Travel Notebook

BTSQ Walking Tours

As those who love New York City know, it’s a walking city. In fact, during a recent visit, a friend’s 11-year-old son remarked that his fitness tracker registered 12 miles after a full day of sightseeing – and he was game for more miles the next day! Comfortable shoes aside, I’ve found that there’s a must-have item when exploring Manhattan: a knowledgeable local friend who will show me just where my precious steps should lead.

Enter our new client, Beyond Times Square, New York experts extraordinaire and purveyor of immersive, insightful and just plain fun tours in the Big Apple. I wouldn’t call upon anyone else when in the city, whether I’m looking for a whirlwind art tour, off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods or even a subway adventure like a local. Recently touted in the New York Times, Beyond Times Square prides itself on premium luxury experiences with an eye toward value and authenticity.

Here, the walking tours I’m most looking forward to the next time I’m in my favorite East Coast city:

Greenwich Village: Get a taste of New York City’s most desirable and expensive residential neighborhood and imagine for the day that this is where you call home. Stroll along genteel Commerce Street, past Federal-style residences, and historic Cherry Lane Theater. Take a peek at one of the narrowest pieces of real estate on the island of Manhattan on Grove Street.

greenwich village new york ny
Greenwich Village, New York. Photo credit : Adam Fagen

Little Italy & Chinatown: While there are countless ethnic groups in New York City, only two have neighborhoods named after them. You’ll walk the main drag of Little Italy, Mulberry Street, and the thoroughfare of Chinatown, Mott Street. Discover what makes these culturally rich areas tick, visiting Canal Street, Five Points, Mahayana Buddhist Temple, Chatham Square and Columbus Park.

Origins of NYC: I’m so intrigued by a destination’s history and there’s a wealth of it here in New York. Explore Lower Manhattan with an expert guide, who takes you to the 9/11 Memorial, St. Paul’s Chapel, Battery Park and Trinity Church while regaling you with the history of the Native Americans, Dutch and English who originally settled this section of the city.

Big Three: Pressed for time? Venture out to the “big three”: Central Park, Times Square and Rockefeller Center in just four hours. Walk Olmsted and Vaux’s winding paths in the park, marvel at the neon lights and jumbo digital screens at Broadway and Seventh Avenue and take in the artwork and attractions of John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s contemporary innovation. More time? There’s a Central Park-specific walking tour, highlighting the very best of this 843-acre oasis, from its famous sled dog to a 4,000-year-old obelisk from Egypt.

Central Park, new york
Central Park

Manhattan by Subway: There’s something particularly gratifying about exploring a new destination aboard local transportation and there are few more famous than the New York City subway. Swipe your card and get around like a real New Yorker, stopping at Battery Park, the Bull and the Fearless Girl of Wall Street, the famous Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village, the most expensive college campus in the USA at NYU and the fabulous dining and shopping mecca that Bryant Park has become. Take a quiet moment in the New York Public Library, then hop on the subway one more time to Central Park for a peaceful end to your day.

Graffiti Art in Manhattan: Not only will an actual NYC graffiti artist lead you to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s old studio and the old home of the CBGB Rock Venue, but this tour includes an optional workshop, in which you’ll learn the technical skills of graffiti artists and create your own unique item – perhaps a hat or canvas sneakers – to take home with you. One of my favorite perks of the tour – seeing the work of Shephard Fairey, creator of Obama’s Hope poster.

Grafitti Tour, New York
Grafitti Tours

Ready to walk? To learn more about Beyond Times Square, see their webinars about New York City and Washington, DC. In addition, the team offers Philadelphia and Boston sightseeing on a smaller scale. They realize your clients’ needs vary and are here to assist in meeting demands and, in their words, “making all of you look like rock stars.” One can’t argue with that!