New York City Guided Tours
New York City for Free
Tours abound in New York City. Meandering through Manhattan, a visitor sees the ubiquitous, London style Double-Decker, red busses. Hudson River cruises spotlight venues from yet another vantage point. Now that is what the tourists do. Would you like to see New York from the eyes of a resident New Yorker? How about having your own private tour of the city that never sleeps? You can do it. Better yet, you can do it for free.
New York City initially earned its nickname, the big apple, in reference to a prize of an apple given to the winner of horse races held in the city in the early 1920s. A nonprofit organization, Big Apple Greeters, still gives out a prize of a complementary, personal tour of NYC.
A Bit of Background: It all began in 1992 with a world traveler, Lynn Brooks. Let’s face it; the image of New York City is often one of crazy high prices, danger, rudeness, and just an overwhelming mass of people. Lynn saw that and wanted to show the world another side of the great city, through the eyes of native New Yorkers. The program she began was the first of its kind in the United States, Big Apple Greeters.
Big Apple Greeters: Big Apple Greeters is a nonprofit organization that offers free tours of New York City. The tour guides are residents with a passion for the city and not professional tour guides. The organization matches requests with Greeters. Best advice is to take the tour early in your stay, as the information helps one understand the lay of the land in the city. The group has linked with the Metropolitan Transit Authority, so part of every tour is information on how to navigate easily around the metropolis. That knowledge alone is invaluable to the first-time visitor.
The Greeters and the Tourists: Over 300 volunteers staff the program. People from all 50 United States and over 100 foreign countries have taken advantage of the service. Twenty languages are spoken by the conglomerate Greeters and 114 individual New York neighborhoods toured.
The Cost: Big Apple Greeter services are complimentary thanks to donor contributions. Tipping is not permitted.
How to Sign Up for a Tour: Complete a request via the Big Apple Greeters website. Submit the request three to four weeks before your arrival date. A tour can include up to six people. The organization tries to match an available tour guide for each group. Over 10,000 requests come in per year, so they cannot honor them all.
The Tour Specifics: Each tour begins somewhere between 9 AM and 3 PM and lasts for two to four hours. The person or group requesting the tour may ask for certain neighborhoods in the city, or specify “greeter’s choice.” It seems the latter would give a tour in which the tour guide has a real passion for the neighborhoods chosen. Arrival and departure days are not scheduled. The visitors must stay in one of the five boroughs of NYC. The requestor receives a confirmation telephone call, fax, or email to confirm a scheduled tour. Likewise, if no Greeter is available, notification of that status occurs.
All reviews welcome on NYC adventures!