Even the littlest New Yorkers are no pushovers. They don’t take anything at face value; they like to know how things really operate. For those who need to know the nitty-gritty details of how their city works, we’ve rounded up 15 behind-the-scenes tours that give the inside scoop on how it happens in theater, television, sports, and beyond.
photo: mirage 1210 via Flickr
Let Me Entertain You
The Radio City Stage Door Tour
What You Will See: Get up close and personal with the Grand Stage, the Art Deco design – and a real-life Rockette!
Good To Know: A VIP Stage Door Tour is also available, and features the option of visiting the rehearsal hall, the lighting booth, the projection area, and dressing rooms (on non-show days, only).
Radio City Music Hall
1260 Avenue of the Americas
Cost: $26.95/Adult, $19.95/Child
The Tour at NBC Studios
What You Will See: The studios where Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and more are filmed, as well as the chance to produce your own mini-show, download and take it home!
Good To Know: You may be setting your child on an unwavering path to becoming Kenneth, the 30 Rock page.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Cost: $33/Adult, $29/Child
photo: via Wicked Facebook page
Behind the Emerald Curtain
What You Will See: How the hit musical, Wicked, got put together, including sets, costumes, props, wigs, and a Q&A with select cast-members.
Good To Know: You’ll never be able to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain again (sometimes, it’s more fun to keep the magic alive)
The Gershwin Theater
222 West 51st St.
Apollo Theater Historic Tours
What You Will See: The past come alive via stories of legends who’ve performed on the stage. Then come on the stage yourself and touch the Tree of Hope.
Good To Know: Tours are only given for groups, but you can call the theater and join a group already in registered.
253 West 125th Street
Cost: $16/Weekdays, $18/Weekends (discounts available for non-profits and schools)
The Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Backstage Tours
What You Will See: Production areas such as lights, costumes, and sets not accessible to the general public.
Good To Know: Don’t confuse this tour with the Lincoln Center one, which only includes the front of the house and does not go backstage.
Metropolitan Opera House
30 Lincoln Center Plaza
Cost: $25/General, $20/Student
photo: via On Location Tours Facebook page
Film & TV
Central Park TV & Movie Tour
What You Will See: The spots where movies like The Avengers, Ghostbusters, Smurfs and Enchanted were shot.
Good To Know: It’s a long walk (about two hours) and if the weather is hot (or cold) little ones may start to balk.
On Location Tours
Starts at 59th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues
Cost: $25/Adult, $17/Child
Small Potatoes Animation Factory Tour
What You Will See: How cartoons are put together, from writing to drawing to voice-over via hands-on activities where kids can record their own voices and help with animation.
Good To Know: There’s also a hologram!
Little Airplane Productions
207 Front St.
South Street Seaport
photo: Shinya Suzuki via Flickr
Play Ball! (And other stuff!)
NY Yankee Stadium Tours
What You Will See: The famed Yankees Museum, Monument Park, the press box and the Warning Track/Legends Outdoor Seating.
Good To Know: Birthday party packages are available!
1 East 161st St.
Cost: $20/Online, $25/Adult & $23/Child at the park
NY Mets Citifield Tour
What You Will See: The clubhouse, the field, the dugout, the scoreboard control room, the press box and the Hall of Fame.
Good To Know: Kids under 32 inches are free when accompanied by adults, and the tour is stroller friendly.
Jackie Robinson Rotunda
123-01 Roosevelt Ave
Cost: $13/Adults, $9/Children
Madison Square Garden Tours
What You Will See: This peek into the World’s Most Famous Arena includes visits to the Knicks and Rangers locker rooms, as well as the above-the-scoreboard Chase Bridges seating.
Good To Know: Even though you are literally up on the 100th level, don’t worry about anyone going over the side – it’s protected by glass.
Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza
Cost: $26.95/Adult, $19.95/Child
Barclay’s Center VIP Access Tour
What You Will See: Your friends and family trying to take a shot from the Brooklyn Nets’ Center Court.
Good To Know: VIP Tours are for groups of 25 or more only
620 Atlantic Avenue
Cost: Call to find price and availability
photo: mo1229 via Flickr
Only In New York
NYC Subway Art Tour
What You Will See: More than just tracks, garbage and rats! Show your kids the beauty most New Yorkers in a rush miss.
Good To Know: The tour lasts three hours. And not all stations have bathrooms.
Departs from 51st Street and Broadway
Cost: $30/Adult, $15/Child
Grant Central Terminal Tour
What You Will See: A docent talking about history and architecture, and leading you to the famed Whispering Wall.
Good To Know: Audio Tours are also available. Listen to a sample, here.
Grand Central Terminal
89 East 42nd Street
Cost: $25/Adult, $20/Child
Urban Exploration Tour of the Abandoned Sea View Hospital on Staten Island
What You Will See: A usually off-limits abandoned building – and you get to climb to the top of its roof!
Good To Know! You get to climb atop an abandoned building’s roof! (Kids, don’t try this at home!)
Behind the Scenes Tour of SIMS Municipal Recycling Facility
What You Will See: 20,000 tons of residential metal, glass, plastic and paper traveling through a Rube-Goldberg like series of tubes, funnels and tunnels.
Good To Know: It may prompt your child to make even more garbage, now that they know what cool stuff happens to it.
Both of the above are tours conducted by Untapped Cities. Tickets are $30 per person, plus a processing fee, and locations vary.
Did we miss your favorite? Add it in the comments below!
— Alina Adams