Collette Spotlight Tour of New York City Useful Tips and Highlights

Enjoy a Collette Spotlight Tour and immerse yourself in a destination like a local resident. Here I take a closer look at the Collette Spotlight on New York City tour.

Collette Tours started in 1918, with Jack Collette leading a road trip on dirt roads from Boston to Florida. Over 100 years later, Collette Travel Services is one of the most trusted names in the travel industry and they operate guided excursions to all seven continents—who wants to do their Antarctica tour?

Collette hosted my Spotlight on New York City Holiday tour and several meals. As always, all opinions, text, and photos are my own.

autumn colors in Central Park. See them on Collette Spotlight Tour of NYC.
see autumn colors in Central Park on Collette Spotlight Tour NYC

What is a Collette Spotlight Tour?

Collette Spotlight tours allow tour guests to immerse themselves in a single destination—savoring the sights, sounds, tastes, and vibes of the place. While on a Collette Spotlight Tour, enjoy popular attractions in addition to insider hidden gems, guided organized assistance from a local expert as well as ample free unscheduled time to explore on your own.

A Collette Tour Manager handles and arranges all the details of many daily excursions, but there is also built-in downtime so that you can explore the city any way you choose.

Where Will You Stay in NYC on Collette Spotlight Tour?

The headquarters hotel for Collette Spotlight on New York City Tour is the Sheraton New York Times Square. This classic hotel commands an excellent and convenient location on 7th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd street.

Sheraton New York Times Square hotel is about a quarter mile walk from both Central Park and Times Square. To walk to Central Park, turn right outside the hotel front door and walk uptown (north on 7th Avenue). To visit Times Square, turn left outside the hotel main entrance and walk downtown (south on 7th Avenue).

Also an easy walk from Sheraton New York Times Square is Theater District (Broadway), Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and hundreds of excellent places to eat, shop, and see in the city that never sleeps.

Rockefeller Center NYC at Christmas
gorgeous Rockefeller Center at Christmas

To visit Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Saks Fifth Avenue, walk left from the hotel entrance, and then turn left on the first, second, or third street. Radio City Music Hall is one block away, on 6th Avenue, between 50th and 51st streets.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is another block away, on 5th Avenue and between the same streets. Rockefeller Center is between Radio City and St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Saks Fifth Avenue is next to the cathedral. Visiting these four iconic New York City attractions is a great way to spend one of your free blocks of time.

McCool Travel tip: Bonvoy members can have their amenities attached to their reservation, even though it is part of a group reservation. For instance, when I checked in, the agent issued me a high floor (which I loved) and late check out.

What Will You See on Collette Spotlight Tour of NYC?

Included in your Collette Spotlight Tour of New York City is expert local organization, guidance, and assistance to visit major attractions, local favorite restaurants, and much more, while using varied transport methods. That itinerary organization and management and on-the-ground tour guidance is done by the Collette Tour Director along with other local experts.

Major attractions to be visited on the Collette Spotlight Tour of NYC include Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Central Park, Wall Street, and a Rockettes show at Radio City Music Hall. In addition, guests can attend a Broadway play; options included Chicago, Lion King, or Wicked.

New York City is one of my favorite Places to Visit for Music.

An incredible and wonderful reason to be on a tour is to gain timed group entry into the 9/11 Museum. Bypassing the long line of public visitors who were waiting a long time I felt guilty but also really happy to be part of the Collette Spotlight Tour.

Note that the Tour Director or local tour guide does not always accompany guests. For instance, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and 9/11 Museum are places where the Tour Director is not permitted to guide. Guests can explore on their own—decide how much to immerse in the various exhibits and when and what to eat in the cafes.

The Collette Spotlight on New York City Tour is five days, with days 1 and 5 being arrival and departure days. Thus, three full days of NYC funness are included but guests can choose to stay additional nights before or after the tour.

McCool Travel tip: The optional Greenwich Village tour and dinner is recommended (additional charge).

Radio City Music Hall at Christmas
Radio City Music Hall is near Collette Spotlight Tour hotel

How Will You Get Around During a Collette Spotlight Tour of NYC?

One of the fun aspects of a Collette Spotlight on New York City Tour are the various ways you will get around USA’s most populated city. It is not fun driving in NYC, believe me, I tried it and still have minor trauma.

Having someone else handle the transportation details for your time in the Big Apple is such an empowering and underrated part of a Collette Spotlight Tour of New York City. As part of the tour, you will experience coach bus, harbor ferry, guided walking, independent walking, and optional subway, taxi, and Lyft/Uber methods of exploring the city.

