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.  In this section, we detail our general history tours, 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 (detail below), a daily, 3 hour Downtown Manhattan Tour, which covers part of this area plus Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo and a 6 hour NYC in One Day Tour, which comprises the 3 hour tour and expands it to Greenwich Village and the High Line.   Be sure to read our TripAdvisor reviews.  


Lower Manhattan Walking Tour

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.

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 TOURS AND CRUISES 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: 

 

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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Tenement Feature Image

Tenement Museum in New York City

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

The Tenement Museum, located at 97 Orchard Street, is a must see for anyone visiting the Lower East Side.  Built in 1863, this tenement style apartment building served as a residence for approximately 7,000 immigrants from the time it was built all the way into the 1930’s. In an effort to preserve the history of the immigrant experience on the Lower East Side, historian and social activist, Ruth Abram, led a movement to  convert this run down building,  and in 1992, the Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street opened its doors.

TIP: A great way to complement your visit to the museum is to take one of our pay-what-you-wish tours.  Check out our Lower East Side/Nolita/East Village tour or our Lower East Side Food Tour.  

Getting There

Building Tours

Walking Tours & Food Tours

 


 

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Bus NYC to DC

New York to Washington DC by Bus

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

This post reviews the various bus companies that offer bus service between NYC and DC.  We compare the average prices, length of journey, availability of basic facilities (such as Wifi and luggage storage), and arrival/departure locations. With so many different bus companies operating between the cities, it is hard to know which one offers the best value for your needs.  Additionally, we also show you how to easily compare and book bus tickets for specific journey times on your own, as well as use public transportation in either city, find the best bus tours, and choose the best hotel. Finally, we’ve also included a list things to do in NYC and DC so that you can make the best use of your time in both cities.

Sorting out transportation during your vacation can be stressful, but with this guide it doesn’t have to be!


Buying Bus Tickets

Company Reviews

Pick-Up + Drop-off Locations

Things to Know


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Donald Trump Buildings in New York City

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

Donald Trump is the second native New Yorker to be elected to the Oval Office, the first having been Theodore Roosevelt, who was born in Gramercy Park.  Trump, who was born in the borough of Queens, also happens to be one of the biggest real estate tycoons in the city.  He has more 30 properties in the United States. Trump’s real estate imprint, buildings that he currently or formerly owns, is all over Manhattan.  From Soho to Chelsea, Midtown to Downtown, Upper West Side to the Upper East Side, there is a Trump connection.  This self-guided tour lists the addresses as well as links to our neighborhood guides so you can explore on your own.  You might consider timing your visits to these buildings to sync up with one of our many pay-what-you-wish tours

MIDTOWN

Trump Tower  721 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th Street 

Trump Tower

This 58-story skyscraper, completed in 1983, is a mix of apartments, offices and stores.  It is the central headquarters for The Trump Organization.  It also is where President Trump’s penthouse is located.  This building shouldn’t be hard to find these days given all the recent security and protests. Trump Tower is the location of the “You’re fired” boardroom for NBC’s The Apprentice.  

In the summer of 2016 in the height of the presidential election race, a man attempted to scale the building, claiming he had an important message to deliver. Just days after Trump won the election, protesters gathered outside, changing the flashy class of the tower into a site of outrage.  This video shows both:


 

The Grand Hyatt Hotel at Grand Central

Grand Hyatt

Just east of Grand Central Terminal, stands the 295 ft. (90 m), 26 story Grand Hyatt Hotel. When it opened in 1919, it was known as the Commodore hotel, named after railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt.  Vanderbilt’s nickname was the Commodore.   In 1976, Trump teamed up with the Hyatt Corporation to buy it.  In 1996, the Hyatt Corporation bought Trump’s share for $142 million.  It has undergone renovations in 1980, 1996, and 2011 and it features 1,306 rooms.   Check out our Grand Central Terminal tour and Midtown tour.

 

CHELSEA

The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center  Eleventh Ave between 34th and 40th Sts.

Known as the busiest convention center in the United States, it was opened in 1986 and named after United States Senator Jacob K. Javits who died that year. This 1,800,000 square foot (170,000 square meters) convention space served as Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s election night headquarters, but it is also linked to the Trump name.

In the early 1970’s, Donald Trump supported the idea of building a convention center at this location, bought an option when Penn Central declared bankruptcy in 1975, and wanted to name it the Trump Center, after his father, Fred Trump, who was also a real estate developer.  At one point in the 1970’s, The Donald almost tricked the city into naming it that.  The Javits Center is also where ComicCon and the NY International Auto Show are held. Located just north of the Highline  you can get a great close-up view of the Javits Center as you enter or exit the Highline on 34th Street.

We offer several tours of surrounding area with an emphasis on the must-see High Line!  Click here to find out about the many different pay-what-you-wish tours we offer.  Feel free to use our self-guided tour of the High Line and neighborhood and also the Chelsea Market. We even have a free Audio Tour of the Highline!

 

SOHO 

Trump SoHo Hotel  246 Spring Street 

Trump Hotel SoHo

Trump SoHo, a $450 million, 46-story, 391 room hotel opened in 2010 and is by run y Trump’s children Donald Jr. and Ivanka.  As of 2016, this is the latest building project constructed by Trump with his name on it.  It is a four and a half star hotel with amazing amenities such an outdoor pool deck complete with a waterfall, cabanas and drinks from  the Bar D’Eau. Standard rooms go from ‎$317 to $671.

If you can’t get a room here, you may want to coordinate your visit so you can take our pay-what-you-wish SoHo, Little Italy & Chinatown tour, which meets only one block away!

 

LOWER MANHATTAN

40 Wall Street between Nassau Street and William Street 

40 Wall Street

Also known as the Trump Building, this 71-story commercial skyscraper, completed in 1930 after 11 months of construction, is probably the most historic of all of Trump’s buildings. originally known as the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building as well as the Manhattan Company Building, it was renamed the Chase Manhattan Bank building then bought by Donald Trump and renamed The Trump Building.  It remains 100% commercial space.  In 2003, Trump’s efforts to sell the building for more than $300 million proved unsuccessful.  In 1998, the building was designated a NYC landmark.

In 2007, Trump stated he paid $1 million for 40 Wall Street and that it was worth $600 million in 1995, a $200 million increase from two years earlier.  It has also been reported that he paid $10 million and that is worth about $400 million.

Be sure to take our Lower Manhattan or All-in-One Downtown tour for an up close look at this iconic edifice, which was the tallest building in the world for only four days!  Read more about the historic skyscraper race in 1929 between 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler building.

