Saw Friends and found yourself so inspired that you packed your bags to visit the Friends’ hometown, New York City, only to discover that…the show wasn’t even filmed here?!
Tough break. No one told you life was gonna be this way (clap-clap-clap-clap). But there’s no reason your Friends-related travel plans have to be DOA. With Matthew Perry's new play The End of Longing about to make its New York premiere, it's a good time to be a Friends fan in the real NYC. And we’ll be there for you with our itinerary of places that were referenced on Friends, served as Friends exteriors or remind us of Friends in spirit, so you can be known among your own friends as The One with the Awesome Trip to New York City.
Where is it? Grand Army Plaza, Midtown West, Manhattan
In the show? Nope
So why should I go there? A lot of people mistake it for the fountain in the show’s opening credits, which was actually on a soundstage in Los Angeles. Some sources say this fountain was the inspiration for the TV version (but please don’t dance in there).
Cherry Hill Fountain
Where is it? Central Park (mid-park, off 72nd Street), Upper West Side, Manhattan
In the show? Negative. But it was on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as the place where Kimmy and Dong reenacted the intro to Six White Complainers…until a New York City police officer set them straight.
So why should I go there? You can pretend you’re on Six White Complainers, which is not a real TV show.
Washington Square Park Fountain
Where is it? Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, of course
In the show? Nope
So why should I go there? The Friends live in Greenwich Village, where you’ll find this fountain (also not the fountain in the show’s opening). It’s a pretty active hangout spot for New York University students and faculty; be on the lookout for instructors with fake British accents—like Ross, who’s actually getting great marks on ratemyprofessors.com. The school’s Bobst Library borders the park, but the public can’t go in there. It’s probably for the best—you won’t find Ross’s doctoral dissertation inside. Even if you could, that guy does not know how to conduct himself in a library.
Monica, Rachel, Chandler and Joey’s Apartment Building
Where is it? 90 Bedford St., Greenwich Village, Manhattan
In the show? Yup (the exterior)
What can I do there? You can take a picture and yearn. That’s pretty much it. There’s a cozy Mediterranean restaurant, Little Owl, at the base of the building, should you feel like grabbing a bite to eat and pretending you’re at Central Perk.
By the way: The most recent one-bedroom lease at 90 Bedford went for $3,395 per month. It’s a good thing that, as Chandler notes in the finale, rent control made Monica’s place “a friggin’ steal.”
Sir D’s Lounge
Where is it? 837 Union St., Park Slope, Brooklyn
In the show? Nah
So why should I go there? It reminds us of Central Perk, the fake coffeehouse from the show. Many coffee shops in New York City are way smaller than Central Perk and don’t have gigantic couches and tables where your massive friend group can spread out and discuss your dates, but this is one place that comes close. Since the days when the space was called Tea Lounge it’s added a salad bar and replaced the furniture, but the decor is still fairly Central Perky. The spot also hosts open-mic nights, so you may see the next Phoebe Buffay or even hear something like Ross’s “sound.”
Pete’s Candy Store
Where is it? 790 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
In the show? Nope
So why should I go there? Just about every day, there are free music performances, often acoustic, by up-and-coming singer-songwriters. Request “Smelly Cat” and they’ll probably give you a weird look or tell you to stop interrupting their acts.
American Museum of Natural History
Where is it? Central Park at West 79th Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan
In the show? Basically, but not in name
So why should I go there? Leaving aside that Ross’s workplace, the oxymoronic Museum of Prehistoric History, is definitely meant to be the American Museum of Natural History—what, don’t you like dinosaurs and outer space?
The Lucille Lortel Theatre
Where is it? 121 Christopher St., West Village, Manhattan
In the show? Yeah
What can I do there? If you’re such a Joey Tribbiani fan that you must see the place where he performed in such hits as Boxing Day and Freud! the musical, by all means go for it. Hey, maybe you’ll even like the show that’s playing. From May 18 through June 24, Friends fans can catch Matthew Perry in his New York stage debut: The End of Longing, a dramedy he wrote himself about four “broken” people. It premiered last year in London’s West End.
Where is it? 1000 Third Ave., Midtown East, Manhattan
In the show? You bet
What can I do there? Rachel works as an assistant buyer at Bloomingdale’s. You can buy stuff there, too, but the department store is unlikely to pay you for your services.
Madison Square Garden
Where is it? 34th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, Midtown West, Manhattan
In the show? Uh-huh
Why should I go there? The Knicks figure in various Friends plots, including when Monica and Rachel put Knicks season seats on the line during a high-stakes game with Chandler and Joey, and when Rachel is bad at using a pair of tickets to score a date with a handsome Bloomingdale’s customer. The Rangers make an appearance, too—but if you go see them, don’t get hit by a puck like Ross did.
On Location Tours offers an NYC TV & Movie Tour, which includes Friends workplaces, apartment buildings and other spots. For more information, visit onlocationtours.com.