In New York, like most major cities, you can get a feel for the place by hopping on and off a blaring lights tour bus, or opting for a walking tour that highlights architecture, food and fashion. But the Big Apple is also home to a collection of weird and wonderful tours. If you’ve already hit the Empire State Building and picnicked in Central Park, they can be a great way to explore more eclectic spots in the city.

One of my favorites is run by Elastic City. The company commissions artists “to present walks & ways.” Think less facts, more sensory perception of space. On a recent walk led by Pratt Institute student Sarah Appel, folks explored Brooklyn Heights through a series of exercises, including attempting to create a picture of the landscape through memory and association. If you choose to patronize Soundwalk, you’ll have to plug your guide into your ears for these awesome audio tours of different neighborhoods. Folks who know their enclaves best – from celebrities to musicians and artists – lead you around town. I highly recommend taking the graffiti tour through the Bronx if you really want to shed that tourist label once and for all. You’ll amble past old school record stores and barbershops on as you make your way through this street museum.

There might not be any better tour company name than Rocks Off. Let self described author / ex-con / ex-drug addict/ musician/ street hustler/ triathlete John Joseph lead you through the history of art, crime, drugs and punk rock on the lower east side. He offers a raucous account of the craziest punk clubs and gang hangouts from an era before the city polished up its image, educating you on rock and crime history at the same time. If your rock and roll days are behind you, head to Green Wood Cemetery. Forget those clichéd nighttime ghost tours and instead make your way to one of Brooklyn’s most beloved, historic green spaces during the day to take advantage of the cemetery’s trolley tours. You’ve got three options to choose from, each one farther of the beaten track, where learned guides will entertain you with intriguing tales about the place’s permanent residents.

Finally, there’s Accomplice. Get to know the city by following a series of clues that lead you through the streets. The company calls their scavenger hunts “part game, part theater, and part tour” – and they’re perfect for travelers with a competitive streak. Take up to ten friends along for the ride in downtown Manhattan or Greenwich Village and remember to bring your best reality show-inspired street smarts. You’re going to need them.