When I first moved to New York, I wanted to see everything. I wanted to go on every tour and eat at every restaurant and drink at every bar and go to every event. Who am I kidding? I’m still trying to do that. But exploring Manhattan can be expensive, especially guided tours. Until I found Free Tours by Foot.
Free Tours by Foot has tours all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. But in my opinion, the best thing is they have themed tours. They have street art tours, food tours, wine tours and so on. They have Midtown tours and Downtown tours and Williamsburg tours. They have it all and it’s all free.
The tour guides are locals who know their stuff and work off of your generous tips (still cheaper than any other tour). Though you don’t get to sit atop a two decker bus and look down at all the New Yorkers running around, you get to walk around and be a part of the action. You get a little exercise and you get to see all the sites. And trust me if it was a far walk, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it (I have stress fractures in my feet that can’t take a lot of walking). So if you’re down to learn about the city, walk around a bit, and maybe even try to squeeze a tour group of 20 people into the same subway car all for the price of a generous tip to your tour guide, you will love these tours.
The first Free Tours by Foot I did was the Midtown Manhattan tour. This was a little odd because I live in Midtown (but still didn’t know where anything was). The tour started in the Grand Central Terminal and took us around Grand Central, to the New York Public Library, through Bryant Park, to Times Square, to Madison Square Park and ended with Rockefeller Center. We learned a lot of the ins and outs of the city from our tour guide who had lived in the city for longer than I’ve been alive. He even gave us tips on good restaurants, the best ways to get cheap Broadway tickets, and how to bargain with the people selling fake purses in Chinatown. It was a great way to get an authentic tour of New York City.
Free Tours by Foot isn’t limited to just touristy tours though. They also have some themed tours that even New Yorkers can’t resist. My favorite thing I’ve done exploring the city was the Free Tours by Foot Manhattan Street Art Tour. The tour was a couple of tourists, but to my surprise mainly people from New York. I also found out they can be a great way to meet new people when you move to the city. My friend and I met another girl who had also recently moved to the city and was exploring on a budget just like we were.
The tour took us through Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Nolita, Chinatown and the Lower East Side (seems like a lot, but we really only walked like a mile). From what the tour guide said, the tour changes every time because there is so much street art in the area you can’t see it all in one tour, but he tried to pick the best ones for us to see. The tour was not only a great way to see amazing street art and learn about the movement and the artists, but it was also an interesting and unique way to learn the area. Before the tour, I had never made it down to any of those parts of Manhattan, so I was not only getting to learn about the art, but also about the culture of the area. Through the art tour, you can learn a lot about how the areas started and how they have grown since.
These tours are great for tourists and natives alike. They give you an authentic look at the city. They have a great variety of tours for all different interests and they are cheap enough for all different budgets (but don’t forget to TIP YOUR TOUR GUIDE!). The next tours I’m looking forward to are the Brooklyn Graffiti and Street Art Tour and literally all of the food tours.
If you guys have ever been on any cool tours in NYC let me know in the comments!
And of course, cool pictures from the tours: