5 New Walking Tours to Add to Your NYC Trip

By The Alliance for Downtown New York / BT Editor
August 18, 2023
Emiliano bar khe TI8p Iyw U unsplash
Sunlight cascades over buildings in Manhattan by Emiliano Bar - Unsplash

If you're headed to New York City anytime soon, you're probably already planning on doing plenty of exploring by foot through this bustling urban center. Why not make it a little more informative and fun by trying out one (or more!) of the city's newest walking tours?

The Alliance for Downtown New York, the nonprofit managing Lower Manhattan's business improvement district, has helped develop five new walking tours through its Walking Tour Incubator Grant Program. The walking tours were chosen as winners following an application process that encouraged submissions of compelling and original tour concepts that went beyond the typical downtown highlights. The five entrepreneurs leading the tours have undergone a rigorous two-month incubator, led by the Downtown Alliance, which included one-on-one coaching from tourism industry leaders and a cutting-edge educational curriculum designed for tour businesses. Each winner has also received a grant of up to $12,500 to help develop, launch and scale their walking tour.

"Pack your walking shoes on your next visit downtown because these new tours will make the perfect addition to any Lower Manhattan itinerary. There's something for everyone, with each offering a fresh perspective on the neighborhood," said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “As we're in the midst of a busy tourist season in the neighborhood, these new tours are launching at an ideal time.”

Downtown LGBTQ+ Activism Walking Tour by Christopher Street Tours

A fountain in front of City Hall in New York City by Jimmy Woo - Unsplash

Meeting spot: Castle Clinton National Monument

This tour visits historic sites that shaped the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement, including spots where pivotal protests were ignited and lead activists fought for justice. Christopher Street Tours describes it as such: "These are the places where unspoken heroes spoke truth to power, igniting pivotal protests and fighting tirelessly for justice. As we explore City Hall, Wall Street, Battery Park, and other landmarks, you’ll be inspired to uncover your own inner activist and become a part of the legacy of resilience, activism, and progress. This tour is not only an opportunity to honor the past but also to celebrate the present and actively contribute to a more inclusive future."

Sinister Secrets of the Seaport by the South Street Seaport Museum

Aerial view of lower Manhattan by Riley Farabaugh - Unsplash

Meeting spot: Ryan Maguire's Bar & Restaurant, 28 Cliff Street

Visitors go on a twisting journey through the Seaport, unraveling scandalous stories ripped from the headlines and publications from the 1790s to the 1990s and lurking in the cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and waterfront. Throughout this interactive tour, your guide will provide a new perspective on the history of the area that helped to make New York a global metropolis.

Escape to New York - Stories of Faith, Freedom and Fortune by Vivace Tours

This route will bring visitors through the history of Lower Manhattan, from New Amsterdam to today, by showing what makes New York City such a unique enclave of people from around the world seeking both religious freedom and fortune. While Vivace Tours hasn't launched yet, more info and booking will become available soon.

How To Be A New Yorker: Downtown Edition by Awesome Walks

A pedestrian on a busy street in New York City by Adrian Williams - Unsplash

"How to Be a New Yorker" is an interactive, immersive audio group walking tour where participants will meet business owners and community leaders, thinkers and doers, and get to see the city through their eyes.

Equipped with brand new bluetooth headphones, tourists start the journey with local music. Participants walk roughly 2 hours through Downtown Manhattan, entering real places and meeting – in-person and virtually – the people that shape them, as well as sampling local snacks. Be up for surprises along the way!

Culinary Master Dining Experience & NYC Afternoon Culinary Adventure by Inside Out Tours

Chinatown in New York City by Amanda Dalbjorn - Unsplash

These are two food-themed tours: Culinary Masters is a progressive meal journey featuring three renowned chefs and restaurants, while the Culinary Adventure is a mouthwatering tasting tour across Lower Manhattan led by expert guides. Inside Out Tours also currently offers several other great New York City tours, including a Wall Street Walking Tour, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour, and a Slavery and the Underground Railroad tour.

Plan Your Next Getaway
Keep reading
InspirationNational Parks

Five Fun, Affordable Fall Adventures in Fort Collins, Colorado

Leaf peeping is a great way to explore Fort Collins, Colorado, and the surrounding Northern Colorado area during its most beautiful season: autumn. Fort Collins proximity to the Cache la Poudre River canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park makes it a leaf-peeping magnet, and the perfect basecamp for fall adventures to Lory State Park, the Roosevelt National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park and more. While the peak season for fall foliage typically runs from the last week in September to the second week of October, experts anticipate the leaves will peak slightly early this year, perhaps closer to mid-September. Here are five affordable fall adventures in Fort Collins: 1 - Take a Hike Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky While there are myriad hikes in and around Fort Collins, one stands out as perfect for a sunny fall day paired with a picnic lunch. Greyrock Trail is a 7.1-mile moderate-to-strenuous loop hike that is gorgeous in the fall (and a bit quieter), with sweeping views of Greyrock Mountain and the Poudre Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area. 2 - Drop a line Horsetooth Reservoir Between the Cache La Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins offers paradise found for fishermen and fisherwomen. The Poudre is perfect for fly-fishing, though there are a few spots where you can bait fish. At Horsetooth, try your hand catching smallmouth bass or walleye from the shore or a boat. Fort Collins also has 15 Natural Areas that allow fishing, including Riverbend Ponds, a popular fishing spot with easy access from the trailheads. It’s one of two Natural Areas where gizzard shad (part of the herring family of fish) are found. 3 - Road trip to Red Feather Lakes Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Red Feather Lakes, located an hour drive northwest of Fort Collins, is a secluded, hidden gem that’s less populated than many Colorado outdoor destinations. Surrounded by 612,000 acres of Roosevelt National Forest, the Red Feathers Lakes area is a year-round outdoor playground, but fall is stunning. Hike or fish in one of the eight lakes in the area, four of which are open for public fishing. You may also fish in the nearby Cache La Poudre River, Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River and the area’s best spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Nearby Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch offers lodging, fishing, horseback riding and more. 4 - Attend a festival Pumpkins on Parade - Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky Festival season doesn’t slow down come fall in the Fort; here are three to check out. Tour de Corgi (Oct. 7) brings a sea of cute corgis in costume to one of the most quirky festivals in town. Pumpkins on Parade (Oct. Date TBD) is a fun-for-all-ages celebration at The Gardens on Spring Creek complete with hundreds of locally grown pumpkins and fun and festive activities for the whole family (tickets are $10 for adults/children 12+; $5 for children 5-11 and free for under age 4). Korean Festival (Oct. 17) Dance, music, Tae-kwon-do performances, and games to celebrate Korean culture. 5 - Celebrate the harvest There is no shortage of local pumpkin patches and farms offering all sorts of fall fun: The Bartel’s Farm – Stop in for a huge selection of pumpkins, corn mazes, and hayrides. The Farm at Lee Martinez Park – Visit the farm animals and take a hayride. There’s also a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect future jack-o-lantern. Northern Colorado Corn Maze – Jack Lantern’s Corn Maze is a Colorado favorite. Something from the Farm – This family-owned farm features an organic pumpkin patch, hay bale maze, hayrides, a pumpkin catapult, and more. Fritzler Farm Park – Located in nearby LaSalle, attractions at the farm include a corn maze, pumpkin patch, pedal go-carts, barrel train, pumpkin cannons, slide mountain, and more. Spooky’s Pumpkin Patch — Choose from a variety of pumpkins, gourds, carving kits, and even straw bales and corn stalks for your fall decorating needs at this patch, located on South College Avenue. Colorado native Caramie Petrowsky is a former daily newspaper arts and entertainment editor who loves exploring new places with her husband and their two children. As a CSU alum, Fort Collins holds an especially dear place in her heart.


