15 Completely Free NYC Guided Tours

Whenever I travel to a new city I always, always make sure to schedule a tour.  I’m all about the tours, guys!  Tours help you see the city through a local’s perspective, allow you to ask questions from a tried-and-true resident, take you to places you’d probably never venture yourself, and feed you with fun facts.  Yay, trivia!

But I don’t just limit tours to when I’m traveling, I also take them on the regular here in NYC.  All the reasons I listed above, but also because NYC is so, so steeped in history–and interactive tours are much more entertaining to me than reading history books from the library. #justsaying

Bonus: these tours are usually led by super passionate New Yorkers (or really dramatic actors, also fun!), who live and breathe their city just as much as I do.  I love that.  Breathe passion into me, tour guides!

Here’s our roundup of FREE tours that you can take here in NYC, whether you’re a tourist or local:

486068_10150621208708226_1202652113_n1. Free Tours By Foot | “Offering pay-what-you-wish New York walking tours as well as food, bike and bus tours. We provide a platform for licensed, local, freelance tour guides to lead tours at no upfront costs, so that you may enjoy an interesting New York sightseeing tour for whatever price you like, even free. You get to determine what a tour was worth, if anything, after the tour, thus ensuring that your tour guide must strive to give his or her best on every tour.”

2. Free Historic Neighborhood Tour of the Lower East Side | “Every Sunday, April through December at 11 a.m., meet in front of Katz’s Delicatessen (corner of East Houston and Ludlow Street) for a comprehensive historic tour. Free and open to the public. Take a historical three-hour journey through the Lower East Side and explore some of the rich history tracing the arrival of immigrants to modern times.”

3. Village Alliance | “The Village Alliance sponsors free walking tours every Saturday from June through September, highlighting the unique, bizarre and beautiful bohemia we call Greenwich Village.  During cold weather months, or if you are not able to make the Saturday tours, stop by the Village Alliance office at 8 East 8th Street to pick up a free, self-guided walking tour map (M-F, 10a-6p).”

4. Battery Park City Parks Conservancy | “Garden Tours, Birding Tours and Public Art Tours.”

5. Big Apple Greeter | “Meet a real New Yorker and discover the real magic of New York City’s many culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods.”

6. Central Park Conservancy Tours | “Learn the story of the Park’s history, design, and ecology and get an insider’s look at the world’s greatest urban park with the people who take care of it. Welcome Tours are free and offer and introduction to some of the Park’s most well-known highlights.” 

7. Grand Central Partnership | “The Grand Central Partnership offers a free, weekly, no-reservations-required, award-winning walking tour of the Grand Central neighborhood, that provides a survey of many of the architecturally and historically significant sights – among them the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, itself and Pershing Square.”

8. Chelsea Brewing Company | “If you want to have a unique memorable time with a group of people, small or large, take a brewery tour of Manhattan’s only active brewery.”

9. Federal Reserve Bank of New York | “Learn about the role of the New York Fed and the wider Federal Reserve System in setting monetary policy, promoting financial stability, and serving communities to advance economic growth.”

10. Austrian Cultural Forum | “The Austrian Cultural Forum provides visitors the opportunity to tour the architectural landmark building in midtown Manhattan.”

11. City Hall + Tweed Courthouse | “Tours of City Hall and Tweed Courthouse are hosted by the Design Commission. One of the oldest continuously used City Halls in the nation that still houses its original governmental functions, New York’s City Hall is considered one of the finest architectural achievements of its period.” 

12. New York Public Library | “Docent-led tours are an excellent way to see highlights of The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The Library offers tours of the building as well as exhibitions. Free docent-guided tours for walk-in visitors are available.”

13. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture | “The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of The New York Public Library is generally recognized as the world’s leading research library devoted exclusively to documenting the history and cultural development of peoples of African descent worldwide.”

14. Science, Industry and Business Library Tours | “A free one-hour tour is offered Thursdays at 2 p.m. Meet at the Reception Desk on the Street Level.”

15. St. Patrick’s Cathedral | “Taking a tour of St. Patrick’s is a wonderful opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the architecture, history and spirit of this great Cathedral.” 

Are we missing any free NYC tours? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to our guide!

||This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.||




Good Morning, Good Night, NYC

I love my fellow bloggers something fierce.  Sometimes if feels like I go through the week and know more about my online friends rather than those residing in the same city as me.  Scary, huh?  So when I read about A Beautiful Mess’s Capturing Real Life in 52 Weeks Photo Challenge, I was all in.  I felt it leant to the mantra of our blog so perfectly: use your city and find inspiration in the little things every single day, wherever you may be!  (Not to mention it gives a bunch of fun ways to curate your photo collections which will be so fun to look at years from now.)

The first challenge for week 1 is Good Morning, Good Night.  These are the little ways we begin our days, and then put them to sleep.  I’m pretty routine when it comes to rise-and-shines (chug a lemon water, coffee with my fam, and blog updates) and bed-times (snacks, netflix, a bit of reading), so wasn’t expecting anything too exciting to play out…but you know what? Having these simple moments captured on film makes me very happy, indeed.  Plus, what a fun way to share moments with family and friends who live far, far away and miss out on all the seemingly insignificant, day to day stuff.  I hope you guys will all jump in and share your photos, too!  Who’s with me?!

Good Morning, NYC

L1010891 L1010905 L1010908 L1010915 L1010923

Good Night, NYC

L1010928 L1010937 L1010941 L1010945 L1010956Every Monday for the rest of the year, we will be sharing behind the scenes shots of Used York City, keeping with the weekly theme set up by the folks at ABM.  Some of the challenges will be super city orientated, others a bit more personal…a fun mix, for sure!  Next week’s theme: guilty pleasures.  So whip out those camera phones and begin snapping photos of all your favorite guilty pleasures in NYC, and beyond!  We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

We would love to see what your Good Morning, Good Night routine looks like, too!  Please link up below and share, using the hashtag #UseYourCity!




