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The 10 Best Tours of NYC

June 13, 2016 - by City Guide News Desk
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By land, water, or air, the spectacular landscape of New York City is prime for tours. We've highlighted the ten best tours NYC has to offer, from classic sightseeing trips that hit NYC landmarks, to specialty tours, to tours that offer breathtaking aerial views of the Manhattan skyline. Read on for our picks for the 10 best tours of NYC.

Best Tours NYC: Circle Line’s Hello, Brooklyn Tour

Circle Line by the Williamsburg Bridge

Last year, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises celebrated its 70th anniversary. In 2016, Circle Line launched its Hello Brooklyn cruise, boasting NYC’s first dedicated ride to the borough. The professionally narrated, two-hour cruise sails daily at 2:30pm from Pier 83 on 42nd Street, offering rich history and insider info on NYC’s hippest borough. Guests cruise down the Hudson River, make a quick pass to see the Statue of Liberty, and then cut east to hug the Brooklyn shoreline, from historic Bay Ridge up to the happening neighborhood of Williamsburg. A major highlight is sailing under the spectacular spans of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges. The cruise returns to Pier 83 along the Manhattan side, providing sweeping 360-degree views of the New York skyline all the way. Onboard, guests can purchase food and drink from Brooklyn’s famed artisanal vendors, including Brooklyn Brewery, Coney Island Brewery, Brooklyn Gin, Brooklyn Cupcake, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Brooklyn Cured, and cheesecakes from Junior’s. Admission is $38 adults, $30 seniors, $36 kids. There is also a Circle Line Premier Pass option for $15 more. Group rates are available. Pier 83, W. 42nd Street and 12th Ave., 212-563-3200 circleline42.com

Best Tours NYC: CitySights Bus Tours

gray line nyc bus tours

CitySights NY and Gray Line New York offer a wide array of NYC double decker tours, boat tours, NYC helicopter tours, as well as day trips. CitySights NY’s All Around Tour offers a little bit of everything. For 48 hours, you’ll have hop on/hop off access to a double decker bus covering tours of downtown, uptown, Harlem, Brooklyn, and the city at night. It also also includes a Hop-on, Hop-off Sightseeing Ferry and a ticket to either the Museum of the City of New York or the New-York Historical Society. 234 W. 42nd St., 212-812-2700, citysightsny.com

Gray Line New York’s Night on the Town Tour is a five-hour extravaganza that includes a night tour of Manhattan with dinner in Little Italy, a one-hour evening cruise, champagne, and admission to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. 777 Eighth Ave., 800-669-0051, newyorksightseeing.com

Best Tours NYC: Helicopter Flight Services Tours

Helicopter Flight services

Established in 1985, Helicopter Flight Services is NYC's premiere helicopter service, with a fleet of 7 Bell 407s, and a new Bell 429. Choose from four toursthe New Yorker Tour, the Ultimate Tour, a Deluxe Tour, and a VIP Sea & Air Tour. The New Yorker Tour (approx 15 mins.), offers a fantastic birdseye view of Manhattan. The Ultimate Tour is a bit lengthier (running 18-20 mins); the Deluxe Tour (25-30 mins) travels down the Hudson River to the New York Harbor and the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum. Finally, the VIP Sea & Air Tour combines the celebrated New York Water Taxi Statue by Night cruise with an exclusive tour of dazzling New York City! Pier 6, 212-355-0801, heliny.com

Best Tours NYC: On Location Tours

When Harry Met Seinfeld On Location Tours

On Location Tours is New York's premiere TV and movie location tour company, offering an exciting way to see the most filmed city in the world. The company offers a slew of distinctive NYC sightseeing tours that will take you behind the scenes of your favorite shows and movies, from Spider-Man and Men in Black to TV favorites like The Sopranos, Sex and the City, TCM Movies, and more. A current favorite is the Seinfeld tour, aka the "tour about nothing," inspired by classics that epitomize NYC like Seinfeld, When Harry Met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail. The new, two-hour When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour explores TV and movie locations above Times Square, bringing fans close to the most famous uptown locations from the big and small screens. Key sites from recent hits like Trainwreck, Pitch Perfect, Gossip Girl, and The Other Guys give this tour a fresh twist. 212-683-2027, onlocationtours.com

Best Tours NYC: Madison Square Garden® All Access TourTM

Madison Square Garden All Access Tour

In addition to hosting many musical events, MSG is home to the New York Rangers.