 

UPPER EAST SIDE AND TUDOR CITY

Trump World Tower 845 United Nations Plaza 

Trump World Tower

You might recognize from NBC’s The Apprentice.  This 72 floor apartment building was completed in 2001 at a cost of $300 million.  This building features a two story bar and cocktail lounge called the World Bar, which is frequented by UN diplomats.  Also of note are the large windows, giving residents spectacular views of the East River and Midtown.  

Until 2003, it was the tallest all-residential building in the world and is currently the tallest residential building owned by Donald Trump.  Prices range from $625,000 for a studio to over $28 million for a penthouse.  Originally, the top two floors, a 20,000 square foot space, were being sold as one penthouse for $58 million, but didn’t sell and were then split into four units.  Rentals range from $2800-$3700 for a studio to about $5000 for a one bedroom.  

Yankees great and future Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter, bought a 5, 425 square foot condo here for $12. 6 million and sold it for $15.5 million in 2012.  Other tenants have included Bill Gates, Sophia Loren, and Harrison Ford. Senior Advisor to Donald Trump, Kelly Anne Elizabeth Conway, owned a condo here when it first opened.

 

610 Park Avenue corner of 65th street 

Daniel

Also located on the Upper East Side, this building was formerly the Mayfair Hotel. This 15 story pre-war classic was built in 1925 and converted into a 70 unit condominium in 1998.  610 Park Avenue is also known for Daniel Boulud’s legendary restaurant, Daniel.  This four star spot, considered to be one of the world’s best restaurants, offers full butler service to 610 Park residents.

 

Trump Park Avenue Park Avenue and 59th Street

This 1929 building was originally the Viceroy Hotel.  It has 32 stories high and has 8 penthouses. Trump purchased it for $115 million in 2002 and converted it into a residential building in 2004.

 

Trump Palace 200 East 69th Street 

Trump Palace

Rising to 623 ft. (190 m.), this 54 story luxury tower is the tallest building on the Upper East Side, and it was designed to resemble classic art deco architecture of the 1920’s and ’30’s.  Trump purchased it in 1985 and it was completed in 1991. The average purchase prices of a condo here are:

Studio $625,000
1 bedroom $920,000
2 bedroom $2,600,000
3 bedroom $4,750,000
4 bedroom $10,000,000

 

UPPER WEST SIDE AND MIDTOWN WEST

Trump International Hotel and Tower   1 Central Park West

Trump International

Construction of this 44 story residential & hotel building began in 1968 and was completed in 1970.  Originally an office building, this 583 ft. tower was renovated from 1995 to 1997. Trump bought it in 1994 with the intention of making it a part condo part hotel.  In April 1996, Trump said that he would move into the building’s penthouse.  He also said the address would be changed from 7 Columbus Circle to 1 Central Park West.  

Out front, as homage to the Unisphere located in Trump’s home borough of Queens, is a 30-foot-wide silver globe, titled “Trump International”.   The 2011 film Tower Heist was filmed here.  

Speaking of film locations, many of our tours, including Central Park, Midtown Manhattan and Grand Central feature many movie locations.

 

1290 6th Avenue between 51st and 52nd Sts.

1290 6th Ave

Recently LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), this 1964 building, originally designed by renowned architectural firm, Emery Roth & Son, and restored in 2013, occupies an entire block in the center of Manhattan. It has 43 stories of office space, and offers spectacular views of Central Park and New York City’s skyline. In sharp contrast to bedazzling golden Trump Tower a few blocks away, this building has a stunning, crisp and modern all-white marble lobby.  Speaking of New York City’s unparalleled skylines be sure to take our Brooklyn Bridge/Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO tour.  From the bridge you can fabulous views of both the downtown and midtown skylines.

 

Riverside South & Trump Place along the Hudson River between 59th and 72nd Sts. 

Trump Place and Riverside South

In the 1970’s Trump partnered with six civic associations to build this 3.5 billion dollar, 57 acre urban development. Built on the former New York Central Railroad yard, it includes Trump Place and Riverside Center. Trump sold it to investors from Hong Kong and China in 1997. Trump parlayed his sale of Riverside South into two premier office buildings: 1290 Avenue of the Americas and 555 California Street in San Francisco.  This is considered the most lucrative deal of Trump’s career, accounting for the largest percentage of his net worth, approximately $3.5 billion, according to Fortune Magazine. The three buildings that make up Trump Place is no longer emblazoned with the Trump name.  During the election race, residents of these buildings began a petition to have the name removed based on offensive statements and actions then nominee Trump made.  The three buildings are ow known simply by their street addresses: 140, 160 and 180 Riverside Blvd. 

 

 

CENTRAL PARK SOUTH 

Trump Parc and Trump Parc East  Central Park South and the southwest corner of 6th Avenue

Trump Parc

These two adjoining buildings are owned by The Trump Organization.  Trump Parc East is a 14-story apartment/condominium building built in 1929 and Trump Parc (the former Barbizon Plaza Hotel) is a 38-story condominium building. 

Trump bought the Barbizon Plaza Hotel and 100 Central Park South in 1981 for $13 million. At the time, 100 Central Park South was a rent-controlled building with 80 apartments.  

After a long stretch of legal battles between Trump and the tenants of 100 Central Park South, a final settlement was reached in 1988.  The building was converted to a condominium and 51 units remained rent regulated.  Some tenants here pay less than a $1000 a month in rent for a one-bedroom apartment! At one point, Eric Trump lived here.

 

 

CENTRAL PARK

Wollman Rink  Inside Central Park closer to 5th Avenue between 63rd and 64th Sts 

Wollman Ice Rink

This public ice skating rink that operates from October-April is in the southern area of Central Park.  It opened in 1949 with funds donated by Kate Wollman.  In case you weren’t sure if Mr. Trump had anything to do with this ice rink, it will become clear once you’re here. Trump’s name is all along the rink walls and on the zamboni (ice resurfacing machine).  The rink was closed in 1980 for a two year renovation plan at a cost of $9.1 million.  In 1986, when the project was still not complete and the budget had grown to $13 million, Donald Trump persuaded Mayor Ed Koch to let him take over the project.  Trump said it would be completed in four months for an additional $2.5 million. The rink reopened to the public on November 13, 1986, under budget at $2.25 million and two months ahead of schedule.  

Donald Trump operated the rink from 1987 to 1991.  Since 2001, Wollman Rink has been operated by The Trump Organization and Rink Management Services of Mechanicsville, Virginia.  The two organizations also run the Lasker Rink, located on the north edge of Central Park. The rink has been featured in several movies, including Love Story and Serendipity.  Speaking of ice skating rinks, if you are here during the winter months, here are other ice skating rinks in New York City.  

