New York

SideTour Launches in New Cities: Experiences Now Live in Dallas, Seattle, and San Francisco

Since SideTour was founded in 2011, we’ve spent most of our time at artisanal beer tastings, underground jazzfests, wildlife foraging excursions—you know, the most unforgettable experiences in NYC, Chicago, DC, and Philly. After two years, we’re thrilled to share some big news: we’ve officially hit Texas and the West Coast.

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Company News, New York

The Closing of 5Pointz

This morning we were informed that the graffiti epicenter 5Pointz was, without notice or warning, painted white last night by the building’s property developer. As many of you know, 5pointz, widely considered the world’s graffiti mecca, was at the center of a legal debate between artists and the land developer. So while the future of 5pointz had been in question for some time, this abrupt change to the building was completely unexpected.  We were shocked and disheartened to hear the news, as 5Pointz has been an integral part of the SideTour family for nearly two years.

Our founder and CEO, Vipin Goyal, first met 5Pointz curator and graffiti artist Meres One in 2011 through a mutual friend. When Vipin rode out to Queens to meet Meres and see the complex, he was immediately blown away—not only by the astounding breadth of artwork, but also by Meres’s knowledge of graffiti and passion for 5Pointz. SideTour seemed like a good fit for Meres, too, who was excited about the prospect of turning his informal tours into regular, recurring events. What started off as a six person experience hosted just twice a month, soon grew to become a 16 person experience held twice a week. 5Pointz was one of our most popular offerings, selling out time and again, for an incredible total of 121 SideTour events since its launch in 2012.
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What's New

SideTour Experiences Launch on Groupon

Leaves are falling, jack-o-lanterns are lanterning, and when you can’t turn the corner without bumping into a pumpkin spice latte, you know that fall’s arrived. Here at SideTour, fall has brought some awesome changes for us, too: The first batch of our experiences is officially up and running on Groupon. This means that the best of our outdoor excursions, intimate dining workshops, and artistic explorations are yours for the memory making. What will your next fall adventure be?

NYC—Make Your Own Paella and Gazpacho with a Spanish Chef

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What's New

SideTour has been acquired by Groupon

The most important decision each of us makes is how we spend our time.

This is the guiding principle behind SideTour. For our hosts, it’s about creating a place where they can support their talents and passions by sharing them with others. For our customers, it’s about discovering new experiences and activities that create lasting memories and connections.

Small Team, Big Dreams

Our goal has always been to bring this vision to every corner of the globe. We shared this idea with the Groupon team when we first met them at our TechStars New York demo day, just two months after launching SideTour in August 2011.

After launching in four cities, our paths crossed again this past spring. We partnered on some events this summer, having a handful of SideTour hosts offer their experiences at full-price on Groupon. The feedback from both customers and hosts was great. This also gave us a chance to get to know the talented team at Groupon and hear their vision for what is possible in the world of local commerce.

There is a ton of overlap in what we were both trying to achieve. And it became apparent pretty quickly that SideTour belonged at Groupon. That by being part of a company that’s in 48 countries and has more than 40 million active users, we’d be able to make our global ambitions a reality much faster than our small team could ever have imagined.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that SideTour is now a part of Groupon!

Our customers and our hosts have come to love SideTour, which is why our platform isn’t going anywhere. Even more new experiences will be added to every week. There will be time later to share more about what SideTour + Groupon means for our growing community, but in summary: it means a lot more people in a lot more cities will be joining in the fun.

It’s difficult to put into words how excited our team is. We’re all at SideTour because we believe that the world is full of talented people, and that there are countless experiences out there yet to be had. And at Groupon, we’ll be able to reach so many more people than we ever could on our own.

Making Every Moment Count

Life is short. And it’s important to make sure your time is spent meaningfully. At SideTour, my co-founders and I have been lucky enough to spend the past two years working with an outstanding team that we think of as our family, building a community of hosts and customers that we all think of as our extended family. Now we’re excited to become part of the Groupon family.

It’s been an incredible journey so far. This is just a short break to reflect. Tomorrow we take the first steps of the second part of this adventure. And I can’t wait to get started!

Vipin Goyal

Vipin Goyal
Co-Founder & CEO

New York

5Pointz Graffiti: From SideTour to Hollywood

We’re not the only ones raving about 5Pointz, an astounding street art exhibit in Queens: now Hollywood has discovered the graffiti haven as well. Featured in the film “Now You See Me” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson (we could go on), the iconic art space serves as the scene-stealing backdrop for the movie’s climax. Not that the SideTour community wasn’t already aware of its awesomeness.

