Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Tours in NYC, by NYC Go

NYC-Go comprised a list of the top tours in NYC, and they managed to find something to satisfy the interests of everyone! 

1) Big Onion Walking Tours
If you have even the slightest curiosity about NYC history, there's certain to be a Big Onion outing that piques your interest. The company runs tours focused on topics like the Brooklyn Bridge, Green-Wood Cemetery and the City's role as a center of the LGBT rights movement. Movie buffs will be especially enamored with The "Official" Gangs of New York Tour, which shows just how many real locations and personalities appear in the film—from a perfect reproduction of the 1840s Five Points district to a brief appearance by Master Juba, a man whom many historians credit with inventing tap dance. The locals behind Big Onion constantly update their talking points and stops to reflect new developments. This depth is one reason that their tours attract a significant number of New Yorkers and repeat customers.

2) Custom & Private New York Tours
About 47 million people visit NYC annually—and they probably come for 47 million different reasons. Custom & Private New York Tours is ready to fulfill all of their requests. The company offers an extensive menu of suggested itineraries from which customers can "select, cut and paste" to create their own ideal experience. The organization really excels, though, when given a chance to be creative: it once made a custom West Side Story tour for a rabid theater fan, showcasing sites important to the play and film; then there was the potato chip–themed itinerary—exploring popular ways New York stores display and market the snack—for Scandinavian potato chip executives. Custom & Private New York Tours employs guides who speak Russian, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish and French, among other languages—a huge plus for many visitors from overseas.

3) Ahoy New York Tours & Tasting
Alana Hoye, who attended the Institute of Culinary Education, guides gustatory odysseys through Little Italy and Chinatown. Her guests enjoy Chinese dumplings, homemade mozzarella, Thai food and more, exploring the full range of New York City tastes. They also receive heaping servings of NYC historical information and trivia. Hoye strives to keep portions big and tour groups small, resulting in full stomachs and a friendly vibe. With advance notice, itineraries can be customized to accommodate dietary needs or preferences. Notably, in a resounding endorsement of Hoye's taste, participants frequently return to spots they've discovered on the tour.

4) Inside Out Tours
Inside Out Tours' staff prides itself on revealing hidden corners of the City—places that, while they may not receive as much attention as Times Square and the Empire State Building, are just as important when it comes to shaping the unmistakable character of the five boroughs. Popular Inside Out options include a route focused on the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped free approximately 100,000 men and women from slavery in the 1800s; a foray into pockets of Brooklyn variously inhabited by Hasidic Jews, Caribbean immigrants and hipsters; and a holiday-themed tour exploring the ways residents of different ethnic neighborhoods celebrate the season. All of these treks live up to the company's name, bringing an insider perspective out into the open and revealing just how much history and culture is hidden in plain sight throughout NYC.

5) Metropolitan Opera Guild Backstage Tours
The Met is America's most famous opera house, and backstage tours of the venue reveal the hard work and attention to detail that go into every performance there. Tour guides bring guests behind the scenes and show them the studios where performers rehearse, the dressing rooms where they put on their ornate costumes and the workshops where skilled craftspeople build and paint the company's famously intricate sets. And while it may bring the flashy shows' mystique down to reality, seeing the guts of the operation only serves to make the Met's achievements more impressive. If the tour impels you to see a show at the Met, you'll be happy to know that tickets can be surprisingly affordable—the Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Tickets program even offers orchestra seats for just $20.

6) Spirit of New Jersey
Passengers on the Spirit of New Jersey take in breathtaking vistas of the Statue of Liberty and the City's skyscrapers while enjoying a spacious dance floor, music from a live DJ, dazzling vocal performances from the ship's cheery waitstaff and a buffet featuring selections like roasted rosemary beef, wild Alaskan salmon and a well-stocked salad station. On New Year's Eve, Spirit's dinner cruise includes champagne, an open bar and views of the spectacular fireworks display above the Statue of Liberty. But for all the extras on the ship, the sweeping New York Harbor views will always be the main attraction—you'd be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant sight than the New York skyline as seen from the City's surrounding waterways.

7) Harlem Heritage Tours
Letting the guides from Harlem Heritage Tours show you around their neighborhood feels like visiting a good friend who has lived uptown for years (and is an expert when it comes to local history). Themed trips include itineraries focused on Spanish Harlem, the civil rights movement, gospel, hip-hop and much more. Offering an in-depth look at the area, these expeditions examine Harlem's illustrious legacy as a capital of African-American culture. You may find yourself part of a service at a Baptist church, cheering (or jeering) at the Apollo Theater's famous Amateur Night or dining at restaurants that capture the neighborhood's many ethnic flavors.

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