Ask a New York Tour Guide

Posted by askanewyorker 
Ask a New York Tour Guide
April 13, 2011 12:37PM

On Location Tours Inc., a one-of-a kind sightseeing company specializing in TV and movie location tours, brings fans closer to their favorite on-screen characters. Six separate tours are currently offered in New York City : New York TV and Movie Sites, Sex and the City Hotspots, Gossip Girl Sites, Sopranos Sites, Classics and Central Park Movie Sites. All tours are led by local actors and actresses who offer inside industry information -- us ually from a first-hand perspective! For more information, visit

Our featured tour guide Lou Matthews

Bio:Lou Matthews came to New York from Ohio on a quest for love and success in the big city. She truly loves showing people around Carrie’s New York for On Location Tours’ Sex and the City Tour. Meeting new people, helping them discover awesome spots – both well-known and not-so – around town, and spotting celebrities with them makes her very happy. When she’s not rolling through Manahattan with Sex and the City fans she’s hitting sample sales, writing songs and finishing her debut CD, running to auditions and shoots, doing voiceovoers, or ushering her short noir script “The Score” through pre-production (she’s also cast in the role of the femme fatale). She’s having a great time living her dreams as she seeks an “Aidan” to call her own. If you know one who’s single, let her know!

Edited 26 time(s). Last edit at 12/29/2011 01:04PM by askanewyorker.
On Location Tours is excited to be collaborating with Ask a New Yorker! Our tour guides are super fun and knowledgeable New Yorkers who can answer whatever questions you throw their way. Each month, we'll be featuring a different tour guide, so be sure to check back often for fun and interesting content!
Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
April 25, 2011 04:52PM
I'm visiting NYC in mid-June and was wondering what's the best area of Manhattan to stay in? Are there any good hotels in cool areas that you know of? I want to do something different from the typical Times Square touristy stuff.
Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
April 25, 2011 06:02PM
It always makes me happy when tourists want to stay AWAY from the Times Square area. Not that Times Square isn't wonderful, in and of itself, but when you're visiting NYC, wouldn't you rather experience the city as a REAL New Yorker? I'm SO glad you do!

Some great areas to stay in include:

The Upper West Side
The Lower East Side
The West Village
The Meat Packing District; and
Hell's Kitchen.

It really depends on what kind of vibe you're looking for. You mentioned "cool", which brings to mind the Lower East Side (LES, or Loisaida, as the locals call it). There are many new boutique-ey hotels in this area, and of course a lot also depends on your budget.

Thompson LES (190 Allen St., 212.460.5300) is definitely on the higher end; and
The Comfort Inn LES (136 Ludlow St., 212.260.4141) is on the WAY lower end, but still in this cool area.

Let me know more specifically what you're looking for, budget-wise & vibe-wise, and I can certainly give you more specific recommendations. Also, if you're already considering certain places, run them by me & I'll give you my opinion! I hope you have an awesome experience visiting NYC!

Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
April 26, 2011 02:10PM
My wife and I will be honeymooning in NYC at the beginning of June. We've got five nights in the Big Apple before moving up to Boston. Like Sheila, I don't really want to be based in the Times Square area.

Manhattan looks quite large, though, so any hotel needs to be near a metro station, right? I looked at the Mulberry down in Chinatown/Little Italy. That's the sort of budget.

What are the must-sees for a five night stay? My wife wants to shop yawning smileyD but I'm happy just to wander. I'm sure she'll want to see your "Sex and the City hotspots"

Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
April 26, 2011 02:19PM
Oooh! Nearly forgot. I'm an actor so we'll be wanting to "take in a show" during the stay. What's the best way to organise that?

Thanks again!
Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
April 27, 2011 01:55PM
Hi Stephen!

First of all, congratulations! And what an exciting place for your honeymoon!!! I know you guys will have a great time!

Yes, Manhattan is a big place (though not THAT big, really, it's not even 23 sq mi...but a LOT is packed onto this pretty small island, making it seem much bigger than it actually is!). Something to keep in mind as you look at a map, the width of the island is only about 2mi, and as you figure out north/south distances, it's about 20 blocks/mi (in other words, 42nd St - 62nd St is 1 mile, about a 20min walk). Once you know this, you'll realize that a subway station is never too far away!

The Hotel Mulberry is definitely near a bunch of trains (subways) and it certainly looks really nice, AND you should know it's right smack in the heart of Chinatown & on the border of the Manhattan Civic Center (which includes the "Law & Order" courthouse!). It's an interesting neighborhood and a very close walk to Little Italy (Chinatown has really taken over much of Little Italy, so while Mulberry St is the main drag of Little Italy, where this hotel is located is really in Chinatown, just south of Little Italy). There are PLENTY of dining options in that area and you can browse for bargains nearby at the shopping the stalls on Canal St.

As an actor, I was almost going to recommend you stay in Hell's Kitchen, just west of the Theater District, but perhaps that'll be too close to Times Square for you. Looking at a map, Hell's Kitchen is around 9th & 10th Avenues from like 42nd-57th St (it's officially called "Clinton" now, but only real estate people call it that, I think). A lot of actors spend a lot of time in Hell's Kitchen since it IS so close to the Theater District (hanging there after their shows, etc.) & where many of the auditions are; and there are really cute bars, restaurants, lounges, etc., there's always activity, people out & about, and that far west in Midtown usually isn't filled with tourists (after the shows, tourists usually stay east of 8th Ave).

Must-sees for a 5-night stay:

- YES! The Sex and the City Hotspots Tour, for SURE! And if that's not your speed, you guys could also do the NY TV & Movie Sites Tour, which covers over 100 made-in-NY TV shows & movies. I recommend doing the TV/Movie Tour early in your stay, so you can get a feel for a lot of the neighborhoods (SoHo, TriBeca, The Village, The Lower East Side, etc.), and you can decide where you want to come back to later in your trip.

