America's Strangest City Tours
the weird and wonderful with these offbeat alternatives to run-of-the-mill
Your heart’s pumping. Celeb hangouts and towering palm trees fly by. You try, in
vain, to keep your oversized sunglasses on your face as you run along Rodeo
Drive as if being chased by Nikon-wielding photogs. It’s all in an afternoon’s
fun with Los
Angeles’s “Running from the Paparazzi” tour. Where else but Tinsel Town can you pretend to be a star trying desperately to ditch overzealous photographers?
city tours are ubiquitous, of course—New York City alone has more than 300 of them, according to the tourism office. And while
it’s impossible to say how many of these are weird, offbeat, or downright
strange, many have been borne of imagination and ingenuity. In fact, there’s no
shortage of experiences for curious travelers looking for alternatives to the
omnipresent sightseeing bus.
can see more of the real city this way,” says Drew Raphael, owner of Dead Apple
Tours, who was inspired to create his 1968 hearse tour of New York City after
seeing folks stopping by the SoHo building where actor Heath Ledger died. He
compares his tour to “rolling performance art or rolling theater,” where those
interested in Gotham’s morbid hot spots cruise Downtown in “Desdemona,”
Raphael’s formerly casket-toting vehicle.
started and led by passionate experts on niche subjects—or those who see an
opportunity in creating fun and unusual travel memories—offbeat tours can take
you to spots you’ll never read about in guidebooks or find while walking
through the city on your own.
“You feel as if
you’re in a house that hasn’t been opened in years,” says Katharina Woodworth
of one of the city’s strangest, most popular, and longest-running guided tours—Underground Tour. Accessed via a flight of stairs in Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 19th century saloon, the supposedly
haunted tunnels are the remains of the original city that was destroyed by the
Great Seattle Fire of 1889. (The current city streets were built on top.) “It’s like walking through catacombs
into a secret world that takes you back a century to the real Seattle.”
for souvenirs from these crazy tours, you are practically guaranteed
interesting tales to tell family and friends back home.