"I believe that whatever it is that makes a city a city, there's more of it in New York than anywhere else on earth."
I know it's cliche, but I love New York. While I appreciate nature, I have always found people and what they build to be incredibly fascinating. That's why my vacations are usually to Great Cities, and the greatest of them all is definitely New York City!
I made my first solo trip to Manhattan when I was 18. Subsequently, as a grad student living on Long Island in the 1980's, I learned there's a lot more to New York City than Times Square and Broadway. It's a city of neighbourhoods, and is best seen on foot. Over the years, I've made dozens of pilgrimages, and every time I've walked and walked and walked.
As a tour operator, I know there are dozens of tours to New York available, mostly geared to first-time visitors. Unfortunately, those tours don't cover much beyond the tourist sights. Guests rarely interact with New Yorkers, or go to thee places they frequent.
But what about those looking for something more authentic? What about walking out of your hotel directly into a New York neighbourhood? And where are all those neighbourhoods - Greenwich Village, Soho, the Meatpacking District, Little Italy, and Williamsburg? Where did Babe Ruth drink beer? And, what about the people who actually live in Manhattan today - where do they go on Friday night or Sunday afternoon?
It is for the curious that TravelMaven’s Great Cities Walking tour to NEW YORK CITY was created. On this tour we'll ride the subways and buses. We'll visit the famous sites, but see them from a different perspective. Beyond the sites, we'll walk through neighbourhoods and rub shoulders with native New Yorkers. We'll see the oldest parts of the city, but also explore Hudson Yards, it's newest and possibly most controversial neighbourhood.
Our New York experience will be based at the four star Art Deco Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village. Famous guests at this historic hotel include Ernest Hemingway, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the Rolling Stones. I love this hotel because the rooms are charming (if petite), it has loads of character, and it's a great base for exploring lower Manhattan on foot.
For those comparing tour options and prices to New York City, it's important to note that TravelMaven walking tours are limited to 12 guests. As a result, we do things and go places larger groups could never manage. We waste less time, and adjust the schedule on an ongoing basis to manage around weather, accommodate special requests, and take advantage of unexpected opportunities that pop up along the way.
In addition to wandering the streets of lower Manhattan, we'll also walk through Central Park, across the Brooklyn Bridge, along 5th Avenue and on top of the High Line. We’ll see amazing architecture at Grand Central Station, and see where the hipsters hang out in Williamsburg.
One of the challenges when planning any tour of New York is deciding what to see and what to leave out. However, with our ‘A LA CARTE' day, I think we've come up with a way to minimize this problem. By picking their own priorities, guests can experience the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, the entirety of Central Park, world-class museums, or a Circle Island boat tour. Help can also be provided for arranging carriage rides, Broadway shows, 'The Ride' bus, or visits to the Top of the Rock or the Empire State building.
In the end, I hope our Great Cities Walking Tour to New York City will offer something for everyone, appealing to first timers as well as previous visitors. Here’s hoping you will join me for a week in my favourite city. Maybe you will learn to love New York too. Don't forget to bring your most comfortable walking shoes!
TYPE: Walking Tour
LENGTH: 6 Days / 5 Nights
GROUP SIZE: 12 guests
Washington Square Hotel (4*)
Washington Square Park
Grand Central Station
The High Line Park
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Bedford Street (Williamsburg)
Metropolitan Museum of Art*
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Statue of Liberty*
Ellis Island Immigration Museum*
9/11 Memorial & Museum
(*denotes optional activities)
5 nights at 4 star Washington Square Hotel with continental breakfast; 1 lunch; 2 dinners; daily walking tours; admission to all group attractions; TravelMaven concierge (Barry); all ground transportation; all taxes.
This tour is guaranteed to depart, regardless of group size. Prices are quoted in Canadian dollars, based on double occupancy and guaranteed once a $250 deposit has been received.
Day 0 (Monday) Optional Arrival in Toronto
Given our early start Tuesday, those from out of town may want to arrive in Toronto Monday evening and take advantage of the Special Rate we’ve arranged at the Holiday Inn that includes parking for 7 days.
Day 1 (Tuesday) Greenwich Village, Grand Central Station, Times Square (L)
The group will depart Toronto early, arriving at Washington Square Hotel by noon. We'll start with a Welcome Lunch before taking an orientation tour of Greenwich Village. In the late afternoon, we will catch a subway to Grand Central Station and experience their amazing Food Concourse before ending our day with a visit to Times Square under the lights.
Day 2 (Wednesday) Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial, One World Observatory, Brooklyn (B,D)
Our first full day will begin with a boat cruise past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. After walking through the Financial District, we will visit the 9/11 Memorial and go to the top at One World Observatory. We will return to the hotel for some free time in the afternoon before heading to Brooklyn for dinner and drinks in the Radegast Hall & Biergarten.
Day 3 (Thursday) Central Park, Fifth Avenue, MoMA (optional), Free Evening (B)
We will begin with a visit to the John Lennon memorial Strawberry Fields. After a walk through Central Park, we will stop at the Plaza Hotel's tres chic Food Hall for lunch. Next, we will begin our hike home along Fifth Avenue, home to Tiffany’s, Saks and the Rockefeller Center. For those interested, the Museum of Modern Art is along the way. Guests have a free evening, or may choose to join Barry for a walk through Chinatown and Little Italy.
Day 6 (Friday) Brooklyn Bridge (optional), A LA CARTE" DAY (B)
After an early morning optional walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, guests get to plan their own activities. One option is a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. A second is a visit to one of NYC’s world-famous art museums (e.g. The Met). Other options include a Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan Island or a bike ride in Central Park. Afternoon or evening shows on Broadway may also be available.
Day 6 (Saturday) The Vessel, High Line, Chelsea Market, Free Time, Farewell Dinner (B, D)
We will head north to Hudson Yards to see The Vessel, followed by a stroll down the High Line elevated park to Chelsea Market for lunch. After a quick stop at the Starbuck’s Roastery, we will return to the hotel for some free time before our Farewell Dinner.
Day 6 (Sunday) Free Day plus return to Toronto (B)
Those interested can join Barry for a very early morning run the length of Central Park. After breakfast and check-out, guests will have some free time before departing for the airport.
LATE DEPARTURE OPTIONS
For those who’d like to extend their stay, there are a couple of options. (1) You could fly back late Sunday evening, then drive home that night or stay at the Holiday Inn before driving home Monday morning. (2) You could add another night at the Washington Square Hotel and fly home Monday.