Neighborhood Walking Tour Tips & Resources

Taking your class out on a neighborhood tour is a great idea and a fantastic way to get students to start thinking about what they’re learning in your Seminar 2 course. But how do you get started? And what do you need to plan this out? And what if something goes wrong? Take a deep breath, stay calm, and read on.

Students love getting out of the classroom, especially as the weather starts to get nicer in the Spring. Use your ITF to brainstorm which neighborhood(s) to take the class to and how to make specific arrangements. Its a good idea to schedule a rain-day on the syllabus. You don’t need to arrange a tour with a walking-tour agency, but if you want to, you can use the class budget (up to $500) to reimburse the agency/guide (but please keep in mind the honorarium cap and other details). When thinking about a guide, its best to contact a neighborhood organization that cares about the community and its betterment rather than a for-profit tour agency. You can also design an assignment around this, in addition to or instead of doing a group tour, which could take on several forms: field observations, mapping, reflection blogs, walking-tour guides (example guide), etc. Again, your ITF is a wonderful resource to brainstorm this with.

Specific tips

  • Give students very specific information about where and when to meet, and how to get there (including accessible MTA stations & bus stops), and put this information in multiple places (class blog, email, syllabus, on the board, etc.)
  • Things to ask students to bring on the tour: a map of the neighborhood with specific points-of-interest, pen and notebook, camera/phone, umbrella, comfortable shoes, snacks, water,  questions
  • Having students eat from neighborhood places is a good idea, but note that you won’t be able to apply the class budget towards it
  • Accessibility: Walking tours require a lot of stamina, maneuverability (especially in NYC), and preparation. Even the most able-bodied people will feel tired and strained. Be transparent with students about the amount of energy required for this (which may not be the same for everyone). Flexibility around how to get to the tour, when and where to meet, when and how to exit, adding accessible transportation options on tour maps, rest-stops with benches, etc., can all go a long way in including students who may otherwise not be able to participate and make it a great experience for everyone.


Walking tours offered by the Tenement Museum (LES)

Radical Black Women of Harlem Walking Tour (self-guided)

Walking tours offered by the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (East Village & LES)

Create your own walking tour on StoryMapJS

Some helpful tips from Jane’s Walk on how to lead your own walking tour

Example Seminar 2 and Seminar 4 walking tour assignments (Prezis by Emily Sherwood)


Credits: Original post by Emily Sherwood; updated and remixed by Hamad Sindhi.

Featured image from The Pattern Library.

Last updated: July 3rd, 2019.