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Free Tour in New York City

By Edited Jul 22, 2015 3 11

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 t

Tours in New York City
hat 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!



Jun 27, 2011 7:44am
"Free Tour in New York City," is a very interesting article. The concept developed by Lynn Brooks is awesome. Thanks for sharing this information, I am sure many more people will be requesting this service in the future.
Jun 27, 2011 7:52am
Thanks, southerngirl109, for your comments! We have visited New York every year for the past fifteen years for a week between Christmas and New Years. Truly it is a wonderful, unique city. I agree that what Lynn Brooks did in developing Big Apple Greeters goes far in showing visitors the "real" city. I have heard programs like it exist in other major cities and would love to research that as well.
Jun 27, 2011 8:04am
Nice article KBuzz. We didn't employ our normal city vacation strategy of going on a tour on day 1 during our first trip to NYC - next time!
Jun 27, 2011 8:09am
Thanks for your comments, Mark. By all means, take advantage! I am going to post another article on another great freebie in NYC in the tourist department; taking a free walking tour of just Times Square hosted by the visitors bureau there in NYC.
Jun 28, 2011 1:56am
That is a GREAT idea! Something I'll be doing when i head over next year for sure!! It'll be my first time so it sounds like something that will really help!
Jun 28, 2011 8:32am
Hey there mark716. Have fun with it! Thanks for your reply. If it is your first time there, check out the fabulous restaurant scene there too. Every year that we go to NYC, we look up places featured by the Food Network there. Surprisingly, some of the ones they recommend are not the pricey places you would think of in the Big Apple.
Jun 29, 2011 12:16am
Hi kbuzz: as everyone else has commented this is a great idea and article. I only wish it were ME in NYC every year! Thanks for the information of The New York Greeters!
Jun 29, 2011 12:18am
Oops - Meant the "Big Apple Greeters"!
Jun 30, 2011 9:30am
What a sharing
Jul 7, 2011 11:57pm
Lived in New York for many years and never heard of this tour
Jul 8, 2011 8:12am
Hi, tomkass. Thanks for the response! We had gone there for about ten years every year between Christmas and New Years when someone told us about it. Truly it is a little known opportunity there!
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