Tour-cations

Join a walking tour to experience international cultures and cuisines.

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  • Photograph: Dina Leor

    La Sirena

  • Photograph: Dina Leor

    La Sirena

  • Photograph: Dina Leor

    La Sirena

  • Photograph: Dina Leor

    La Sirena

  • Photograph: Dina Leor

    La Sirena

  • Photograph: Myra Alperson

    Nosh Walks: Jackson Heights

  • Photograph: Myra Alperson

    Nosh Walks: Jackson Heights

  • Photograph: William Alatriste

    The Spirit of East Harlem

Photograph: Dina Leor

La Sirena

The Little Mexico Walking Tour
As a kid, Dina Leor loved Mexico so much that she planned to run away from her mom on a family vacation there. That scheme didn't quite pan out, but now as an adult, she stays connected to the country with her Mexican folk-art store, La Sirena (27 E 3rd St between Bowery and Second Ave; 212-780-9113, lasirenanyc.com). She also leads tours through the Little Mexico section of Jackson Heights to introduce her fellow New Yorkers to the culture and charms of the land south of the border. The outing begins with guacamole at a traditional family-owned Mexican bakery and restaurant, then heads to religious-iconography shops, food depots with unusual imported fruits and vegetables (including the most diverse selection of chilies you can imagine), and clothing boutiques with items like cowboy gear and traditional dance costumes. Along the way, you'll also hit a DVD store that sells modern and old-school Mexican movies, including hard-to-find classics dating as far back as the 1930s. Third or fourth Saturday of the month or by appointment. Next tour: June 25 noon; $15. Call 212-780-9113 for reservations and meet-up location.

RECOMMENDED: Our most recent Staycation Guide

Noshwalks: South Asian Jackson Heights
Jackson Heights is about as multiethnic as it gets, with thriving Mexican, Colombian, Argentine, Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities (just to name a few). On this jaunt, veteran NYC eating adventurer and food writer Myra Alperson highlights places in the neighborhood that South Asian immigrants revamped, stopping at markets, restaurants and Vendy Award--winning food carts to sample dishes like Pakistani kebabs, Tibetan dumplings, and rose- or fig-flavored Indian ice cream. Meet in front of Shaheen's Sweets, 72-09 Broadway between 72nd and 73rd Sts, Jackson Heights, Queens (noshwalks.com). Next tour: July 11 at 3pm; $49 (includes tastings but not beverages).

Noshwalks: Asian Flushing
Downtown Flushing is filled not only with Chinese restaurants and bakeries, but also South Asian, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Korean shops and markets. Expect to snack on dumplings, Afghan tea bread and soup made with hand-pulled noodles as you stroll through the 'hood, detouring should you spot any fruit stands selling rare longan, mangosteen or dragon fruit. Meet at the entrance gate to the Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St at Dahlia Ave, Flushing, Queens (noshwalks.com). Next tour: July 15 at 2pm; $49 (includes tastings but not beverages).

The New York Street Food Walking Tour
On January 4, 2010, one man set out on a brave mission to eat lunch from a different food truck or vendor every single day, then share his curbside culinary experiences with the world. Out of the New York Street Food blog, a tour was born. The excursion taps midtown vendors (like Biryani Cart and Wafels & Dinges) serving cuisine from around the globe and discusses New York's rich history of ethnic-food carts. Fridays 2:15pm through Sept 2; $40 (includes six samples). E-mail perry@newyorkstreetfood.com for reservations and meet-up location.

Eat-ineraries: Walking Tour of
Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich's Eataly has proven itself to be NYC's buzziest Italian market destination—the six crowded restaurants, including the newly opened Birreria are ongoing proof. Since stepping into a world of a gazillion pasta options might be overwhelming, the Eat-ineraries tour introduces you to each section of the market individually (like the cheese counter, bakery and gelato station), providing an insider's look at the business of creating an authentic Italian meal and plenty of tastings along the way. Meet at the information booth inside 23rd St entrance of Eataly, 23rd St at Fifth Ave. Wednesdays 10:30am (no tour July 13); $35 (includes tastings). Visit eatalyny.com/learn for reservations.

El Barrio Today Walking Tour
Get to know the rich history of Spanish Harlem on this walk through the "cultural corridor" (the area between Fifth and Lexington Avenues and East 104th and 107th Streets). Organized by the El Barrio Today Arts Cluster—an East Harlem collective of organizations promoting art and tourism—the outing passes building and playground walls covered in nationalistic Puerto Rican artwork and city-approved graffiti. Expect to see the Julia de Burgos mosaic (installed on the boulevard named for the politically active poet); the Graffiti Wall of Fame (the first legal display of its kind in NY, tagged by street-art legends including Bronx-based aerosol experts Tats Cru); Justo Botanico (an 82-year-old religious iconography shop); and massive murals such as The Spirit of East Harlem, which depicts the neighborhood circa 1970 and includes portraits of actual residents. Meet in the lobby of El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave between 104th and 105th Sts (elmuseo.org). Saturdays 11:30am through Nov 5; free. R.S.V.P. required; visit the museum's website to make a reservation.

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