 

Related posts: 

 

 

A Review of Carnegie Hall Tours

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

carnegie-hallThis post is a review of Carnegie Hall Tours, what to expect, how to get a discount and much more.  One of the world’s most famous music venues, Carnegie Hall has been the showcase for legendary performers from around the world since its opening in 1891. And it is open to the public.

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New York Helicopter tours

Find Deals for Helicopter Tours over New York

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

This post provides an overview of the various helicopter tours in New York City, including reviews and tips for the best rides. Manhattan boasts one of the most famous cityscapes in the world. A trip up to the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building enables visitors a glimpse into the island’s scope. However, nothing quite allows that bird’s eye view of New York City like a helicopter ride of the city. There are many New York helicopter tours, but as guests will find, the tours can be very expensive, and sorting out which is the best value can be difficult. Thus, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite helicopter tour companies, provided some tips for finding discounts and analyzed which New York helicopter tour is best, cheapest and best value. (en español)


Cost and Value

List of Companies

Where Is the Heliport


 

CitySights is offering a great value deal.  A Liberty Big Apple helicopter ride and 2 days of unlimited hop-on, hop-off bus tour service for $220/Adult and $210/Child.

Save more money with a discount tourist pass, some of which include discounts on helicopter tours.

 

 

Is a New York helicopter tour worth the cost?

There’s no denying that helicopter rides are costly. Even the most basic tour packages run well over $150 per person and usually only last 12-15 minutes. Expect to pay $199 and up (occasionally there are really great deals). Thus, for many, the price alone might mean that a helicopter tour just isn’t a feasible option. Furthermore, if you are looking to take a helicopter to learn more about New York, then perhaps you should consider following other tours instead. The pilot is your guide during these tours, and though he or she will most often point out major landmarks to guests, his or her main job is to ensure the safety of everyone on board. Thus, content is usually very limited. For a tour laden with information, check out one of our many free walking tours. 

However, if you can afford the costs and are primarily interested in the unique visual experience of looking down at Manhattan and coming eye to eye with the Statue of Liberty, then a helicopter tour might be well worth the investment. Though the ride is brief, it provides guests with a rare, bird’s eye view of the city that is otherwise impossible to achieve.

 


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Where can I find discounts on New York helicopter tours?

Which New York Helicopter Tour is Best
  • CitySights is offering a great value deal.  A Liberty Big Apple Helicopter Tour and 2 days of unlimited hop-on, hop-off bus tour service for $225/Adult and $215/Child.
  • You can save money by including a helicopter ride with combo saver ticket with a bus and/or boat tour.

 


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List of New York Helicopter Companies

There are several helicopter tour companies with names so similar, it can easily get confusing.  All of the companies have similar review profiles, which is generally good.  The experience of flying over the Big Apple is so fun, most people are happy with the experiences.  However, we provide links to each companies TripAdvisor reviews, so that you can take a closer look for yourself.  Also, we list the companies in order of lowest to highest price.

NOTE: No helicopter flights permitted on Sundays.

There is one common thread you will see when it comes to complaints about helicopter tours: overcrowding and weight distribution problems. Due to the way that this aircraft functions, it can sometimes be important to make sure that there is not too much weight on one side. Because of this, you will most likely be asked to provide information about your weight before boarding, and you may also be asked to sit in a location you are not comfortable with.

The more crowded a helicopter tour is, the more likely you will be asked to sit in the middle. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to enjoy the views from the middle seat of a helicopter, so most people in this position report having a negative experience. In order to avoid these issues, make sure to call ahead and ask the tour company about which times would be best for obtaining a window seat.

 


Liberty Helicopter Tours

As you will see with most of the helicopter tours, this outfit has overall good reviews.  Although there aren’t many negative reviews, some comments note that passengers may be asked to sit in the middle of the aircraft in order to avoid problems with weight distribution. This may make it more difficult to see the sights while on your tour, so it could be beneficial to ensure that you join a tour with fewer people. That being said, most visitors have had an absolute blast with Liberty Helicopter Tours, and many reviewers have raved about the great views of NYC!

While it’s listed price is not the lowest on offer, with the deals available, particularly the CitySightNY deal, the Big Apple Tour is the lowest priced. There are 2 popular public tours offered:

  • The Big Apple (12-15 minutes) – $200 + ($35 airport fees).  This popular tour provides a bird’s eye view of the most famous sites in New York City. Some of the landmarks covered include Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, Chrysler, Woolworth, Met Life Buildings, USS Intrepid, and Central Park.
    • Trusted Tours offers this tour for $190 + fees
    • CitySights is offering a great value deal.  A Liberty Big Apple Tour, 2 days of unlimited hop-on, hop-off bus tour service, 1 day hop-on, hop-off boat cruise as well as free entry to the 9/11 Tribute Center, the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Historical Society.  Only $253/Adult and $215/Child.
  • New York, New York (18-20 minutes) – $285 + ($35 airport fees).  Very similar to the Big Apple tour, but with an additional few sites including The Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, The Verrazano Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Yankee Stadium, and MetLife Stadium.

Need to Know

  • Tours ARE weather dependent. If a tour is cancelled, Liberty Helicopter Tours will try to accommodate a guest’s schedule to reserve a new time. If a time cannot be agreed upon, the guest will be fully reimbursed.
  • The helicopter can accommodate 5-6 guests plus 1 pilot.
  • There is a $35 heliport fee per passenger in addition to the cost of the tour that is made payable on the day of the tour.  
  • Other than cameras, no personal items are allowed in the helicopter. Items can be left at the waiting area and lockers are available for rent at an additional fee.
  • Photo I.D. is required for all guests.
  • For more information, see Liberty Helicopter Tours’ FAQs page.

 


Manhattan Helicopters 

Manhattan Helicopters also enjoys a 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor, with some guests describing their experience as amazing. As with most of these excursions, the only common complaints focus on crowded tours, which do not appear to happen very often.  Many reviews indicate that this company is very accommodating and friendly. Some commentators have said that first timers are welcome, as the staff will make sure to explain everything you need to know in order to have a safe and fun ride. According to reviewers, the pilots are very experienced, so you can rest assured that your trip will be stress free.

It’s tours are not the lowest priced tours, but like Liberty, the CitySights deal is also available for this company.

