Get us in your inbox


Uncover some of NYC’s secrets on these unique tours

Annalise Mantz
Written by
Annalise Mantz

This city is absolutely crawling with tourists—60 million of them in 2016, to be exact. Add that to the 8.5 million permanent residents, and you’ve got a hell of a lot of foot traffic.

And yet, even at its most crowded, New York City still harbors a few secrets. Most locals probably don’t know about the Revolutionary War history of Washington Square Park, the former saloon still standing in Midtown East or Little Italy restaurant where mob killings once took place. Peel back the veil of mystery on one of these nine tours. Once you know the city’s hidden side, you’ll think of New York in a totally new way.

Gramercy Gilded Age Tour
New Yorkers have gotten used to having the run of the city’s 1,700-plus public parks, so it’s no wonder that private Gramercy Park takes so much flak. The only people allowed to hold keys to this uber-exclusive oasis are the residents of the 39 homes bordering the park—and only if they pay $7,500 per year. Nothing—not even this tour—can get you inside the park. It can open the doors to the equally exclusive Player’s Club, a society of actors and artists, and give you a peek into what living in this historic neighborhood might be like.  

Alternative New York Street Art Tour
The Met, MoMa and Whitney aren’t the only places you can find incredible works of art in NYC. In fact, some of the most avant garde pieces are hidden in plain sight on the city’s street corners and back alleys. Choose whether you want to explore the street art of Brooklyn or the Lower East Side on this tour. You’re sure to leave with a new appreciation for the city’s graffiti artists and muralists.   

Prohibition Speakeasy Tour of Midtown
When all you have to do to find a modern day speakeasy is Google it, it doesn’t seem very secret. During Prohibition, though, these underground bars really were much harder to find, and in some cases, you actually did have to go underground to get the booze. Step back in time on this tour of the city’s best hidden watering holes. Thankfully, you’ll be sipping craft cocktails instead of the historically appropriate bathtub gin.

Holdouts: a NYC Architecture Walking Tour
At first glance, Midtown East looks like a never-ending sea of skyscrapers. Look closer, though, and you’ll find a few notable “holdouts,” or buildings that bucked the trend when their owners were unwilling to sell. Once you know about the old saloons, former tenements and weirdly shaped office buildings tucked between the seemingly identical high-rises, you’ll never see this business district in quite the same way.  

New York Mafia Tour: Little Italy’s Mobsters, Gangsters and Tough Guys
Anyone who’s ever caught an episode of The Sopranos knows New York’s mob ties are no secret. What you probably don’t realize, though, is that the quaint storefronts and parks of Little Italy once played host to shootings, backroom deals and the arrests of many mafia bosses. Get the full scoop from your tour guide. You might even spot a few filming locations from The Godfather and Goodfellas along the way.

NYC Downtown Subway Art
When you’re running to catch the L train or trying not to notice the rats scurrying along the tracks, it’s easy to overlook the mosaics, murals and sculptures decorating New York’s subway system. Take in works from the early 1900s to the modern era on this tour of the city’s largest and most underappreciated art gallery.

Stories From the Dark Side of New York City
Fans of Law and Order: SVU will be fascinated by this true crime tour of Manhattan’s most notorious neighborhoods. Take to the streets with a retired NYPD officer to discover the truth about Manhattan’s most infamous criminals, the city’s dirty history of gang wars and the one neighborhood that still experiences the most white collar crime.  

Ghosts of New York Walking Tour
Are you sure you don’t believe in ghosts? After exploring some of the city’s spookiest spots and darkest moments in history on this tour, you might just change your mind. Walk underneath the Hangman’s Elm, a 330-year-old tree in Washington Square Park that may have been used for executions during the Revolutionary War, and pass the residence where Edgar Allen Poe finished “The Raven”. Is that a chill in the night air or something more sinister?

Twisted Statue Tour: Under the Skirt of Lady Liberty
She may be revered as New York’s most iconic landmark, but the Statue of Liberty has a few dark secrets of her own. Step up on the pedestal to view Lady Liberty’s cavernous interior and learn the facts that often get omitted from history books—like her creator’s less-than-friendly attitude toward America and the grisly number of birds that lost their lives due to the statue.

Popular on Time Out

    You may also like
    You may also like