Walking tours led by in-character guides around New York City

These character-driven walking tours are for anyone who enjoys a bit of stagecraft in their history lessons, or likes factual information in their theater. The creative tours meld the past and the present with costumed guides.



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The Roeblings

The Roeblings Photograph: Jennifer Macfarlane

Looking for a different kind of walking tour? In-character guides leads these jaunts that reveal the history behind classic venues, including the Tenement Museum and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Little West 12th Night

  • Critics choice

Producer Connie Hall, who runs a dinner-theater company in Maine, animates the Meatpacking District with a creative twist on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The show, presented as part of the 2012 undergroundzero festival, follows four guides who weave neighborhood history with invented gossip into his or her subplot. Each character leads a complete and yet distinct tour, and depending on the guide, you can get the scoop on where to buy designer hot pants, places to rent a room by the hour or even how to slaughter a cow. The tours feature different scenes, which means that visitors need to join the trek four times to experience the story in full. As in the Shakespearean play, which ends with three weddings, there is a sweet finish: Cake is served to the entire audience in the final scene. • Visit avantgarderestaurant.com for details. $25.

  1. Locations disclosed with ticket purchase
  2. Mon, Sun 8pm. Through July 30.

The Roeblings

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This historical tour will tell the story of Brooklyn Bridge head engineer John Augustus Roebling, his untimely death, his son’s crippling disease and wife Emily Roebling’s subsequent leadership role in the construction. Guides from Levys’ Unique New York lead the jaunt, dressed in wool pants, suspenders and newsboy caps to portray the sandhogs the Roeblings employed to dig holes for the caissons supporting the bridge towers. • 718-222-9939, brooklynbridgepark.org. Free. For required R.S.V.P., e-mail rsvp@brooklynbridgepark.org.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St, Fulton Ferry Landing
  2. Wed Jul 11 at 6:30 pm
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Victoria Confino Tour

Visitors to the Tenement Museum can walk through restored former homes of immigrants, but only one of the institution’s tours allows you to meet a resident. A reenactor plays Victoria Confino, a 14-year-old Greek Sephardic Jew, in the 325-square-foot apartment where she lived with nine family members in 1916. Participants can quiz Victoria on the foods she liked to eat and how often she took a bath. The tour also covers broader issues like immigrant employment, gender roles and religious minorities. • 212-982-8420, tenement.org. $22, seniors and students $17.

  1. 103 Orchard St between Broome and Delancey Sts
  2. Times vary

New York City Ghost Tour

  • Critics choice

Victorian-era guides illuminate this gloomy stroll through paranormal haunts in Greenwich Village. Hear ghastly stories of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the Hangman’s Elm (so called for the executions rumored to have taken place on its branches), and learn about the spooky inspiration behind Paul Rudnick’s 1991 Broadway play, I Hate Hamlet, in which John Barrymore’s ghost appears. • newyorkghosttours.com. $15–$20. Reservations required.

  1. Washington Square Park W 4th St to Waverly Pl, between MacDougal St and University Pl
  2. Until Fri Nov 30
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