Showing posts with label New York tours. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York tours. Show all posts

Free Walking Tour of Midtown Manhattan by Free Tours by Foot: A Traveler's Review

October 25, 2012

Free Walking Tour of Midtown Manhattan
by Free Tours by Foot: 
A Traveler's Review

On our first day in New York, the first thing we did was join the Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour by Free Tours by Foot. It was the first day my kids will see New York and a walking tour with a guide was the best way to explore New York for the first time. I chose Midtown Manhattan because the kids are familiar with most of the sights included in the tour and would most probably have seen them in the movies already. This makes it more interesting for them even if it involves a great deal of walking. 

Why I Love this Tour:

1. The tour is free.
This tour is actually tip-based. If you like this tour, you give the guide a tip based on how much you liked his tour. This is a great option for a big group on a budget. You can still take this wonderful tour and give the guide a tip based on what you can afford.
2. The tour starts at 10am.
When I'm on vacation, I don't like starting out early if I can avoid it.  Being on vacation with kids makes it even more difficult to start early. So the late starting time of this tour is perfect for those who want a slow start to their mornings when on vacation, for couples with kids, and for a big group traveling together. 
3. The guide is experienced and very informative.

4. The tour covers a significant distance.
Not everyone may like the fact that the tour covers a significant distance because of the amount of walking they will do. But in my case, I like the idea that in a short span of time (around 2-3 hours), we were able to see and visit a significant number of places. The advantage of doing a walking tour compared to doing a bus tour, you're able to see the sights up close even if you do a quick walk and just pass by it. 
Distance covered by the tour: 2.1 miles in 3 hours, with stops.
My tip: Wear good walking shoes. You will travel a great distance during the tour itself, not including the walking you will do going to the meeting place and returning to your hotel.

5. It continues despite the weather
Weather conditions in May: Ranging from slight drizzle to heavy rain. John Gallegher, our tour guide, didn't cancel the tour and just made sure we stayed indoors when the rains start to pour.

My tip: Bring a plastic poncho so you'll be well-protected just in case it rains. The tour continues even during the rain. A plastic poncho is convenient to bring because it's light, folds into a small square and can easily be stored in a handbag.

6. Reliable booking system
Their booking system is "painless" so to speak. You just email them, they reply, then you  go to the meeting place and take the tour.

Below is the map of the route we took:

This gives you an idea of the area where we walked, what we saw and the distance we traveled, so you can gauge if you're capable of doing this tour.

 A  Walgreens Store meeting place

 B  Times Square Theater District

Our guide, John Gallegher

  Bryant Park

  New York Public Library

The Lion of the New York Public Library.
At the back is the HSBC building

  Chrysler Building

Inside the Chrysler Building

  Grand Central Terminal

Outside the Grand Central Terminal

Inside the Grand Central Terminal

  Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

  St. Patrick's Cathedral

   Saks 5th Avenue

  The Rink at Rockefeller Center

How to book:

1. If you're at least 6, you need to email them at

  • If you're 5 or less in a group, you can book directly here 

2. They reply immediately. We received two emails from them. Below are the emails we received from them.

First email:

Thank you for your interest in Free Tours by Foot.  If you are inquiring about our private tours, we will get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, please visit our private tour page at for information about tour options and pricing.  

Due to factors such as street sizes, city regulations and general customer satisfaction, we limit the size of our groups.  Our tours are very popular and we often have stand-by lists and often we must turn away interested guests.  Our experiences have shown that groups of 6 or more have a high rate of late cancellations or simply do not show up for the tours.  To be fair to other guests and to our guides, who rely on tips for a living, groups of 6 or more will be placed on stand-by and permitted to take our tours if space is available. We will do our best to notify standby groups with 48 hours whether they will be permitted to take their tour. 

We recommend that groups of 6 or more consider a private tour option.  Private tour options offer groups privacy, flexibility as well as affordability.  Private tour information can be found at  If you are flexible with your start times, we may be flexible with our prices. 

We thank you in advance for your understanding.  If you would like to book a private tour, or if you have any further questions, please let us know.

Free Tours by Foot

Second email:


I just booked the tour for you and you should be receiving the email confirmation.  Please let us know if you are not able to attend this tour 48 hours prior to your tour.


3. A week before the tour, they emailed us to reconfirm our tour. Below is the email we received from them

Booking Invoice


Free Tours by Foot
Contact Number Below

Booking ID:YXRT-040412
Created:April 4, 2012
Booking Date:May 15, 2012

Midtown Manhattan 10am (6)
Tue May 15, 2012
People: 6

Dear Guest,

Thank you for your reservation for the Midtown Manhattan 10am on Tue May 15, 2012.  This is a reminder that your tour takes place in 6 days.  I've relisted the tour information below.  
Our experience has shown that many guests who reserve with us with more than 6 days notice often do not show up to the tours and unfortunately do not notify us.  Our tours are very popular and we often have people waiting on stand-by to take these tours.  Please kindly confirm your reservation and the number of people by replying to this email or calling us at least 48 hours before your tour start time.  If we do not hear from you, we may give your spot(s) on the tour to stand-by guests.  We thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation and we look forward to showing you this great city.  

Be sure to check out our FREE tours in New OrleansPhiladelphiaNew York CityWashington, DC and Boston

For a Midtown fact sheet, please visit

Tour begins from the northeast corner of 42nd and Broadway, by the Walgreens store. Look for your guide with the Free Tours by Foot logo.
Tour ends at 30 Rockefeller Plaza
Get directions to and from the tour with our Google map located at
Tour lasts approx 2 hours
Total Distance is approx 1 mile
NYC contact # - 646.450.6831
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Q: Do the tours ever get cancelled for weather?
A: The show must go on! Dress appropriately for the conditions. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. However, extreme weather may cancel or postpone the tour. Please see our Facebook page for updates.

Q: What is an appropriate tip/gratuity?
A: Another good question. People always ask why we offer a tour for free that our competitors offer for $20/person. Well, we feel that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy a tour at a price he or she thinks the tour was worth - so just think of our tours as "name your own price". You let us know what you think. Don't like the tour? Don't waste your money! Love it? Then we appreciate whatever you feel is fair. We are that confident in the quality of our tours. How can you beat that?

4. The day before the tour, they email us with the contact information of the guide.

Hi Everyone, 

Just a friendly reminder for tomorrow's Midtown Manhattan walking tour.  Thanks again for choosing Free Tours by Foot - New York.  JOHN will be your guide tomorrow and I can be reached or 917.691.4055.  Please remember that we are meeting at 9:50am in front of the Wallgreens Store on Broadway just north of 42nd Street (map).  He will have a Free Tours by Foot logo.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.  
Thanks again for booking with us.  I am looking forward to showing you a great time and a great neighborhood!


My tip: Since they email you only the day before the tour with information about your guide, you need to be able to check your email.