  • The Classic Manhattan Tour (12 – 15 minutes) – $199 + ($35 airport fees).
    • CitySights is offering a great value deal.  A Classic Manhattan Tour, 2 days of unlimited hop-on, hop-off bus tour service, 1 day hop-on, hop-off boat cruise as well as free entry to the 9/11 Tribute Center, the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Historical Society.  Only $225/Adult and $215/Child.
  • Deluxe Manhattan Tour (20 minutes) – $249 + ($35 airport fees).
  • VIP Manhattan Tour (25 – 30 minutes) – $325 + ($35 airport fees).

 


New York Helicopter

This companies base tour is actually the least expensive ($23 cheaper), if you are not purchasing a combination or tourist attraction discount pass.

In addition, their 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor is just as good as every other service on this list.  Most passengers have given glowing reviews to this company, with one guest going so far as to say it was “the best ride of my life.” Other reviewers suggested that they did not have to book their tour ahead of time in order to get in the air, which is definitely nice to know. That being said, you might want to consider booking in advance to avoid crowded trips.

Once again, the issue of weight distribution is a common complaint, but there isn’t much that any helicopter tour can do to avoid this problem. Overall, there are many more positive reviews than negative, and a lot of people reported having a wonderful time on their journey through the skies of NYC.

New York Helicopter offers 3 popular public tours:

  • The Liberty Helicopter Tour (15 minutes) – $169 + ($30 airport fees)
    • Similar to the base level tours offered by the other companies, this tour includes the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s and Ellis Island, the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, the South Street Seaport and the Wall Street Financial Center.
  • The Central Park Tour (19 minutes) –  $236 + ($30 airport fees)
    • Covers all that is seen on the Liberty tour, but also features the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum, Yankee Stadium, and the George Washington Bridge.
  • The Grand Helicopter Tour (25 minutes) – $325 + ($30 airport fees)
    • Covers all that is seen on the Central Park Tour, in addition to the Verrazano Bridge, uptown, midtown and the downtown skyline of Manhattan and New Jersey Palisades.

Need to Know

  • Tours ARE weather dependent. If a tour is cancelled, New York Helicopter Tours will try to accommodate a guest’s schedule to reserve a new time.  If a time cannot be agreed upon, the guest will be fully reimbursed.
  • The helicopter can accommodate 5-6 guests plus 1 pilot.
  • There is a $30 heliport fee in addition to the cost of the tour that is made payable at time of booking.
  • Photo I.D. is required for all guests.

 


HeliNY Tours / Helicopter Flight Service Helicopter Tours 

This outfit is a little bit more expensive than the other options, but they state that they user newer and more expensive helicopters.  They are well reviewed, but as we stated before, all the companies have relatively good reviews.  With the Smart Destinations Explorer Pass, you could save 20% – $45% off.

Reviewers describe their staff as attentive and helpful, providing passengers with all of the information necessary to enjoy their trip. Other comments suggest that Helicopter Flight Services is highly organized and that their pilots are very experienced. Most of the negative reviews complain of overcrowded trips, which may be avoided if you book your tour in advance.  Despite the higher costs, hundreds of guests have said that this helicopter ride is well worth the money. Some reviewers suggested that you make sure to bring a camera with you in order to get your money’s worth in fantastic photographs of New York City!

There are 4 popular public tours offered:

  • The New Yorker Tour (12-15 minutes) – $194/person + ($35 airport fees).  You will travel up the Hudson River and see iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Freedom Tower, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Chelsea Piers, and the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
    • Get $5 off during Summer 2016.
  • The Ultimate Tour (18-20 minutes) – $244 + ($35 airport fees).  This tour includes all the sites covered in the New Yorker Tour, in addition to views of Yankee Stadium, Central Park, Columbia University, and George Washington Bridge.
    • Get $15 off during Summer 2016.
  • The Deluxe Tour (25-30 minutes) – $314 + ($35 airport fees).  This tour includes all the sites covered in the Ultimate Tour, in addition to Coney Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, Grants Tomb, the Northern edge of Manhattan, and Verrazano Bridge.
    • Get $20 off during Summer 2016.
  • VIP: Air & Sea Tour (12-15 minutes) – $274 + ($35 airport fees).  Features sites covered in the New Yorker tour, but also includes an hour long water taxi ride by the Statue of Liberty. On the water taxi, there is a narrated tour, a champagne toast, and a cash bar.

Need to Know

  • Tours ARE weather dependent. If a tour is cancelled, HeliNY will try to accommodate a guest’s schedule to reserve a new time. If a time cannot be agreed upon, the guest will be fully reimbursed.
  • The helicopter can accommodate 5-6 guests plus 1 pilot.
  • Photo I.D. is required for all guests.
  • Reservations are not required, but encouraged.

 


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Helicopter, Bus and Boat Combo Tickets

Another way to save money is by combining a helicopter tour with a bus and/or boat tour.  These are pre-selected combinations.  CitySights deal is really a great one.

  • CitySights – $220/adults + $210/children – (The Big Apple + Manhattan Helicopter)  This may be the very best offer out there.
    • a helicopter tour (does not include $35/person heliport fee)
    • a 1 day hop-on, hop-off ferry ticket
    • 2 days of hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus tours
      • included loops – Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn, Bronx and a nighttime bus tour
    • free entry to 9/11 Tribute Center
    • free entry to the Museum of the City of New York
    • free entry to New York Historical Society
    • get more information

 


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DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN HELIPORT

All helicopter rides depart from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport at the southern tip of Lower Manhattan between South Street Seaport and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.  It is accessed within a short walking distance to many subway lines.  We recommend using this Google map to get directions the the heliport.  

Other popular tourist attractions in the area are the Staten Island Ferry, Wall Street, the National September 11th Memorial, the Freedom Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Downtown Manhattan Heliport

 

New York Bus Tours Reviewed

Which New York Bus Tour Is Best?

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

This post reviews and compares the various different bus tour options available to you in NYC.  Bus tours are a great way to see the most sites in the least amount of time. Especially in a city as vast and intimidating as New York, bus tours offer guests a way to get a taste of the Big Apple without having to deal with the stress of navigating these busy streets on your own. However, occasionally that means quantity over quality.  So, which New York bus tour is best?


Double Decker Bus Hop-on, Hop Off

Themed Bus Tours

Combo Discount Passes


 

New York Bus Tours

 

 

TIP:  Many of the bus tours mentioned below are included in one form or another with the New York tourist passes.

