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Sometimes you have a day or less to spend at a destination.  Or, you’re going to a city with many attractions and you’re wondering how you’re going to see them all in a limited amount of time.  The solution?  A day tour.

View from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Muir Beach Overlook.

View from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Muir Beach Overlook near San Francisco, California.

A day tour can take any format — walking, biking, boating, kayaking, segweying, tour bus, or a combination.  You’re only limited by the time that you have available, and your physical stamina.

Day tours can be as short as an hour, or can last for more than twelve hours.  Some day tours stay within the city limits of where you are, while others take you over an hour away from the departure point.  It all depends on where the tour begins, and what you will see.

I hopped on a Gray Line tour in San Francisco (about $100) that not only allowed me to see the major sights in the city, but also included a trip across the Bay to Sausalito and up to Muir Woods to see the Redwood trees.  That tour lasted about six hours, but I was never more than an hour from the city center.  Another day tour that I took from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo (about $85) lasted for more than eight hours.  Part of the reason it lasted so long was Santo Domingo’s distance from Punta Cana — approximately 120 miles.  That excursion included lunch and was well worth the time and effort.

A wooden figure collecting donations in Santo Domingo's Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

A wooden figure collecting donations in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic’s Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

Looking for a good starting point to research day tours where you’re headed?  Viator has a wealth of short-term tours available.  They operate tours here in the United States, as well as all over the world.  Frommer’s and Tripadvisor are also great websites to consult to find out about available tours, and travelers’ opinions of the particular day tours.

Day tours don’t have to be terribly expensive.  Depending on where you are and what you want to do, you can buy a substantial tour at less than $100 per person.  Some websites offer coupons, or you may be able to get the tour for a reduced cost if you buy one of the various destination discount cards (e.g., smartdestinations.com for offers on American cities, and londonpass.com for London activities and attractions).  However, make sure that purchasing the destination discount card is worth it.

When in doubt about how to kill time in a new city, consider taking a day tour.  Someone else (who knows where they’re going) does the driving, you cover more ground than alone, and the tour guide will be a fountain of knowledge.