The Madison Square Garden® All Access Tour™ runs daily, approximately every half hour between 9:30am and 3pm.* On this 75-minute guided tour, visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at The World’s Most Famous Arena®, where some of the most legendary events have taken place. Highlights include viewing the locker rooms of the Knicks®, Rangers®, and Liberty®*, exploring the Defining Moments exhibits, and reliving history with the Garden 366 retrospective, which commemorates one moment in Garden history for every day of the year (including leap year!). Visitors will also have the opportunity to get a one-of-a-kind look at the arena bowl from the spectacular vantage of the Chase Bridges. Commemorate over 130 years of legendary Garden history and experience the arena like never beforeuse the code GUIDE to save $4 per adult ticket!* 4 Penn Plaza, 212-465-6741, MSGAllAccessTour.com

*Use code GUIDE to take advantage of offer. Offer valid on select tours. 14 ticket limit per order. Offer not valid on children, senior or group rates. All sales are final – no refunds or exchanges. Offer may not be combined with any other offer or used on previously purchased tickets. Discount calculated off the then current undiscounted price. Limited availability for the Knicks and Rangers locker rooms. Tour content, prices, dates and times are subject to change. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time and is subject to availability. Tour is subject to availability and is offered on a first come, first served basis. Service charges may apply to telephone and internet orders. Other restrictions may apply. Offer expires 6/30/17. If special accommodations are needed, please call 212-465-6034 after ticket purchase. ©2016 MSG Sports & Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Best Tours NYC: Radio City Stage Door Tour®

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City's Stage Door Tour takes you behind the scenes of this national landmark.

Known as "The Showplace of the Nation," Radio City Music Hall was the first building in the Rockefeller Complex and is the largest indoor theater in the world. The legendary venue has played host to many of the biggest names in music, including Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Jason Mraz, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Clarkson, Aretha Franklin and Paul Simon, as well as a ten-night stand by comedian Dave Chappelle, and some of the country's most exciting entertainment events, including the MTV VMAs, the Tony Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards and NBC's "America's Got Talent." Radio City Music Hall is also home to original productions including the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the New York Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes. 1260 Sixth Ave., 212-247-4777, StageDoorTour.com

Radio City Rockettes

The Rockettes star in Radio City's annual show, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

The Radio City Stage Door Tour® runs daily, with tours approximately every half hour between 9:30am and 5pm.* The 75-minute tour leads guests through a beautiful Art Deco interior, where they’ll learn the secrets of the Great Stage and hear about the legendary events and shows that have taken place in the landmark building. The tour takes visitors through the lavish apartment of “Roxy” Rothafel, known as The Roxy Suite, stops by the Costume Shop, and visits the Large Rehearsal Hall.* The tour also includes the opportunity to enjoy a meet and greet session with one of the Radio City Rockettes®! Use the code GUIDE to save $4 per adult ticket!* For more information or to get tickets, visit StageDoorTour.com.

*Use code GUIDE to take advantage of offer. Offer valid on select tours. 14 ticket limit per order. Offer not valid on children, senior or group rates. All sales are final – no refunds or exchanges. Offer may not be combined with any other offer or used on previously purchased tickets. Discount calculated off the then current undiscounted price. Tour content, prices, dates and times are subject to change. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time and is subject to availability. Tour is subject to availability and is offered on a first come, first served basis. Service charges may apply to telephone and internet orders. Other restrictions may apply. Offer expires 6/30/17. If special accommodations are needed, please call 212-465-6115 after ticket purchase. ©2016 MSG Sports & Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Best Tours NYC: THE RIDE

