Due to how much walking we did yesterday, we decided to check out the hop-on hop-off bus tours of the city operated by Gray Line. I’ve taken these in other cities in the past and they’re a great way to see the city.
Gray Line operate three loops, one which shows you lower Manhattan, another which shows you further north as far as Harlem, and another which takes in Brooklyn. Unfortunately none go as far north as Washington Heights, but you should be able to see most things on the loops available.
We started with the southern loop, as this has the main sights, and over the course of three hours we saw so many great sights including the following:
- The Empire State Building
- The Flatiron Building
- Washington Square Park
- Battery Park
- The Brooklyn Bridge
- China Town
- The United Nations
- Trump Tower
- The Waldorf Hotel
- Rockefeller Centre
- Radio City Music Hall
- Carnegie Hall
Here are a few best photos from the tour.
Initially, we had planned to hop on and off at some of the key locations but we stayed on for the entire loop as we absolutely loved Tom our tour guide. He made the city come to life, and had lots of great stories to tell. And we loved his description of New Jersey as the “scary place” every time we turned a corner and saw it.
(2011 update – Tom (Orzo) now runs his own tour company in New York called Sterling City Tours so if you have the budget for a private tour then check them out you won’t be disappointed).
More than 6 years have passed since the tragic events of 9/11 but it something that still shapes the city – not only can you see a lot of evidence of it everywhere but people still talk about it. Indeed Tom told us a lot of stories about that day, and how he saw the twin towers being built and falling down. It was incredibly moving to hear those stories, to see the memorials all over the city, and to see inside the ground zero site when the bus drove past it.
After lunch we checked out the northern loop, which takes you up past Central Park towards Harlem. While most of the sights that people associate with New York can be seen on the southern loop the northern loop is worth checking out as not only do you get to see Harlem, and its famous Apollo Theatre, but you get to see the following too:
- Central Park
- Where John Lennon was shot
- Museum of Natural History
- Guggenheim Museum
- The Met
Here are a few photos from this loop too.
We decided to stay on the bus for the majority of the loop, to see the main sights, but got off as we were passing south along 5th Avenue so that we could spend some more time looking around Central Park.
This afternoon was the 3rd time that I have been to Central Park since arriving in the city two days ago but it’s an iconic location and is so peaceful compared to the rest of the city so I’ve enjoyed walking around it. Plus it’s so huge that if you want to see everything you either need to spend half a day walking around it, or visit a few times, and is beautiful at this time of year.
After getting back to the hotel we just chilled for a bit, and grabbed some food, ready for another long day of sightseeing tomorrow.