The Best Tours in New York City

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Updated: November 10, 2021
By Santorini Dave

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Best Tours in New York City

Map showing the starting locations of the best tours in New York City

1. New York in One Day – Midtown

View of Lower Manhattan from Staten Island Ferry

  • Duration: 6 hours.
  • Guided bus, boat, and walking tour that covers all the NYC highlights; great way to get your bearings at the beginning of a trip.
  • Meeting Point: Times Square
  • Tour Highlights: Times Square, guided Central Park walk, Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Park, Wall Street, 9/11 Memorial, Staten Island Ferry ride with views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Statue of Liberty.
  • A choice between closed-top and glass-top luxury tour bus transportation is offered.
  • The ferry cruise is not included as part of the tour during the off-season (January to April). Instead, guests visit Pier 17 for a Brooklyn Bridge/Statue of Liberty photo op.
  • Included: All transportation, expert guide, bottled water.
  • Not Included: Food. There is a quick lunch break at the Fulton 55 Market, but guests must purchase their own.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Yes.
  • Tour Operator: USA Guided Tours NY
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

2. Chinatown & Little Italy Food Fest – Lower Manhattan

People on a food tour pose with samples in an Italian food shop and ravioli bakery

  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • Guided small-group (12 people or fewer) walking tour through two of New York’s tastiest ethnic neighborhoods, with seven different food tasting stops along the way.
  • Meeting Point: Mott Street in Chinatown
  • Tour Highlights: Cannoli, prosciutto, cheeses, fresh pasta, homemade mozzarella, hot dim sum, fresh dumplings, and traditional Chinese pastries.
  • Included: Seven food tastings, including a heated and hearty tasting of Italian or Chinese cuisine, a helpful handout including restaurants visited, maps, coupons, and recommendations upon leaving the tour.
  • Not Included: Bottled water.
  • Food included? Yes, seven tastings – enough to count as lunch.
  • Good for kids? Good for kids over 5 with adventurous palates.
  • Tour Operator: Ahoy New York Food Tours

3. Early Access Statue of Liberty with Ellis Island – Lower Manhattan

The Statue of Liberty, as seen from New York Harbor, with the sykline of Manhattan in the distance

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Experience Lady Liberty without the crowds on this half-day morning tour of Liberty Island, with a visit to the Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island.
  • Meeting Point: Battery Park
  • Tour Highlights: Guided tour of Liberty Island, views of the NYC skyline, free time to explore at the Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island.
  • Included: Entrance to The Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Immigration Museum,
    all ferry tickets between Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island; Ellis Island audio guide.
  • Not Included: Entrance to the Statue of Liberty Crown, guided museum tours.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Yes.
  • Tour Operator: Walks Tours
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

4. Scott’s Pizza Bus Tour – Lower Manhattan

In a pizzaria man serves a large pizza to a table of happy people; one woman is taking a photo with her phone.

Photo credit: J.J. Sereday

  • Duration: 4.5 hours.
  • Guests visit four different pizzerias in at least two boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, or Staten Island), led by experienced guides who are experts in the NYC pizza scene.
  • Meeting Point: Lower Manhattan near South Street Seaport
  • Tour Highlights: Tasting excellent and unique pizza varieties, kitchen tours, fun and knowledgeable tour guide.
  • Included: Four slices of pizza, pocket pizza journal, transport by yellow school bus.
  • Not Included: Beverages.
  • Tour operates rain or shine.
  • Food included? Yeah, pizza!
  • Good for kids? Yes! Reduced price tickets are offered for children between the ages of 4 and 12; children under the age of 4 are free, but must share pizza and seats with their guardian. Limit of one non-paying child per adult.
  • This bus tour runs on Sundays only, but weekend walking pizza tours are also available in Greenwich Village, Downtown Brooklyn, West Village, and East Village.
  • Tour Operator: Scott’s Pizza Tours
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

5. Heart of Central Park – Upper East Side

New Yorkers relaxing around Bethesda Fountain in Central Park on a sunny summer day