THE RIDE

Part tour, part show, THE RIDE is a groundbreaking theatrical experience come to life, turning the streets of New York into a stage. THE RIDE is a 75-minute journey through Times Square and midtown Manhattan where New York City’s iconic landmarks unfold before your very eyes. With sideways stadium seating, 40 monitors, 3000 LED lights, and surround sound, THE RIDE is the world’s only moving theater. Surprises await around every corner, as THE RIDE’s ensemble cast of singers, dancers, musicians, actors, and comedians captivate and entertain. Appropriate for children 6+ and adults:  “Get on THE RIDE a visitor, get off a New Yorker!” 234 W. 42nd St., 212-221-0853, theridenyc.com

Best Tours NYC: A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours 

A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours

A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, which received a 2015 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, was started by travel lover and Brooklyn native Tony Muia. A Slice of Brooklyn offers several highly popular tours, all conveniently departing from Manhattan, in Union Square. The Neighborhood Tour stops at Brooklyn Heights, Victorian Flatbush, and includes a sit-down lunch at the world-renowned Junior’s. The tour highlights film locations for The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, Sophie’s Choice, As Good As It Gets, Moonstruck, and other films. There is a Brooklyn Pizza Tour that includes lunch stops at Grimaldi's (no waiting in line!) and L&B Spumoni Gardens. During December, step aboard the Christmas Lights Tour, which travels to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn for a high-wattage explosion of color that has to be seen to be believed! 212-913-9917, asliceofbrooklyn.com

Best Tours NYC: United Nations Tour

United Nations

The United Nations is actually an international territory, situated in the heart of New York City! The UN's one-hour guided tours, arranged through the newly renovated United Nations Visitors Centre, offer an opportunity to discover the capital of the world: the UN Headquarters. You'll see the famed General Assembly—the most iconic room of the UN, where all its 193 Members States are represented and negotiate. You can also check out the Economic and Social Council, where member states work to raise the standards of living around the planet, as well as the Security Council (pictured), where decisions are made on international peace and security. Visitors can pick up publications at the Public Inquiries Center, purchase a book at the UN bookshop, post mail with UN stamps, see the latest exhibits at the UN's agenda, browse items in the Gift Centre, and enjoy refreshments at the Visitors' Cafe. Tours are offered only on weekdays, mostly in English. All visitors to the United Nations 18 years or older require government-issued photo identification to enter. 46th St. and First Ave., 212-963-8687, visit.un.org

Best Tours NYC: Zephyr Statue of Liberty Express

Zephyr Statue of Liberty Express

For a billion dollar view of New York City by boat, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the city skyline to Lady Liberty herself, check out New York Water Taxi’s Statue of Liberty Express aboard the luxury boat Zephyr. The cruise, which lasts an hour, runs every 90 minutes, making it easy to schedule. Catch some history as you prepare to board: at the Zephyr’s dock at the South Street Seaport you’ll also find the floating lighthouse Ambrose and the four-masted barque Peking. (You’ll hear all about them from the high-energy tour guide who narrates the ride.) Two cash bars are on board serving up beer, cocktails, and snacks. Once you reach the Statue of Liberty, you'll have plenty of time to set up your camera to take the perfect souvenir shot. The Statue of Liberty Express leaves from Pier 16 in the South Street Seaport, 89 South St., 212-742-1969, nywatertaxi.com


Best Tours NYC Bonus: Hard Rock Cafe

hard rock cafe famous guitars

The Hard Rock Cafe New York in Times Square has an astonishing collection of rock mementos, which you can see as you stroll by on your own—or else on one of their new tours. You'll see rock history live, as outfits worn by Gwen Stefani and Madonna, John Entwistle's "Lightning Bolt" bass, and the Gibson SG guitar that birthed the heavy metal sound. You'll also see items that belonged to Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, the Ramones, and John Lennon, and learn cool backstories. 1501 Broadway, 212-343-3355, HardRock.com/NewYork

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