Most of the time, The Levys’ Unique New York! provides tour guides who perform a NYC highlights tour for high schoolers on their class trip. We’re talking 3 to 4 hours on a private motorcoach, moving around Manhattan from Central Park to the Battery and seeing all the sites in-between. We hop off at Strawberry Fields and walk through the park; we drive down Fifth Avenue and point out all the luxe shops; we travel through local NY ‘hoods like Greenwich Village and Hell’s Kitchen; we get out in Battery Park City and talk about the World Trade Center Site in the Winter Garden. We love it, our tour groups love it, and its the best way to make a living.
More and more frequently, we get to create Private Tours for individuals, small groups and families – like a 3 hour graffiti tour for 1 woman from Luxembourg. I just sent out a pitch for an 8 hour (!!!) eating tour of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, by foot and subway for a foodie couple from Chicago. But every so often we get the request that seems like a weird but wonderful way to spend an afternoon: a Fun Focused Family type tour for adults with kids. This is a totally different type of tour.
Last week, I received a call from The Setai Fifth Avenue Hotel to arrange a tour guide for a family of five: Ex-NYer Mark Barrocas and his Venezuelan born wife, Irina, 10 year old Sarah, 7 year old Michelle, 5 year old Ben. Could I provide a tour of children-friendly NY, focusing on the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, and if we had time, the Manhattan Children’s Museum? And make it energetic and engaging for the children? Sure I can!
The family are Bostonians who visit NYC regularly and each time they bring their kids somewhere different in the City. This time they just wanted a guide to tell some stories to go along with the sightseeing, to have fun and make jokes and teach a little and play around. That’s me in a nutshell! I met them at the hotel introduced myself as their tour guide for the afternoon, and we were off!
The children, were fun, very active, filled with jokes and look at me energy. When I asked if they wanted to take a taxi or the subway to the Museum, all three started bouncing up and down, “The Subway! The Subway!”
We took the subway to the American Museum of Natural History. We saw the dinosaur exhibit and the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life (more popularly known as the Blue Whale Room.) We pretended like the dinosaurs were going to swallow us whole. We stared at the still-life panoramas in the Biodiversity Hall and made up names for the monkeys. We got scared by the jellyfish and marveled at the walruses.
After the AMNH it was off to Central Park enjoying the brilliant weather as I taught the family of five (or at least, the two interested adults) about the history of the park and how its been changing life for NYers for over 150 years. We sat down by The Lake and hunted for fish and turtles. We made our way over to the assorted sugary stops on W 72nd street (Buttercream Bake Shop, Coldstone Creamery) and I helped them flag a cab to bring them back to the hotel.
Proof that we truly can customize a tour for any size or age group. In fact, the above pic is a Graffiti to Galleries tour I hosted for a 9 and 7 year old (and their folks!) Proving we can create ANY tour for ANY tour group! Hey, we’re not called The Levys’ Unique New York! for nothing!
By Matt Levy