HOP-ON, HOP-OFF NEW YORK BUS TOURS 

Traditional hop-on, hop-off bus companies provide transport to major sites all over the city, which is appealing if the New York subway system seems daunting.  Typically guests purchase 1,2 or 3 day access passes, and can then get on/off the bus at any of the company’s designated stops at any time.  Most multiple-day tickets include a night tour and a boat cruise as well as discount coupons.  Prices for these combination tickets are sometimes too good to pass up.  Some have live guides and all offer audio headsets with commentary in multiple languages.  The market is very competitive with companies outdoing each other’s prices regularly.  Be sure to check on our listed prices.

However, there is no information provided off the bus, and commentary on board occasionally consists of a recording. For that reason, these tours are best for those looking for a shuttle service between attractions rather than detailed information about the city.  Leave the detailed touring to our free walking tours, many of which start and end near popular bus stops.  However, during busy season guests may have to wait for multiple buses to pass through one stop as seat availability is not guaranteed. Also, keep in mind that though bus tours guarantee easy transportation around the city, they are not always the quickest as all bus tours are subject to NYC traffic!

 

 

BIG BUS TOURS

Big Bus is offering 15% off their tickets through us with promo code BIGFREE15.

Big Bus Tours consist of 35 stops around New York City on 4 routes, including Downtown, Uptown and Midtown Manhattan routes and one route in Brooklyn (see map detail).  You can also download their app, which has the maps to help you plan your route.  Guests listen to either an English-speaking guide or an audio recording in one of 10 languages while on the bus, and then are free to wander around on their own at each stop.  Their night tour is not a hop-on, hop-off tour. They also offer a combo packages.  If you are also planning on traveling to Washington, DC, Big Bus offers a package that combines both cities.

Review of Big Bus New York

Big Bus is the best reviewed hop-on, hop-off bus tour in NYC and the company regards itself as the premium hop-on, hop-off bus service in New York City.  This company sports an overall 4 star rating on TripAdvisor, with over 800 positive reviews for their hop-on, hop-off service. Most negative comments focus on the amount of time that it can take to get on the bus, but that’s bound to happen in such a popular tourist destination. Even those who didn’t enjoy their experience typically reported that this bus service was worth considering. Many passengers describe their trip as both informative and fun, with some going so far as to say it was amazing.

  • Classic 1 Day Ticket –
    • adult/$44 + child/$36
    • Includes 24 hour access to the Lower and Upper Manhattan bus routes.
    • promo code BBT10NY gets you 10% off these prices 
  • Deluxe 2 Day Ticket –
    • adult/$52 + child/$44
    • promo code BBT10NY gets you 10% off these prices 
    • Includes 48 hours of hop-on, hop-off Manhattan bus service
    • Brooklyn bus tour loop
    • Night bus tour
    • 1 hour river cruise
    • There is an add on for One World Observatory ($97 – adult + $81 – child)
    • There is also an add on for the ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ($111 – adult + $85 – child) – This includes One World Obseratory.
  • Big Apple 3 Day Ticket –
    • adult/$63 + child/$47
    • Includes everything from the Deluxe Ticket + a 3rd day of bus service
    • plus free entry to the Museum of the City of New York
    • There is an add on for One World Observatory ($111-adult + $85 – child)

Big Bus is offering 15% off their tickets through us with promo code BIGFREE15.

Learn more and/or purchase tickets here.  Big Bus also offers even more combination passes (see below), which could include access to One World Trade Center Observatory, the Statue of Liberty, Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Madam Tussauds and much more.

Note: If you are considering a tourist attraction pass, the New York Pass includes both the 1 and 2 day Big Bus tickets.  Be sure to read our post comparing all the different tourist pass options in NYC.

 


GRAY LINE BUS TOURS (also known as CitySightseeing NYC) 

Double-Decker, open top bus tours that offer a huge range of loop tours that can be combined with other attractions. Guide does not accompany guests off the bus and .  They also offer combo packages.  This outfit has the largest fleet and the widest selection.

NOTE: Get 15% off all Gray Line bus tours and packages with promo code FREETOURS15.

Reviews of Gray Line NYC

When it comes to their hop-on, hop-off service, reviews on TripAdvisor are mixed. Gray Line has earned an overall rating of 3 ½ stars, but they’ve only received roughly 100 more positive reviews than negative. As with most bus services in New York, the negative comments focused mostly on long wait times. Sadly, this isn’t necessarily the fault of the company, but they still get blamed for the queue. Those who were pleased with their experience reported that the bus drivers/guides were both helpful and knowledgeable.  Previous guests have complained about experiencing a lot of pressure to tip the guide/driver at each stop, so be prepared to ignore these pleas or carry $1 bills to distribute at each stop.

Routes:

  • 48 hour and 72 hour All Loops Tour (combines all separate tours below + 1 hour boat tour)
    • Downtown Tour (Midtown south to the Financial District)
    • Uptown Tour (Midtown north to Harlem)
    • Brooklyn Tour
    • Bronx Tour
    • Night Tour/Holiday Lights

Prices:

  • 48 hour All Loops
    • $59/adult, $49/child
  • 72 hour All Loops
    • $69/adult, $59/child
  • All individual tours (Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn, Bronx) are each $49/adult, $39/child
  • Night Tour is $39/adults, $29/child
  • NOTE: Get 15% off all Gray Line bus tours and packages with promo code FREETOURS15.

Learn more and/or purchase tickets here.

 


City Sights NY – (Enter code FREETOURS15 and get 15% off all CitySights NY bus tours.)

Similar to Gray Line Bus and Big Bus Tours, City Sights NY provides loop tours of the city with a guide who remains on the bus for the duration of the trip.  They also offer combo packages.

Review of City Sights NY

Although this company only has an overall rating of 3 stars on TripAdvisor, reviews for their hop-on, hop-off service are far more favorable than you might expect. They have received over 200 positive comments about this tour, with many passengers describing it as a great way to discover New York. Unfortunately, the service from this company is not universally praised. According to some passengers, their tour guides can be very hit or miss.

As you might expect at this point, several of the negative comments discuss how long they had to wait for a bus. In a city with this much traffic, there’s not much that any company can do to improve upon the problem. Other complaints revolve around lackluster buses and guides.

 


OPEN LOOP 

This hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tour features 40 stops throughout the city on 3 routes. Covering Uptown, Downtown and Midtown as well as Brooklyn, all of New York City’s major attractions are available to see in the comfort of their brand new double-decker buses. In addition to their daily trips, they also offer night tours and combo packages.  Tickets for this service are typically cheaper than other competitors, but you may want to read some of the reviews before booking your trip.

