New York City attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to see the magic of Broadway, the bright lights of Times Square, iconic tourist attractions and world class food and shopping. It has become a summer weekend getaway favorite for our teenagers, especially since we live close enough to drive. This summer we went with a special mission - to venture out of the city and explore nearby Brooklyn. And what better way to do that than with a pizza tour, specifically A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour. So many reasons you should try this tour, starting with the convenient pickup and drop off location in Manhattan. Read on to see why I think it’s the best, and if you still aren’t convinced, check out the hundreds of reviews on Trip Advisor!
The Tour is Fun! At first glance at their website, you might be thinking, 4 hours on a bus, how can that be fun? But from the moment we hopped on the bus with our local tour guide Marc, we were well entertained with his humorous commentary and tales of life in Brooklyn. During our tour, we made our way from one end of Brooklyn to the other, with several stops along the way (more on that later) to stretch our legs. There were several Instagram worthy photo opportunities, including this one in the shadows of the Brooklyn Bridge. Plus, who can complain about being driven around after walking all over the crowded sidewalks and steamy streets of NYC in the middle of July. From Brooklyn brownstones to the famous “Gingerbread House” (pictured below), you get to see a slice of Brooklyn in more ways than one!
You Get to Eat Pizza. Remember, it’s a pizza tour so come hungry and ready to try two legendary Brooklyn pizzas. First stop was Grimaldi’s for two slices of their Neopolitan-style pizza under the shadows of the Brooklyn Bridge. The pizza is cooked quickly in a coal-fired brick oven, which truly makes the flavor of the fresh tomatoes and cheese stand out. By the time we arrived at 11:30 a.m., there was already a line, but we were able to get seated right away in this classic pizza establishment. After two huge slices of the perfectly cooked Margherita pizza, washed down with an old-fashioned root beer and cream soda, we were stuffed!
The second pizza stop, across town and later in the tour, is the famous L&B Spumoni Gardens. Take a moment to read their inspiring story, and learn how this restaurant, now in its fourth generation, started with Ludovico Barbati selling his spumoni from a horse and carriage. We had a hard time finishing two big pieces of their famous, square pizza with the cheese buried under the sweet sauce. While many of our fellow travelers had dessert, we were so full we had to settle for just a sample of their famous spumoni. In the end, we didn't even try to compare the two very different styles of pizza, although some in our group clearly had their personal favorite!
Hollywood & History Come to Life. It’s not just about pizza! I loved the fact that the tour included viewing several famous Hollywood filming locations. All along the way, Marc entertained us with back-stories about some of the classic movies filmed in Brooklyn like Saturday Night Fever, the French Connection and Goodfellas, while we watched short DVD video clips. But the highlight of my day was driving down 86th Street in southwest Brooklyn listening to “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees while glancing at the screen to watch the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta walking down the same street! Singing is allowed on the bus!
It’s not just Hollywood that comes alive on this tour. From the 1869 cast iron building where we ate Grimaldi’s pizza, to historic Coney Island, there is so much to see and appreciate in Brooklyn.
Speaking of Coney Island, that was our last big stop of the day. My family had never been, so it was very cool to walk the famous boardwalk and see the iconic WONDER WHEEL, which first opened in 1920! Unlike a regular ferris wheel, 16 of the 24 cars on the WONDER WHEEL are swinging cars! Check out this picture and you can see some of the cars on the inside track. Fun fact: did you know that the WONDER WHEEL served as the inspiration for Mickey’s Fun Wheel at the Disney California Adventure Park?
Besides the WONDER WHEEL, we learned that Coney Island is the home to famous Nathan’s Hot Dogs. The original Nathan’s hot dog stand opened in 1916, so foodies will appreciate seeing the place where the most famous hot dog in the world got its start 100 years ago.
After our stroll on the boardwalk, it was time to wrap up the tour. On the way back to Manhattan, we enjoyed a short clip highlighting all the famous Brooklynites! All in all it was a perfect way to spend the day, and I'm happy we added this tour to our NYC bucket list. I can't wait to check out their new Chocolate Tour, which starts on September 12th!
Disclaimer: A special thanks to A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours for hosting my tour. However, all opinions are my own.