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What's New

Enjoy $20 on Us: Summer is Still on at SideTour

At SideTour, we’re all about finding awesome experiences and trying new things, and there’s no better time to do so than the summer. Make the most of the last days of summer and enjoy a $20 SideTour credit towards any experience purchased before midnight on September 3rd. The credit is good for one experience per user, and you can choose from any upcoming SideTour. Experience the cocktails and chronicles of Harlem’s revival in NYCexplore Philly’s secret urban jungle on a viaduct tourcapture the craft of season cocktails using fresh fruit in Chicagogo gallery-hopping with a contemporary art collector in DC and much more. To view all of the available experiences in your city, visit our New YorkPhillyDC and Chicago landing pages to find your favorite.

Redeem here: and cheers to making summer last!


New York

Meet Homeland’s Casting Director at a Gourmet Feast

Judy Henderson and her son Chef Lee provide a SideTour experience that’s two for the price of one: the chance to pick the brain of an Emmy award-winning casting director and a delicious, homemade three-course meal.

Judy, recently nominated for another Emmy for her work on Showtime’s “Homeland,” isn’t the only family member with a knack for entertaining. Learn more about Chef Lee, how he approaches his culinary endeavors and the savory foods you’ll taste on this one-of-a-kind SideTour experience.

New York

Recap: Our First Ever Host Community Bash

A few weeks ago, the SideTour team launched an experience of our own: a host community party at our NYC headquarters.

The heart of SideTour is our one-of-a-kind events, and that ultimately comes down to our one-of-a-kind hosts. We wanted to thank the community for all of the awesome work their doing (and thank you’s obviously involves lots of pizza and beer), in addition to letting hosts connect with one another in person. Throughout all the mingling and noshing, the SideTour team presented some of our tips for social media and self-marketing (check out this blog post for more). Continue Reading


Chicago’s Surprising Namesake

This week, we celebrate the 180th anniversary of a “small settlement” called Chicago. On August 12, 1833, the city was founded with the expectation that it would become a transportation hub, thanks to its location along both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Though we now associate the city with incredible jazz and astounding cuisine, the origins of Chicago itself are slightly less glamorous.

The word “Chicago” is a French adaptation of the Native American term “shikaakwa,” meaning “stinky onion”—a reference to the wild onions (what we now call ramps) that grew in abundance along the banks of the river. But from Chicago’s humble beginnings as an odorous spring veggie, the city grew to become not only a transportation center, but also the primary cosmopolitan destination of the Midwest.

This 1858 shot shows the Illinois Central Railroad Depot on the banks of the Chicago River, which is now the location of Millennium Park.

River Train Station

Photo: Chicago Historical Society via

For history buffs looking to dive further into city’s backstory, check out these SideTour experiences: Explore Chicago history on a river walk and brunch excursion and find the hidden stories of a famous Chicago neighborhood.


New York

Another Side of Woodstock: Musicians Who Turned It Down

On August 15-18, 1969—44 years ago this week—Max Yasgur’s farm was transformed into a counter-cultural celebration of peace and music during Woodstock. The iconic, muddy music festival symbolizes the free spirit of 60’s, and claims one of the most legendary lineups of all time: The Who, Janis Joplin, Santana, Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix (just to name a few).

JimiHendrix Photo: “Live at Woodstock” documentary

Who could have possibly turned down an invitation to play at Woodstock? Turns out, a lot of significant artists of the day opted out, and the musicians who failed to show are almost as interesting as the ones who performed. Here’s who said no—and why.

Bob Dylan: He never really considered it, despite how close he lived to the festival grounds. In fact, he was reportedly annoyed at the number of hippies descending on his quiet rural neighborhood.

The Doors: They turned down an invitation, thinking it would be a “second-class repeat of Monterey Pop Festival.” Not the best foresight.

Led Zeppelin: Their manager refused, claiming they’d “have just been another band on the bill.”

Woodstock CrowdPhoto: Barry Z. Levine

Joni Mitchell: She was on the original docket, but canceled because her manager didn’t want her to skip an appearance on “The Dick Cavett Show.” She later wrote the song “Woodstock” dedicated to the festival.

Jethro Tull: Echoing Dylan, Jethro Tull were also not fans of hippies. Front man Ian Anderson declined, concerned about the likelihood of inappropriate nudity. (And he apparently said that the pay was inadequate.)

Though Woodstock became something much greater than any one headliner, there must have been some serious “kicking yourself” retrospective moments among this crowd. It seems even the greats make mistakes, and in this case, a lot of them did.

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SideTour brings you unique things to do, amazing tours and unforgettable experiences to help you enjoy your city in a whole new way.

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