By Stacey Zable
Want a personalized and private experience discovering New York City while with friends and family? These tour companies offer private or customized tours (in addition to group ones) that get you one-on-one with your very own NYC expert and guide. You’ll get to hear the history and stories that provide an in-depth look into neighborhoods, themes or attractions while exploring the city like a VIP.
City Tales Tours
Choose from among six pre-set group walking tours or combine multiple tours and make them private just for you. Can’t decide? Take the seven-hour NYC Private Tour that includes such iconic sights as Central Park, Times Square, Broadway, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the 9/11 Memorial, and the Brooklyn Bridge. You can also customize a tour based on what interests you, such as specific favorite foods like bagels or pizza, or a deep dive into jazz music in New York City. Start your tour at a specific spot or your guide will meet you at your hotel to start your adventure. Private and custom tours start at a flat rate of $115 an hour with a four-hour minimum for one to 15 people. The company also serves larger groups; contact them for more information. Ask about AAA discounts when booking.
Walking tours from ExperienceFirst are divided by NYC best sellers, Iconic Attractions, City Highlights, and Neighborhood Tours with any tour able to be converted to private. The company also can create customized options. Interesting offerings include, for example, The Broadway and Times Square Insider Tour. A professional actor or director is your tour guide who tells his/her own personal stories, but also shares tales about stars, legends, superstitions, and famous Broadway locales. Another fun choice is a private SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown Walking Tour through these eclectic neighborhoods. Two-hour private tours start at the flat rate of $250 for one-to-four people; $300 for five-to-nine guests; and $350 for 10-to-15 people. For those seeking their own customized private tours, there is a four-hour minimum at $100 an hour for up to 15 people.
New York Historical Tours
Take a personalized look into the history of New York City with New York Historical Tours. They offer a variety of tours through neighborhoods like Lower Manhattan and the Financial District to Highlights of Harlem. You can also opt for an Epic Theme Tour focused on a specific era, such as Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers or The Gilded Age Tour: The Heyday of High Society. Any tour can be made private at a flat rate of $250 for up to five guests; additional guests are $30 per person. Combine two or three tours for a half- or full-day and get a discounted rate. The company can also create custom tours for any group size based on any theme or subject related to New York City, such as Broadway and the Theater District. AAA Members who book directly with the code WELCOMEAAA through 2021 receive a 10 percent discount (subject to availability).
On Location Tours
Many movies and television shows use New York City as their backdrop, literally filming in the city streets. On Location Tours’ Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Sites Tour is limited to up to three guests and includes traveling around the city in a 1957 Studebaker Commander with a 1950s-dressed guide as you explore sites shown in the Amazon Prime series. The rate is $450 flat for three people. Any of the company’s group bus tours, which include individually themed ones based on such iconic NYC television shows and films as Gossip Girl and Sex and the City and When Harry Met Sally and others, are available as a private tour. The private rate is also $450 flat for up to three people and then $110 per person for four to 22 participants including private town car or mini-bus. Add on pick-up and drop-off or even box lunches for an additional fee. AAA Members receive a 10 percent discount on all public (not private or customized) tours using code OLT-AAA10 when they purchase their tickets.
Among the more popular TopDogTours taking place this fall is the Marvel & DC Superheroes of New York Tour. This is the one for superhero and comic lovers set against the backdrop of New York City. Visit superhero movie sites and publisher row where Stan Lee and others created their infamous characters, and delve into trivia such as whether Gotham or Metropolis is inspired by New York. Like all of TopDogTours, which include neighborhood and attraction-focused options, this group tour is also available as a private tour. Most of the company’s two-hour private tours start at $70 per person with a minimum of two guests, but that depends on the type of tour; the Private Statue of Liberty tour, for example, is $170 per person. Custom tours that can range from three to nine hours long are also available.
Plan to visit New York City? Call your local AAA travel agent for accommodations and reservations — 800-374-2865.
(Go Magazine Nov. 2021)
(Photos: On Location Tours, New York Historical Tours)