Do I Have to Purchase Tickets in Advance?
Yes. Our tours require us to make special arrangements with the neighborhood artists, artisans, entrepreneurs, and food purveyors that you’ll be meeting up with along the way, so we do require advance reservations. And since we only take out a maximum of 12 participants per tour, to ensure an intimate and interactive experience, space is limited and tours often sell out.
We suggest purchasing your tickets early to guarantee your preferred tour date and time. Please note that the latest possible time to book a tour is one hour before its scheduled departure time.
There are no physical tickets issued for BQE Tours; e-tickets containing a ticket code and tour meeting information will be sent via e-mail upon booking. Simply print it out or load it up on your mobile device and bring it with you on tour day to check-in.
How Frequently Do Public Tours Run?
Our group tours
typically run at least once weekly—please see our tour calendar
for all scheduled outings. Private tours
for individuals and groups can be arranged on request, based upon guide availability.
Can I Book a Private Tour?
Absolutely. Whether you want a private tour customized for yourself, your family/friends, a school group, or a corporate outing, we specialize in creating tailored tours in Brooklyn and Queens for all interests. Plus, all of our scheduled group tours
are available for private bookings. Private tours
are priced hourly based on group size, tour type, and duration. Please see our private tours page for more info, or contact us
so we can start arranging the perfect tour for you today!
How Much Do Tours Cost & What’s Included?
Tour pricing and inclusions vary based on the particular public tour—please see the individual tour pages for our DUMBO, DUMBO with Brooklyn Bridge Walk, Williamsburg,
and Long Island City
tours for specific details.
Private tours for individuals and groups are priced hourly based on group size, tour type, and duration (please see our private tours page for more information).
What Is BQE Tours’ Cancellation, Refund & Rescheduling Policy?
Since our public tours require us to make special advance arrangements, and are so limited in capacity, our refund/exchange policy requires a minimum of 7 days’ advance notice ahead of the scheduled tour departure date. Customers who need to change or cancel their reservations can do so via e-mail at info@BQEtours.com
. Clients who submit requests within the proper notification period can chose to reschedule their tour for a future available tour date, receive a credit toward a future BQE Tours outing, or have their ticket fully refunded.
Unfortunately, we cannot refund cancellations, issue credits, or accommodate rescheduling requests made within 7 days of the tour’s scheduled date. Refunds will not be issued for no-shows, partial attendance, or latecomers who miss the start of the tour and are unable to find the group once it’s departed.
Additionally, BQE Tours reserves the right to cancel a tour that fails to attract the minimum cost-effective enrollment for us of four participants, or in the unlikely case of extenuating circumstances like extreme weather or tour guide illness/emergency. In such rare instances, we will notify participants via e-mail or phone with adequate notice, and issue a full refund, credit for a future outing, or propose the option to reschedule.
Are BQE Tours Tickets Transferable?
If you’ve purchased a ticket but can’t make the tour, and have a friend/family member who you’d like to attend in your place, we’re happy to accommodate ticket transfer requests. Please give us at least 24 hours’ advance notice via e-mail at info@BQEtours.com
so that we may update our records.
Does BQE Tours Have a Waitlist for Sold-Out Tours?
For tours that are sold out, you can request to be added to our waitlist by e-mailing us at info@BQEtours.com
with your preferred tour and departure date. Then, if we get any cancellations, we’ll reach out to let you know.
What Happens if There’s Bad Weather on the Day of My Tour?
NYC is a four seasons’ destination, and, accordingly, our tours go out rain or shine, snow or sleet. Please check the weather forecast before heading out and dress appropriately. Note that there are several stops on our tours that will give guests opportunities to dry off, warm up, or cool down.
In the rare circumstance of extreme weather (like a blizzard or hurricane), we may cancel a tour, in which case we will give you the option to receive a credit or reschedule for a future scheduled tour, or to elect a full refund. For any cancellations, we’ll reach out to you via the e-mail and/or phone number that you registered with. In case of questions regarding weather-related tour cancellations, please contact us. Please note that no refunds or credits will be issued for missed tours that are listed as running.
