Author: Top Dog Tours

10 Instagram Worthy Spots This Holiday Season

By Top Dog Tours | December 5, 2021

NYC during the holidays presents an overwhelming amount of places that
make for amazing picture backdrops.

With so much to do and so little time, we’ve compiled our 10 favorite holiday picture spots (5 of which can be seen on our Holiday Tour)!

1. Pulitzer Fountain

Donated to the city by Joseph Pulitzer’s estate and installed in 1916, this beautiful fountain sits right across the street from the famed Plaza Hotel in Grand Army Plaza (right next to Central Park). This year’s decorations feature handcrafted animal sculptures, icebergs, and 5,000 feet of lights. Bonus: You can walk down 5th Avenue and stop at all the holiday instillations.


2. Saks 5th Avenue

Through January 4, 2022

saks holiday

The iconic windows at the famous 5th Avenue retailer are “inspired by the theme of reconnecting with family and loved ones during the holiday season.” They asked children living in NYC to draw and describe their holiday dreams and then had amazing artists and engineers bring them to life in their windows. The famous sparkling lights show (which features 700,000 LED lights on their 10 story tall store) features Christmas classics like Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas-Baby Please Come Home.”


3. Rockefeller Center

Through January 2, 2022

Christmas as Rockefeller Center has become a NYC tradition ever since 1931 when Depression-era construction workers erected a 20 foot balsam fir and decorated it with home-made ornaments like tin cans. This year, America’s most famous tree comes from Elkton, Maryland (this first time the state has been represented), and features 5 miles of lights as well a Swarovski star weighing about 900 pounds!


4. Bryant Park

Through January 2, 2022

The Bryant Park Winter Villag

e is modeled after the winter villages that are very popular in Central Europe. Starting in 2002, the village was built to bring people to the park during the winter months. The booths feature local and handmade goods as well as food from some of the trendiest restaurants in the city. The skating rink is free, and they put up their own tree up, though this one is at the most 50 feet.


5. Macy’s

The annual holiday window displays at the Macy’s in 34th is a time honored tradition here in New York, Each year, Macy’s creates a brand new display for the holiday season. The window decorations take all year to plan and over a month to build. This year’s windows introduce “Tiptoe,” a reindeer recruit for Santa Claus as she sets out to follow her dream of joining Santa’s sleigh team.


6. Rolf’s

A German restaurant located in the Gramercy Park neighborhood, Rolf’s has become known for their elaborate decorations (that will be kept up all year!). Grab a beer, eat some schnitzel, and post on the gram!


7. Empire State Building

Once the world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building has become one of the most photographed in the city. The building is lit up to celebrate the holiday season, so it’s a great opportunity to take a holiday selfie!


8. Dyker Heights

Through New Year’s Eve

This Brooklyn neighborhood is home to some of the most over-the-top holiday decorations like life-sized Santa’s, sleighs, snowman, and music from loudspeakers. Some companies offer buses that take you to the neighborhood, but for budget travelers, the subway is a great option!


9. Natural History Museum Origami Tree

Through January 9, 2022

Since the 1970’s the Natural History Museum has presented an origami tree. For this 50th “Golden Anniversary” Tree, the theme is Gems of the Museum. It features 50 specifically created gold-colored models. Among the more than 1,000 pieces, the 13 foot tree has pieces inspired by the new exhibit Sharks!


10. Holiday Train Show

Through January 23, 2022

Returning for its 30th year, the Bronx Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train show has become a personal holiday tradition which I recommend to all of my guests. Model trains zip through a display featuring more than 175 NYC landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center. The display is made from organic material like bark, twigs, and leaves which makes the display even more impressive.


TopDog Tours Holiday Tour is Featured by Travel + Leasure

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TopDog Tours Holiday Tour is Featured by Travel + Leasure

By Top Dog Tours | December 11, 2020
Sam of TopDog Tours Gives a Holiday Tour of NYC

  • 0:00 Introduction to New York Holiday Landmarks
  • 0:23 St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Historical Origins of Christmas
  • 1:34 New York Christmas Firsts
  • 1:54 St. Patrick’s Cathedral Midnight Mass History
  • 2:35 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree History
  • 4:27 Radio City Music Hall History
  • 4:48 The Rockettes History
  • 5:56 Bryant Park History
  • 6:30 Bryant Park Winter Village
  • 6:57 Macy’s Store History
  • 8:02 Macy’s Day Parade History
  • 9:08 Macy’s Holiday Window Display

 

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A Look Inside the Exclusive Players Club and Gramercy Park

By Top Dog Tours | March 16, 2020
Iron Railings And The Two Masks Associated With Comedy and Tragedy Close Up On The Exterior Of The Players Club Near Union Square Park New York City

New York’s wealthy elite took to the charming area just North-East of Union Square in the 1880s.

