What about being a tour guide?

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to have a different career than you have now?  When I first started realizing I was discontented in my job, I often took a look around to see what else might be more interesting.  Love travel?  I mean, travel is often the vehicle for creating an adventure.  What about being a tour guide?

My first crush was a ruggedly-handsome safari tour guide at Disneyland when I was thirteen.  I must have had this warm memory (truth be told, it was truly teenage angst for me then, but time has a way of rose-coloring the past) in mind a few years back when I accepted a date from a man with a very hazy photo on match.com.  He was a NYC tour guide and I created a romantic notion he knew all the hot spots in the City.  While he did pick an interesting spot to meet (indy movie theater with a café), he actually looked more like Peter Pettigrew and moved more like a nervous street rat.  As I watched him scurry away, so did my thoughts about switching careers.

Mickey Mouse the Safari tour guide

Although I was in MM land, this was NOT my crush! (I understand he may be other’s big love)


The good part of that date, though, was my interest in learning more about out of the way places in Manhattan was piqued.  This notion has definitely been explored as a big part of my concept for Adventure Wednesdays.  Each adventure builds upon itself.  As I explored and shared the fun things I found, people would say I should be a tour guide.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I have taken others on adventures and even created some DIY adventure guides (chocolate, anyone?).  A travel writer I follow, Jessie on a Journey, is a NYC Tour Guide.  One of her stories discussed the process of becoming a licensed NYC Tour Guide.

License to Get Paid Doing What You’d Do for Free

Did you know that you have to have a license to be paid to show people around?  I followed this line of thinking a little further.  What if I took my adventures the next step and was paid to take people on them too?  The first thing I learned is that you have to take a test, which costs around $150-$200 plus the required books to study for the test.  The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs issues the license.  The second thing I learned is you have to really know a lot about this City – from it’s varied history, to it’s varied cuisines, to all the routes to get from point A to point B and so much more.  I almost completely failed the sample test (try the Cram yourself here).  The third thing I learned is that, while interesting, I don’t really care to recite the dates of when the Brooklyn Bridge was built, or the name of that bronze stature in Columbus Circle, or other such minutia.

GANYC Awards Show

Guides Association of NYC

While I may not care about those things, there are many people who do!  There are approximately 3,500 licensed guides (up from 1,300 just 20 years ago).  Last Monday I was asked to attend the 4th Annual GANYC Apple Awards.  GANYC is the Guides Association of New York City, and they are the local industry group for tour guides.  They have over 400 active members.  They have strict requirements, so these members are the cream of the tourist guide crop!  Looking at the long list of Specialty Tours the members give, I was excited to see this one: Food & Culinary Adventures.  That’s right up my alley!  My own chocolate adventures were inspired by an official tour I bought through Groupon.

The Preshow Cocktail Reception

Dressed for the GANYC

Getting ready and put on my big pearls for the GANYC gala awards.

GANYC red carpet

Some people wore black tie for the event…red carpet ready!

Jeongwoon Eun GANYC

Jeongwoon Eun admired my pearls, and wished she had a bold statement accent for presenting the “Outstanding NYC Website” award. She decided my pearls didn’t quite coordinate with her outfit. I learned she’s on a mission to help NYC Tour Guides get up to speed with AI and VR!

GANYC and Terresa

Terresa is another blogger covering the event. We enjoyed teaming up and meeting new people. One group owned a company which creates custom Luxe tours (you know, doing things like getting clients into the major museums before the open!). Terresa was telling me about some cool VR adventures…who’s up for going to the Meat Packing District to check them out??

NY NY outfits at GANYC

These two are totally into showing their love of NY, NY! (Of course I gravitated to the brightest dressed in the room! I forgot to ask why they were wearing these fashions…if anything other than fun!)

The Awards Presentation

There were 13 trophies, 11 awards, and two honors bestowed during the ceremony.  I learned a lot of fun facts about the tourism industry, and I’ve expanded my list of resources for finding fun things to do in the City (definitely considering an Apollo Theater tour followed by Harlem Late Night Jazz).  However, the best surprise I discovered was this group of passionate people who have a common love of not just  New York City, but also a love of educating and sharing that love with others.  They put up with wearing khakis and polo shirts adorned with company logos; cold bike rides; long, slow-moving walks; traffic and parked vehicles blocking their buses… to be able to entertain people with their stories of mobsters; architectural details; movie set location secrets; and the deeply rich histories of their home (sometimes adopted) town.

Mr. Apollo NYC

Lifetime Achievement Honoree Billy Mitchell (flanked by host Brian Stokes Mitchell and presenter Kristin Singleton-Ferrari. Photo:GANYC)

Interested in becoming a tour guide?  This is one big family you can join if it suits your passions.  A bonus – they DO know all the great spots and insider ways of seeing the City…just as I suspected many years ago on that not-a-match date.





Outstanding Achievement in Fiction NYC Book Writing

Francis Spufford, Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York
Lisa Ko, The Leavers: A Novel
Joanne Oppenheim (Author) and Jon Davis (Illustrator), The Knish War on Rivington Street 
Tamara Shopsin, Arbitrary Stupid Goal

Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction NYC Book Writing

Kevin C Fitzpatrick, World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War
David Oshinsky, Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital 
George Robb, Ladies of the Ticker: Women and Wall Street from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression 
Julie Scelfo, The Women Who Made New York

Websites: Curbed.com  CityLab.com Dayton in Manhattan blog SpoiledNYC.com

The GANYC site

Apollo Theater

Late Night Harlem Jazz

Bronx Beer Hall

NYC tour guide license link



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