A large coach bus will be used a few times during the tour, to deliver the entire group to various restaurants and to tour the city. While in the relative relaxation of being in a large vehicle in New York City, it is fun and interesting to watch the traffic mayhem around you. How the bus driver (we had William from Louisiana) can navigate tight streets and turns that smaller cars would have trouble with still boggles my mind.

Walking tours are a big part of the Collette Spotlight Tour and they work in conjunction with the bus rides. Either the Tour Director (we had Marc, who lived in NYC for 20 years) or a local tour guide leads the group on the walking tours around Central Park, Wall Street, and the 9/11 Memorial and Oculus areas.

iconic bull statue on Wall Street in New York City
find out where to get this unobstructed view of the Wall Street bull statue

The group will also walk together to/from some restaurants and events (Broadway play, Rockettes show). During your unscheduled times, you can choose to walk and explore more of the city. I love to walk and it is such a great way to experience the NYC vibe.

The ferry is the only way to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and there is only one authorized ferry operator—Statue City Cruises. Collette makes all the arrangements so all you have to do is follow the tour guide and enjoy the rides.

If you opt for the Greenwich Village tour (and you should) then a NYC subway ride is a fun, fantastic, and memorable part of the experience. Again, you do not have to do any of the thought process, just follow directions. The Tour Director buys the tickets, shows you how to use them, and herds the group into appropriate spots. It is really fun to ride the NYC subway.

Where Will You Eat During a Collette Spotlight Tour of NYC?

On your Collette Spotlight Tour in New York City, some meals will be arranged while you also have opportunities to go to places on your own.

Collette covers three breakfasts at nearby diners, two dinners, and a third dinner is part of the optional Greenwich Village tour. All of the included meals are on the middle three days of the tour.

Because Collette Spotlight Tour groups are large (typical NYC tour groups are 45 people), meal options are from a smaller and not the full restaurant menu. For example, breakfast options might include bagel and lox, eggs and bacon, or French toast.

Also, one glass of wine or beer is included with your dinner but you can purchase additional drinks directly from the server.

No meals are included on arrival and departure days, nor is lunch organized on any tour day. But those are opportunities to enjoy your choice of amazing NYC eating options—from authentic bagels and pizza slices to exciting ethnic cuisine not found where you live. Marc, the Tour Director, was very helpful with suggestions.

Collette Spotlight on NYC Tour restaurants include:

Applejack Diner, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, andThe Red Flame Diner for the three breakfasts.

Redeye Grill (our favorite restaurant) and Sicily Osteria for the two dinners.

waitress statue at Ellen's Stardust Diner NYC
enjoy the performers at Ellen’s Stardust Diner

McCool Travel tip: Be prepared to offer a tip for Ellen’s Starlight Diner performers. $5 per person is fine but feel free to be a more generous arts patron! You do not have to tip individual performances. At some point the owner will make an announcement and walk around with a collection bucket.

McCool Travel tips for Collette Spotlight Tour of New York City

  1. Add extra time to your New York City Collette tour and extend your stay additional nights in the same hotel. Revisit some of your NYC favorites and spend more time or go visit some new places or restaurants. Shop until you drop.
  2. The above view of the bull statue on Wall Street was taken from right in front of where the bus parked (thank you William). I hopped up on a stone pillar to cut out a lot of distractions. You can see a tiny piece of the guardrail in the lower right corner, for reference; I intentionally did not crop it out.
  3. While my tour was the Holliday version, the Collette Spotlight Tour operates in NYC all year round.
  4. We took the train from Penn Station back to Washington, DC and it is so convenient. Train travel is better than flying in many ways. Enter on 8th Ave and 33rd Street to be dazzled by the new Moynihan train station terminal.
Christmas window display at Rockefeller Center store
enjoy the Christmas window displays in NYC. Here is one Rockefeller Center store.

To learn more about Collette history and philosophy as well as another great itinerary, please see Collette Tours of America’s Music Cities

To book a Collette Spotlight Tour of NYC, visit here.

McCool Travel tip: To determine if any travel company—whether a tour company like Collette, a cruise line, etc.—is “right for you” simply visit their website and look at their brochures to see if the pictures and information resonate. The way people are dressed, their demographics, and the scenarios will appeal to you or they will not. It is a very accurate test of whether the company is a good fit for you.

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