Review of Open Loop NYC

The overall 3-star rating you’ll find for this service on TripAdvisor won’t tell the whole story. In reality, a majority of ratings for their hop-on, hop-off tour are two stars or less.  Although there are a few people complaining about long wait times, it would appear that there are far more complaints about a general lack of decent customer service and tour guides. Positive comments suggest that this isn’t a constant problem with the company, but it’s worth noting that a lot of people have been unhappy with their experience on this trip.

  • Tickets start at $35/adult and $25/child for single loops
  • 1, 2, 3, and 5 day tickets start at $45/adult and $35/child.
  • Locating the bus on a mobile device is just as easy as hopping on and off with their exclusive mobile technology “Where’s my bus”.
  • audio guide narrations in 9 languages: English, French, German, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian.
  • Best prices – but their reviews are the least impressive of all the hop-on, hop-off buses.

 


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HOP-ON, HOP-OFF WITH A TOUR GUIDE 

As a company that primarily offers walking tours, we prefer these types of bus tours as they include all the benefits of a bus tour without any of the cons! The guide accompanies you off the bus at each stop so you get detailed information about all the major sites, rather than just wandering around on your own. You are also with the same bus, driver, and guide for the entire duration of the tour, so you never have to worry about getting a seat and are able to enjoy the tour in a more intimate setting.  These are premium tours, so they are usually more expensive than the traditional hop-on, hop-off variety.

 


USA Guided Tours – Hop-on, Hop-off w/Guide

Visiting New York can be an exciting and bewildering experience. If you’re looking for a nice overview of the entire city, you might want to consider the NYC Day Bus Tour. In addition to a fully guided trip throughout the Big Apple, you’ll also enjoy a boat cruise around Manhattan. The full trip will take roughly 5 hours to complete and you will see a lot of significant landmarks along the way. For those who don’t feel comfortable hopping off at various locations on their own, fear not – your tour guides hop off at each stop to help show you around!  Available Daily from 10 AM – 3 PM.

Tickets

  • $84 for Adults
  • $69 for Children
  • Duration: 5 hours

Reviews for USA Guided Tours NYC

All of the reviews for USA Guided Tours are positive. With a full 5 star rating on TripAdvisor, it’s safe to say that this is one of the highest rated tour companies in NYC. One happy customer went so far as to exclaim that this is a must for any first timers in New York. This seems to be a common sentiment, as several visitors left similarly positive comments. A majority of the reviews for this service were left by couples, indicating that this may be a great trip for anyone who wants to discover New York City with their significant other.

 


Free Tours By Foot  –

NOTE: Our bus tours are not currently running. We periodically offer 2 public bus tours: Uptown Tour, which include Midtown Manhattan, Central Park, and Harlem, and a Downtown Manhattan Tour, which covers Wall Street, SoHo, Chinatown and Greenwich Village. Each tour is 3 hours and involves guided narration both on and off the bus.

 

  • Cost: $16 (cost of bus and driver) + “name-your-own-price” tip for your guide
  • Duration: 3 hours

So far, our bus tours have not received any negative reviews on TripAdvisor. Free Tours By Foot NYC has an overall 5 star rating, and comments about our bus services are very positive. One guest was wary of a free trip around the city, but they eventually discovered that our tour guides are very friendly and knowledgeable. Everyone who has left a comment about their experiences on this journey has enjoyed their adventures throughout New York.

 


OnBoard NYC

OnBoard offers both day and night time tours, including an 8 hour Premium See-It-All Tour, which covers the length of Manhattan and comprises a visit to the Statue of Liberty. Just like our tours, OnBoard guides accompany guests on and off the bus. 

  • Cost: $39-$119 depending on type/length of tour and which day of the week
  • Duration: Tours vary from 3.5-8 hours

Reviews of OnBoard NYC Tours

Reviews for this company are very good, resulting in an overall 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor. Over 1,000 reviewers have left positive comments about this service, suggesting that OnBoard NYC is a very reliable tour company. Some went so far as to indicate that they visited locations you wouldn’t typically see on a tour of New York City. This tour has received particularly positive reviews from families and couples, so you can feel safe bringing larger groups.

Few of the negative reviews seem to have much in common, but it’s worth noting that some guests have experienced less than stellar customer service. Some passengers who had an unpleasant trip suggested that they might have caught the tour on a bad day. A majority of their unfavorable reviews were provided during the summer months, so you may want to consider another company if you’re planning a trip between June – August.

 


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SPECIALTY AND THEMED BUS TOURS

NYC Street Theater

Movie and TV Tours

Hip Hop Tours

 


THE RIDE

The Ride is Broadway on a bus! A totally unique experience that, according to their website is “equal parts theatrical show and immersive tour.” It’s designed to be fun and entertaining, with street performers scattered throughout the tour route.  The information about the city is rather limited and the route is confined to the area around Times Square, so guests looking for a comprehensive city tour should take a look at “The Tour” or look elsewhere.

 

 

Reviews of The Ride

This service has received an overall rating of 4 stars on TripAdvisor, with one reviewer stating that the tour was “like nothing I have ever done.” Mosts guests enjoy their experience on The Ride, but some have said that the quality of this tour has decreased over time. It would appear that this trip does not appeal to all audiences, but it’s worth noting that hundreds of customers have left positive feedback about their adventures. If you’re looking for something a bit different, many passengers have suggested that this is one of the most original and unique bus tours in New York!

 


 

THE TOUR

This fun and educational trip actually comes from the company that brought you The Ride. The Tour is less about the performance (there are no singers or dancers along the route) than it is about the city itself. If you’re not interested in a more theatrical journey around New York, you may want to consider this trip instead. Clocking in at 15 minutes longer than The Ride, this service is more affordable and it covers a slightly larger area. You might not get the song and dance, but you’ll still learn a lot about NYC and discover the city from a different point of view.

Much like the other services from this company, The Tour has an overall 4 star rating on TripAdvisor. There are a few negative comments, but the overwhelming majority of their ratings are positive. Some passengers suggest that this is a great option for anyone who might be short on time, while others say it’s the best tour they’ve ever taken. Several of the negative reviews indicate that they were expecting the same experience that is offered on The Ride, but that simply isn’t the case. Please make sure to select the right bus tour from this company in order to avoid any confusion.

 


ON LOCATION TOURS

If you’re a major movie buff, then this is the tour for you! On Location Tours specialize in showing guests where all their favorite movies and TV shows were filmed. Some of their most popular tours include New York TV & Movie Sites, Sex and the City Hotspots, Gossip Girl Sites, Sopranos Sites, and Central Park TV & Movie Sites. Guides also pepper the tours with history about the different neighborhoods you drive through.