Plan a Weekend Trip to One of These Unique Vehicle-themed Events

For the mechanically-minded hobbyist, engineer, or car enthusiast (of any age!), these festivals below are a great excuse to plan a quick trip to a new city. From classic cars in Detroit and motorcycles in Milwaukee, to trains in Los Angeles and beachside racing in Florida, these events combine education and fun and offer tons of family-friendly activities and great entertainment to round out a long weekend getaway. Swing by Motor City for the Woodward Dream Cruise The Woodward Dream Cruise will bring car culture down Detroit's famous boulevard this weekend on August 19th, but the event will offer more than just cool cars to look at. There are dozens of supplementary events to make the Dream Cruise a perfect family outing in Metro Detroit. Visit Detroit has created a calendar of events to keep you on track during Dream Cruise, featuring events from Pontiac to Ferndale. Events kick off Friday, August 18, with events centered in Berkley and Ferndale. These include races, emergency vehicle shows and live music for the whole family. These events mostly begin at noon, and many run into the late evening. The day of the Dream Cruise features a wider variety of pop-ups up and down Woodward, including classic car shows, including model-specific get-togethers like Ferndale's Mustang Alley or Pleasant Ridge's Bronco Show. Live music will accompany the festivities in certain locations until 9:30 pm. Celebrate Harley-Davidson Museum's 15th Anniversary Year A rider sits on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle by almani - Unsplash Since opening its doors back in the summer of 2008, the Harley-Davidson Museum has welcomed guests from all over the globe to the crossroads of 6th & Canal. With its unrivaled collection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and memorabilia, a 20-acre, park-like campus, and a calendar full of activities, the H-D Museum has grown to become one of Milwaukee’s top tourist attractions. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the H-D Museum, guests can get a four-pack of general-admission tickets online for use on the 15th day of each month in 2023 for only $15. This year, the museum also hosts an inaugural H-D® Q: End-of-Summer Sale & Picnic over Labor Day weekend. Beginning with Bike Night on August 31st, the holiday weekend will feature free live music, stunt shows, boonie bike races and a pig roast. Throughout the year, the guests can attend the Bike Night Concert Series on Thursdays evenings with free live music, plus outdoor food and beverage specials. On Saturdays, guests can participate in a demo ride. Visitors with their motorcycle endorsement/license will be able to choose from a dozen of the latest and greatest models from Harley-Davidson. A pre-determined scenic route through the Menomonee Valley will give riders the chance to explore the H-D Museum’s surrounding neighborhoods. Sign-up is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Riders and passengers must be at least 18 years of age. All riders (and passengers) must wear a helmet, eye protection, shirt, long pants and closed-toe shoes with heel strap. All riders and passengers must bring their own riding gear. Learn about train travel at Los Angeles Union Station Information desk at Union Station in Los Angeles by Philip Strong - Unsplash Los Angeles Union Station, with presenting partners Metro, Amtrak and Metrolink, will welcome train enthusiasts, history aficionados, industry professionals and commuters of all ages to learn, experience and celebrate all things rail at the much-anticipated Train Festival 2023: A Celebration of Past, Present & Future. Train Festival 2023, set to take place on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10 from 10 am to 6 pm daily, will treat visitors to railroad equipment tours and displays, model train displays, architecture, arts and culture tours, information booths, music, giveaways, eateries, amenities, and more. “Los Angeles Union Station is thrilled to welcome new interactive and engaging activations to Train Festival 2023. We're excited to provide train fans, rail experts and the local community with an experience that truly encapsulates the timeless wonders and legacy of train travel,” said George Meyer, VP and General Manager at Los Angeles Union Station. Guests will have the opportunity to take exclusive tours and view displays of railroad equipment on tracks 13, 14, and 15. From the world-renowned Steam Locomotive Santa Fe 3751 of the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society (SBRHS), which pulled the first named passenger train into Los Angeles Union Station in 1939, to modern day passenger and freight equipment, attendees will be able to walk through rail history and witness the technological advances spanning more than 100 years. Featured displays will include Amtrak passenger equipment, a BNSF Railway freight locomotive and the Southern California Railway Museum's Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF) 5704 diesel, which was one of five locomotives painted in a patriotic red, white, and blue scheme to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the United States. Attendees can also admire an LARail.com vintage private car, the Tioga Pass, which was built in 1959 by the Canadian National Shops designed for railroad executives and the Pacific Railroad Society's National Forum, a 1956 Pullman sleeping car. Metrolink's F125 Locomotive will also be on display while the company's Talgo-Rehabilitated Bombardier Train Car and Rotem Cars will be available for attendees to tour inside. In Union Station's Ticket Concourse, guests can immerse themselves in five masterfully constructed and uniquely designed model train displays created by some of the premiere model train clubs in Southern California. Attendees will also be invited to celebrate architecture, arts and culture through group and self-guided tours of the station facilitated by partners from California Preservation Foundation (CPF), Los Angeles Conservancy (LAC) and Metro Art. A key highlight of the two-day event will include Train Festival 2023 commemorative TAP Cards with a day's worth of free Metro fare loaded onto each card given as a surprise and delight to attendees at designated times each day (subject to availability). Catch a racing doubleheader in Daytona Beach NASCAR returns to Daytona International Speedway on August 25 and 26 for their second visit of 2023 with one of the most anticipated events of the season – the Coke Zero 400 Weekend. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is a premier event on the NASCAR schedule and this summer classic showcases drivers vying to secure their spot in the final 10-race battle for the NASCAR Cup Series championship on Saturday night, August 26. Kicking off the summer racing doubleheader on Friday night, August 25, will be the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Pair your trip to this renowned Florida race track with a beach day, and you've got a perfect end-of-summer getaway.