During what is now known as the Gilded Age, the wealthy top tier of NYC society lived in lavish mansions and brownstones while a large percentage of the population lived in abject poverty. Constantly trying to carve a piece of the city for themselves out of sight from the poor, the neighborhood of Gramercy came to be a permanent home for wealthy and powerful individuals. Today the area is still full of well-to-do residents but now is also known for its cultural centers and clubs. One of the first and most important contributions still remains: The Players Club.

Inside the Players Club

Iron Railings And The Two Masks Associated With Comedy and Tragedy Close Up On The Exterior Of The Players Club Near Union Square Park New York CityLocated at No. 16 Gramercy Park South sits a lovely Gothic Revival mansion with two large gas lights flanking the entrance. A large metal plaque of comedy and tragedy masks surrounded by bronze rays gives a clue to the people who call this club a home away from home. Built for actors, the Players Club gets its name from the once-common name for performers. Established New Years Eve 1888 by Edwin Booth, the most famous actor of his day. Booth elevated the status of the American actor.

At a time when actors were considered ruffians and second-class citizens, the fame and career of Edwin Booth changed everything for the art form. The club was very exclusive and still is to this day. Booth wanted to make the club not solely for performers but wanted to use his connections to esteemed men of other professions to mix and mingle amongst the actors, a genius move to ensure the reputation of actors as dedicated and worldly people deserving to enter the upper crust of polite society. Even the stuffy residents of Gramercy could not complain about all these actors hanging around if Edwin Booth was their friend. The other members were quick to donate art, books, and other curious artifacts to make the club into a form of museum. Each space in the clubhouse is unique, offering a look into the profession of theatre and into the lives of its many members over 130 years.

The Grill

Players-Club-Mark-Twain-Pool-Cue-Grill-Room-Gramercy-Park-Private-Club-NYCAn active restaurant for members to grab a bite and a chat with their fellow player, the grill also features a large pool table and cues on the wall. Up above the fireplace you can see original member Mark Twain’s personal pool cue. For artwork, typically you will find caricatures, many done by legendary Al Hirshfeld. There is even a Hirshfeld caricature of Booth, the only one he made for a person who was no longer alive. Also you can find the Players Bar and in the back, the ladies room is known as Lucile’s Loo for Lucille Lortel; known as the Queen of Off-Broadway! Head up the stairs to the impressive main hall for more artwork.

The Main Hall

This grand hall features a gorgeous 20-ton white marble fireplace designed by famed architect and member Stanford White, who converted the original 1844 building into the club. He was hand-selected by Booth for his remarkable achievements in the field of architecture. White worked the Players’ seal of the comedy and tragedy masks into the fireplace.

Above is a large portrait of not Edwin Booth but his father Junius Brutus Booth. The elder Booth was an esteemed actor in England but had a troubled life once he left for America with his 19-year-old mistress (Edwin’s mother). While he performed all over the country, his son Edwin was selected to follow him along since his drinking had become so bad he needed to be chaperoned. Sometimes he had to perform in his wake if he was incapacitated. Although Edwin had a complicated relationship with his father, the prominent placement of this portrait suggests the respect and love he had for the man. The room also features several other portraits, including a large portrait of Edwin Booth as Hamlet, the role he was most known for. Today the Main Hall is used for receptions and gatherings. Traditional black-tie events like the annual Players Founders’ Night and for Edwin Booth’s birthday usually begin here.

The Kinstler Room

The most represented artist at the Players is Everett Raymond Kinstler. Known as Ray to many of the members, he painted dozens of the portraits that adorn the walls of the club today. In this room you will find the likeness of Katherine Hepburn, James Cagney, and strikingly realistic portrait of Christopher Plummer. The only painting that is not a Kintsler in this room is the large copy of a portrait of Edwin Booth done by original member John Singer Sargent. Also see a selection of Booth’s own props and you can step out on the balcony and get an amazing view of Gramercy Park.

The Booth Room

Head to the third floor to see the most incredible part of the Players Club. Aside from all the amazing art and performance spaces in the club, the Booth room shows the private side of one of the most famous men who ever lived. This small bedroom was filled with the few things Booth collected after a life on the road. It is surprisingly humble. His bed, the very one he died in on April 7th 1893, is small. There is a small cot where his daughter Edwina stayed beside him until he passed. You can see her portrait right across the room from the bed, where Edwin could always see her. A touching bronze cast of their hands sits on the table. You can also see his vast pipe collection and believe it or not, you can still smell how much he loved smoking tobacco- the odor lingers. There are other portraits of photos of his family members, including the only picture of his infamous brother John Wilkes Booth you can find here. By Edwin Booth’s wishes, his name was never to be spoken in the club’s walls.

