When most people arrive in New York City, they’ve got Manhattan on the brain. Broadway, MoMA, Central Park — these big-ticket sights are on everyone’s short list. But don’t forget that there’s a whole borough of awesomeness just across the East River. And getting there is as easy as hopping on the subway or grabbing a cab or bus. And if you live in the city and haven’t yet explored this ever-evolving land where hipsters prosper and mom-and-pop storefronts still reign supreme, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Feeling overwhelmed? Fuhgettaboutit! Check out these eight Brooklyn tours for your introduction to the borough that gave the world Barbra Streisand, Jay Z and Jerry Seinfeld. Yo! What are you waiting for?
A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour
Pizza in Brooklyn is almost a religion, and this four-and-a-half-hour bus tour takes you to its most sacred sites. Native Brooklynite and ‘za expert Tony Muia leads the way, piling on neighborhood factoids, back story and more as he takes you along this fascinating food crawl with all the toppings. You’ll start at Grimaldi’s, with its famed Neapolitan-style pies and its line, which you get to skip, and you’ll then head to Bensonhurst for Sicilian-style at the famed L & B Spumoni Gardens pizzeria. But that’s not all; you’ll keep going — all the way to Coney Island. Bring your appetite for this adventure, that’s punctuated by tantalizing film clips played on your transport bus.
DETAILS: Fri.-Sun. 11am; from $80 (get tickets!); E. 13 Street and Fourth Avenue, Manhattan
CitySights NY’s Brooklyn Bus Tour
The big picture, baby! From your perch high atop a double-decker bus (enclosed in winter), you’ll cruise through the streets of this elegant borough with a licensed tour guide pointing out the can’t-miss moments. This 90-minute CitySights NY excursion hits all the highlights, from Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park, from gorgeous brownstones to stately mansions — with views of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Grand Army Plaza thrown in for good measure. It’s an ideal tour when you want to see all the hot Brooklyn spots in a New York minute.
DETAILS: Daily every 30 minutes 10:30am-3pm; from $44 (get tickets!); Battery Place and State Street, Manhattan
Ghosts of Brooklyn Heights Tour
Do you believe in ghosts? You will after this mile-long walking tour through Brooklyn’s most haunted neighborhood. Led by a guide who knows her specters, this tour will trot you past eerie locales, as you hear tales of spooky sightings of some of this neighborhood’s notorious haunted hosts. You’ll get the inside scoop on H.P. Lovecraft (he died penniless, achieved fame posthumously and is now considered the father of modern horror writing), John Roebling (perished while the Brooklyn Bridge, which he designed, was being built), George Washington (we can’t tell you everything, go on the tour!) and many more. You’ll also gaze across New York Harbor to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and learn about the various appearances of Captain Kidd, one of the angriest ghosts of all. Boo!
DETAILS: By appointment only; $150 for 2-10 people; Pete’s Downtown Restaurant, 2 Water Street, Brooklyn; ghostsofny.com
Brewed in Brooklyn Tour
True story: Brooklyn was the land of beer-makers until the 1970s when the fine art of suds almost went flat. Now, many years later, a renaissance is brewing. On this Urban Oyster walking tour, you’ll start at Brooklyn Brewery and wind through Williamsburg, Bushwick and beyond, for a three-and-a-half-hour, hops-soaked tour of the landmarks and breweries that are making this neighborhood buzz again. While learning more about the ‘hood and its brewing history, you’ll also make some grub stops — for lunch at Danny’s Pizza and then end up at a one-of-a-kind lounge, Barcade, where you can squeeze in a classic video game or two while downing a mug of craft beer. Cheers!
DETAILS: Sat. 12:30pm; from $58.50 for 21-and-up (get tickets!); 79 N. 11 St., Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Neighborhood Tour
It’s one of New York’s biggest jaw-droppers: the Brooklyn Bridge. For this two-hour walking tour offered by Inside Out, you’ll start on the Manhattan side and then walk across this modern engineering marvel that opened in 1883. You’ll hear the astonishing story of how the bridge was constructed — or almost wasn’t — along with taking in the picture-perfect views, as cyclists whiz past you. Often led by the company’s founder, Stacey Toussaint, this tour offers deep insight into Brooklyn’s rich history, tradition and culture. Once on land on the Brooklyn side, you’ll explore DUMBO, a newly hot nabe that bursts with shops, galleries and restaurants. What’s not to love?
DETAILS: Mon., Wed. and Sat. at 11am; from $31.50 (get tickets!); Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan
Authorized Coney Island Tour
Want to see Coney Island through the eyes of a seasoned pro? Then this one-and-a-half-hour walking excursion from New York Tiny Tours is for you. Developed with the helping hand of the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, Dick Zigun, this outing is most often led by guide extraordinaire Kim Rancourt, who will take you along the boardwalk, past the Cyclone and former parachute drop, to the aquarium and even down to the beach. Along the way, you’ll get history and modern history, as well as some funny stuff. And when it’s all over, you can hit the rides and see for yourself what all the screaming’s about (warning: the first hill of the Cyclone is no joke).
DETAILS: By appointment only; $25; Surf Avenue and W. 12 Street, Brooklyn; coneyisland.com
Neighborhood Eats Tour: Brownstone Brooklyn
You’ve never done lunch like this: It’s a strolling affair that takes place across several South Brooklyn neighborhoods in a picturesque area often referred to as Brownstone Brooklyn. You’ll pop into various establishments, from the fabled to the more newfangled, on this three-hour tour, and a seasoned guide will serve up delicious neighborhood lore as you nibble your way through the borough. On the menu: Middle Eastern fare (Sahadi’s), boutique cookie bakeries (One Girl Cookie) and coffees roasted at a family-owned shop since 1948 (D’Amico). Yep, you’re in for a full meal in a huge food-happy neighborhood.
DETAILS: Fri. 11am, Sat. 12pm; from $54 (get tickets!); 215 Smith St., Brooklyn
Brooklyn Pulse Art and Culture Tour
Biking tours combine the exertion of a walking tour with the wind-in-your-hair feeling of a bus tour. Custom designed by a local musician, this trek from Get Up and Ride has you pedaling through the streets of northern Brooklyn, where you’ll explore the emerging art and cultural scene with stops at independent music venues, cinemas and a collective underground art gallery in what’s still mostly an industrial area. This three-hour tour, which includes about two hours of pedaling, is for experienced riders as the streets of Bushwick can be rugged, and biking in New York City is not for the faint of heart. While biking, you’ll get to hear expert commentary via helmet with an audio headset. Oh, and the tour includes a taco (along with bike rental, helmet and lock).
DETAILS: Mon. and Wed. 10am, Sun. 2pm; $62; parking garage near King and Grove hotel, Brooklyn; getupandride.com