  • Duration: 90 minutes.
  • Wonderful walking tour led by Central Park Conservancy guides with inside knowledge of the park’s history, architecture, flora, and fauna.
  • Meeting Point: East 72nd Street at 5th Avenue
  • Tour Highlights: Conservatory Water, Loeb Boathouse, Bethesda Terrace, Bow Bridge, Cherry Hill, the Lake, Strawberry Fields
  • Tours take place rain or shine. Rain checks offered in case of severe weather.
  • Included: Expert guide.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Children are welcome, but tours are recommended for kids ages 12 and up. The Conservancy’s Discovery Walks are recommended for younger children.
  • Tour Operator: Central Park Conservancy

6. 9/11 All Access Tour – Lower Manhattan

Tourists overlook the subterranean waterfall at the 9/11 memorial in New York

  • Duration: 5 hours (3 hours self-guided)
  • The most personal and comprehensive tour of New York’s 9/11 and Ground Zero sites.
  • Meeting Point: St. Paul’s Chapel
  • Tour Highlights: St. Paul’s Chapel, 90-minute guided walk around Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial (including firsthand stories from your tour guide), 9/11 Museum, Freedom Tower and the One World Observatory, and other sites such as the FDNY Memorial Wall, the Survivor Tree, and the Millennium Hotel.
  • Included: Tour guide with a personal connection to 9/11, skip-the-line access to the 9/11 Museum; timed reserved entrance tickets to the 9/11 Museum and One World Observatory are available with upgrade.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Yes, particularily older kids and teens. The tour guides ensure that the subject matter is handled sensitively.
  • Tour Operator: 9/11 Ground Zero Tour
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

7. Best of Brooklyn Food and Culture Tour – Lower Manhattan

Manhattan Bridge between Renovated warehouses at Sunset. The Photo was taken from the Brooklyn's neighbourhood of Dumbo.

  • Duration: 4.5 hours.
  • Wonderful half-day tour of Brooklyn food, history, and culture; a delicious introduction to this borough’s diverse neighborhoods.
  • Meeting Point: The NE corner of 6th Ave & Bleecker St (Greenwich Village).
  • Tour Highlights: Food highlights include traditional Polish pierogies and kielbasa, knishes, New York-style brick oven pizza, cannoli, and more. Neighborhoods visited may include Old and New Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, and DUMBO.
  • Takes place rain or shine.
  • Participants have the option of walking the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan.
  • Included: Lots of food, bus transport between neighborhoods, bottle of water.
  • Not Included: Alcohol and soft drinks are not included, but can be purchased at some of the restaurants on the tour.
  • Food included? Lots of it.
  • Good for kids? Yes.
  • Tour Operator: New York Fun Tours
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

8. Disney on Broadway – Midtown

A girl tries on a lioness headdress in a costume shop

  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Behind-the-scenes tour of New York’s world-famous theater district; guests go backstage inside the New Amsterdam Theatre, where they can handle the props and costumes from productions like Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mary Poppins.
  • Meeting Point: West 46th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue
  • Tour Highlights: Times Square, Broadway, Sardi’s restaurant, behind-the-scenes tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Yes!
  • Tour Operator: Walks Tours
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

9. Immigrant New York – Lower Manhattan

Lovely view of one of the most renowned streets in Chinatown (Mott St), with it's busy shops crowded with tourists strolling on a summer day.

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Guided walking tour through Chinatown, Little Italy, the Jewish East Side, and former Irish/Free Black Five Points to explore the experiences of different ethnic groups as they immigrated to the United States.
  • Meeting Point: City Hall Park
  • Tour Highlights: The Tweed Courthouse, the African Burial Ground, Mulberry Bend, the Bowery, sites associated with Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Jacob Riis, Abraham Cahan, “Master” Juba, Emma Goldman and more.
  • Offered as a public or private tour.
  • Tours run rain or shine, except in the case of extreme weather.
  • Most guides are full-time graduate students researching and writing doctoral dissertations in New York history.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Older kids, yes.
  • Tour Operator: Big Onion Walking Tours

10. Sunset Schooner Harbor Cruise – Midtown

A schooner sails near the RFK Triborough Bridge with Manhattan Midtown an Upper East side Skyscrapers in Background at sunset.

