New York tours: Explore the city on these guided expeditions

Turns out, New York tours aren’t just for tourists. Locals can learn about graffiti, the ecosystem and more on these expert-led outings.

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  • Photograph: Ori Mor

    Brooklyn Pulse Urban Art and Culture Tour

  • Photograph: Andrew Gustafson

    Urban Ecology Tour at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

  • Photograph: Tali Blankfeld

    AIA-NY Around Manhattan Architecture Tour

  • Photograph: Heidi Gutman

    TCM Classic Film Bus Tour

Photograph: Ori Mor

Brooklyn Pulse Urban Art and Culture Tour


New York tours can conjure up visions of buses packed with out-of-towners, but these four themed expeditions should appeal to locals. Take a bike trip past some of Brooklyn’s best street art, learn about architecture aboard a vintage yacht, or visit some of the most famous NYC film locations.

RECOMMENDED: Great days out in New York

Brooklyn Pulse: Urban Art and Culture Tour

Scope out the neighborhoods that make Brooklyn’s art scene tick on this afternoon cycling expedition, recommended for experienced riders. A guide will lead you from fast-changing Bushwick to white-hot Williamsburg, stopping along the way to point out more than 50 works by 40 different street artists, plus performance spaces, music venues and other landmarks, all while schooling you on the creative history of North Brooklyn. The curriculum rounds out with refuel stops: You’ll get a taco at Tortillería Mexicana Los Hermanos, and a coffee or tea at chocolatier Fine & Raw. Meet at 162 North 12th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (getupandride.com). Schedule varies; $59 (includes bike rental, helmet, lock and snacks). Reservations required. Next tour Fri 20.

Urban Ecology Tour at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

This hybrid walk-and-bike outing, held in partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center, explores the past, present and future of NYC’s unique ecosystem and environmental concerns. Learn about urban farming techniques at Brooklyn Grange’s 65,000-square-foot rooftop plot, then get a crash course in aquaculture—and the health of the city’s waterways—when you visit an oyster colony run by students from the New York Harbor School. The trek finishes in an undeveloped part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where you can peer at the naturally occurring flora and fauna and hear about what’s in store for development of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a path for pedestrians and cyclists that will eventually connect 14 miles of Kings County shoreline. Meet at the forecourt of BLDG 92, 63 Flushing Ave at Carlton Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (turnstiletours.com). Tours held Mar–Oct one or two Sundays/month; visit website for times. $29 (must bring own bike, helmet and lock). Next tour Sun 22.

AIA-NY Around Manhattan Architecture Tour

Admire Gotham’s many historic structures from afar on this waterborne outing, hosted by the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Board one of two 1920s-style yachts, the Manhattan or the Kingston, then embark on a three-hour voyage on the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers. While you drink in dramatic views of landmarks like the Chrysler Building, the new World Trade Center and the Brooklyn Bridge, an architecture pro will drop knowledge about the changing waterfront, the work of notables like Frank Gehry, the engineering feats behind a number of bridges and more. You’ll also get a complimentary glass of champagne, beer or wine, plus light snacks—and an onboard cash bar means there’s more where that came from. Meet at Pier 62, W 22nd St at the Hudson River (sail-nyc.com). Tue, Thu–Sun; visit website for times. $64–$76. Next tour Thu 19.

TCM Classic Film Tour

If the giddiness of living next door to the iconic sets of your favorite flicks never really wore off, hop on this bus jaunt with Turner Classic Movies. You and your fellow cinephiles will hit more than 60 filming locations, including Holly Golightly’s brownstone from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the site of Marilyn Monroe’s wardrobe malfunction in The Seven Year Itch and Ghostbusters’ “Spook Central.” Along the way, you’ll hear about the history of filmmaking in NYC and have the chance to flex your cinema-geek chops with trivia challenges. Meet near Broadway and 51st St (onlocationtours.com/tcm-classic-film). Tue, Thu, Sat 11:30am; $43. Next tour Thu 19.



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