Let’s be honest. When visiting a new city, it’s hard to pick out what to see and where to go. I love traveling, but I’ve always wished for an easy map to tell me all of the places I needed to see ahead of time.
That’s how I became interested in bus tours. All major cities have them, and I like how they take you to all the important sites of your destination. The best part? SAFETY! I don’t have to worry about getting mugged, walking around on my own, and the staff is usually very friendly and helpful.
Keeping this in mind, I thought I would share a few of my experiences and create a list of the best bus tours I’ve been on. Check them out and see if you agree with me.
Keep scrolling to see all the incredible experiences!
Memphis City Tour
Where: Memphis, TN
Why: I loved exploring all the sights in this incredible city. What initially attracted me was getting to see Elvis’ Graceland, but there are many things I got to explore while on this bus tour. Starting with:
- A sightseeing tour along the Mississippi River.
- Saw The Memphis Pyramid, which is now a Bass Pro Shops megastore that includes shopping, restaurants, a bowling alley, and an archery range.
- We also went to The National Civil Rights Museum located at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
- We even stopped at the Peabody Hotel to see the famous ducks do their march.
- Sidenote: A Memphis hotel pickup and drop-off was included on our bus tour, and we also had the option to upgrade with a cruise along the Mississippi River on a paddlewheel boat. We didn’t have the time, but if you go, make sure to leave a comment to share your experience!
Big Bus San Francisco
Where: San Francisco, CA
Why: We especially loved this bus tour because it was an open-top tour, and it was a beautiful sunny day. It was a double-decker, and it took us to lots of impressive landmarks.
- We got to explore 49sq miles and stopped at many popular attractions like Pier 39, the Palace of Fine Arts, and Union Square.
- We also got to visit the Golden Gate Bridge’s Vista Point, which I especially enjoyed. You wouldn’t believe the view unless you were there!
- An aspect of the tour worth mentioning is that we went at our own pace. We could hop off at any of the 16 stops, explored at our leisure, and then hopped back on when we were ready…traveling with kids, this option really helped.
Big Bus New York
Where: New York, NY
Why: The hustle and bustle of the big apple was a bit intimidating. So this bus tour made seeing the sights effortless.
- This also had a hop-on, hop-off option, so I liked that we got to pick and choose what we wanted to see most.
- We saw Times Square, Battery Park, Greenwich Village, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, SoHo, and Korea Town. If you happen to go, make sure you save your appetite, the food was A-mazing!
- Our guide was very knowledgeable about everywhere he took us and had an incredibly friendly attitude (very much the opposite of what I’d heard about New Yorkers).
Grand Canyon West Rim And Hoover Dam
Where: Las Vegas, NV
Why: This bus tour was perfect for our family because I wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and my husband wanted Hoover Dam. Sidenote: The kids grumbled and mumbled about this vacation, but once at the grand canyon, I had them hooked!
- They took us to a restaurant first for breakfast, which really helps if you have little ones. Pick-up was at 6:30 Am, so you can imagine we had no time to grab anything on our way out.
- After breakfast, the first stop was the hoover dam, and may I just say: make sure you have your camera on hand for this one. You won’t believe the view!… My husband might have been right about this one, but don’t tell him that!
- Next, we headed for the canyon itself, but we got to drive through Joshua Tree first. After which, we stopped at Eagle Point and checked out the views on the Skywalk…..Worth it!
- Once at the Grand Canyon, we had lunch ( a meal ticket was included), and we checked out the views. Let me just say that whoever tells you the Grand Canyon is overrated should have their head examined!
Big Bus Washington DC Open Top
Where: Washington, DC
Why: We would’ve gone anyway to see the sights in our capital, but the fact that this bus tour includes entry to Madame Tussauds puts the cherry on top!
- You’ve probably noticed a pattern by now, but I’m a big fan of open-top, and the option to hop on and off. It’s very convenient for my family, and I highly recommend touring cities this way.
- We got to see The White House, U.S. Capitol, Air, and Space Museum, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, among other things.
- We also visited Arlington National Cemetery and Pentagon City.
I don’t know if this matters to you, but we also chose our bus tours based on them being stroller accessible because we have kids, and if you do too, you can imagine the need when walking around!
The Chicago Crime and Mob Bus Tour
Where: Chicago, IL
Why: We’ve been to this city before. And while I always had a good time, no matter what we did, my husband and I found this bus tour particularly entertaining.
The primary purpose of the tour is to explore Chicago’s gangster scene.
- We drove around and saw where Al Capone, The Untouchables, Hymie Weiss, and John Dillinger, among other thugs, hung out.
- A very knowledgeable guide took us to the Holy Name Cathedral, the Biography Theatre, and we also got to see the bloody St. Valentine’s Day Massacre that happened in 1929 site.
- If you know the area, the tour took us through the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Old Town, the Loop, and Magnificent Mile.
- The guide even had us hop off the explore some sights on foot.
Where: Charleston, SC
Why: The colonial culture in the south has always fascinated me. So I saw this as the perfect opportunity to visit a new city, but with an added bonus of a guide who knew all the ins and outs of the area.
- Sights on the bus tour included the Battery, the Citadel, a stroll through the Old City Market, and Hampton Park.
- We also got the chance to see some dazzling views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse.
- Our tour also included free passes to the Charleston Powder Museum.
- Besides the obvious, what I loved most about the tour was the beautiful houses and gardens. I also saw lots of wrought iron art. And you wouldn’t believe how many old churches this city has!
City Tour of New Orleans
Where: New Orleans, LA
Why: I’ve been to New Orleans before when I was younger. As you can imagine, my friends and I stuck to the French Quarter, which is always amazing to visit. But now that I’m older and with a family, we wanted a different type of cultural experience…And we wanted to see it ALL!
- The areas we covered were the French Quarter, Treme, the Esplanade, the Garden District, and the Metairie Cemetery.
- The guide was so wonderful! He explained in such a way that we felt like locals when we left this incredible city!
- Worth mentioning is that most of the places the bus tour takes you on will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, especially in the Garden District.
- Another favorite was visiting the Metairie Cemetery. While cemeteries aren’t usually my happy place. It was interesting to see this specific one, considering I’ve seen it many times in movies and TV shows.
Dallas and Fort Worth Sightseeing Bus Tour
Where: Dallas, TX
Why: This is one of the longest bus tours we’ve taken, but it was well worth it to see two cities in one tour. The guide also shared with us many experiences, only known by locals. And while he took us to many interesting sights, a few I would like to highlight are:
- The John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. Which is a monument erected to pay homage to the former United States President.
- We also got a taste of the south at Billy Bob’s. It’s a huge country music honky-tonk type of place with an indoor rodeo arena, mechanical bulls, and bars.
- The Livestock Exchange Building. This was once an office for cattle traders. You wouldn’t believe the architecture unless you visited yourself!
- And speaking of livestock, the guide also took us to Pioneer Plaza. It’s a beautiful park that also includes some livestock frozen in time through the statues.
- We even saw the city’s first house. It’s called the John Neely Bryan Cabin, and it’s interesting to see it right in the middle of a bustling city!
So to conclude, out of all the vacations my family has taken over the years, the most hassle-free, I have to admit, have been our bus tour experiences. Let me know if you’ve been on some of these tours. I would love to hear a different perspective! My only regret? We didn’t get enough pictures!!!
And check out another one of my favorite adventures: 10 Interesting US Mining Towns Where People Struck Gold