You’ve seen the New York Sightseeing buses around town, and maybe even motored around the harbor on a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, but there are still some tours you, the savviest of New Yorkers, might not know about.
Pair one of them with this warm weather, and you’ve got yourself weekend plans!
After all, it’s summer in the city, and what better way to spend it than exploring your favorite town. You might even pick up some tidbits to impress your friends with.
Here are our picks of lesser known tours to check out before summer ends:
1. Hard Hat Tour of Ellis Island
When you’re required to wear a hard hat on a tour, you know it’s going to be good. This 90-minute, guided tour takes guests through parts of the Ellis Island Hospital that sound like rooms straight out of a haunted house, like the infectious and contagious disease wards, the mortuary, and the autopsy room.
Guests will have a chance to take still photographs of the hospital and laundry building, including the wheatpaste posters that are part of French artist JR’s exhibit. The popular tours have only been offered since 2014 and can sell out over a week in advance, so book early.
2. The Land of Chasidim - A Williamsburg Walking Tour
Here’s your chance to ask all those questions you’ve been stockpiling about the Chasidic lifestyle. (To save you a little time, the side curls are called “payot” and are attributed to a biblical translation of a command against shaving the corners of one’s head.)
The tour, presented by the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy and led by Rabbi David Kalb, takes tour-goers on a threeish hour walk Williamsburg. For $24, you’ll hear about the Chasidic history of the area and its current, hipster-neighbor vibes. Let’s face it, you’re probs headed there anyway.
3. East Village Punk ‘n’ Rock Tour
Break out your Ramones T-shirt—it’s time to rock! Or rather, it’s time to walk around and discuss rock history, but what you do after the tour is up to you!
For $39, music lovers on the East Village Punk ‘n’ Rock Tour will get to hear crazy stories about the neighborhood’s colorful past and walk in the hallowed footsteps of musical heroes like Joey Ramone, the Clash, Iggy Pop, Led Zeppelin and Madonna.
The tour guide will point out rocker’s former apartments, buildings that made album covers, and the sacred ground that used to hold CBGB’s. Take the tour; turn it up to eleven.
4. Harlem Gospel Experience Tour
You’ve gotta get up early for this one! The Harlem Gospel Experience Tour starts at 8:30 a.m. and guides guests to iconic neighborhood landmarks like the Apollo Theater, Striver’s Row and the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
Of course, the tour also includes traditional African American gospel music during a service at a local church. Be sure to wear your Sunday best: no flip-flops, tank tops or shorts are allowed. (We wouldn’t want you sweating like a you-know-what in church, after all.)
Pro tip: Find tickets on goldstar to save some cash.
5. Underground Tour of the NYC Subway
For $35, two metro card swipes, and two hours of their time, guests on the Underground Tour of the NYC Subway get a glimpse into the history of the city’s subway including the first nine stations of the original 1904 system, the forsaken Chambers Street station and the outside of Brooklyn’s famed City Hall Station.
We know, the subway is the last place you want to be at the height of summer. But, that’s totally fine because the tour is practically sold out through October. Book now, railfans.
6. Tenements, Tales and Tastes
Here’s one for the foodies. Tenements, Tales and Tastes is a three-hour tour (a three-hour tour—sorry not sorry) starting at City Hall and making stops at a mixture of eateries and historic sites in the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and Little Italy.
The informative tour gets rave reviews for its in-depth look at how immigration shaped the city’s food scene. Guests get to try food items like knishes, tacos, dumplings and bagels. There’s also a bottle of water included, which you’ll want because it’s hot outside.[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]