Besides these rooms there are many others to visit including one of the best performing arts libraries in the country, a small cabaret stage, and you can even find Mark Twain’s favorite poker table! The club is private and members only, so to get access you need to know a member or you can take a tour with Top Dog Tours, one of the only companies allowed to operate inside the club.

Book a tour of the Players Club today!

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Top Dog Tours Now Serves Toronto!

By Top Dog Tours | May 30, 2019

Check out our two newest tours:

Kensington Market and Chinatown Tour

Downtown Toronto Tour

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Join our Email List and Save 15% on Tours Booked in November

By Top Dog Tours | November 1, 2018
statue of liberty in the fall

statue of liberty in the fallWe’re offering a special discount to all of our newsletter subscribers for all tours booked in November*.

To get the discount codes head over to the sidebar -> (or the bottom of the page on mobile) and Join the Email list.

You will receive an email with the latest newsletter and discount codes good for:

  • 15% off any tour!

*Tours do not need to be attended in November, but booked in November. 

Thanks for being our guest!

 

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Superheros Tour Wins Award for Incredible Family-Friendly Experience

By Top Dog Tours | October 15, 2018
An image of many superheros in NYC

 

Get Your Guide Award Incredible Family-Friendly Experiences

Top Dog Tours wins the first annual GetYourGuide Awards for incredible travel experiences.

The list, announced on October 15th, celebrates excellence in the tours and activities industry by category and region. Winners were selected by a team of GetYourGuide judges using a proprietary algorithm across a variety of happiness metrics, including average review score, net promoter score, review language quality, booking volume, and number of reviews.

“Travel activities create the long-lasting vacation memories travelers remember most fondly and talk about years later,” said Johannes Reck, CEO and co-founder of GetYourGuide. “The tours recognized in the first annual GetYourGuide Awards for incredible travel experiences have enhanced millions of vacations worldwide, and we are pleased to recognize their contribution in helping travelers truly love where they’re going.”

 

Winning Tour: 

Marvel & DC Superheros in New York

Calling all true believers!  Take an in-depth look into the superhero and comic world in a way that only New York City can deliver. Check out iconic superhero movie sites, see where the writers and artists created your favorite characters, stroll down publishers row and see some of the most recognizable sites in New York City. Learn the answer to the age old question: Is New York Gotham or Metropolis? Excelsior!

Take the Tour!

Methodology:

To compile the GetYourGuide Awards, an internal team of destination experts analyzed and ranked GetYourGuide’s global inventory of 31,000 products in 7,500 destinations in key categories and regions. Analysis was conducted using a proprietary algorithm that assigns weighted values across a variety of happiness metrics, including average review score, net promoter score, and review language quality (analyzed through natural language processing) as well as bookings volume and number of reviews. Products that scored highly across these metrics met the threshold for a GetYourGuide Award and were selected for recognition. The 2018 awards recognize excellence for products booked between the dates of September 6, 2017 and September 6, 2018.

About GetYourGuide

GetYourGuide is the booking platform for incredible travel experiences. Powered by a global team of over 400 travel experts, GetYourGuide helps travelers find the best things to do wherever they’re headed — including skip-the-line tickets to the world’s most iconic attractions, walking tours by top local experts, immersive food and beverage tours, cooking and craft classes, bucket-list experiences and niche offerings you won’t find anywhere else. Since its founding in 2009, travelers from more than 155 countries have booked over 20 million tours, activities, and attraction tickets through GetYourGuide. The company is based in Berlin, Germany and has offices in 14 countries around the world. For more information, please visit www.getyourguide.com.

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Ghost & Superheros Tours Discount Specials

By Top Dog Tours | October 1, 2018
Halloween dogs

Happy Fall!

We’re offering a special discount to all of our newsletter subscribers for Ghosts tours and Superheros tours booked in October*.

To get the discount codes head over to the sidebar or the bottom of the page (on mobile) and Join the Email list.

You will receive an email with the latest newsletter and discount codes good for:

  • $5 off group Ghost Tours
  • $10 off Private Ghost Tours
  • 20% off Superhero tours

*Tours do not need to be attended in October, but booked in October. 

We look forward to having you as a guest!

 

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Halloween Tours in the Village or Ghosts in the City

By Top Dog Tours | October 18, 2017

Halloween has always been a time where it seems the veil between our plane of existence and what lies beyond becomes a bit thinner.

