By Yashy Murphy
Traveling with little ones can be fun but we’ve also learned that it may be best to avoid large group tours. With numerous pee breaks, snack times and timeouts required it can be difficult to be part of a larger group with strangers. However, during our travels we’ve discovered that some tours really do enjoy having little ones along. New York City with its many multicultural neighbhourhoods and numerous attractions is home to many a tour. Whether you’re curious about culture, history, culinary spots or fashion, there’s a tour that will allow you to get a local’s perspective by bus, foot and even by boat.
On our most recent visit to the big apple with two kids under the age of four we had the chance to explore the boroughs of New York with a group of strangers and not only did we (and others in the group!) enjoy the tours but we also left with a deeper appreciation of the city.
If you’re heading to New York City with kids be sure to check out the following tours if you’re looking for a better understanding of the City that Never Sleeps!
- CitySights NY : The CitySights Hop-on Hop-Off tours are a great choice for families who want to explore all 5 boroughs. You can easily pop in and out at major attractions or when a time out is called for. We timed our snack breaks with the bus and not only filled the bellies on board (bring your own food) but also learned about the various attractions and routes during our rides. There’s a guide on board as well as a pre-recorded narration so you can learn about your surroundings. The busses are stroller and kid friendly with various tours to choose from and each of them come with additional discounts to local restaurants, shows and attractions.
- Big Apple Greeter : This not-for-profit program matches you with a volunteer who will give you a local’s perspective. Unscripted, this tour is for groups of 6 people or less and you have to make your request at least 3 weeks in advance of your trip. The beauty of this free (and no-tips allowed) tour is that you have a knowledgeable local guiding you and it is a private tour for your group (no strangers) which means you can dictate exactly what you’d like to see and take quick breaks as necessary. The Big Apple Greeter also has an Access Program for Travellers with Disabilities, which is fantastic!
- Urban Oyster Tours : For foodies and craft beer lovers this three hour walking tour should be at the top of your list. The team at Urban Oyster believe in supporting small, local businesses that makes NYC unique and that’s exactly what we witnessed during our Brownstone Brooklyn Eats tour. Stroller and kid friendly the tour, other attendees and the local businesses owners all welcomed us with a smile and gave extra treats for the kids. We snacked at about five different spots, met the owners and our guide gave us the inside scoop during our walks to and from each spot. The beer crawls are 19+ however you can find a map of their route online and can easily visit the spots on your own. Tickets do sell out so be sure to purchase them a few weeks before your visit.
- NYC Kids Tours : This tour is completely geared at the little ones with the ideal age being between 6 and 11. There’s an option for a walking tour or a chauffeured one (a bit on the pricey end) with each teaching the kids about the various attractions and will allow families to Sightsee some of the best spots in NYC (Columbus Circle, Washington Square Park, FAO Schwarz, Greenwich Village and Bryant Park to name a few) while the child follows along in their activity book created by teachers. Lessons in math, science and art are promised on this tour and the kids even get their own disposable camera!
- High Line Tours : No visit to New York City is complete without a visit to the High Line and what better way to capture some great angles of this city than through a tour of the once abandoned elevated rail line that transported goods up and down the lower west side of Manhattan? A non-profit organization formed to repurpose the tracks and today a kid friendly park is also on site. Free tours of the High Line last approximately 75 minutes, run twice a week and includes information on the structure’s history and distinctive architectural features and horticultural design elements.
There’s so many tours on offer in New York City, yes even a superheroes tour! Whatever your family seeks can be found and many of them are kid friendly. If you’re travelling with a very young bunch, be sure to plan ahead and carry snacks and drinks on you. We also find it helpful to participate in walking tours where nap times can be had in the baby carrier or stroller.
For a full list of tours, apps and things to do, check out this NYC tourism site. On our next visit we hope to get a birds view by flying over the city in a helicopter!
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