Before The Tour

Preparing for a Big Onion Tour

We require reservations and pre-booking on all walking tours.  Reservations can be made using the “Book Now” button on each respective tour description page.



Military means members of the active military. Students means full-time students who are school-aged between kindergarten and graduate school. Seniors means 65+ years. We reserve the right to ask for proof of full-time student, active military or 65+ years status.

If a walker chooses to leave a tour in progress Big Onion will not provide refunds.

PLEASE NOTE: any party with 8 or more participants that wishes to join a public tour should email or call us prior to booking to discuss the outing.

We require all participants to book online and prepay for walking tours as part of our Covid protocol.
Our credit policy is the most liberal in the business! Fully credited if canceling with 24 hours notice. Details on each tour description page.

Meeting Sites & Directions
Meeting sites and subway directions for public “show up” tours can be found with the tour descriptions. All tours begin at or near subway stations. Most tours do not conclude where they began. Our guides will provide directions to subways, local sites, or back to the meeting point at the end of the tour.

Don’t see your guide? Call 888 606 WALK (9255) ext 9 if you are having trouble finding your meeting site or having a tour-related issue.

Time & Distance
All tours last approximately two hours. We do start ON TIME. We walk between one and two miles during these two hours. We maintain a moderate walking pace, stopping at various sites along the tour.
Big Onion Walking Tours cannot delay the start time of tours for late arrivals.

Tour Hotline
If this is an issue related to an immediately upcoming tour or one in progress, Call 888 606 WALK (9255) ext 9.

Our main number, (888) 606-WALK (9255), is a voicemail system. Big Onion does not maintain operator service on this number. Please leave your name & number – we cannot return a call if a message is not left! We will return your call.

Rain/Inclement Weather
Big Onion generally presents tours rain or shine. In the event of SEVERE weather please visit our home page or call our hotline [(888) 606-WALK (9255) ext. 1], on the morning of the tour, after 9:30 a.m., to confirm our schedule. Big Onion reserves the right to cancel tours in the event of potentially dangerous weather.

Who Are the Big Onion Guides?
Big Onion has the finest group of tour guides in the city. We are not your traditional tour guides. Most of us are full-time graduate students researching and writing doctoral dissertations in history. Big Onion guides have high school or college teaching experience and are quite often researching topics relevant to the tours they are leading.

All our guides work exclusively for Big Onion and have completed our rigorous in-house training program. Our guides are passionate about the history, architecture and people of New York. We have been called “brilliant”, “hilarious”, “outstanding”, and “irreverent”. Most of our guides, upon completion of studies, move on to successful teaching careers.

Big Onion alumni hold and have held professorships and post-doctoral fellowships at: Cal State Northridge, Dartmouth, Harvard, Holy Cross, Lewis & Clark College, the New School, Princeton, Union College, the University of London, the University of Massachusetts (both Amherst and Boston), UC Santa Barbara, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Yale. Others hold leadership roes at major non-profits or NGO’s such as: The Open Society Institute, The Hoover Institute, or the German-Marshall Fund.
All our guides are licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

How Will I Recognize the Guide?
All guides carry an 8×11 sign that says “Big Onion Walking Tours”.

How the Schedule Works
Big Onion maintains an up-to-date schedule listing all public “show up” tours on our website. We offer public tours year-round, but adjust the number of tours seasonally so that every week we offer a variety of different tours that explore a variety of neighborhoods or communities. The only day we 100% close is Thanksgiving Day!

Private Tours
All tours are available for private bookings. Private tours can be scheduled morning, afternoon or evening. We have lead tours for as few as a single person or as many as 600 people. There are fee minimums for private walks. For more information, or to schedule a private walk, please email us or call Seth Kamil at (718) 499-3001.

Gift Certificates
All Gift Certificates are non-refundable. Gift Certificates are only available through our e-commerce partner and the link to the page can be found on the lower right corner of our homepage. Big Onion is not responsible for lost or stolen gift certificates. Any attempt to alter a gift certificate may result in confiscation and loss of use/value.

Changing tour dates for prepaid tours
If requesting a date change for a tour please send an email to us at In the email please include the following reservation details: Name and email address used for reservation; date of current reservation; and, if appropriate, date of new reservation request. Date changes are made, at no cost, with requests made 24+ hours before tour date. We will make one change per booking. We cannot change dates for tours after they have taken place (in the event of late arrival or missing an outing). Note: there may be additional costs for the “America’s Museum” outing if MET tickets have already been ordered.