There's nothing quite like taking a walk through the metropolis in the middle of summer.
But where to go?
While it sometimes works to just set a course and hope for the best, there are plenty of guided tours that go off the beaten track or reveal new angles of the city.
Here are seven tours to check out this summer, from a guided walk of neon signs in the Lower East Side to a visit to the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Brooklyn.
Food cart tours
These are the perfect tours for a long lunch break if you work in the Financial District or in Midtown. Stop at six different carts and trucks to sample a variety of food while also meeting the vendors themselves and hearing their stories. Plus, 5 percent of sales goes to benefit the Street Vendor Project, which advocates on behalf of vendors.
Tour operator: Turnstile Tours
When: Wednesdays, 12 to 2 p.m. in the Financial District; Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. in Midtown. (Credit: Flickr/Alaina Brown)
Neon Neighborhood: The Lower East Side
The Municipal Arts Society, an organization “dedicated to making a more livable city,” offers up an ongoing rotation of fascinating theme-based walking tours. Many focus on nooks of the city that are rarely scrutinized. Tom Rinaldi, author of “New York Neon,” leads this tour of the iconic signage of the Lower East Side. A stop on the tour includes the Orpheum Theater — what might be the home of the oldest neon sign in the city.
Tour Operator: Municipal Arts Society, co-sponsored by Lower East Side Preservation
When: Friday, Aug. 15 (Credit: Flickr/Michael Cairns)
Roosevelt Avenue Midnight Street Food Crawl
Roosevelt Avenue runs through the heart of one of some of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Queens — Jackson Heights, Woodside and Elmhurst. For years now, Jeff Orlick has famously taken urban adventurers on tours of the food from all over the world that is served up along the thoroughfare. Go on the Roosevelt Avenue Midnight Street Food Crawl to sample eats from Mexican, Ecuadorian, Colombian and Salvadoran street vendors.
Tour Operator: Jeffrey Tastes
When: By appointment (Credit: Jeff Orlick)
Hidden Brooklyn: Convent of Mercy
For 146 years, it was the home of nuns known as the Walking Sisters because they ministered in the community. But after the Sisters of Mercy determined that structural repairs would be too costly, the nuns were sent to live in the community. The Convent of the Sisters of Mercy remains intact, and this tour will go beyond the walls into what is described as a “welcoming oasis of beauty, grace, greenery and 150 years of Brooklyn history.”
Tour Operator: Brooklyn Historical Society
When: Aug. 6, 2014 (Credit: Flickr/Ken Ficara)
Sunset Park: The Old Neighborhood
Homeowners in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park have joined together to get the neighborhood designated a landmarked historic district. Learn about the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee’s effort while going on this tour of tree-lined streets as well as grand buildings like the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Tour operator: Municipal Arts Society
When: Aug. 23, 2014 (Credit: Flickr/Jason Yung)
The Bronx Historic Pathway
Take a trip through Bronx history starting at the Valentine-Varian House, built in 1758, to Edgar Allen Poe Cottage. No word on whether a reading of “The Raven” will be required during the trip.
Tour Operator: Bronx Historical Society
When: Aug. 23, 2014
(Credit: Flickr/Hal Dick)
Central Park tour of Hallett Nature Sanctuary and pond
This 3.4-acre nature sanctuary in Central Park is referred to as the bird sanctuary in some guide books. Only open between April through October and by tour only, the sanctuary and pond features hills and “wood-chipped trails,” as the Parks Department describes them.
Tour Operator: Parks Department
When: July 14, 2014 (Credit: Flickr/gigi_nyc)