Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I Spent Two Days as a Tourist and it Rocked

Do I love NY?  Sure.  Do I own my own iconic "I <3 NY" t-shirt?  No.. but I thought maybe it was time to throw one on, and spend a day as a full on New York City tourist.  So when TopView, one of the city's popular tour bus companies offered me two complimentary days of sightseeing with friends, I happily accepted. 

Being that this was my first NYC bus tour, I wasn't sure what to expect, or even how it worked.  Each ticket was good for any tour, at anytime of day, and for two days.  

My friends and I planned to do the Downtown Tour, and Liberty Cruise tour on day one, and then the Uptown & Harlem Tour for day two.  The Liberty Cruise was the only tour we needed to book in advance because the boat requires a head count for capacity reasons.

Day One:
We boarded the bus at the pick up location in Times Square.  Finding the exact spot turned out to be surprisingly easy because there were TopView guides positioned throughout the area, directing ticket holders where to go.  My friends and I made our way to the roof of the bus, and settled in with our ear phones (make sure you grab a pair when you board!).  The bus was full, but not crowded, and everyone that wanted a seat upstairs got one.  We plugged in our ear phones and were instantly serenaded by Old Blue Eyes himself and a pretty hip cover of T- Swizzle's "Welcome to New York".  Not a bad way to get in the mood!

Soon after the bus began moving, the music stopped and a recorded voice came through providing brief histories of the buildings/sites/ architecture as we drove along.  The Downtown tour route took us past Rockefeller Center, Macy's, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, SoHo, Canal Street, and City Hall among others.  Since this was the first tour, my friends and I rode it almost all the way through, snapping dozens of pictures along the way, and eventually getting off at Chambers Street.   

From there, we grabbed lunch by the water, and transitioned to the Liberty Cruise, leaving from the near by harbor.  The cruise used a live tour guide to provide information as we coasted past Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Colgate Clock, and Governor's Island.  I enjoyed the cruise a lot.  The tour guide was funny, entertaining, and super knowledgeable.  As I sit writing this, I'm still in awe at some of the info I picked up.  Because I had booked the last cruise of the day, there was no option to hop off and see the sites.  I'd recommend this option for day two of your passes after you've visited your preferred sites, and want to relax and take in the scenery.  

Downtown Tour:


Liberty Cruise:

Day Two:
My friends and I boarded the bus in the Theater District on 8th Ave. for the Uptown and Harlem Tour.  This went by Columbus Circle, to the American Museum of Natural History, Apollo Theater, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, ending at Carnage Hall.  
 We hopped off in Morningside Heights and spent some time at Grant's Tomb.  This made me realize why the passes are good for two days; there is sooo much to do and see, you couldn't possibly cover it all in one day.  We were at the tomb for at least an hour.  We walked back to the same spot we had gotten off, and within about 10 minutes, another bus showed up to take us on our way.

Overall, it was an awesome two days, and definitely a convenient way to explore the city.  It is clean, comfortable, and reliable transportation that takes you straight to the doorstep of the city's most precious highlights.  I'll take this over the obnoxious subway any day.  Tickets range in price from $29-$55, depending on the tour.  I recommend every New Yorker take at least one bus tour in their lifetime.  New York City contains a lot of history and it should be appreciated.  We get so busy and when we live in the middle of it, sometimes we forget to slow down and experience it. 

Uptown & Harlem Tour:


- Bring sunscreen or a hat if you plan to sit on the roof.  This is still NYC and could easily get stuck in traffic, smack under the burning sun.
- Bring snacks and water!  You will get hungry and at times, may end up in areas with few food options.  (We learned the hard way).
- I advise trying to decide ahead of time which stops are most important for you to hop off at.  It's easy to lose track of time and you want to ensure you leave enough time to visit all your favorites.    

Have you tried a TopView tour?  Are you interested?

Get more info here



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