Gift Ideas: Unusual, Intellectual, and Downright Scary Walking Tou‏rs

by Michelle Schusterman Aug 13, 2009
Consider treating your favorite traveler to a gift certificate for a walking tour of their next destination.
Walking Seminars

Feature Photo: Bulldog Tours. Photo above: Lola Akinmade

While some folks live for getting lost in a new place and discovering a new culture by diving in headfirst without a map or a plan, others need a bit more guidance.

With the wide range of tours available all over the world, from the philosophical to the haunted, there’s bound to be one to please any traveler.

Walking Seminars
Walking Seminars

Photo courtesy of Context Tours

For the intellectually curious traveler, Context Travel offers a wide variety of walking seminars that range from three hours to all day events.

According to their mission: “In an age of Disneyland and Club Med, we are dedicated to the experience of real places.”

Each group of no more than six people is led by a Ph.D. level scholar or historian. Tours offered include an interesting variety of topics such as archaeology, cuisine, theology, architecture, and art.

Context tours are currently available in New York, Philadelphia, Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, and Istanbul.

Photography Tours
Shutter Tours

Photo courtesy of Shutter Tours

Whether a beginner or expert, any photographer would enjoy a tour aimed specifically at improving their craft.

Led by local city experts and photographers, the tours take you to the best spots in town all the while providing tips on how to get that perfect shot.

A great example is Shutter Tours in Seattle, Washington. Each guide is an award-winning photographer who teaches lessons designed to improve your skills.

This tour also focuses on a few “out of the way surprises” that many people miss out on with other tours.

Ghost Tours
Wellington Movie Tours

Photo courtesy of Wellington Movie Tours

Almost any city will have its ghost stories and several proudly offer tours for the paranormal fanatic.

The Ghosts of Georgetown Walking Tour explores the haunts and dark alleys of DC.

The family-friendly tour guides may just lead your group in a seance, read your future with Tarot, and cast a voodoo spell on disbelievers.

Most people picture a palm tree lined coast when they think of Key West, but the tour guides for The Ghosts & Legends of Key West beg to differ.

This 90 minute tour educates the visitor on the more eerie aspects of Old Town including pirate lore, haunted mansions, and voodoo rituals.

Movie Tours
Bulldog Tours

Photo courtesy of Bulldog Tours

If a movie was filmed there, you can bet there’s probably a tour available.

One of the more well-known movie tours is the Harry Potter tour led by London Walks.

Visit Platform 9 3/4, the Knight Bus Bridge, and Gringotts Banks, and all of the 23 different London settings that appear in the Harry Potter movies.

London Walks offers several other walks including their world-renowned Jack the Ripper tour.

And speaking of blockbusters, any Lord of the Rings (LOTR) geek would love to trudge the road to Mordor with Wellington Movie Tours in New Zealand.

The tour hits over a dozen spots from famous LOTR scenes, and the guides provide behind the scenes facts and information about local filming projects.

Seedy Tours

Some cities only want to showcase the polished neighborhoods, but others offer a glimpse into the gritty side that every town possesses.

The Dark Side of Charleston Walking Tour gives visitors a look at the murders and scandals that taint the past of the “Holy City”.

Brothels, prostitutes, and other sordid affairs make this tour R-rated (travelers under 17 not admitted without parental consent).

Mysteries of Paris leads visitors into the darker parts of the city. Their “Dark Tours in the City of Lights” include info on the Knights Templar, alchemists, satanic conspiracies, the last night of Jim Morrison, and medieval serial killers.

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