New York City Sightseeing Itinerary for Movie Buffs
November 1, 2018
This post was written and contributed by Katie Sagal from Smart Destinations, home of the New York City Explorer Pass, which can help you save on many NYC attractions including our tours. Check out our Holidays themed blog post on their blog here.
New York City is a top-notch destination for travelers of all styles, but it’s an especially attractive option for movie buffs.
Whether you love classic black and white films, the iconic award-winners of the 60s and 70s, or modern movies and television shows, chances are you adore a piece of media that’s set or filmed in NYC.
If you’re a cinephile traveling to the Big Apple and hoping to see a few (or a few dozen!) sites featured in your favorite movies or T.V. shows, then we’ve got a list of ideas for you.
These are a few of the most movie-centric New York City attractions, including:
- Gossip Girl Tour by On Location Tours
- Sopranos Tour by On Location Tours
- NYC TV & Movie Sites Tour by On Location Tours
- Central Park Tour by On Location Tours
- Empire State Building
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
- Coney Island
- New York Public Library
- And more!
To help you plan your ideal movie buff itinerary, we’ve organized the post into different sections: the first features comprehensive movie and television themed tours, and the second focuses on sites you can see individually on your own time.
There are several hotspots for movie buffs that are free to explore, too, and ways to save on admission to top attractions.
Popular TV & Movie Sites Tours
Gossip Girl Tour
For fans of the hit television series Gossip Girl, this tour is a must. If you’ve ever wanted to see the major sites featured in the show, get those smart phones and cameras ready for this exciting experience!
An expert tour guide (a TV industry insider, in fact) will lead you throughout the Upper East Side, past iconic locations like Blair Waldorf’s Fifth Avenue home, the UES mansion that hosted Lily and Bart’s wedding, and more.
This Gossip Girl tour lasts about three and a half hours and is chock full of insider info, insights about the setting, the story, and the cast, and even the hangouts of the stars.
Embark on a journey from Midtown Manhattan that takes you into the northern New Jersey sites that made The Sopranos so realistic.
All of the tour guides who run this tour actually worked on the show in some capacity, so you can expect some real insights into the behind-the-scenes world of one of HBO’s earliest and biggest hits.
Recognizable sites from the series include Pizza Land, the Muffler Man, the Valley Landscape Silo, and many other buildings and sites featured in the credits. You’ll also see the diner where Christopher gets shot, Tony’s business Barone Sanitation, and the strip club they all hung out in, Bada Bing.
This Sopranos bus tour lasts about four hours, and departs from and returns to Midtown Manhattan.
NYC TV & Movie Sites Tour
Because New York City is arguably the city that stars in or provides the backdrop to the most films and television shows in the entire world, a tour like this is a no-brainer.
This bus tour includes over 60 locations found in your favorite television productions, such as Friends, The Mindy Project, Glee, Modern Family, Veep, and many more. Movie locations include places from When Harry Met Sally, Ocean’s 8, Trainwreck, The Amazing Spider-Man, and several others.
This tour is also an excellent way to see different parts of the city, like Times Square, Central Park, Columbus Circle, Greenwich Village, SoHo, and TriBeca.
The NYC TV & Movie Sites Tour takes between 2 and a half to three hours.
When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour
This tour features more of the lesser-known sites in NYC film history. Covering the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, this tour bypasses the big name stuff for the equally beloved, but often less explored, parts of the area north of Times Square.
Pass by over 40 locations, big and small, that star or feature in classic television shows and movies. Sites include the Seinfeld diner, the performance venue from the Pitch Perfect franchise, the café where Meg Ryan waits for her date in You’ve Got
Mail and more.
You’ll start your tour at McGee’s pub, which was part of the inspiration for the hit show, How I Met Your Mother. Then loop through the cool Seinfeld hangouts of the UWS, and the swanky mansions and museums in the UES.
The When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour takes about two hours.
Central Park TV & Movie Sites Tour
Mix it up with a walking tour that covers the immensely popular space of Central Park. Host to innumerable films, television shows, and beyond, Central Park is the cultural heart of New York City.
See over 30 film and T.V. locations on this relaxing and informative tour. Sites include the ice-skating rink from Serendipity, the Naumburg Bandshell from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the Boathouse Café from When Harry Met Sally, and the Bethesda Terrace from Elf, among others.
This Central Park Tour is also one of the shorter tours (clocking in at about two hours), so it’s handy to work into a larger itinerary.
More Popular Movie Sites
After enjoying one of these engaging themed tours, you may want to continue to explore the city on your own to see even more iconic sites from top films and T.V. shows.
Who can forget the heart-wrenching scene in Sleepless in Seattle that sees two lovers almost miss one another at the top of the Empire State Building?
Lady Liberty has been in practically countless films of varied style and genre, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur to Madagascar to Ghostbusters. If you want to see the Statue of Liberty on your trip (and/or Ellis Island), hop aboard the Statue of Liberty
The steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and, occasionally, the interior) are also a frequently appearing background in films and television shows. Plus, it’s a major cultural destination so a visit here is a win-win.
For fans of Night at the Museum, the American Museum of Natural History is a fun destination, featuring all of the amazing characters the film brings to life after dark (tragically, in their static forms).
Another frequently filmed site is the family-friendly Coney Island. With movies such as Requiem for a Dream, Uptown Girls, Men in Black 3, and, recently, Brooklyn, being filmed at this popular amusement park, a trip to Coney Island is an excellent option for movie buffs.
There are also plenty of iconic NYC locales that make it to film and don’t cost a thing to see or visit. If it’s the wintertime, you’ll want to see the Rockefeller Plaza ice rink in all of its holiday glory. (You do need to pay to rent skates, but it’s free to people-
Any time of year is a good time to wander through Grand Central Terminal with its gorgeously refinished ceilings, or the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman building (home to the famous stone lions and featured in The Thomas Crown Affair, among several other films).
The Plaza Hotel, while out of many budgets for a lodging option, is free to stroll by and is famous for being in North by Northwest, Home Alone 2, The Great Gatsby, and more.
Save on Admission to Attractions for Movie Buffs
If you’re dedicated to planning out an itinerary that will showcase the best of NYC film and television sites, you’ll probably be looking for a way to save a bit of money on attraction admission.
Consider picking up a New York City Explorer Pass, a flexible attractions pass that can save you up to 50% on combined admission to top NYC tours and activities, including many in this post.
Or, you could also opt to Build Your Own Pass, which is helpful if you only want to see a few attractions, and know exactly what you want to see in advance.