There are two major companies that offer bus tours of New York City. Both have various packages depending on what you want to see and how much you want to spend. You can do a standard drive around the city or you can opt for a more extensive package that includes a boat tour or other perks.
47-25 27th Street, Long Island City
Those bright blue and yellow double-decker, hop-on/hop-off buses you see around town are part of a large multiservice company called CitySightsNY. Its signature offer is the All Around Town Tour, which takes about seven and a half hours and can be spread out over forty-eight hours. It is a combination of the Downtown, Uptown Treasures and Harlem, and Nights Tours and comes with free admission to the Museum of the City of New York and a free two-hour Liberty Harbor Boat Cruise. The price is $49 for adults, $39 for children five to eleven, and children under five are free.
In addition, the company has a long list of other tour possibilities and combinations of land-, water-, and air-based tours. The double-decker buses only use the top for best visibility and run 365 days a year. In inclement weather you'll get a poncho or the deck will be covered by a transparent cover. The buses are heated and leave from various parts of Manhattan. Free specialty guide books are part of the deal. Tickets are sold in several places around town, by phone, or online (tickets are e-mailed).
Gray Line New York Sightseeing Tours
777 8th Avenue
In business since 1910, Gray Line is the grande dame of bus-tour sightseeing. It offers a host of tours and combinations that will save you money. Its Super Saver Special is a three-day hop-on/hop-off adventure that will take you uptown, downtown, to Brooklyn, and on a night-lights tour, a heritage tour, and a harbor cruise. Free twelvehour parking is included. The Internet price is $104 for adults, $80 for kids five to eleven. No tours December 25 or January 1.
The main offices of this busy and popular bus-tour operation are at 777 Eighth Avenue between West Forty-seventh and West Forty-eighth streets. Another branch is located at street level inside the Port Authority at West Forty-second Street and Eighth Avenue. It's a good idea to drop in and see what is available. You can always visit the Gray Line's Web site, but the brochures and displays will give you a better overview, and the personnel will tell you where to pick up buses and at what time.
News reports that keep up on traffic and weather are very important in this crowded city. Turn your radio dial to 880 or 1010 AM. There is also a weather and traffic channel on every local cable system. Ask your concierge for the channel in your hotel, as there are different systems in different parts of the city.