train to 23rd Street just to the east of the building. Lastly, you can take the F or M to 23rd Street, however the exit is on 6th Avenue and so you will have to walk one long crosstown block to 5th Avenue. 

TIP: Located inside Madison Square Park is the original Shake Shack location, where some say are the absolute best hamburgers in town. 

 


Observation Deck

Unfortunately, the observation deck on top of the Flatiron building is now closed, and there are no current businesses that take in guests. This will all change at the turn of the decade however when Sorgente Group converts the building into a hotel. If you are looking for good skyscraper views in NYC check out our post on the top ten skyscrapers to visit in NYC. To find out about the other three observation desk in New York City take a look at: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, or One World Trade Center Observatory?

 


Best locations to photograph the Flatiron Building

If you want to get a good photo of the Flatiron building that captures all of its architectural design, your best chance is to crouch down at the southern end of “Flatiron Plaza” just north of the building to get the view that shows both 5th avenue and Broadway sides of the building. Of course, being unobstructed and only 11 blocks away from the Empire State Building makes the observation deck a great choice for snapping the old flatiron.

 


Tours of the Flatiron District

We offer a Flatiron District Self-Guided Tour and you can see the Flatiron District on our Midtown Manhattan Night Tour.  There are multiple bus companies that travel to the Flatiron Building, including all the major hop-on, hop-off companies, such as Big Bus Tours and City Sightseeing Tours, each with a stop at or next to the Flatiron Building.  

Be sure to read our post on choosing the best bus tour for you.

 


Construction 

Flatiron Building Construction

Burnham’s folly was one of the first nicknames given to the building, since many assumed it would collapse from all of the wind pressure hitting the building. This was never to be the case, as Burnham designed it four times stronger than necessary to survive all of the wind currents.  The building is 22 stories tall (305 feet/93 meters).

Originally intended to be a 19 story building, three floors were added 2 years after its completion. One of these floors has chest level windows. Great views for all the tenants, so long as they’re standing up. Anyone that wishes to reach these floors must take the elevator to the 19th floor and switch to get to the 22nd.

The Flatiron Building never held the title of tallest under any notable circumstances, but in its over 100 years of existence, it has been one of the most admired and photographed buildings in all of New York City, representing to many ship sailing towards the future of Manhattan’s Midtown.

Fact or Fiction:  The origin of the expression 23 Skidoo !

Because of the buildings shape, wind gusts were extremely heavy going around the building. This would cause the wind to uplift young ladies skirts, exposing their ankles, making 23rd in between Broadway and 5th a very popular hangout for young men. Police men walking by were known to yell out “23 skidoo” to chase away any that were loitering for too long.  

 

The Flatiron Building today

The statues at the top are not part of the original design. In 1988, the original statues began to break and were torn down. The two cherubs now located at the top now were installed in 2001. In 2010, At the very top, near the northern point was placed a black humanoid statue called the Gormley, named after Antony Gormley who placed statues of himself throughout Madison Square Park and the surrounding architecture in 2010, calling his work “Event Horizon.”

In early 2009, the Flatiron building was bought out by the Italian real estate investment firm Sorgente Group, who plans to transform the building into a luxury hotel. However, the firm must wait until around 2019 for the building to become fully vacated after the current leases expire. When that happens, access to the Flatiron building will become possible, and tourists who pay the price will be able to take in the views of Madison Square Park offered by the Flatiron Building. Until then, tourists can visit Sprint on the first floor and appreciate the artwork on display in the prow art space at the front of the building sponsored by Sprint, who rotates different pieces of art throughout the years.

Flatiron Building

 

 

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