Get desserted in New York

New York CityNo it’s not a typo. Walking Tours Manhattan has dessert-themed walking tours. They guide you around, feed you, and walk you. It’s like you’re their dog — their sweet-toothed dog.

It’s called their Recessional Special: Free NYC Dessert Fest. And it is indeed free! They request a $1 donation or whatever you feel is appropriate, and the purchase of any desserts is additional, but all you have to do to participate is show up.

The next Free NYC Dessert Fest tour will be on Sunday, March 1st in Harlem.

Meet our tour guide with the red ball cap saying Walking Tours Manhattan on Sunday March 1, 2009 at 11:30am at Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and Frederick Douglass Blvd. Then we?ll visit Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant, Lee Lee’s, and our last stop will be Make My Cake. Tour lasts 2 hours. Walking distance is 1 mile.

This is a great way to trek (safely) through historic Harlem and get sweetened up along the way! For more information, visit Walking Tours Manhattan. Their regular walking tours are just $25.

Iceland with a prophetic viking

If you’re going to walk around Reykjavik, Iceland, do it with Jonas Thorsteinsson. A guide on the GoEcco walking tour of the city, he knows more than which Viking killed who, where and how. In fact, the only word to describe Thorsteinsson is “prophetic.”

I took his free walking tour backing June. The most insightful moment came when Thorsteinsson showed us one of Reykjavik’s oldest houses, which was then on the market for $1 million-thanks to the decimation of the Icelandic Kroner, the price has probably come way down since then. Thorsteinsson explained that Iceland had been caught up in a real estate bubble, with mortgage rates reaching an absurd 20 percent. Think about putting a $1 million home on your credit card.

“It’s not going to last,” he noted. “It can’t.” Remember: he said this in June 2008.

Thorsteinsson called it well. By October, Iceland was on the verge of financial destruction, because of a credit-fueled disaster. For tourists, the moral of the story is clear: take the GoEcco walking tour. You’ll learn more about the locals than you will anywhere else.

By the way, Thorsteinsson suggests that you buy a hot dog at Baejarins Beztu. I agree. The mustard has a hint of the same taste you’ll find in Oscar Mayer cheesedogs, which I happen to enjoy.

Crime detective tour of Lincoln assassination

I am fond of tours. Not each and every time, but often. Tours can be a terrific way to find out information you might miss as you’re trying to navigate a city on your own–or have stopped paying attention to signage because you just can’t read one more line.

Here’s a tour in Washington, D.C. I read about that ties in with my trip to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Museum last week. I’m picturing the drawing of Lincoln on his deathbed, and the photographs of the conspirators.

With Ford’s Theatre closed for renovations this summer, the Walking Monologues that Bring History to Life tour fills a gap in Lincoln lore. Led by an actor dressed as James McDevitt, one of the police detectives who worked Lincoln’s assassination’s, the tour brings people to the various sites of significance of that fateful night. Along the way, you can get the scoop about what is true and what has been sensationalized. This is a living history type tour where the actor takes on the persona of McDevitt.

This walking tour is throughout the summer, and as tours go, it is cheap–$12 a person. If you can’t get on that tour, the Ford Theatre has a private tour option. Since it’s a $500 flat fee, gather a lot of people together. You can take up to 40 of your closest friends.

Philadelphia puts on the steam to attract tourists

Grant recently waxed poetic about Philadelphia. In August, I posted about a 24 hour walking tour of the city that proved to be a rousing success. Two Decembers ago, Kelly offered a list of suggestions for a Philadelphia New Year. These are not even all our Philadelphia mentions. Here’s yet another reason to head to the land of the Liberty Bell. Their is a promotion going on to attract more visitors.

Starting from today through January 9, 2008, if you book a hotel through Philadephia’s tourist Web site, gophila/holidays.com you’ll be able to get a $50 discount on a hotel room in the form of a gift card. (The room needs to be above $150 which means you’ll get it for $100. That’s my understanding.) You need to use the code holidays when booking. Also, there’s a place on the site where you can enter the Winner Wonderland contest to win a slew of prizes.

I don’t think this link is up yet, because I couldn’t find it–and I looked around, but perhaps, I just missed it. The promotion starts Thanksgiving Weekend. If you find it, let us know how this works. I do know that when you shop in Philadelphia there aren’t an taxes on shoes or clothes. Also, here’s a link to half-price tickets for various entertainment and cultural venues.

As I was looking though the Web site, I noticed how many tour options there are. You can pick one that suits your interest level and time frame. One I found particularly intriguing is The Constitutional Cell Phone Tour. A map shows you historic sights to go and, when you stop at each one, you use your cell phone for the recorded message descriptions. That’s handy and clever. This tour can accommodate more than one cell phone.

24 Hour Road Trip: Philadelphia Inside Out

Once, I got the bright idea that we should take a walking tour of Cleveland, Ohio. I had read that Cleveland is one of the top cities for walking in the U.S. “Let’s see why!” I was enthusiastic when we put our then 1 1/2 year-old in the jogging stoller and told our then 10 year-old to tie up her sneakers for our stroll from Tower City to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and back to Tower City. Six and a half hours later, we dragged ourselves back to the car. The day wasn’t exactly a failure, but it wasn’t the grand experience I had imagined.

This tour of Philadelphia called “24 Hour Road Trip: Philadelphia Inside Out” looks like it offers the solution that our walking tour of Cleveland missed–a focus and a sense of humor. This Saturday, August 18, three tour guides extraordinaire who have experience with city walkabouts will be leading people on a 24 hour excursion of the City of Brotherly Love. Kurt Braunohler, a comedian with loads of TV face time, Scott Gabriel Knowles, a professor at Drexel University who knows bunches about urban life, and Calvin Johnson, also a well-versed urbanite, have teamed up before. Here’s the link to their bios. They look like three guys who would be fun to hang out with.

Instead of just telling you about Philadelphia, their aim is to semi-guide people through their own experiences of the city. Along the way, the group will chronicle what is discovered as they move from place to place interacting with Philadelphia and those who they come across. The group’s discoveries will be shared with others via the Internet. If this gang goes to Cleveland, I’m in. I’d like to have a chat with them about psychogeography, one of the words they use to describe the essence of their 24 hour trip. [Thanks to Marilyn Terrell, our National Geographic Traveler tipster for the heads up about this tour.]