I always say that even if you live in or visit New York City, it never hurts, or rather it further compliments your experiences when you play tourist every once in a while. Even the most hardcore New Yorker doesn’t know everything about everything that there is to know about NYC. There are so many interesting stories to be heard here.
Like, for example, did you know that Alexander Hamilton who is buried at St. Paul’s church in the Financial District of Manhattan died from a gun shot wound inflicted on him by Jefferson’s Vice President Aaron Burr? That even though dueling was illegal in New York, they went over to Weehawken Heights, NJ and when Hamilton shot his warning shot, Burr went ahead a shot him directly anyway? Scandalous!
Did you know that the first immigrant to be registered at Ellis Island was a 15-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore from County Cork, Ireland? She arrived to the shores of New York on December 31, 1891 and was registered on the Opening Day of Ellis Island on January 1, 1892, which was also her birthday. She is buried in Queens Calvary Cemetery (she is also the inspirations for the song “Isle Of Hope, Isle Of Tears” by the Irish Tenors). Inspirational!
Did you know that the Statue of Liberty is made of thin sheets of copper, not much thicker than a penny? Incredible!
Oh, I could go on and on. Thanks to a wonderful opportunity to tour with the New York centric tour group New York City Vacation Packages (NYCTrip.com) my family and I learned these facts and so much more, and we got to enjoy our city together in a way we don’t always get to.
Our tour was scheduled to depart at 8:00AM in the morning, on a Saturday from 53rd St in midtown Manhattan. Now, you can imagine what craziness is entailed in trying to get 3 kids ready and out the door to be in midtown by 8AM. But we arrived just in time!
Our guide was Georgienne, a native, no-nonsense New Yorker with an accent and attitude to boot, and like a true New Yorker, proud of her city and eager to share it with others. I loved her right away. She was friendly, to the point and right away full of information to give us. Our group was small, and included 3 young kids and a teenager in the mix.We took the Ground Zero/Statue of Liberty tour,which is a walking and subway riding tour. We made our way to World Trade Financial Center on the E train. Our guide gave each person, including the children, a metro card.
I will say, I thought the Ground Zero tour and all the information was fascinating to hear, including all the inside info on why the heck it’s taking so long to do anything down there (that Georgienne is a wealth of knowledge). Our guide was amazing in bringing the kids in and peaking their interest when she saw them fading away into normal crazy kid-behavior (which drives me bonkers so early in the morning). I think that part of the tour is better for older kids (not 4 and 5 like mine), but I especially appreciated that while I might have been overly sensitive to my kids playing around and, well, being kids, Georgienne, our tour guide, was incredibly sweet and would assure me that they were “just fine”.
The area is always changing and there’s always things going on, even though it may not look like it. The Fireman’s Memorial is heavily photographed and visited, and we were able to also stop in to the American Express building and see the memorial in place for 11 employees who lost their lives on 9/11. I loved hearing Georgienne tell the tales of that day, the many heroic efforts that were made to save people’s lives. It is still incredibly heartbreaking, but it is a part of history of my city, and our country overall, that highlights how our many communities came together that day.
From Ground Zero, we walked over to Battery Park to get on the ferry for the Statue of Liberty tour. The absolute beauty of being on a this tour as opposed to going at it on our own is that we got to go on the express or “reserved” line with our tour guide and got to skip the massive lines of people on the regular line. We waited a bit, but definitely not as long as we would have without the tour, which on a busy day can take up to 4 hours!
Our official tour ended at the entrance of Statue of Liberty. Georgienne left us with awesome tips of what to look out for, how to best get back on the ferry, and all sorts of details we wouldn’t have even noticed without her. She even gave out maps to those who needed one.
The total time for the guided tour was 5 hours, though we managed to spend the rest of our day at Liberty Island, climbing stairs and taking more pictures than we will ever know what to do with. The kids absolutely loved Liberty Island, they didn’t even mind going up the many, many stairs to get to the base of the statue (the crown was closed that day).
We ended our tour with a visit to Ellis Island which isn’t guided, but is included should guests want to take advantage of it. We had lunch there “because the food is better” said Georgienne (and it was), and we were able to take in a great portion of the museum before the kids started to melt down, which we feared, but actually never happened.
NYCTrip.com specializes in travel arrangements for visitors coming to NYC from around the world. They are the largest independent tour company focusing exclusive on NYC. Their NYC Vacation Packages are flexible and customized for the individual, family, or group and the site allows a visitor to arrive in NYC on any day, stay in whatever major NYC hotel they choose, select any Broadway show they want to see , experience any sightseeing or attraction venue or tour, as well as their own exclusive tours, and visit any major NYC Museum. Check out their site to see what’s included in these wonderful packages.
They also have hundreds of unique options for visitors to NYC to take advantage of. I have seen some of these promoted on Twitter (you can follow them @NYCVP), like for example, they often promote VIP seating tickets to the fabulous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
The exclusive tour my family took with them to the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero caters to visitors from around the world, and consistently operates year round. Visitors have the tour guide to help navigate the subway system and congested streets of NYC.
There’s really nothing like taking a tour of NYC with someone in the know…and they know. Whether you are visiting or looking for a unique way to spend your day here in the city, taking a tour is a wonderful way to spend time with the family and even teach your kids (and yourself) why this city is so incredible.
For more information on NYCTrips.com and the various tour packages they offer, please visit their site at www.nyctrip.com or call to speak to an NYCVP Personal Vacation Planner from U.S. and Canada – 877-NYC-TRiP (toll-free) or 570-714-4692 or International – 570-714-4692.
Disclosure: This tour was provided courtesy of New York City Vacation Packages for the purpose of this review. The views and opinions expressed here are strictly my own. For more information please refer to the disclosure page.