Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Travelling Tuesday : : NYC Walking Tours

Anne McAllister is busy packing for yet another trip to the Big Apple. This one's for a wedding. But she'll be there for nearly a week. What's a girl to do?

I love New York. It's my favorite big city in the world. While I don't "live" there, I visit there regularly and I stay with friends on the Upper West Side, so I consider that "my" neighborhood.

But I like to learn about other areas of the city as well. One of the ways I've done it over the years has been to set books in various parts of NYC. That means I have to learn about what it's like to live there. And one of the ways I do that is make friends with the locals.

But another way is to go on walking tours.

Walking is definitely the best way to see New York. And walking tours -- following along and learning about a particular neighborhood or time in the city -- is a way to pound the details into my brain as well as my shoe leather.

I've done walking tours of Greenwich Village, of the East Village, of Yorkville, of Chelsea, and one Thanksgiving I did a particularly memorable tour of Mark Twain's New York.

Some of the tours I've done on my own with a guide book. Some I've done with experts in New York history. They each have their good points. Traveling with a guidebook means I can stop and explore along the way, take my time and poke around the areas that particularly interest me instead of being hauled along at a pace that might be fast than I want to go. But going with an expert has its pluses, too. They provide great stories that make the neighborhoods come alive, and they point out things on the spur of the moment that a guidebook can't be expected to.

This visit to New York, I'm hoping to go exploring again.

I'm particularly interested this time in looking at the Brooklyn Museum and the Botanical Gardens there. I'd also like to take a walk around Brooklyn Heights. My husband's family come from Brooklyn. They've been there for a long time -- not quite as far back as when the Dutch bought Manhattan for $24, but almost.

So one of my goals this time is to check out old family addresses and learn a bit more about the history of the borough. And now that I've learned that at least some of the Antonideses are Dutch (those who aren't Greek), I think I might explore that aspect, too.

I've also been looking at a variety of "specialty" tours. New York abounds with them.

There are "tea" tours and there are "chocolate" tours. There are specialty food tours of Chinatown and tours of the Chelsea Market and meatpacking district. There are food tours of Greenwich village and if food isn't your main goal but you like writing and drinking, you can take literary pub crawl.

If you have a historical bent, there is a tour of revolutionary war New York. The history of Wall Street is also available. If you find the more flamboyant and bohemian New York holds more of an appeal, there are tours that will show you that side of the city as well.

There are libraries and historical societies and museums that offer glimpses into the history of different aspects of the city and its famous personalities. It's not all MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Check out the New-York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, El Museo del Barrio, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the lovely manageable Frick Museum for places that can be enjoyed without your feet feeling as if they wanted to fall off.

If money interests you, see if you can tour of the gold vault at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. If crime appeals, you might be able to sit in on a trial. And if you just want to shop, well there are actually shopping tours that will show you not just the famous department stores, but smaller boutiques and specialty shops that you might not find without a guide or guidebook.

All this writing about New York is whetting my appetite. I have so many things now on my 'want to do' list that I know I won't get them all done in the 6 days I have there.

Which ones appeal to you? Are there ones I've missed that you recommend? Please let me know. I'd hate to miss the best that New York has to offer!

Anne is packing her bag -- singular, because she doesn't like paying for suitcases to fly. They don't appreciate the view. Her next book, Harlequin Presents and Mills & Boon Modern, The Virgin's Proposition, comes out in May in UK and July in US. It doesn't take place in New York, but the hero grew up there. He's given her several recommendations, too.


  1. Anne, having read that I really want to come with you, tucked in your suitcase please. I'd happily join you on any of those tours, especially the gardens and museums but most especially the chocolate tour :)

    Have a great time. And don't worry at all about little me, stuck here with my laptop, dreaming about glamorous trips......

    Sarah xx

  2. Sarah, if I take the chocolate tour, believe me, you will be with me in spirit! Not sure I should, though, for the sake of my hips! But then, I'll be walking a lot, won't I? Ah, temptation!


  3. I love New York too. The Upper West Side is my neighbourhood too. I saw Keanu Reeves in a diner over Fourways last time I was there.

    I will definitely look into the walking tours next time I'm there. I haven't done walking tours before but I did do the Sex And The City bus tour.

  4. Biddy, Now that's something I never even saw a hint of -- a Sex and the The City bus tour! I should think a walking tour of that might be even more fun. Truthfully, there are some great tours. Click on my first link to get a whole list of them. And bring your walking shoes next time you come!

    Oh, and I envy you Keanu!