No place celebrates that more than Greenwich Village. New York’s Village Halloween Parade is an annual holiday parade and street pageant presented on the night of every Halloween in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The Village Halloween Parade, initiated in 1974 by Greenwich Village puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee, and is the world’s largest Halloween parade.

It has been called “New York’s Carnival.”

Although the parade is currently not as informal and wild as it was in its earliest years, it is in effect still an alternative festival. The parade has been studied by leading cultural anthropologists. According to The New York Times, “the Halloween Parade is the best entertainment the people of this City ever give the people of this City.” “Absolutely anything goes,” says USA Today. “Be prepared to drop your jaw.”

Halloween Parade NYC

The audience is likely to see old women in a Kazoo band, a puppet ship with a full set of sails, a Statue of Liberty stabbed in the chest, a group of bulldogs on leashes all dressed as Batman, skeletons playing the tuba, skeletons dressed as Krispy Kreme employees, brides and grooms, brides and brides, grooms and grooms, politicians, and madrigal drum corps. Onlookers have been entertained by walking Scrabble tiles that rearrange themselves to spell various words; decks of playing cards shuffling up the avenue; and armies of chess pieces marching in regiments of black and white, with small children as pawns.

The Route begins at Spring Street and Sixth Avenue.

Heading south on Sixth to Broome Street, costumed marchers gather well before the official line-up scheduled for 6:00 p.m. In fact, beginning at Noon on parade day, areas on adjoining streets are designated for groups with puppets, floats, and other complicated presentations requiring more set-up and rehearsal. Parade marshals and volunteers keep order and answer questions, assisted by the police. At 7:00 p.m., the first enormous puppets and theme performance enter the parade route to lead the march straight up Sixth Avenue. After the puppets safely pass, the waiting throngs of costumed participants join behind the puppets, and throughout the evening more puppets, floats, bands and other performers are introduced into the stream. It can take two to three hours to enter the parade, so the staging area becomes its own party. Masqueraders continue to show up for hours, stake out a position in the line-up, and gather around their favorite live bands.

Photo of a ghost-like figure silloutted in a doorway.

TopDogTours is no stranger to the spooky Greenwich Village nightlife.

Our Ghosts of the Village tour explores all the places that make you go bump in the night. We can also show you all the best locations to camp out for the best Halloween parade around. Our group and private tours are offered every day and begin at 8pm (or whenever you want if you book privately) on the corner of Waverley and 7th Ave. Come out and explore one of the spookiest and unique places in New York City.

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Our First ‘TopDog’ Central Park Fundraiser for Dogs

By Top Dog Tours | June 29, 2017
A photo of happy dogs with peopleat the Top Dog Tours Central Park fundraiser.

When the company first started, I knew I wanted to give back in a way we wouldn’t be able to as private citizens.

A photo of happy dogs with peopleat the Top Dog Tours Central Park fundraiser.Once we had gotten our bearings as new business owners, I was trying to figure out what kind of cause we should hold an event for. We had adopted our younger dog Scarlett, last year from Muddy Paws Rescue here in NYC and I followed them on Instagram (who doesn’t love seeing cute dogs in their feed) and was on their mailing list. Holding a fundraiser for dog rescues soon became a clear choice as I saw dozens of dogs on a weekly basis who needed homes. I pitched the idea to our social media manager Paige Chernick (who is the mom of insta-famous pups @puppynamedcharlie and a rescue dog mom as well) who loved the idea and got me in contact with another rescue organization Foster Dogs NYC.

Once we agreed on a date, I went into full planning mode. We had decided to do a dog friendly tour of Central Park. To me it was an obvious choice. This was one of our new tours, and the park is a great place to take dogs. It would also give the chance for people in the park to see dogs that were up for adoption and get their attention as we walked around. I decided to include a Photo Booth aspect as well so people could take cute shots with their pups.

As with any event, you cross your fingers and hope people show up. We were not disappointed by the turnout. People showed up with pups of all ages and sizes, and people met dogs that they could adopt. The tour was awesome (though the real stars were the dogs, because who can compete with dozens of adorable pups) and as we walked through the park people not taking the tour would ask what we were doing and even take pictures!

A photo of happy dogs with peopleat the Top Dog Tours Central Park fundraiser.We raised $800 for both groups; I consider it was a fantastic success for our first event. The money went directly to the two organizations to provide medical care, food, and resources needed to help these dogs looking for their forever home. Even before we had the event, we got inquiries about this possibly happening again, so we decided to make this a monthly tour with our company. The first Sunday of the month July thru November will be a dog friendly walk of Central Park. As a dog owner, I’m always looking for fun things do with my fur-babies, so something like this is enjoyable for people who want to enjoy a nice day with their dogs. We’re looking forward to showing New Yorkers with 2 and 4 legs a good time on the Central Bark Tour!

