Gallery-hopping in Chelsea or bargain-hunting in Chinatown? De Niro-spotting in Tribeca or photo-opp’ing in Madison Square Park? Gelato in Little Italy or tapas on the Lower East Side? Yes … to all of the above! It’s true that there’s so much to see and so little time, but why not make the most of your visit — and the city’s offerings — by hopping on City Sights’ NY Downtown Tour bus. Even resolute fans of flying solo will agree that in a city like New York a tour bus is the best way to get your bearings without having to worry about subways, maps, cabs or time.
The Downtown Tour journey begins in the epicenter of all that is brash and bold in New York City —Times Square. Sure, it can be fun to elbow your way past the Naked Cowboy or an aggressively friendly, jumbo-sized Hello Kitty on the street, but you’ll get a better sense — and photo — of the many colorful characters of Times Square from the upper deck of a double-decker bus.
The tour is of the hop-on hop-off variety and, depending on your ticket, can last as long as 48 hours. Shoppers can hop off at Macy’s and then hop back on until SoHo. Amateur historians can trace the city’s immigration evolution by jumping out at Little Italy and walking through Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
The city’s beautiful architecture is the star of the show — the Empire State Building, the Art Deco magnificence of the Chrysler Building and the intricate detailing of the Woolworth Building. Most visitors to the city want to pay their respects at the Site of the World Trade Center, where they can look on in awe as One World Trade Center climbs its way up into the heavens, and remember those we lost.
Knowledgeable tour guides are quick with a joke and happy to answer any questions. Depending on the guide, there may be show tunes, or an oddball tidbit of Beastie Boys history. As of April 1, 2013, pre-recorded narration is also available in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Hebrew.
Along with all the landmarks on display, this is New York, so expect the unexpected: The “Morrissey” graffiti on top of 183 Broadway. The tour guide exclaiming “caw! caw!” as she explains that Edgar Allen Poe (author of The Raven
) had once lived in Greenwich Village. The tell-tale trailers advertising that there’s a movie being shot in the vicinity.
Beginning in the aforementioned Times Square the bus heads down Seventh Avenue, loops around 34th Street to Fifth Avenue and then proceeds through Chelsea, the West Village, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, the East Village and then up First Avenue to 49th Street, ending at Eighth Avenue. All told there are 41 stops, meaning 41 opportunities to discover something new about this incredible city.
Good for kids?
While this tour isn’t geared specifically to children, it has enough stops that even easily distracted kids will remain interested. And if bribery is in order, well, the M&M store is just a couple blocks from the final destination!
Did you know?
It may seem like the best seats would be towards the front of the bus, but actually, the further back you sit, the better the view.
The first double-decker “buses” existed here and there from the 1600s, but they were first widely introduced in the 1820s and were powered by horses.
The bus rides through a short stretch of lower Broadway known as the “Canyon of Heroes.” If you jump out and look at the sidewalks here, you’ll see over 200 strips of granite honoring those who earned ticker-tape parades.
Licensed New York City tour guides are subjected to a 150-question test and they must answer at least 97 of these correctly in order to pass.
Approximately two hours
Downtown Tour Pickup Hours and Location Information