See Peak Fall Colors Along this Epic Campgrounds Trail

Ready for things to cool down and autumn colors to appear? Start planning your outdoor adventure to the East Coast. Spacious Skies Campgrounds is offering an easy-to-follow campground-to-campground Fall Color Trail that highlights peak fall color as it progresses from the North to the South. The first location on the 15-stop trail is the northernmost campground in the collection, Balsam Woods in north central Maine, where fall color can be viewed starting in early September. The final stop along the meandering trail is Savannah Oaks in Savannah, Georgia where fall color lasts well into November. The Fall Color Trail was first offered last year, too, but new additions to the trail this year include Savannah Oaks and Bear Den in Spruce Pine, North Carolina near Asheville. Mileage from Maine to Georgia by way of the campgrounds is just shy of 2,500 miles. Travelers who are members of the Spacious Skies Loyalty Program, called Cosmic Campers, receive a 12 percent discount on all RV site, cabin and glamping reservations. The annual fee to join the program is $31.90; members also receive exclusive releases of Cosmic Camper merchandise and regular updates about Spacious Skies locations and programs. Complete details about the trail are available online with campground-by-campground details about when the fall color begins and ends in each location, regional trees and the colors visitors can expect to see. Although only a lucky few people might be able to take nearly three months to visit all 15 locations during the peak color in each location, there are many ways regional RVers and glampers can enjoy partial trail fun. The trail is especially popular among snowbirds from Canada and northern states who want to get an early start on their warm-weather winter-season adventures. “Fall-color enthusiasts will find abundant places along the trail to enjoy the color no matter when in the season they are traveling,” said Ali Rasmussen, co-founder of Spacious Skies Campgrounds. “In September, the maples, birches and oaks at campgrounds in Maine and New Hampshire are bursting with color. And by late October and November, the oak and hickory forests in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia have turned stunning shades of red, copper and yellow.” Beyond the stunning color, there are plenty of other reasons to follow the fall along the Spacious Skies Campgrounds Fall Color Trail. Here are some of the highlights along the trail: Walnut Grove (Maine) Fall foliage on a hazy mountain in Maine by Zac Durant - Unsplash Trees to see: Maples, birches and oaksColors: Yellow, red, brown and purpleFall foliage timing: mid-September through mid-October Campers at Spacious Skies Walnut Grove in southern Maine can visit the famous Old Orchard Beach Pier and enjoy live music, great food and retro beach-y entertainment like arcade games and rides. Fall color here begins in mid-September and lasts through about mid-October. Adirondack Peaks (New York) Saranac Lake in the fall by Kurt Von - Unsplash Trees to see: Gums, oaks, hickories, maples and elmsColors: Yellow, red and orangeFall foliage timing: Mid-September through mid-October There’s an authentic, almost retro, vibe at two New York state campgrounds - Spacious Skies Adirondack Peaks and Spacious Skies Woodland Hills. Both have fun amenities like gem mining, a jumping pillow, playgrounds and an arcade. Woodland Hills offers fishing, paddleboat rentals, an open-air pavilion and volleyball, while Adirondack Peaks has miniature golf, a gaga ball pit and two pools for extra fun. There are a variety of lodging choices for non-RVers too. Woodland Hills features retro RV rentals and a pond-side cottage, while Adirondack Peaks has glamping yurts and a selection of cabins. Shenandoah Views (Virginia) Leaves fall in Shenandoah National Park by Becky Winner - Unsplash Trees to see: Oaks, chestnut, maples, ashes, birches and basswoodsColors: Red, orange and yellowFall foliage timing: Early- to late-October Blue Ridge Parkway fans will find three campgrounds within striking distance of the famous 469-mile route. Just beyond the northern edge of the parkway is Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views in Luray, Virginia, near Shenandoah National Park, where fall color typically lasts until mid-October. Here, visitors can book yurts and cabins as well as a variety of RV sites. Bear Den (North Carolina) Fall colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina by Alex Diaz - Unsplash Trees to see: Oaks, hickories, maples, gum and cypressColors: Orange, red, goldFall foliage timing: Early October to early November Set right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 324.8, among the breathtaking Blue Ridge and Black Mountains and nestled in the Pisgah National Forest, Spacious Skies Bear Den is your mountain adventure destination! Bear Den features a private fishing lake (in addition to the other many nearby fishing spots) an arcade, gem mining, and other family games and activities on-site. It's also quite close to Asheville, North Carolina as well as another Fall Colors trail stop at Spacious Skies Hidden Creek in Marion. At both of these stunning North Carolina campgrounds, guests may see fall color as late as mid-November. Belle Ridge (Tennessee) Bright red foliage by Jeremy Thomas - Unsplash Trees to see: Oaks, maples, dogwoods, poplarsColors: Red, orange and yellowFall foliage timing: Mid-October to mid-November At Spacious Skies Belle Ridge in Monterey, Tennessee, there’s a natural fishing hole where campers can spend long, lazy days savoring the season. Located just west of the Appalachian Mountains in central Tennessee, campers at this 500-acre destination can also hike to waterfalls at the campground and at nearby state parks. Located just off I-40, the campground feels secluded but is easily accessible from the highway.

