Brooklyn >Travel > Big Onion Walking Tours
476 13th St, Brooklyn, NY | Directions 1121540.662667 -73.980398
Neighborhoods: Park Slope
See the city block by block – I've taken a lot of walking tours in Europe, but I've never taken any near my home until recently, when I began with Big Onion. As any walking tour lover knows, it's hard to write a blanket review of an entire company because some routes are more interesting than others and -- far more importantly -- some guides are better than others.
I've been on three tours with Big Onion now and enjoyed all three, though I must say that one of the three tour guides was not nearly as good as the other two. Not only was she a bit hard to hear, but she had none of the natural showmanship that a natural guide has.
My only other hesitation in fully recommending this company is the tone of its walks. Big Onion was apparently founded by some graduate history students and all of its tour guides are graduate history students. This can lead the tone of some walks to be a bit academic. Being a history lover, this suits me fine, but some might find parts of the walks a bit dry.
That's just quibbling though. The walks are very fun. Tourists and residents alike should come.
It's a Bit Hit or Miss with Big Onion Tours... – We took two more Big Onion tours in the city this year, and had mixed results.
The first tour was their Historic Times Square tour, and even though it was a really cold day the tour was great! Our guide was engaging and made sure to go over the history of the Times Square area and also tried to make sure we ducked into the occasional warm vestibule as well. Overall, I'd give this tour a 4.5.
The next tour was their Greenwich Village tour. While the guide was a nice, mellow fellow, he had more to say about the various folks who had lived in homes in the Village (jazz great lived over here, "Friends" lived over here, movie was shot over here....) and also had a real fascination with quizzing the group on where the borders for the East Village, West Village, etc. were. I could tell that he loved the Village and was passionate about it but unfortunately we didn't really get much history and didn't get a good feel for the historic aspects of the area. We did, however, duck into Jack's coffee at his suggestion to warm up toward the end of the tour as we were a bit bored and cold. I'd say this tour warranted a 2.5.
Previous review from 2009:
In general, I love the Big Onion walking tours. The guides are all beyond knowledgeable and are able to give you lovely tidbits of information that your average guide might not have. We have taken several tours with Big Onion while in New York, and I'd say most of them were just wonderful.
One thing though, beware of the Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour. The history part of the tour was as expected (wonderful) but the eating part was a bit of a joke. Truly, if you are looking for a food tour check out the Foods of NY tours....they can't be beat for New York food tours. For history, most definitely seek out the Big Onion tours.
Wonderful! – A friend and I decided to take the eating tour the day after Thanksgiving, and it was so much fun! Even though something like 200 people showed up, there were several guides and our group was not too large. We could hear the guide perfectly, and he was funny, informative, and really knowledgeable. Plus the food was great! I'd definitely recommend this and any other Big Onion tour!
FYI - a lot of people tipped the guide at the end of the tour, so bring a little extra cash in case you enjoy it. Our guide didn't solicit but I guess it's not uncommon.
The Brooklyn Bridge – I just returned home from my trip to NYC. I have to say that a definite highlight of my vacation was the Big Onion walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge last Thursday. I left NY 28 years ago..and if anyone told me I'd come back and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge..I'd think they were crazy. Your tour guide, Eric was delightful, informative and just pleasant. I forgot my fear of heights. The views were spectacular. Hopefully, I'll be back to NY and will have the opportunity to go on another Big Onion tour. Big Onion is a big bargain in the Big Apple.
awesome!! – Big Onion Walking Tours are really fun, fascinating and a great way to explore the city!! Both native New Yorkers and toursits will love the tours. We have been on several tours and loved them all!! The tour guides are smart, funny & entertaining!! I'd recommended a tour to everone!! Go and Enjoy!!
DON'T miss taking an NYC Big Onion tour – Big Onions Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour was absolutely fantastic. It perfectly satiates any history buffs appetiteand the cultural delicacies just further enriched the experience. The price for the duration of the tour, food and, most importantly, amount of invaluable knowledge passed along is unbeatable.
I learned so much about the cultural transformations and integrations as well as the overall destruction and progression of Manhattans Lower East Side. Sprinkled between deep-rooted history were delightful food samples from popular long standing neighborhood food spots. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic. She complimented the history with great stories, pictures and humor. She easily answered any challenging question thrown her way within the context of this tour, other Big Onion tours or anything else we wanted to know about the city!
I recommend Big Onion to anyone who would like to learn more about NYCs history in a guided, fun and informative setting.
Articulate, brilliantly well-educated guides lead a wide range of tours. – Overview
Organized by theme (immigrant New York) or by locale (Lower East Side), Big Onion tours are ideal for adventuresome tourists and locals eager to learn more about the city's culture and history. Personable tour leaders cultivate an engaging style that blends the earnest tutorial with the stand-up comic. Rest assured, they also have a solid grounding in the details of the city's long and complicated life.
Tours average two hours. Following odd streets and underpasses from one neighborhood to another or traversing the Brooklyn Bridge at twilight, even hard-boiled Noo Yawkers will encounter something new. Visiting school groups often hire Big Onion for Ellis Island tours, or for marathon week-long excursions. (One Scandinavian group walked five tours in four days.) A favorite for the gastrointestinally ironclad is the Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour, which lets you nosh your way through a virtual UN of foods and walk it off afterward.
Far Exceeded expectations – My parents were in town visiting this past weekend so I made a reservation for the Multi-Cultural Eating Tour for Sunday. I was amazed at the knowledge of our guide, Annie....and of how much there was to learn in such a small area. The tour mainly focused on the Jewish lower east side, Chinatown and briefly in Little Italy. And the tastings ranged from Dominican sweet plantains to dim sum to pickles.....w/ many others in between.
Being someone who has lived in the area for about 5 years, big onion gave me a wonderful peak into this city's vast history. My parents were not only impressed with the tour itself, but me...for coming up with such a wonderful idea. For all of you looking for something to do w/ a visitor in town or even a way to pass a couple hours......YOU CAN'T GO WRONG WITH BIG ONION TOURS!!!
This Onion is all smiles!!! – If you want the behind-the-scenes perspective of NYC, this walking tour is the way togo. The tour leaders are fantastic. Very knowledgeable. Highly recommend next time you are in NYC take this tour. It won't dissapoint!
Walking through History! – In a city rich with history BOWT is the way to go. I learn so much everytime a take a tour! I've brought guests from out-of-town, even my elderly parents. We walked through the Green-Wood Cemetery, and even though there were 100 people on the tour we were able to hear the guide very clearly. We totally enjoyed the afternoon!
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