From superheroes to speakeasies: 10 walking tours even New Yorkers will love

Posted On Fri, June 14, 2019 By

Posted On Fri, June 14, 2019 By In Events, Features, NYC Guides

There’s no better way to enjoy the warm weather and see all New York has to offer than by taking a walking tour. Not just for tourists anymore, you can learn more about city history, find a new favorite spot to eat, and even discover some Instagram-worthy views. Ahead, we’ve rounded up 10 of the most fun and information tours in NYC, from superheroes and ghosts to swing dance and pork buns.

chinatown, food tour, nyc
Photo via Wikimedia

1. Free Chinatown food tour

New York’s Chinatown is the second oldest in the nation, as well as the largest, after a wave of Chinese immigration in the 1940s. Take a stroll through the neighborhood’s narrow streets, learn about Chinatown’s history, and sample treats like fresh-roasted pork buns and soup dumplings. Tickets for the tour are pay-what-you-want! You do have to bring cash to buy snacks, but at a recommended amount of $7-$10, it’s more than affordable.

Via Wiki Commons

2. Superheroes in New York

It’s no secret that NYC is the birthplace of superheroes. Characters from Spiderman to Captain America have called New York City home, as well as prolific comic creators such as Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. You’ll see the sites where your favorite superhero movies were filmed and learn about how the city gave rise to one of the most famous pop-culture movements of the 20th century.

Minetta TavernMinetta Tavern, via Wally Gobetz/Flickr

3. West Village speakeasy tour

Speakeasies are having a moment. What started out as a response to the Government banning the sale of alcohol in the 1920s has become one of the City’s biggest nightlife trends. This tour will walk you through the history leading up to Prohibition while you sip on cocktails from some of the best modern-day speakeasies and secret taverns in the West Village.

Photo via Flickr cc

4. Wave Hill

This lush green estate is so peaceful, it’s hard to believe you’re still in New York City. Wave Hill’s location in Riverdale is perfectly situated for stunning views of the Hudson River and New Jersey Palisades. Visitors can join one of the daily tours offered by the garden’s staff to take in the scenery and explore the grounds. After, you’re free to relax on the lawn or in the same mansion that once housed the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain.

Photo via Flickr cc

5. Lower East Side: alternative street art tour

Take a tour through one of Manhattan’s oldest neighborhoods and see some of the street art that makes it so unique. The Lower East Side was once home to immigrants coming from Ellis Island, which then gave way to a budding artistic counter-culture. The street is your gallery as you explore the colorful graffiti art gracing the sides of apartment buildings.


Photo via Wikimedia

6. Greenwich Village ghost tour

With a city as old New York, there’s bound to be plenty of ghost stories. See the spooky side of Greenwich Village, learning the macabre history behind landmarks like Washington Square Park, the White Horse Tavern, and Aaron Burr’s haunted carriage house.

Minton’s jazz club in Harlem, via Flickr cc

7. Harlem swing dance tour

There’s no denying that Harlem and jazz music go hand in hand. Born out of the Harlem Renaissance in the late 1920s, swing dancing quickly swept the nation. The most famous variant, the Lindy Hop, was invented at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Although the ballroom itself was demolished in the 1950s, there are a number of historic jazz and swing sites to see on this tour. As a bonus, participants can step back in time and learn some of the moves that swept the nation.

stonewall, pride month, lgbtPhoto via Wikimedia

8. LGBTQ+ history tour

What better way to celebrate Pride month than by learning about LGBTQ+ history? On this tour, you’ll visit Stonewall Inn, the country’s first national monument to LGBTQ+ history, as well as the birthplace of the Stonewall Riots and the modern-day gay-rights movement. You’ll also stop for a snack at Big Gay Ice Cream and a drink at NYC’s oldest gay bar.

Via Flickr cc

9. Joyce Gold history tours

There’s no shortage of historical tours in New York City, but rare is it to find a guide who not only has a masters degree in metropolitan studies but also teaches NYC history at New York University. Joyce Gold has been leading walking tours for over 30 years, and with tours on everything from Hudson Yards to the Civil War, there’s an experience for everyone.

lower east side, tenement museum, LESPhoto via Wikimedia

10. The Tenement Museum: foods of the Lower East Side

One of the Tenement Museum‘s many historically focused programs, this walking tour takes you through the lives of early 20th century immigrants through food. You’ll try salted german pretzels, Dominican-style plantains, and kosher pickles as you experience firsthand the foods that eventually came to shape American culture and cuisine.

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Pork bun photo in lead via Flickr cc

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