Are the Tours Suitable for Kids?
Children are welcome to attend. However, since our public tours average 3 hours in length and cover topics primarily geared toward adults, we feel that they’re generally better suited for adults and older teens. We leave it to parents’ own discretion when deciding whether or not to bring their children, based on their kids’ attention spans and ability to walk and stand in place for extended periods. We also trust parents and guardians to be considerate of other guests’ experiences on our tours by monitoring their children’s behavior, and actively assuming responsibility for their safety.
If you do intend on bringing a child on a tour, kindly do notify us when booking, so that our guide can be prepared and attempt to offer a more child-friendly experience, where possible.
Note that due to our small group sizes of just 12 participants, we cannot extend any discounted children’s rates. As such, all children ages 3 years and older are required to have a ticket. Children under 3 can attend free of charge, but please let us know if you plan to bring young children when purchasing your tickets.
Also, keep in mind that we navigate stairways and, in some cases, uneven cobblestone streets and other terrain that might prove difficult to manage with strollers.
As an alternative, keep in mind that we love having families with kids on private tours, and welcome the opportunity to customize a fun and educational tour for your family and their specific interests!
Where Do the Tours Meet & How Will I Find the Guide?
The exact meeting spots for our various public tours are disclosed upon ticket purchase. Once you’ve made your reservation, you’ll receive an e-mail with your ticket confirmation code and detailed instructions on the exact meeting location, including a map and directions via public transit. Note that all tours begin near subway stations, with many meeting points located just a subway stop or two outside of Manhattan.
(Important: Please do NOT come to the office address listed on our website—that business mailing address is provided for snail mail purposes only and is not staffed by BQE Tours employees.)
Our lead guide, John, will be waiting to greet you at the specified meeting point and time. Sneak a peek at his picture here to easily recognize him; he’ll also be carrying a binder with a sign that says “BQE Tours.”
For private tours, we can easily arrange pickups at your hotel or any other preferred location.
Do Tours Start & End at the Same Place?
Note that in order to cover the most ground possible, our tours typically do not conclude at the same point where they began. At the tour’s end, our guide will provide guests with directions to subway stations or local establishments and attractions of interest, or direct them back to the initial meeting point.
When Should I Arrive?
Please plan on arriving 15 minutes before the scheduled tour start time to allow for sufficient time to get checked-in by your tour guide. In fairness to all guests, the tour will start promptly at its scheduled departure time.
What if I’m Running Late?
Be sure to give yourself extra time for transportation complications or other unexpected delays, which certainly aren’t unheard of in busy NYC. If you’re running late or find yourself lost, please contact us
ASAP, and we’ll do our best to connect with the tour guide and advise you on where to go so that you can meet up with the group. However, since our guide may be busily leading a tour and unable to pick up a cell phone, we can’t guarantee it. Please note that no refunds will be issued in cases of lateness or no-shows.
What Should I Wear?
Our tours are casual, so dress comfortably and make sure you’re geared up for New York’s four seasons, which can range from hot and humid summers to frigid, snowy winters. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers, since you’ll be on your feet quite a bit. In summer, a sunhat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are a smart bet. If it rains, consider wearing a poncho or waterproof gear. And during colder weather, bundle up, and don’t forget the hat, gloves, and scarf! Having an extra layer handy, just in case, is always a good idea, anytime of year.
What Should I Bring with Me?
Once you’ve booked your tour online or by phone you’ll receive an e-mail with your ticket confirmation code and detailed directions (including a map) for the tour meeting location. Please print it out and bring it with you, or be prepared to show it on your mobile device, in order to check-in with your guide and to find the meeting location.
