Arguably, the top attractions in New York City are its bustling, historic, fascinating streets, neighborhoods and skyline. The companies listed below offer different types of tours—walking tours, boat tours, bus tours, dining tours, and more—that get you out and about in the Big Apple. Reservations are required for some, but even if they’re not, it’s always best to go online to confirm prices, times, and meeting places.

Walking Tour Companies

For those interested in a tour that takes in NYC architecture and history in an erudite, interesting way, try the Municipal Art Society (tel. 212/935-3960 or 212/453-0050; It offers periodic specialized tours of many areas of the city, each with a specific focus and a varying price point. Recent tours have examined the Art Deco hallmarks of Rockefeller Center, Walt Whitman's New York, and the holiday decorations and traditions of the Italian-American enclave of Arthur Avenue (in the Bronx).

The 92nd Street Y (; tel. 212/415-5500) offers a wonderful variety of walking and bus tours, many featuring funky themes or behind-the-scenes visits. Subjects can range from “Carnegie Hall Tour and Tea” to “The Great Cupcake Challenge: Taste and Rate Tour,” or from “Central Park West” to “Jewish Harlem.”  Guides are well-chosen experts on their subjects, ranging from historians to an East Village poet, mystic, and art critic (for “Allen Ginsberg’s New York” and “East Village Night Spots”), and many routes travel into the outer boroughs; some day trips even reach beyond the city. Advance registration is required for all tours. Schedules are planned a few months in advance, so check the website for tours that might interest you.

The Y is also famous for its speaker series, and other performances, so check the website for that, as well.

Top commercial walking tour companies include the following companies. Click on the links to read our complete reviews:

Harbor Cruises

If you’d like to sail the New York Harbor aboard the 1885 cargo schooner Pioneer, check out  the South Street Seaport Museum for more information. Note that some of the cruise lines may have limited schedules in winter, especially for evening cruises. Call ahead or check online for current offerings. Also take a look at our reviews for Bateaux New York and the Circle Line.

Seeing NYC from the Deck of a Historic Fireboat -- The fireboat John J. Harvey served New York City from 1931 to 1994. Saved from the scrapyard by a group of boat lovers who purchased her in 1999, the Harvey is being lovingly and painstakingly preserved and restored, mostly by volunteer labor, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently docked at Pier 66 on the West Side of Manhattan (btw. 26th and 27th sts.), the boat offers occasional free tours around the harbor and up the Hudson River from May through autumn, periodically unleashing the “deck pipes” (water guns) to spray all around (at 18,000 gallons a minute). Expect to get soaked! Check the calendar at to see if you're lucky enough to be in town when one of these tours is offered, to learn more about the historic and heroic boat and its crew, or make a donation to help fund its restoration. Even after starting its second life, the fireboat answered the call for New York City once more: on September 11, 2001, the John J. Harvey left its slip to head down to Ground Zero, and the crew rigged its pumps to draw water from the Hudson when downtown’s fire hydrants weren’t working after the attack on the World Trade Center. The boat and its crew pumped water for 80 hours. For more about the riding the John J. Harvey go to

Bus Tours

If you were to climb aboard any public bus, turn to the person next to you, and ask, “What building is that?” you’d probably get a response as informative, accurate, and interesting as what you’ll find on the much pricier, hop-on, hop-off bus tours of New York City. I know, I rode a slew of them doing research for the Frommer's guidebooks and website, and was appalled by the poor quality of the guides and audio guides. I think New York is best appreciated on foot, or on public buses and subways. Not only do you learn more about the city that way, you meet locals, rather than peering at the streets from afar, almost as if you were watching it all on TV. And you’ll actually see more than you will if you waste time waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting for the next of these hop-ons to arrive, rather than just footing it to the next sight. If you insist, the top bus tour is Big Bus (; tel. 800/669-0051). Tours depart from various locations. Hop-on, hop-off bus tours start at $49 adults for an 8-hour Manhattan tour, more if you get a 48-hour pass.

Or actually TAKE the public bus, the M5 bus to be exact. Its route runs from Washington Heights down to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. If you board uptown, around 125th Street and Riverside Drive, and take it downtown, you’ll pass landmarks such as Grant’s Tomb, Riverside Church, Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library, Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, and Washington Square. And all you need is your MetroCard (or exact coin change) and your trusty Frommer’s New York City guide with your maps in hand. The bus will move slowly enough where you will be able to consult your book and find the corresponding landmarks.

We're also a big fan of the Brooklyn tours (including a fab pizza tasting tour) run by the family-owned A Slice of Brooklyn tours (click on the link to read our full review).

Shopping Tours

It’s an open secret in New York that you get the best bargains when you cut out the middleman and buy directly from the many designers who call Gotham home. But tracking down sample sales and getting into designer showrooms can be tricky, if not impossible, for outsiders.

The following tours contain the “keys” to the kingdom of fashion. They take would-be buyers into the “inner sanctums” of design: obscure offices in the garment district filled with “sample” clothing (goods that were created for runway shows or to show department stores). The savings can be ginormous! On one tour I took, I got a fabulous, real suede skirt for $20, a chic tweed dress for $40, two cashmere turtlenecks for $30 apiece, and about five lovely T-shirts for $15 total. I have no doubt that my savings more than paid for the cost of the tour.

There is, however, one major “gotcha” to these tours, and that’s sizing. In general, the tours are not so hot for plus-sized customers. You’ll find the most options if you’re a size 0 to a size 6.

Recommended tours include:
Other Types of Specialty Tours

If you're into jazz, you've come to the right city. Beyond just heading to a club, there are tours that will take you to some of the smaller lesser-known, but still visit-worthy, spots in Harlem and Greenwich Village. The best is Big Apple Jazz Tours (click on the link to read our full review).

“Sweat and sightsee simultaneously” is the tagline at NY Running Tours (tel. 877/415-0058), an operation that offers both group and private runs in a number of pedestrian-friendly areas. Their most popular offerings are daily runs across the Brooklyn Bridge and in Central Park ($44). Stops are made in front of top sights to allow participants to better hear the commentary of the guide and rehydrate. They say they can accommodate runners of all speed and endurance levels.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.