InspirationFamilyTheme Parks

Visit this Wizard of Oz-themed Park Hidden in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Most people with travel plans to North Carolina this fall have the incredible, sunset-colored foliage and fresh mountain air on their minds—but, this year, travelers to the state might want to add something a little more whimsical to their itinerary. A unique theme park exists in Beech Mountain, North Carolina inspired by the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. This year, the Land of Oz celebrates its 30th anniversary with the Autumn at Oz festival. The Land of Oz isn't your typical theme park. After a successful opening in the 1970s, the park unfortunately fell into troubles in the 1980s. During that time, much of the original theme park was demolished due to decay or vandalism—however, the most emblematic features were preserved, including the Gale farmhouse, barn, and yellow brick road. A reunion of the park’s original employees, the “Ozzies”, in 1988 sparked the idea of public visits. This led to the inception of the Autumn at Oz Festival in 1993, an annual event in September that drew thousands of nostalgic visitors. Currently, while Land of Oz is not a fully functioning theme park, it offers many public events that celebrate the magic and legacy of all things Oz! Celebrate Autumn at Oz Skipping down the Yellow Brick Road - courtesy of the Land of Oz Autumn at Oz is a one-of-a-kind event that combines your typical festival atmosphere with an interactive, immersive theatrical experience. Guests walk onto the Gale’s Kansas farm, visit Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s Home, escape into our newly renovated Tornado Storm Cellar, and walk out on the Yellow Brick Road into the world of Oz. Along the way, you meet all your favorite characters, see them sing and dance, and enjoy the natural scenery of this magical place that sits over one mile high atop Beech Mountain. The stunning Blue Ridge Mountains provide a picturesque background for an unforgettable adventure Over The Rainbow.Inside the park, the Judy Garland Over the Rainbow Observation Deck (the second highest elevation along the East Coast) boasts one of the most beautiful views in the South East granting a hundred miles radius view of North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. One can also find food & craft vendors, official Land of Oz souvenirs and Wizard of Oz Memorabilia for sale, face painting & much more! At Oz, you don’t just watch it – you live it! Guests wander through the Land of Oz - courtesy fo the Land of Oz Sean Barrett, Artistic Director of the Land of Oz Theme Park, describes the excitement leading up to this year's event: "We are thrilled to be celebrating 30 years of the Autumn at Oz Festival! We've come a long way over the years with renovations and adding to this event each year. Now with 8 theatrical vignette shows, food and craft vendors, character meet-n-greets, and a few surprises along the way, Oz has grown into something extremely special and magical. If you haven't come in recent years, now is the time! We cannot wait to skip down the Yellow Brick Road with everyone while celebrating this milestone year." Stay nearby in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains With a convenient location near Boone, North Carolina and close access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, visitors will find they have a number of amazing options when it comes to lodging. Everything from affordable hotel chains and local inns, to quaint bed and breakfasts and cozy cabins can be found. Plenty of hiking trails and outdoor activities abound to make your trip magical.