Don’t forget the weather-specific extras (an umbrella in the rain, sunscreen in the sun, etc.), and a bottle of water to stay well-hydrated. And definitely bring your camera—they’ll be plenty of opportunities for some memorable shots! However, we kindly ask that you don’t film or take audio recordings of our guides or guest speakers during the tour. Do bring some extra cash, if you’d like to make additional purchases (artwork, artisanal products, additional refreshments, etc.) along the way, or offer a tip to your guide at the tour’s conclusion.
Note that you’ll need government-issued ID to prove that you’re 21 and able to imbibe alcohol.
Do make every effort to travel light while out on the tour—please leave behind cumbersome bags or backpacks that will bog you down. Note that dogs aren’t permitted on the tour.
Why Do I Have to Agree to the Terms of the Liability Waiver?
Though we’ve never had an accident or injury occur during one of our tours, we need to ensure that all tour participants have reviewed and agreed to the terms of our waiver of liability
to meet our legal and insurance requirements. Please review our liability waiver online before purchasing tickets; by coming on our tour, you are accepting the terms of the waiver. If you’re coming with a minor in your party, you’ll need to accept the waiver terms on their behalf. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.
Are Restrooms Available During the Tour?
Public bathroom options in NYC are limited, so please try to use the restroom before arriving at the tour meeting location. However, we will always incorporate at least one bathroom stop during our tours.
Are Gratuities for the Tour Guide Included in the Ticket Price?
The price of your ticket doesn’t include gratuities (tips) for your tour guide. If you enjoyed your tour, tipping your guide is customary in the U.S. and greatly appreciated (though it’s never required).
How Many People Will Be on the Tour?
A pillar of the BQE Tours experience is our small group sizes of no more than 12 participants. An intimate group allows for easy and frequent engagement between guides, guests, and the many local entrepreneurs, artists, artisans, food purveyors, and shopkeepers that we feature on each tour. Expect personalization and great conversation! [Special note: Non-ticketed children under 3 are not included in that 12-person maximum head count.]
How Long Are the Tours?
Tour durations vary based on the individual tour—our DUMBO, Williamsburg,
and Long Island City
tours average about 3 hours; while the DUMBO with Brooklyn Bridge Walk
tours run about 4 hours.
At the end of our tours, we encourage guests to stick around to further explore the neighborhoods independently, in more depth—our guide is happy to share recommendations for local bars, restaurants, shops, and more, upon request.
How Much Walking Is Involved? Are Tours Suitable for Participants with Mobility Issues?
While our tours aren’t especially fast-paced, we walk an average of 1 to 2 miles over an approximately 3-hour period on each outing (and more for the Brooklyn Bridge Walk), and also stop frequently for discussions and visits to artist studios, local shops, etc. While every tour offers an opportunity or two for a seated break, expect to spend most of the time on your feet. As such, participants should have a basic level of fitness and be able to move at a moderate pace.
Since we navigate busy city streets, stairways, and, sometimes, uneven cobblestone streets, our public tours are not well-suited to guests in wheelchairs or strollers, or clients with mobility limitations.
However, we are happy to accommodate customers of all ages and abilities via our private tours.
How Much Will I Eat & Drink on the Tour?
While these aren’t dedicated food tours, all of our public tours incorporate local culinary experiences, in the form of light bites and beverages. You’ll sample several satisfying selections of signature food and drink (which are included in the cost of the tour) from the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods we profile, typically including a glass of wine or beer (for tour participants 21 and older). Note that food and drink inclusions are meant to serve as tastings, and are not intended to replace a full meal. There may be opportunities for guests to purchase additional food and drink (please do bring extra cash for such an occasion), and we’re always happy to direct guests to great drinking and dining establishments to enjoy immediately following the tour.
For tour participants with dietary restrictions (vegetarian, diabetic, etc.) or food allergies, please notify us at booking so that we can attempt to arrange for suitable substitutes during the course of the tour.
Note that food and drink inclusions for private tours are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Will There Be Time for Shopping on the Tour?
