Urban Adventures. Quite simply, the Best. Day. Ever.
Our New York City guides have put together a list of their top TV pilgrimage sights in NYC. Now if you could just get up off your couch to go check them out…
Saturday Night Live
It’s produced some of America’s greatest comedy legends, from Chevy Chase and Eddie Murphy to Tina Fey and Sarah Silverman. Saturday Night Live has been tickling funny bones and pricking consciences for five decades and it’s still going strong. You can watch it live if you’re A) organised or B) happy to camp outside the studio for last minute tickets. If you’re the former, enter the annual Saturday Night Live lottery. All you have to do is email email@example.com during the month of August with your contact details and a short paragraph on why YOU should be in the audience. Alternatively if you’re not organised or you don’t know what your travel dates are that far in advance, you can queue for tickets on the morning of the show. Be warned, the tickets are distributed around 7am on a first come, first served basis. Fans usually start to arrive at 4am (and sometimes camp over) to stake out their spot in the line. Don’t forget your photo ID!
Sex and the City
We couldn’t help but wonder… where the best spots in NYC are to pay homage to our favourite quadruplet of New Yorkers? SATC filmed all over the city between 1998 and 2004 (and again for the movies, but the less said about them the better…) offering a plethora of pilgrimage sights to worship at/drink a Cosmopolitan in. The ultimate (and most popular) pilgrimage for Carrie wannabes are the steps of Carrie’s apartment at 66 Perry Street in the West Village (although please be respectful, the owners had to put a chain up to stop eager fans running up the stairs). The New York Public Library, where Carrie was ‘jilted’ at the alter by Big is an interesting afternoon out. Magnolia Bakery where Carrie and Miranda discuss having a crush in their 30’s was put on the map by the show and now has multiple outlets all over the world. Cafeteria was a favourite of the foursome for lunch, while Cipriani was the girl’s restaurant of choice for Sunday brunch (and bellinis!). Check out ONieals for cocktails – it’s the real-life home of Aiden & Steve’s fictional Scout Bar.For a spot of romance and old world glamour, a la Mr Big we love Russian Samovar (where Carrie had her first date with Aleksandr Petrovsky), or channel Old Hollywood at The Monkey Bar or the iconic 21 Club (both regular haunts of Carrie & Big).
Although everybody knows Friends was predominantly filmed on a sound stage in sunny Los Angeles (with the exception of the gang’s infamous trip to London in season 4 and the Superbowl shenanigans in season 2), Friends fans still flock to see the building used as Monica, Chandler, Rachel and Joey’s residence throughout it’s glorious ten season run. The restaurant below, The Little Owl, was used as the basis for Central Perk and still serves up really tasty bistro-style food; it’s well worth a stop in between Friends apartment selfies (just try to take a better picture than Chandler). It’s also a lot of fun to walk around Greenwich Village and wonder how the gang afforded to live in this exclusive neighbourhood, given that they barely ever went to work. Shop ‘til you drop Rachel Green-style at Bloomingdales, where she also once worked (remember when Ross almost set her office on fire?). The Lucille Lortel Theatre is a great night out for Joey fans – it’s where he performed in such epic shows as Freud! and Boxing Day (“I’m going to get on this spaceship, and fly to Blogon 7 in search of alternative fuels”).
How I Met Your Mother
Barney and the gang’s go to hang out, McClarens is an actual bar, known as McGees, located on 240 West 55th Street. Make sure you ‘suit up’ and don’t forget to attend the weekly How I Met Your Mother Trivia Night on Tuesdays at 8pm. The gang also visit Gray’s Papaya during the New Year episode in season 1, this 24 hour hotdog stalwart is a hot filming location, also starring in Sex and the City, Seinfeld and You’ve Got Mail. If you’re looking to partake in Barney’s favorite ever pastime (Lasertag bro!) while you’re in the city, then your best bet is Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island.
Head out to New Jersey if you’re hankering to walk in Tony Soprano’s shoes. Get a dose of old school Italian hospitality at Bamonte’s, a 120 year old restaurant that featured heavily in the show over the years. Go for the linguine with clams, a classic mafioso dish. Another food option should be Pizzaland, which appears in the opening sequence of the show and has been feeding hungry Italians since the 1960s. Head over to 260 Belleville Turnpike in North Arlington for a slice. The family’s Catholic church is actually and orthodox Church in reality, St George’s to be precise, in Clifton. You can visit the Bada Bing strip club, Tony’s unofficial HQ; it’s called Satin Dolls in real life and you’ll find it in Lodi on Route 17. Vintage Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionary Ice Cream Parlor was used a filming location in the final episode of the show. They also sell fun Sopranos merchandise like hats and t-shirts.
A stop at Tom’s restaurant is essential for any Seinfeld fan, Jerry and the gang’s regular hangout served as the exterior of Monk’s Coffee Shop. A visit to the soup restaurant from the legendary ‘Soup Nazi’ episode is an absolute must. In reality, the restaurant’s name is The Original Soupman and the staff are a lot friendlier than they’re portrayed in the show (thank goodness!). Go for Jerry’s favourite; medium crab bisque, just don’t ask for any bread! Sardi’s is a legendary nightspot that’s been entertaining theater-goers since 1927 and has been featured in countless TV and movie productions (including Mad Men, see below). It’s also where Kramer held court after ‘winning’ a Tony award. Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen is another amazing Seinfeld stop; this is where that immortal comedy question was first asked; “is soup a meal?”
Enjoy lunch at Pomme Palais Bakery at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue, the home of the Van der Woodsen family for a few seasons. Later, go for a drink at The Campbell, a sexy bar located in Grand Central Station. It’s an absolute must if you’re looking to recreate the fireworks set of by Serena Van der Woodsen and Nate Archibald during their brief affair or if you’re simply craving a fabulous craft cocktail. Dylan’s Candy Bar, the largest candy store in the world, featured in the episode where Vanessa buys sour gummy worms for Nate for their anniversary. The Russian Tea Room also features heavily in the show and is well worth the expense if you’re looking to do something really ‘special’ while you’re in town.
Enjoy a burlesque performance like the Sterling Cooper crew did in the opening episode of the show at The Slipper Room on the Lower East Side. The iconic Sardi’s restaurant was the sight of a celebration for Don after selling a TV pilot, PJ Clarke’s is the place to be for 1950s-style dinner and dancing in the city. The glamorous Grand Central Oyster Bar features in season 1 as a lunch location for Roger and Don. If you can afford it, stay at The Waldorf Astoria, where Don runs into Conrad Hilton. If you can’t afford it, just eat a Waldorf salad in the stunning Art Deco lobby instead.
NYC is the home of late night television, once home to the legendary likes of Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. Live tapings in New York for a whole host of entertainment and current affairs programs are usually free but you need to be organised! Discover tickets for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on 1iota. Free tickets for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at the Ed Sullivan Theatre are available at Showclix, as are tickets to see Trever Noah in The Daily Show, visit Showclix. For Good Morning America check out 1iota.
Feeling inspired? Create Your Own TV-inspired tour around New York City with the help of our expert local guides. Visit the filming locations that mean something to you and pay homage to your favourite TV shows, on a tour designed by you!