15 Free New York City Guided Tours Worth Knowing About…

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Whenever I travel to a new city I always, always make sure to schedule a tour.  Tours help you see the city through a local’s perspective, allow you to ask questions from a tried-and-true resident, take you to places you’d probably never venture yourself, and feed you with fun facts.

Here’s our roundup of tours that you can take in NYC, whether you’re a tourist or local:

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1. Tours By Foot | “Offering pay-what-you-wish New York walking tours as well as food, bike and bus tours. We provide a platform for licensed, local, freelance tour guides to lead tours at no upfront costs, so that you may enjoy an interesting New York sightseeing tour for whatever price you like, even free. You get to determine what a tour was worth, if anything, after the tour, thus ensuring that your tour guide must strive to give his or her best on every tour.”

2. Free Historic Neighborhood Tour of the Lower East Side | “Every Sunday, April through December at 11 a.m., meet in front of Katz’s Delicatessen (corner of East Houston and Ludlow Street) for a comprehensive historic tour. Free and open to the public. Take a historical three-hour journey through the Lower East Side and explore some of the rich history tracing the arrival of immigrants to modern times.”

3. Village Alliance | “The Village Alliance sponsors free walking tours every Saturday from June through September, highlighting the unique, bizarre and beautiful bohemia we call Greenwich Village.  During cold weather months, or if you are not able to make the Saturday tours, stop by the Village Alliance office at 8 East 8th Street to pick up a free, self-guided walking tour map (M-F, 10a-6p).”

4. Battery Park City Parks Conservancy | “Garden Tours, Birding Tours and Public Art Tours.”

5. Big Apple Greeter | “Meet a real New Yorker and discover the real magic of New York City’s many culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods.”

6. Central Park Conservancy Tours | “Learn the story of the Park’s history, design, and ecology and get an insider’s look at the world’s greatest urban park with the people who take care of it. Welcome Tours are free and offer and introduction to some of the Park’s most well-known highlights.”

7. Grand Central Partnership | “The Grand Central Partnership offers a free, weekly, no-reservations-required, award-winning walking tour of the Grand Central neighborhood, that provides a survey of many of the architecturally and historically significant sights – among them the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, itself and Pershing Square.”

8. Chelsea Brewing Company | “If you want to have a unique memorable time with a group of people, small or large, take a brewery tour of Manhattan’s only active brewery.”

9. Federal Reserve Bank of New York | “Learn about the role of the New York Fed and the wider Federal Reserve System in setting monetary policy, promoting financial stability, and serving communities to advance economic growth.”

10. Austrian Cultural Forum | “The Austrian Cultural Forum provides visitors the opportunity to tour the architectural landmark building in midtown Manhattan.”

11. City Hall + Tweed Courthouse | “Tours of City Hall and Tweed Courthouse are hosted by the Design Commission. One of the oldest continuously used City Halls in the nation that still houses its original governmental functions, New York’s City Hall is considered one of the finest architectural achievements of its period.”

12. New York Public Library | “Docent-led tours are an excellent way to see highlights of The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The Library offers tours of the building as well as exhibitions. Free docent-guided tours for walk-in visitors are available.”

13. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture | “The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of The New York Public Library is generally recognized as the world’s leading research library devoted exclusively to documenting the history and cultural development of peoples of African descent worldwide.”

14. Science, Industry and Business Library Tours | “A free one-hour tour is offered Thursdays at 2 p.m. Meet at the Reception Desk on the Street Level.”

15. St. Patrick’s Cathedral | “Taking a tour of St. Patrick’s is a wonderful opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the architecture, history and spirit of this great Cathedral.”

Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
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