Hey NYC…Write A Love Letter

Have I mentioned before that Valentine’s Day is the ultimate holiday in my book?  A day filled with pink…filled with blooms…filled with chocolates…a day just pouring out sentiment galore.  Ahh, how I do love me some sentiment.

For this Valentine’s Day, instead of getting all crazy on the flowers and balloons front, I brought it back down to the level that sweet Romeo whispered sonnets to his darling Juliet many upteen years ago: the level of sentiment.  Using some old craft paper cards and envelopes and finger paints, I crafted some DIY Valentine Cards and filled them with happy memories I have of the recipients.  

unnamed-7Like I’m sure many fellow New Yorkers face, it’s hard having family spread all over the country, and even oversees.  Skype and texts and phone calls are nice, but there’s something that will never quite take the thrill out of receiving a letter in the mailbox, written with your loved one at the heart of the matter.  And remember, these letters don’t need to be exclusively to your significant other!  Mine are being sent to my grandparents, siblings, parents, in-laws, and my outer borough bestie who I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like.  So there you have it…letters can look however your little heart desires them to look.

FullSizeRenderClearly handwriting does not count so much, either…nor do pen scribbles.  Keep the sentiment at the heart of it all and you’ll be just fine;-)

p.s. if you need a bit of help getting started, here’s a step-by-step guide to the art of love writing.

p.s.s if you need some inspiration for adorable stationary that’s not DIY, but comes across just as lovely, check out everlane’s crisp and minimalistic new line:

imgresWill you be writing any love letters this Valentine’s Day?




5 Sweet Breakfasts To Wow Your NYC Sweetie

I’ve mentioned before how breakfast is a big, big deal in our house.  With crazy NYC schedules, it’s often one of the only times during the day the hubs and I have to sit down together, so we try to make the most of it.  Most mornings, our breakfast routine looks something like coffee and yogurt, but when a special occasion roles around (i.e. Valentine’s Day, yay!), I set the alarm a bit earlier to make breakfast a little more memorable.

Here’s a few easy Valentine’s Day inspired breakfasts that are sure to make your favorite New Yorkers, (roommates, significant others, kids, parents, siblings, or yourself!), start the day feeling ridiculously loved.

1. Mini Pancake Kebabs

Everything tastes better on a stick, no?  These heart shaped pancake cuties only get better with layered whipped cream and fresh berries nestled between. (via Design Loves Detail)

pancake-kabobs1-645x7462. Greek Yogurt Dipped Strawberries

Only thing better than chocolate covered strawberries?  (Umm, nothing?)  False!  These greek yogurt dipped babies are super delicious, and the best part is, they can be made the night before!  No early setting of the alarm needed! (via She Knows)

greek-yogurt-dipped-berries-645x4253. Nutella Hot Chocolate

It’s true, anything with the chocolate hazlenutty goodness included needs no introduction!  This super rich version of hot chocolate makes for a perfect coffee substitute on Valentine’s Day.  p.s. we recently tried Nocciolata, which tastes just like Nutella, only is GMO free and doesn’t use Palm Oil, making it a healthier alternative!  (via A Beautiful Mess)

6a00d8358081ff69e201b8d089caf6970c-800wi4. Red Velvet + Cream Cheese Crepes

Say the world crepe and I come running!  Seriously, I’ve never met a crepe I don’t like, and these remind me of the sweet ones my grandma and I always ordered from IHOP…with a darling little Valentine’s twist, that is. (via Taste and Tell)

Red-Velvet-Crepes-recipe-Taste-and-Tell-1-645x42915. Muffins-In-A-Mug

This recipe feels super decadent, but seriously takes no time at all.  Can I get a hell yes, NYC?!  (via Heather’s French Press)

12909431294_cc2df6c763_bA few other ways to make your Valentine’s Day breakfast extra special are:

-You know all that fine china and silver you have hiding away in the back of your cabinets?  Yes, the stuff you got on your wedding registry and have used, oh, twice?  Now’s the time to whip it out.  Nothing says “I’ve gone the extra mile” quite like your best stuff.  (If you don’t have “best stuff” yet, fret not!  Another way to really make the breakfast special is to set a theme: stock up on red napkins and heart shaped plates from the dollar store and your effort will be just as evident.)

-Add a Valentine’s Day soundtrack to the breakfast background, complete with your boo’s favorite songs.  Or, go to Spotify and find a pre-made “Vday Mix” that is sure to have some staples.

-Write a love letter and have it sitting on their plate.  Because Valentine’s Day doesn’t get much more perfect that that.

Do you cook a Valentine’s Day themed breakfast?  Share all your tips below!




UsedYorkCity Inspiration #19

unnamed^^The last act of Mamma Mia…truly the highlight of our night, BRAVO!^^

1. Love these sweet NYC couples who chose elopement…including our own elopement on the rooftop of the Surry Hoel (#23!) (via BuzzFeed)

2. Tips for creatives and freelancers on how to be uber productive with email (i.e. admin Mondays). (via Jessica Hische)

3. Random and rad things to celebrate Valentine’s Day in NYC with this year–no dinner and a movie found here! (via Time Out New York)

4. A winter highlight is back: the City Bakery Hot Chocolate Factory! Which flavor are you most stoked to try this year? (via The City Bakery)

5.Good News for Cookbook lovers…their downtown store is not closing, just moving. More delicious literature to gobble up, my friends. (via The Paris Review)

Share what’s been keeping you inspired this week below, too!