While you can get plenty out of New York City exploring on your own, expert tour guides will give you a whole new perspective on the five boroughs and ensure that your trip is an experience you’ll never forget. Here are some of our favorites for the holiday season.
1. Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tours
Why you should take it now: We’ve told you in the past that it’s never a bad time to explore New York City’s links to ghosts, vampires and aliens, especially aboard a comfy trolley with leather seats and crystal chandeliers. Naturally, though, you’ve really got to consider these guys around Halloween time. Also, one of their products is called “BOO-klyn Tours.” Now that is a pun.
2. New York Ghosts
Why you should take it now: We’re going to continue with the Halloween theme here. This tour will bring you to Greenwich Village spots where some allege the ghosts of figures like Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain still roam. Even if you happen not to believe in the spiritual realm, the tour will give you a new perspective on the City’s history.
3. Tour Noir NYC
Why you should take it now: This tour combines the traditional joys of NYC sightseeing with the thrills of a film-noir-style mystery to solve along the way: specifically, the disappearance of one tour guide’s husband. If you always wanted to mix hard-boiled crime drama with tourism, your moment has arrived.
4. The Ride in Masquerade
Why you should take it now: The Ride’s experiences put participants aboard a gigantic traveling theater-on-wheels that turns the entire city into a stage. Its namesake product was even nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Its masquerade-themed offshoot, which runs through October, gets into the Halloween spirit with masks, costumes and some spooky surprises; a holiday version takes over in mid-November.
5. City Brew Tours
Why you should take it now: The holidays are a prime time to try seasonal craft beer offerings. City Brew Tours takes you by van to some of Brooklyn’s top breweries where you can do just that, their knowledgeable guides loading you up with the borough’s hops history along the way. Depending on the tour, you might hit a cavernous Sunset Park taproom, a bustling brewery-pizzeria and a game-filled place with a beer ATM. Prost.
6. Inside Out Tours – Holiday Markets and Christmas Lights
Why you should take it now: NYC’s many holiday markets are among the most enjoyable places to get your gift shopping done, and this tour brings you to the best ones—along with film locations from famous New York Christmas movies, places where you can see some of Manhattan’s best Christmas lights and the most memorable department-store holiday windows.
7. Urban Adventures – Holiday Sights and Markets
Why you should take it now: It’s another chance to see holiday markets, plus popular NYC landmarks like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and a couple of ice-skating rinks. Tour organizers also promise a “hot beverage and some holiday cheer.”
8. A Slice of Brooklyn – Christmas Lights Tour
Why you should take it now: Guide Tony Muia—a pizza expert who normally gives you an inside look at Brooklyn through some of its best pies—shows you the elaborate, mind-blowing Christmas lights of Dyker Heights on this tour.
9. Radio City Stage Door Tour
Why you should take it now: Radio City hosts great shows with internationally known talent all year round, but it may be most associated with its annual holiday show featuring the Rockettes. This tour offers a behind-the-curtain look at the venue, the famous production and its stars—plus secrets like the hydraulic elevator and apartment within the music hall.
10. On Location Holiday Lights and Movie Sights
Why you should take it now: Home Alone 2. Miracle on 34th Street. Elf. These and many other holiday classics were filmed in New York City, because there’s just no other place that can match the energy and joy of the five boroughs around Christmas. If you’re a fan, you’ll love the chance to see the real places where these movies (and some of your all-time favorite TV shows) were committed to celluloid.
11. Classic Harbor Line Cocoa and Carols Cruise
Why you should take it now: Holiday carols and hot chocolate (with or without alcohol) aboard a ship on New York Harbor—offering incredible views of the City’s lights—is about as festive as you can get. You’ll be in a heated solarium on the ship, so don’t worry if it’s a chilly evening.