About a block from the Algonquin, the blazing marquees of Broadway light up the night, competing for attention with the neon-coated buildings of Times Square. On West 49th, the 1922 Ambassador Theater lures sightseers into an auditorium lavished with plaster molding and gilt designs. There, the Tony Award–winning Chicago unfolds with vaudevillian glitz and iconic jazz numbers (tickets included with this Getaways deal). Though many of the city's landmarks are within walking distance of the theater district, a three-hour cruise on a double-decker ferry around Manhattan from Circle-Line Sightseeing provides a more panoramic view of the skyline, skimming past the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty (tickets included with this Getaways deal). When it comes time to explore again on foot, Central Park awaits about a 30-minute walk north of the hotel. There, as autumn turns to winter, the bare tree branches complement the sleek lines of surrounding skyscrapers, and ice-skating rinks reflect glimmering city streetlights and nature's streetlights, the smiles of children.New York Guest's agents live in the city and work in central Manhattan, enabling them to handpick itineraries (such as this one) based on local expertise.
Though impressively metropolitan in their own rights, with their powers combined, Ben Wagenberg and Marty Grabstein would be the ultimate New Yorker. They're both NYC natives, of course—Ben spent his college years memorizing Manhattan's streets as a cab driver, and Marty grew up working in his family's Brooklyn deli before becoming a stage actor who also picked up roles on shows such as Law and Order.
Today, they share their intimate knowledge of NYC with both locals and tourists with Ben and Marty's Bagel Tours of New York. Each tour starts out with New York's "most iconic food"—a hot, fresh bagel—before Ben or Marty escorts groups through various food- and culture-based explorations of Manhattan. The SOHO tour looks beyond the designer-label signage that dresses many of the 'hood's storefronts, and instead studies the cast-iron architecture behind it before stopping for coffee and dessert at an Italian café. The Grand Central Tour celebrates the 100th anniversary of one of America's most treasured landmarks, and in Gansevoort groups walk the High Line, an elevated-railway-turned-grassy-park, before visiting area meat markets. Clients can also choose to create a custom tour, requesting jaunts through Little Italy, Chinatown, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' vacation sewer.
New York has long been known for culinary innovation, but not all of it happens at easily-found landmarks. Many pastry chefs and dessert artists toil in small neighborhood kitchens to make the sweetest treats found in the Big Apple. The guides at Sugartooth Tours help visitors discover these hidden gems and delicious treats, while serving up a side of of the city's cultural and culinary history.
Sugartooth's sweets-seekers put together seasonal, neighborhood, and dessert-themed tours that explore desserts across the city. In the summer, they hunt for the best frozen flavors to be found, from artisinal gelato to chunky ice cream sandwiches. They delve into the history of Hell's Kitchen through the bakeries which now fill the busy neighborhood, stopping in to each to try cookies, tarts, and other baked goodies. They also lead a spring-summer cupcake seasonal tour, a trip which spans Manhattan in search of the best perennially popular mini-desserts and the cup into which they might actually fit.
Located on the second floor of the American Bible Society’s Upper West Side office, the Museum of Biblical Art programs exhibitions that allow visitors to rethink the Bible’s role in contemporary society and history. Recent exhibits include a survey of 19th-century Biblical art from the Dahesh Museum collection, a video and audio installation examining early 20th-century rural baptism, a look at bookmaking in the Gutenberg era and the religious-themed work of muralist Hildreth Meière. The museum puts on three shows a year, but only keeps hours when said sessions are going on – so plan accordingly if looking to take a peek inside. Visitors to the museum can enjoy interactive displays pertaining to the Bible in the building’s public lobby, while a small café and free WiFi are also available to those looking to linger.
Snackin' Tours steers hungry groups to original and oft-overlooked destinations throughout New York to give them a unique taste of the city. In small groups of eight, tours avoid obvious tourist traps in favor of local favorites with routes arranged around a certain theme. Guides recount tales of neighborhood history and toss in factoids along the way while trawling the East Village's bounty of vegetarian eats, the Lower East Side's cluster of boutique food, or the West Village's dessert-paved sidewalks. Tour operators can accommodate guests with dietary restrictions at certain tastings in advance. Snackin' Tours also runs a much larger pub crawl on Thursdays, in which staggered groups of up to 40 people explore six dive bars, taverns, and other pub-like places all over lower Manhattan.
The Jazz Museum in Harlem was founded in 1997 to celebrate and preserve Harlem’s unique role in the history of live jazz. The fourth floor space opened to its current location on 126th Street in 2002, but will be relocating to a roomier 16,000 square foot building on 125th Street in 2015. Not exactly a traditional museum – you won’t find a self-guided tour or rooms full of wall displays – the Jazz Museum chooses to focus instead on events. Talks explaining jazz structures, history and music-making often turn into impromptu jam sessions or intimate concerts, with the musicians themselves explaining their process as they play. The museum’s collection does include a Duke Ellington archive, a Ralph Ellison archive and the Savory collection – original recordings of some of jazz’s landmark figures.