- Central Park and/or any of our amazing parks: Central Park is 843 acres! That's a LOT of park (right smack in the middle of our only 23-sq mi island!) and it's not even our biggest park in NYC (that would be Pelham Park in the Bronx)! Riverside Park is beautiful, right on the Hudson River. And Fort Tryon Park up in Washington Heights is absolutely amazing (you REALLY get that it's in "The Heights" as you peer over cliffs plunging into the Hudson...and it's right here in Manhattan!). A real local's park is Carl Schurz Park in Yorkville (around E 86th St) with a beautiful East River promenade!

- If you're gonna do an observation deck, I recommend Top of the Rock. It's a little pricier than the Empire State Building, but you get a 360 degree view, & a ticket for a particular time, as opposed to waiting in line all day.

- A romantic stroll through the West Village. Maybe get up early one day & make your way to (the original) Magnolia Bakery on W 11th St & Bleecker St. If you go during the week, you'll avoid the crowd!

- A free boat ride! Take the Staten Island Ferry to & from Staten Island (you can explore SI if you'd like, or can just get off the boat, walk through the terminal, and get on the boat back to Manhattan) for a great view of the Harbor! Governors Island is also open to the public beginning late May, it's another free ferry ride, and you can spend a beautiful day there taking in the view of Manhattan, getting lunch from a delicious food truck (New York is famous for our food trucks), and maybe renting a bike right there on the island.

And your (future) wife likes shopping...? Then I definitely recommend SoHo! Start on Houston St. (pronounced "HOUSE-ton"winking smiley at Broadway, walk SOUTH on Broadway (SoHo actually stands for "South of Houston"winking smiley and feel free to weave in and out of the side'll (she'll) find EVERYTHING she's looking for!

And as far as taking in a show, for Broadway tickets, you can stand on the TKTS line in Times Sq for day-of discount Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets, or go to for all sorts of (advanced) discounts. "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" starring Daniel Radcliffe has gotten some decent reviews. If you're interested in more Off-Off-Broadway ("Downtown" Theater), pick up a "Time Out New York" or a "Village Voice" (or just check their web sites) for their top pics!

Please let me know if you have any more questions! I know you guys'll have a fabulous stay!!! And again, congratulation to you both!!!

Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
May 22, 2011 03:29AM
Dear Roseanne,

I will be traveling to NYC for business next month (only for a few days, working trip) and am staying in Manhattan, upper east side (52nd-56th area, I guess that's referred to as upper east). Can you suggest a place for dinner and afterwords a bar/lounge to hang out (a place for 40-somethings) :-)

Thank you.

Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
May 23, 2011 03:17PM
Hi Vincent!

There are tons of great restaurants and lounges in the area where you're staying (which is really Midtown East, or possibly Turtle Bay or even Sutton Place, depending upon how far east you are, the Upper East Side doesn't really start until 59th St.). Obviously my recommendations will depend upon your budget as well as your desired cuisines, but one great restaurant that comes to mind in that area is Aquavit (65 E 55th St. b/w Park Ave. & Madison Ave.). Aquavit is Scandinavian food, it's pretty pricey, but it's a wonderful fine-dining experience, the food is amazing, and the ambiance is perfect!

Other dining options in the area include:

Sofrito (400 E 57th St. b/w First Ave. & Sutton Pl.), Puerto Rican food in an elegant atmosphere...this place is great for an early dinner, the later you go, the louder it gets, but the food is unbelievable and the service excellent.

Alto (11 E 53rd St. b/w 5th Ave. & Madison Ave.), Northern Italian, not too pricey.

Some bar/lounge options in the area include:

King Cole Bar Lounge (in the St. Regis Hotel, 2 E 55th St b/w 5th Ave. & Madison Ave.), it's very upscale, a very nice sophisticated hang.

P.J. Clarke's (915 3rd Ave. @ E 55th St.), an old-style saloon, very charming, caters mostly to an after-work crowd, also has a full menu with great burgers!

Bill's Gay Nineties (57 E 54th St. b/w Park Ave. & Madison Ave.), another old-style saloon from the 1890's, a former speakeasy from the prohibition era, it's filled with history and mostly 30-something (and up!) business-types.

Definitely let me know if you have any more specific requests, with regard to your budget or cuisine for dinner, and/or if you'd like to venture out-of-neighborhood, I can recommend some more spots! Have a great time while in NYC! You'll want to come back as soon as you can!

All the best,
Roseanne, wow, thank you very much! Your info will be very useful! I will have a free evening upon my arrival (before work starts the next day) so I will definitely put your info to good use.

In my "adult life" I've only been to NYC 3 times (the first, in the 80's which was basically a non-stop party weekend (most of it a blur), then in 2002 at Christmas time (had a cold and the city was freezing-cold), and lastly, last September on business for 3 days (all work) and the highlight was dinner in Little Italy before catching my train back to DC.

This trip will be business as well, but I made arrangements to extend through the weekend so I can get out and play smiling smiley so much to explore!

Thanks again!

Kind regards,

Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
May 24, 2011 12:34PM
Any time Vincent!

The city has changed quite a bit over the past few decades. The fact that you got to experience "party culture" in NYC during the '80's is amazing! Yes, there's obviously quite a party culture here still, but much more "sanitized" for the new millennium.

Feel free to ask me for more recommendations, even while you're here.

Have a great time!

Re: Ask a New York Tour Guide
May 26, 2011 06:21AM
Hi my daughter{18} is traveling to new York for one night before she catches the bus from port authority the next morning at 9. She arrives around 7pm, what is safe area to stay that is resonably close to where she is traveling from the next day,not to expensive!

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