On a recent family visit to the US, I had the chance to swing through New York to see my brother, Mike, an aspiring actor. The opportunity to review a tour of sites where movies and TV shows had been filmed with On Location Tours seemed like the perfect fit for the day before Mike’s birthday. And low and behold he managed to drag himself out of bed, hangover and all, on St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy the three and a half hour tour with our family; he even stayed awake the whole time.
The tour, which starts outside of Ellen’s Stardust Diner, another great NYC experience for those in love with show business, is a comfortable bus circuit through Midtown via Central Park, down to trendy Greenwhich Village, SoHo, Tribeca and all the way to the tip of Manhattan’s Financial District. Our guide, Roseanne, pointed out sites where different shows had been filmed, while playing clips so we could see how the buildings looked in today’s reality in comparison to on ‘the big screen.’ She rocked my world a little bit when she revealed that “Friends” was actually filmed in Hollywood, with an on location crew getting orientation shots of the building where they lived and other street shots to make viewers feel like the show was filmed in New York.
Duration: 3.5 hours
Start Time: 11:00am
More info: New York TV and Movie Sites Tour
I was a bit worried that 3.5 hours was a long time for a tour, especially on a day when Manhattan’s wind tunnel was whipping, but the time flew as Roseanne explained how different types of shows and movies are filmed. The clips showed ranged from classics like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to “Gossip Girl,” keeping both those interested in pop culture and vintage film craning their necks to see things out the window. Roseanne also took the time to ask what TV shows people were watching and point out where scenes where their favorites were filmed, as well as show us how to spot filming posters, so we could come back later and stalk our larger-than-life crushes. She even went above and beyond, recommending another tour if we were interested in seeing more “Seinfeld” sites when my brother asked about that show.
The tour was also a great way to see a good part of Manhattan and get your bearings for what other parts of the city you might want to visit in detail later. We made 5 walking stops including the Ghostbuster’s Firehouse, Washington Square Park which has been used in many movies, and an independent stop in SoHo where we could walk around and choose from different spots to visit with the provided map. The balance between bus time and walking time was perfect for a blustery day, and importantly for someone like me who is almost 8 months pregnant, there was a clean bathroom with toilet paper on the bus that you could use at any time.
On Location’s TV and Movie sites tour was well worth the cost of a $40 ticket for anyone who wants to stand in their favorite actor’s shoes and as an introduction to NYC.