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Enjoy watching the NYC skyline light up from the deck of the Adirondack – an 80-foot sailboat inspired by the classic pilot schooners of the 1890s.
  • Meeting Point: Chelsea Piers
  • Tour Highlights: One World Trade Center, Battery Park, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty.
  • Offered from April to early November.
  • Sunset and City Lights cruises aboard a 1920’s style teak yacht are also offered.
  • Included: Boat fare, one complimentary beverage (beer, wine, Champagne or soft drink).
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? While this cruise is family-friendly, it’s generally more of a popular romantic date-night activity.
  • Tour Operator: Classic Harbor Line
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

11. Big Apple Greeter Tours – Various Locations

A woman gestures with an iced coffee while walking with a friend through a farmers' market

Photo credit: Michaela Potter for Big Apple Greeter

  • Duration: 2-4 hours
  • Get to know the real New York City that locals know in these free, custom, private walks led by passionate people who live there. No pre-set itineraries, themes, or start times.
  • Meeting Point: Greeters coordinate meeting spots with guests.
  • Tour Highlights: Completely one-of-a-kind experience. Greeters are assigned based on the neighborhood and language requested, and, when possible, guests’ interests.
  • Included: A great, personalized walk that’s totally free – there’s even a no-tipping policy.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Yes.
  • Organization: Big Apple Greeter is a non-profit organization.

12. Ghosts of Greenwich Village – Lower Manhattan

A crowd of people pretend to act scared for the camera, while standing in front of Washington Square Park arch at night

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Guided nighttime tour of the the most haunted places in New York’s historic Greenwich Village neighborhood.
  • Meeting Point: The Waverly Restaurant near Washington Square Park
  • Tour Highlights: Washington Square Park, the Brown Building (site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire), home of Emma Lazarus, ‘the Murder House,’ ‘The House on Gay Street,’ Jefferson Market Library, Chumley’s speakeasy.
  • Included: Expert tour guide
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? No. Not recommended for children under 12.
  • Tour Operator: Top Dog Tours
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

13. Iconic New York Photo Tour – Midtown

A group of amateur photographers point their cameras up to take a photo of something out of the frame

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Hone your photography skills while capturing images of some of New York’s most iconic landmarks. Suitable for photographers at all levels, from smartphone to D-SLR. Use your own or rent one of theirs.
  • Meeting Point: Midtown Manhattan.
  • Tour Highlights: Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Empire State Building, NYC Subway system, and Central Park.
  • Included: Professional photographer guide, subway fare.
  • Not Included: Camera rental. (Rental fee includes a memory card, which is yours to keep.)
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Yes, and discounted rates are offered for children. Any participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a paid adult. Minors participating in public/group sessions must be 13+; children under the age of 13 may participate in a private session accompanied by a paid adult.
  • Tour Operator: New York City Photo Safari

14. Around Manhattan Architecture Cruise – Midtown

Cityscape of New York City. Hudson Yards Chelsea and Hudson Yards neighborhoods of Manhattan

  • Duration: 2.75 hours
  • View New York’s iconic landmarks, modern architecture, and engineering masterpieces from the elegant deck of a 1920’s-style teak yacht on this harbor boat cruise led by members of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
  • Meeting Point: Chelsea Piers
  • Tour Highlights: One World Trade Center Memorial and Manhattan’s waterside memorials, Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street, Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Ave. condos, the Standard Hotel, the Woolworth Building, Wall Street’s art deco spires, the Brooklyn Bridge, Harlem River’s bridges, Little Island at Pier 55, the Hudson Yards “mega-project.”
  • Architecture and the Lights of Gotham, Urban Ecology & Infrastructure, and Industrial Waterfront Tours are also offered.
  • Included: Professional guide, boat tour, one drink.
  • Food included? No.
  • Good for kids? Perhaps. The content might not wow little ones, but being on the water is always exciting.
  • Tour Operator: Classic Harbor Line
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

15. Boston & the Freedom Trail – Midtown

Dunster House Cambridge panorama and Charles river Massachusetts, USA

  • Duration: 14 hours
  • Day tour from Manhattan to Boston, where guests can walk the Freedom Trail and visit Boston’s best popular attractions and historic sites.
  • Meeting Point: Port Authority Bus Terminal
  • Tour Highlights: Campuses of Harvard and MIT, Boston Harbor (site of the Boston Tea Party), the U.S.S. Constitution, Bunker Hill, Boston Common, the Freedom Trail.
  • Included: Private transportation, professional tour guide.
  • Food included? No. There is a lunch stop at Boston Common, but guests purchase their own food and drink.
  • Good for kids? Yes, though the day is quite long for the littlest ones.
  • Tour Operator: Empire Vacations
  • Alternative booking though Get Your Guide

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