06/16/2010 05:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Finding A Free Tour Guide in NYC with Big Apple Greeter

If you live in Manhattan, what do you do when a friend comes to town and wants a tour of Harlem or Brooklyn or Queens? These are all neighborhoods I don't know that well, but Big Apple Greeters does

Big Apple Greeters is NOT the red double Decker tour buses so ubiquitous in NYC. Big Apple Greeters was created in 1992, the first "welcome visitor" program in the United States. Founder Lynn Brooks, a New Yorker, understood that New York City suffered from an image problem because everyone she spoke to thought the city was too dangerous, expensive and overwhelming to visit. Brooks knew that New York City is a small town of diverse neighborhoods, mom-and-pop stores, fun places to dine, and friendly residents.

Today, 300 volunteer Greeters take visitors on tours of different neighborhoods in New York City, and since 1992, has welcomed more than 88,000 visitors from all 50 states and 124 countries, with visits conducted in 22 languages.
Big Apple Greeter, a no-profit organization, partners with NYC & Company, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Make A Wish Foundation® of Metro New York, Inc, and is associated with The Global Greeter Network.
Greeters will help families, friends, couples, and individual travelers feel welcome and get more from their stay in the Big Apple. Big Apple Greeter's services are offered FREE OF CHARGE, and there is a NO TIPPING POLICY. The New York Greeter volunteers come from varied backgrounds and can welcome visitors in 22 languages. The office staff, also mostly volunteers, matches Greeters to visitors according to language, neighborhoods requested, and interests, when possible. (Big Apple Greeter welcomes all visitors without regard to race, color, creed, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status or disability).
In the few hours or half day you spend with a Bog Apple Greeter, you'll learn much more about the city and a particular neighborhood than you ever would with a guidebook.
Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about requesting a visit with a Big Apple Greeter
How can I meet a Big Apple Greeter?
Can I meet a Greeter more than once during my stay?
How much does it cost?
How will I be matched with a Greeter?
When and how will I receive information about my Greeter?
Am I guaranteed to be matched with a Greeter?
Why doesn't Big Apple Greeter list New York City neighborhoods for me to choose from?
Why do I need a local New York City telephone number?

About the visit

How is a Greeter different from a professional tour guide?
How is a Greeter visit different from a public walking tour?
If no Greeter is available for me, can I join another group?
My group has more than 6 people. Will you make an exception for us?
I am staying at a hostel. Where do I check for important messages from Big Apple Greeter? Does Big Apple Greeter have scheduled tours that I could sign up for?
How is Big Apple Greeter funded?
Is everyone a volunteer?
Are there other Greeter programs in other cities?
How can I start a Greeter program in my city?

Here's how you can meet a Big Apple Greeter:
Once your plans to visit New York City are confirmed (arrival and departure dates are set, accommodations are confirmed), fill out and submit the Visit Request Form at least 4 weeks in advance of your arrival.

During the busy season (May through September) and holiday times (Christmas and Easter), they fill up quickly, so submit your request as early as possible

Good luck, and welcome to the Big Apple -either with a Big Apple Greeter or not

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