 

 

Reviews of On Location NYC Tours

With a 4 ½ star rating and over 1,500 positive reviews on TripAdvisor, it’s safe to say that On Location Tours has impressed a lot of customers. That being said, they have received hundreds of negative reviews which might be of concern. Some unhappy passengers complain that the tour wasn’t as long as they were promised, while others simply found it uninteresting. Although these comments may be troubling, it’s worth remembering that there are ten times as many people who absolutely loved their experience with this company. Several guests recommend this tour for film buffs of all ages, stating that it is both informative and fun for movie lovers.

 


HUSH HIP HOP TOURS

Whether you are looking to bust a move or bust a rhyme, Hush Hip Hop Tours has the perfect tour for fans of the genre. They claim to be the only hip hop tour company in the world with pioneers of hip hop, DJs, and professional break-dancers leading its tours. As you travel from one location to the next, some of the people who helped make the movement possible will explain how this art form was born in the streets of NYC. Their tours will take you to Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn.

 

 

Reviews of Hush Hip Hop Tours

This may be one of the highest rated experiences on the list, as Hush Hip Hop Tours has earned an overall 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. An overwhelming majority of customers have reported that their trip around New York was not only memorable, but historically accurate as well. Some have even said that this tour is great for all audiences, suggesting that you need not be a fan of hip hop to learn a lot about the city while on your trip. There are only a handful of negative comments, and few of them seem to have anything in common which would suggest any major issues with their service.

 


SCOTT’S PIZZA TOUR

Scott’s Pizza Tours are the premier pizza tours of New York City.  Scott’s offerings are primarily walking tours. However, on Sundays, Scott offers a pizza bus tour that reaches the outer boroughs of NYC.  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 to learn about Scott’s Pizza Tours.

Reviews of Scott’s Pizza Tours

Everyone loves pizza, and according to reviewers on TripAdvisor, learning about the dish can be pretty fun. An overwhelming majority of the reviews for their bus tour are positive. They have received one or two negative comments which don’t appear to reflect any serious issues with the service. This tour apparently takes place on a yellow school bus, so it might not be the most comfortable seating you’ll ever experience. That being said, almost everyone who has experienced the trip has had an absolute blast. Positive reviews suggest that the entire journey is entertaining, and you’ll even have the opportunity to eat a few slices!

Scott also offers pizza walking tours, including:

  • Greenwich Village Pizza Walk
  • Crosstown Pizza Walk
  • Lower East Side Pizza Walk
  • Brooklyn Pizza Walk

 


Kramer’s Seinfeld Tour 

Fans of Seinfeld will definitely want to consider taking this tour. According to Larry David, Kenny Kramer was the actual person who inspired the hilarious character of Cosmo Kramer. Believe it or not, Kenny still lives in New York, and he provides a fabulous tour of the city to give fans a better idea of what life was like for the people that inspired the characters in everyone’s favorite show about nothing. Visit a lot of the locations you’ve seen in the series and hear about the creation of this concept from Kramer himself!

With the exception of just one negative review, every rating on TripAdvisor is positive. The one negative rating seems to come from someone who simply did not agree with the majority and found the trip uninteresting. Thankfully, this isn’t the common experience, and most guests refer to Kramer’s Reality Tour as an absolute must. Some fans report waiting years to take a tour with Kenny only to have their expectations exceeded in the end. According to many reviewers, this might be one of the more entertaining bus tours in the city, and it’s perfect for any fan of Seinfeld.

  • Cost: $37.50 (plus $2 service charge)
  • Available Saturdays at 12 PM
  • Duration: 2-3 hours

 


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DO-IT-YOURSELF NYC BUS TOUR

If all of the above sounds out of your price range, then you could always take advantage of the public bus system and tour around the city on your own! The New York Times published a great article a few years back about the best bus lines and routes to see all the major sites in the city. At just $7.50, the public bus system offers visitors a great way to explore the city on their own for a minimal cost.  Don’t forget that you can also take our free walking tours in combination with this option.

 


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COMBINE BUS, BOAT, HELICOPTER TOURS AND MORE

If you interested taking both a boat and bus tour while visiting New York, it’s often cheapest to purchase those two tickets as part of a combo deal. Many companies offer a variety of combinations, including helicopter tours and museums tickets as well.  Child prices are even less, but they vary.  Click the company links for more details.  Be sure to also read our post comparing the various tourist discount passes, such as the New York Pass, CityPass and the Explorer Pass, which may be even better fits for you.

 


BIG BUS TOUR

Big Bus is offering 15% off their tickets through us with promo code BIGFREE15.

Although Big Bus offers 2 and 3 day tickets (see hop-on, hop-off bus service above), which already include a boat cruise, they also offer their own version of a tourist discount pass, called the Big Adventure Pass. This pass combines the 2 or 3-day bus and boat tickets with other activities around town. You can choose from a list of different activities and/or attractions when you purchase your pass. This is a great option for anyone looking to explore as much of NYC as possible in just a few days!

Big Adventure Pass (2 day $105/adult, $81/child or 3 Day $129/adult, $105/Adult) – more information

  • 2 or 3 days of Uptown, Downtown and Brooklyn hop-on, hop-off bus service
  • + the choice of either 3 or 5 attractions (including, but not limited to)
    • One World Observatory
    • Central Park Bike Tours- Free tour or 3 hour rental
    • Hornblower International Sightseeing Cruise
    • Discovery Times Square Exhibits
    • Intrepid: Sea, Air & Space Museum
    • Museum of Modern Art
    • Big Bus Panoramic Night Tour
    • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
    • Madame Tussauds

Reviews for the Big Adventure Pass are decent, although there have been some negative ratings. Customers who rated their experience poorly suggested that they had trouble understanding how the package worked. Based on their experience, we suggest obtaining this pass well in advance and planning out your trip beforehand. Call ahead and make sure that you understand how to fully take advantage of the combo package before you set your heart on this tour pass.

That all being said, some customers actually had great things to say about the Big Adventure Pass. One reviewer described this opportunity as a great way to see the city, indicating that his family had a great time. One thing is for sure: It’s definitely possible to get a lot of value out of this combo deal. If you’re willing to stick to an itinerary and plan out your trip, this could be a fantastic option.

 


Gray Line

Again, like the top two, Gray Line offers several combo packages.  Their packages stand out because they offer a choice of the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock.

  • Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Empire State Building combined for $49 per adult (no bus).
  • Downtown-Loop Bus and Top of the Rock for $85 per adult.
  • 6 hour guided Manhattan bus tour with boat tour for $89 per adult.
  • FreeStyle Passes includes 3 days of bus and 3 to 5 attractions starting at $129 per adult.
  • All-Loop Bus and either Empire State Building or Top of the Rock for $109 per adult.
  • Bus, boat and Empire State Building combined for $130 per adult.

 

City Sights also offers a number of different combo packages at a discounted rate.

  • Big Four Combo includes double-decker bus tour, hop-on hop-off ferry tour, Empire State Building, and 9/11 Tribute Center combined for $89 per adult.
  • FreeStyle Passes includes 3 days of bus and 3 to 5 attractions starting at $139 per adult.
  • 72 hour access to bus tour of NYC paired with either the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock for $104 per adult.
  • 96 hour access to bus tour of NYC paired with Top of the Rock and stop at Woodbury Premium Outlet Mall for $124 per adult.
  • The Big Apple – CitySights offers a pretty good deal that includes:
    • 2 days hop-on, hop-off bus service
    • Helicopter ride
    • 90 Statue of Liberty cruise
    • free entry to the Museum of the City of New York or New York Historical Society
  • 72 Hour All-Around-Town and the CityPass – Another good deal. $150/Adults, $120/Child
    • 72 hours of hop-on, hop off bus service (Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx)
    • nighttime bus tour
    • hop-on, hop-off boat tour
    • free entry to the Museum of the City of New York or New York Historical Society
    • plus the CityPass booklet, which gets you entry into:
      • Empire State Building
      • American Museum of Natural History
      • Metropolitan Museum of Art
      • Top of the Rock Observation Deck or the Guggenheim Museum
      • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Cruise
      • 9/11 Museum and Memorial or Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

 

  • Open-Loop

This is the best deal if hoping to do both a bus and boat tour. Guests receive a 20% discount on all of their combo passes.  Open Loop has several combo offers.

  • bus and boat combo passes starting at $55 for adults and $45 for children.
  • bus and Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum combo starting at $55 for adults and $49 for children.
  • bus and Museum of Modern Art combo passes starting at $65 for adults and $35 for children.
  • bus and helicopter tour combo passes starting at $232 for adults and $219 for children.

 


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NIGHT BUS TOURS OF NYC

Many of the companies listed above also offer evening bus tours. The New York skyline is breathtaking when illuminated after dark, and a bus tour is a great way to see many different areas of the city in a short amount of time. Night tours do not typically operate as hop-on, hop-off tours, even though many are operated by hop-on, hop-off companies in double decker buses.  There are also small group shuttle bus night tours.  This is a common complaint for guests of all companies, but this likely stems from misunderstandings. NOTE: many of these night tours are included in the multiple-day tickets offered by each company.

 


BIG BUS NIGHT TOUR

Big Bus offers nightly bus tours that depart between 7-9 pm every 15-20 minutes from Times Square (6pm – 8pm in winter months). Sites include Radio City Music Hall, 5th Avenue, the Empire State Building, the Manhattan Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn waterfront. You can view their night tour route map (yellow).  Since it is included in just about every multiple day or combo ticket, many people are likely to find it cheaper to get the night tour in a package deal.

  • Cost: $28 for adults and $20 for children
  • Duration: 2 hours.
  • Included in the price of all multi-day Big Bus tickets.
  • It is not included in the New York Pass.

 


GRAY LINE – (a.k.a. City Sightseeing, a.k.a CitySights)

This trip departs every half hour between 6:30 pm – 8 pm from 47th Street and 8th Avenue. Sites include Times Square, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Chinatown/Little Italy, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Macy’s, and the Broadway Theater District.  During the month of December, the night tour becomes the Holiday Lights Tour.

Reviews for Gray Line NYC’s night tour are mixed, but there are twice as many positive comments as there are negative. Some passengers have reported that they learned quite a bit while on this trip, and it would appear that this is a common complement. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of complaints focusing on long lines and unimpressive tour guides, so it’s difficult to say what your individual experience will look like. Most guests enjoy this bus tour, but some find it lacking the depth and entertainment that they expected.

  • Cost: $39/adults, $29/children
  • Duration: 1.5 hours

 


CitySights NY 

Similar to experiences with Gray Line, most of the reviews for this service are excellent, but there are several negative comments worth mentioning. Complaints range from unimpressive tour guides to the inability to hop off whenever you wish. As with other night tours, this is not a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, and a lot of passengers would prefer that it was. Unfortunately, you won’t find many nighttime bus tours which allow passengers to hop-off whenever they wish.

That being said, there are twice as many positive comments, and some guests have even referred to this as the best tour offered by CitySights. Many of the combo deals offered by this company include the night tour, and several customers who took advantage of those deals report that this was their favorite experience.

 


USA Guided Tours

In addition to their highly rated daily tour, this company also provides one of the longest and most detailed night tours in New York. Clocking in at 4 ½ hours in length, the NYC Night Bus Tour will take you past some of the most popular destinations in the entire city, including locations such as Times Square, Chelsea Market, Chinatown and Greenwich Village. This excursion also includes at least one short walking tour and a boat tour which departs from the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Discover how New York City changes when the sun goes down! Available Daily from 5:30 PM – 10 PM.

Tickets

  • $59 for Adults
  • $49 for Children
  • Duration: 4 ½ hours

Every single review for this particular night tour is 5 stars. As a matter of fact, USA Guided Tours has yet to receive even one negative comment about their service. Most guests report that this company is very professional and reliable, describing their tour guides as entertaining and knowledgeable. One high level contributor pointed out that the landmarks and neighborhoods visited on this trip are different from those they visit during the daily tour. Anyone looking to experience New York during both the day and night will no doubt get a lot of value out of both of these bus tours.


OPEN LOOP NIGHT TOUR

In addition to the many other tours and packages offered by this company, you can also take part in their night tour. There are several departures for this particular trip, and it provides a fairly unique look at the city after dark. Compared to the other hop-on, hop-off companies, the later 9 pm and 10 pm departures are great for night owls. Sites include Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Brooklyn Bridge.

Although there have been some negative ratings, hundreds of passengers have been impressed with this tour. Some suggest that you should take a night tour with another company, while others have said that this was an animated and interesting experience. A majority of their customers have a great time while traveling around New York City at night, but it would appear that Open Loop does have problems from time to time.

  • Cost: $29 for adults and $19 for children if booked online
  • Duration: 2 hours.
  • Departs on the hour at 7 pm, 8 pm, 9 pm, and 10 pm

 

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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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