The Best Fall Walks and Tours in NYC (Virtual and In Person)

By Ethan Wolff

Fall is a great time for exploring the city on walks and tours. Although a lot of programming remains virtual, there are more chances to get out and about in real life than we’ve seen in months. We’re looking forward to learning more about NYC,  from City Island to the Deco details of 42nd Street.

Real Life Excursions. Tour Your Own City was recently launched by the Guides Association of New York City (GANYC) to get people back out and exploring in real life. (They’re being responsible about it, with restricted capacities and strict Tour Health & Safety Guidelines.) The centerpiece is, a portal website for public and private tours that shows off the city’s range. While most tours are walking tours, Tour Your Own City’s initial slate also includes bike tours and even Art Deco tours in a vintage 1920s automobile. Untapped New York is getting back out in the city we love, with a baker’s dozen of upcoming walks. (They’ve reduced capacity for safety, capping now at 10 participants per trip.) Among your options: Victorian Flatbush, The Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam, The Secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge, The Remnants of the World’s Fairs, and the Hidden Gems of Governors Island. Turnstile Tours still has a big slate of virtual tours, but as of Friday, October 9th, they are back in-person in Prospect Park as well. “Hidden treasures, natural wonders, and little-known tales” animate the tours, which also are scheduled for Saturday, October 24th, Saturday, November 7th, and Saturday, November 21st.

For social distancing with a social mission, join up with Inside Out Tours, which show off the diversity of the city with outings like the NYC Slavery & Underground Railroad Walking Tour which makes runs on Saturday, October 10th., as well as Wednesday, October 14th and Wednesday, October 21st, in addition to Saturday, October 31st. American Institute of Architects boat tours are back, although for safety only 10 bookings are allowed per tour (they’re requiring a three-guest minimum to make most efficient use of separated tables). The AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture cruise runs weekends through at least the end of 2020.

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum is getting back out into the real world, offering tours that look back at its neighborhood in  the 19th century, when it was primarily countryside. You can join along on Sunday, October 11th.

The Tenement Museum has also started getting out in its historic neighborhood. You can find small-audience walking tours running on Saturdays and Sundays. (For a virtual look at the Lower East Side, join a YouTube exploration on Saturday, October 17th.)

This Sunday, October 11th, Green-Wood opens its doors (literally) for a socially distant exploration of the cemetery’s 19th-century mausoleums. You can expect exquisite stained glass and a few curious surprises. There’s also a few virtual looks at Green-Wood coming up; on Wednesday, October 14th you can find More Than Just Tiles: Guastavino, Green-Wood, and a New Discovery.

The usually open doors of Open House New York will be only partially open this year. The weekend runs October 17th-18th and features a hybrid format of self-guided visits and livestream elements. Starting Saturday, October 17th, you can compete in Scavenger Hunt: Now What, New York? You’ll need to get out in the real world and take photos in front of landmarks as you decipher clues that follow the themes of “Health, Knowledge, Representation, and Resistance.”

New York Adventure Club. NYAC brings together a series of city experts to hopscotch across intriguing neighborhoods and histories in virtual presentations. Join them for City Island, the “Cape Cod” of New York on Monday, October 12th; Paterson, NJ: Alexander Hamilton’s Planned City of Industry on Tuesday, October 13thGrand Central Terminal and the Secrets Within on Monday, October 19th; Underground Manhattan, The History of the NYC Subway System on Tuesday, October 20th; The Graves, Burials, and Skeletons of Northern Manhattan or The Ship Graveyards of Staten Island on Friday, October 30th; and The Lost & Forgotten Gilded Age Mansions of Fifth Avenue on Thursday, November 5th.

The Municipal Art Society of New York. MAS is back out and about, at least virtually, exploring NYC. Upcoming interactions with city history include Beyond Brownstones: Brooklyn Heights Since 1900 on Thursday, October 15th; The Art Deco Skyscrapers of Midtown on Saturday, October 17th; and The Architectural History of Brooklyn’s Row Houses, Part 2 on Saturday, October 24th.

Also out in the city, virtually, is the Art Deco Society of New York. Join Art Deco expert and tour guide extraordinaire Tony Robins as he leads an up-close look at Forty-Second Street East to West on Tuesday, October 20th.

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