Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

A New Take On New York

Batali’s Stomping Ground

With his fresh take on Italian food, bringing the fundamentals of seasonality and ingredient-focused cooking into vogue in American cuisine, Mario Batali has been taking the New York City food scene by storm for decades. A brand-new tour beginning this month from Walks of New York in collaboration with Batali pulls back the curtain on Batali, his inspirations and his restaurants.

Structured like an Italian meal, the tour moves through Greenwich Village, the neighborhood that inspired Batali and nurtured and supported his vision, with stops for each course, from cheese and salami antipasti to dessert. As the tour moves through the Village, it stops at two of Batali’s restaurants, Otto and Lupa, and visits neighborhood food purveyors and artisanal producers for kitchen tours and cooking tips and behind-the-scenes industry insights from staff.

Groups will enjoy an early lunch through tastings at both Batali restaurants and other venues during the approximately three-hour tour, and there is the opportunity to organize a dinner version for private groups upon request.

Due to space restrictions in the restaurants, the tour is conceived for smaller groups of up to 24, although tours can be run concurrently for larger groups.All-Access in the Garden

While you may not technically rub shoulders with New York’s sports stars during this tour — although the hockey players have been known to throw up a puck or two if you catch them during their morning skate — Madison Square Garden’s all-access tour is the next best thing. It sweeps you from one VIP space to the next through halls adorned with lifesize images of the great figures from sports, music and politics who have taken the stage through the Garden’s 135 years.

Though the current building is significantly newer, Madison Square Garden dates to 1879. First located on Madison Square, it moved to its current location atop Pennsylvania Station in 1968. The all-access tour has been updated and relaunched in the last year to highlight the $1 billion renovation that modernized and overhauled the space from 2011 to 2013.

Both the tour and the renovation focus on making guests feel at home in the arena, which seats more than 20,000 people, depending on the configuration, and hosts 4 million visitors each year. Displays in the public levels showcase memorabilia and stories from the Garden’s proudest moments, such as a visit from Pope John Paul II and the 1992 Democratic National Convention, which launched Bill Clinton’s presidency.

During the all-access tour, visitors take in the view from the best seats in the house, the upper lounges and the suspended Chase Bridge as well as the private VIP suites outside the players’ locker rooms. A new VIP experience following the 75-minute tour allows groups of 10 to 30 to train with the Knicks City dancers.


Broadway Experience

Of all New York City’s charms, the Broadway stage often seems one of the most inaccessible. But in just an hour and a half with Broadway Classroom, you can gain a personal connection with a current Broadway performer that will completely change your relationship with the stage.

Broadway Classroom coordinates workshops that teach participants a song or dance from a popular show or how to apply theater makeup. Each course is led by a teaching artist with a theater education background and one of more than 300 Broadway performers with whom Broadway Classroom collaborates.

“Around 98 percent of the time, we’re able to connect the group with a performer from the show they’re seeing,” said Heather Jones, Broadway Classroom program director.

Depending on the nature of the workshop — exercise-heavy courses like Broadway 101 are difficult with larger groups — groups can stay together or split into smaller groups among the 17 rehearsal studios Broadway Classroom uses throughout the theater district.

Spring is the program’s busiest time, according to Jones, but “we have a policy that we never say no,” she said. Workshops are held the day after shows open and for groups as large as 350. Though they try to be flexible, out of respect for performers’ schedules, workshops typically do not begin before 10 a.m. or run between the matinee and evening performances on Wednesdays and weekends.


NYC & Company

212-484-1200  —

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.