You’re going to meet some talented artists, artisans, entrepreneurs, and shopkeepers along the way, so we certainly understand the urge to shop! While our tours do allow an occasion or two for very brief transactions, we’ll have a lot of ground to cover and won’t want to hold up tours for other participants who might not be so inclined. However, we love for our guests to support local businesses and our guide will be happy to direct you back to shops or studios of interest following the tour. Alternatively, consider booking a private tour
, where you can shop to your heart’s content, at your own pace.
Who Gives the Tours?
You’ll be heading out in great hands, with our company co-founder and lead guide, John Garay. He’s a licensed NYC sightseeing guide and a boroughs’ native (born and bred in Queens, he now resides in Brooklyn). Once a child actor, and now a budding graphic novelist, as well as an avid traveler, photographer, and history buff, John is a masterful storyteller with deep personal ties to each of the neighborhoods he guides in. Read more about John here.
Are Tours Offered in Languages Other Than English?
Our scheduled public tours are only offered in English at this time. You’re welcome to arrange for your own interpreter on our private tours
Are Gift Certificates Available for BQE Tours?
You bet! A BQE Tours gift certificate is the perfect gift for all of the travelers, culture vultures, and urban dwellers in your life. Visit our gift certificates page
to purchase one today.
Are the Public Tours Always the Same?
While most of the must-see sights remain fixtures on our public tours, our guide likes to change things up, given that there are so many great local artists, artisans, entrepreneurs, food purveyors, and shopkeepers to feature in any one neighborhood, and so many different topics to potentially discuss. While the core cultural connectivity concept of the tours always remains the same, one tour to the next might follow a different route and highlight different stops accordingly, or delve deeper into different topics of conversation based on particular group interest. Our tours also maintain an element of fluidity to them to allow for spontaneous changes driven by neighborhood goings-on and special events.
On rare occasions, traffic conditions, unexpected closures, or other unforeseen events might require a modification to our expected itinerary—while we can’t assume responsibility for access to sites or activities under circumstances beyond our control, we can assure you that our guide always has an excellent plan B (and C!) in place to make sure that you get the best tour possible of the Brooklyn or Queens neighborhood that you set out to discover.
I’m from Around Here. Is BQE Tours of Interest to a New Yorker?
Absolutely! As native New Yorkers ourselves, we here at BQE Tours work hard to ensure that our tours remain non-touristy and exciting enough to appeal to our fellow New Yorkers who are looking to discover—or rediscover—our fast-changing home turf. Whether you’re a lifelong resident looking for some fresh perspective, or a new transplant in search of a solid introduction, BQE Tours prides itself in taking the “anti-tourist” approach to the very best of our own backyard.
Additionally, our tours are an excellent way to entertain out-of-town guests, celebrate a special occasion, or encourage professional team building. We also offer “Neighborhood Newcomer” private tours for newly arrived residents looking for an in-depth introduction to their new borough ‘hood.
I’m Traveling Alone. Is This a Good Fit for Me?
Yes! We get plenty of travelers who come out on our tours solo—with just 12 participants max per outing, the intimate tour environment ensures a great way to meet like-minded participants and to easily interact with your guide and all of the engaging locals we meet along the way. Our clients tend to be “anti-tourists,” independent-minded travelers who like to seek out the sites, events, and local establishments far removed from the tourist bus circuit, and who don’t like to be herded around in a crowd. They are typically adventurous and crave authenticity in travel, and are willing to venture a wee bit off the well-trodden NYC tourism circuit. Sounds like you? Then join us!
Can You Make Recommendations for Things to Do or Places to Stay in Brooklyn & Queens?
Sure thing! We here at BQE Tours live and breathe all things Brooklyn and Queens, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction with our favorite hotel, restaurant, nightlife, and attraction recommendations. Feel free to e-mail us at info@BQEtours.com
or to hit up your guide on tour day for suggestions.