Birds-eye view of NYC from double-decker bus

The rush of Times Square, top, and the stateliness of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are two of the many sights to be seen on the double decker bus tours in New York City. Photos by Gale Horton Gay

The rush of Times Square, top, and the stateliness of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are two of the many sights to be seen on the double decker bus tours in New York City. Photos by Gale Horton Gay

Although I haven’t lived in New York for several decades, I still call myself a New Yorker at heart.

On a summer visit to New York City, I decided to do something I hadn’t done before—go sightseeing in a double-decker bus.

What a great choice!

Although many of the sights on the routes I rode were familiar to me from ground level, the elevated views from the open-air, unobstructed top of the bus provided a wonderful perspective. 

On the City Sightseeing New York double-decker bus we worked our way through tight traffic on Wall Street, cruised by Central Park, through Harlem and passed the legendary Apollo Theatre, moved along the outskirts of Little Italy and Chinatown. Other sights along the routes were the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the distinctly shaped Guggenheim Museum. The bus also passed by The Dakota apartment building, where John Lennon lived and where he was shot and killed on the sidewalk. Although I’ve been in Times Square countless times (I once worked in Manhattan), passing all those millions of bright lights from the top level of the bus made it feel like a first-time experience.

The narration that comes with the tours is an added benefit, proving historical insight and lesser-known facts and anecdotes about the places and people connected to them.

The hop-on/hop-off tour buses provide visitors the flexibility to stop at points that interest them the most and explore for a while, then wait and catch the next bus that comes along. While that’s what I planned to do, I ended up getting off the bus only once after I completed the downtown loop so I could board a bus on the uptown loop route. (But be forewarned that the buses can become quite crowded the later in the day and sometime one has to wait for several fully occupied buses pass before one with available seats arrives.)

There are numerous sightseeing bus options in New York City such as City Sightseeing New York, Big Bus Tours and Top View with rates in the $39-$89 range. Most of the tour services offer single day and multi-day passes as well as combination packages that include other options such as a ferry ride and tickets to attractions. Night tours and tours of Brooklyn are also offered.

For more information on double-decker bus tours in New York City, go to citysightseeingnewyork.com, topviewnyc.com or bigbustours.com.

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