Check out Foster Dogs NYC at www.fosterdogsnyc.com & check out Muddy Paws Rescue NYC at www.muddypawsrescue.org

Highlight Photos from the Central “Bark” FUNdraiser

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Central Bark Dog Tour and FUNdraiser – May 7

By Top Dog Tours | February 20, 2017
A photo of a happy dog looking for foster care.

Central Park is one of the most visited urban parks in the United States and one of NYC’s most popular tourist attractions. What better way to enjoy this unique 843 acre city oasis than by taking a fully guided walking tour? And to add to the fun it’s dog friendly! Bring you four-legged friend along to enjoy the tour as well!! There will also be adoptable dogs to meet and even a few celebrity dogs!

Date: Sunday, May 7
Time: 11:00am

Suggested donation: $15 (100% of the proceeds goes to the participating organizations)

Meeting Location: Grand Army Plaza across the street from the Plaza Hotel
1 Central Park South

A photo of the statue at Grand Army Plaza in New York City.

About the Participants


Muddy Paws Rescue

Muddy Paws Logo

Patrick and Nicole of Top Dog Tours with a Chihuaha

Founded in 2015, Muddy Paws Rescue is an organization dedicated to rescuing adoptable dogs from high kill shelters and placing them into wonderful forever homes. Patrick and Nicole Kelly (owners of TopDog) adopted one of their dogs, Scarlett from Muddy Paws in March of 2015.
www.muddypawsrescue.org

Foster Dogs NYC

Foster Dogs Rescue

Founded in 2009, Foster Dogs saves lives by connecting you with shelter dogs in need of homes! Working with NYC-area dog rescue organizations, Foster Dogs is your one-stop-shop for foster advice and resources, homeless dogs, and monthly community events. Foster Dogs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 
www.fosterdogsnyc.com

Support Your Top Dogs with Top Dog Tours!

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Featured Walking Tours

By Top Dog Tours | February 15, 2017
A photo of a small group tour ear the Statue of Liberty.

It’s been quite the whirlwind. We have so many great stories to tell and places to show you. Join us! Our tours this 2017 include:

• Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
• Three Neighborhoods Tour (SoHo/Chinatown/Little Italy)
• Broadway Theater District
• Greenwich Village
• Ghosts of The Village (Greenwich Village at Night)
• Gilded Age Tour (Union Square/Gramercy/Player’s Club)
• Historical Downtown & 9/11 Memorial (Financial District/Wall St.)
• Chelsea Market/ Highline/ Meatpacking District
• Superheroes of New York (Comic Book History and Movie Sites)
• Custom Tours (4 hours – 9 hours)

A photo of a small group tour ear the Statue of Liberty.All our tours can be made into Private Tours as well! Book your tour with us today!

Free to call our office now with any questions (718) 806 -1706.

Come Take a Bite Out of the “Big Apple” with New York’s Best Friend

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Featured Reviews

By Top Dog Tours | January 15, 2017

Since opening a year ago, our mission and goals are reaffirmed with every review we receive. Check out a couple here:

“Patrick knows his stuff”

5 of 5 on TripAdvisor
“Patrick was our guide and he made the history come alive. Very knowledgeable, put information across well and is very easy to be with…” – Sam H., United Kingdom

“Players club”

5 of 5 on TripAdvisor
“[The Gilded Age Tour] was a very nice, informative and enjoyable tour. [Nicole] seemed to know her stuff. Would definitely try another tour next time we’re in town.” – Daniel S., Paris, France

“Great guides, informative insightful tours”

5 of 5 on TripAdvisor
“Did the Meatpacking District tour with Victoria, I was in a small group…unlike other companies that are so into profit. Victoria was great and totally accommodating.
I also did the [3 Neighborhoods] tour with Patrick who definitely knows his stuff! He took us to the best places where we tried cannolis and dumplings to die for! Highly recommended, tour guides make the difference here!” – Adrianna S., London, United Kingdom

“Great Tour”

5 of 5 on TripAdvisor
“My girlfriend and I have been on a ghost tour kick lately, so signed up for one when visiting NYC…our guide Brad was very accommodating and knowledgeable about the subject matter. Some of the sights I had key knowledge of, Brad touched on all details. This tour was in Greenwich Village, which has a lot of diverse history from over the years. Highly recommended. The tour felt very personal, not like we were at a tourist destination but more like hanging out with a friend who was giving insight into history.” – Sal F., Baltimore, Maryland

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