Hoboken, oddly enough, is a city of tours. There’s the sightseeing-slash-tourist tour that wanders the city with a bored-sounding guy repeating the same script over and over again. I know this because he stops outside where I live every other Sunday or so and makes exactly the same speech while a group of visibly underwhelmed people take photos. There’s the Secret Garden tour, Gallery tours, and of course bar crawls—although you might be tempted to categorize bar crawls separately, which is your prerogative.
And then there’s the Hoboken House Tour, which is probably the strangest—yet mostly enjoyable—tour you’ll ever go on. This year it’s being held on Sunday, October 22nd from 10AM to 4PM. Tickets cost $40 (you have the option of beginning the tour uptown or downtown, and the price jumps to $50 on Sunday so buy in advance) with an option for a $125 VIP ticket that includes extra stops, a swag bag, and a year’s membership in the Hoboken Historical Museum. You can visit the houses in any order, but the order set out in the guide is designed to control flow (see below).
If you’ve never been on the House Tour before, here’s what to expect. One caveat: My experience was a few years ago. The houses on the tour change, and your mileage may vary, so none of this is necessarily set in stone.
Yes, believe it or not (I was surprised), this is a pretty popular tour! It’s self-guided; you pick up a booklet with the route map and do it in your own time. We ran into big crowds at every single stop, likely because no one paid any attention to the suggested route and just went wherever they felt. Be prepared to say “excuse me” a lot as you push past folks leering into the bathroom.
Looking at gorgeous homes and peeking into the lives of other people is fun, no doubt, but the homes on the tour change every year, and it’s a mixed bag. Some of the brownstones that looked super fancy from outside turned out to be … just homes, you know? And a couple of the homes on the tour we saw were a little disappointing. We’re not sure what the criteria for being on the tour is, exactly, but there were definitely a couple of places whose sole qualification seemed to be that in the feverish Hoboken real estate market they’re expensive.
On the other hand, some of the places we saw were legit beautiful and/or historically significant. We’re not saying the tour is a bust by any stretch—just temper your expectations a bit.
At a few of the houses, the owners were lingering around. Some just ignored the groups trooping through their homes, and others hovered, eager to tell you all about their house and why it was special. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but be prepared: If you’re thinking you’ll get to duck in and out silently, you will get hooked by a few chatty owners who are super excited to tell you about their house.
Finally, it’s a bit of a walk. Nothing a healthy person can’t do, but bring water, plan a lunch break, and if it’s hot and sunny (and during this endless summer we’re “enjoying” it just might be) wear a hat and don’t do anything crazy, like jog to every stop.
That said, it’s a lot of fun, really, and supports the Hoboken Museum, which is a great cause. Personally, I’d recommend starting downtown and working your way up, because you’ll get the crowded areas done first and be in the less-packed spots when you’re tired. Have fun and send us some photos to post!