Give me a decent science museum or a must-see art exhibit and I’m all for it, but I usually draw the line at super touristy activities (well, if you ignore this). That all changed last weekend when I had the joy – yes, joy – of being a tourist in my own city.
On Location Tours invited me and Ryan to hop on one of their buses to see the city’s most famous movie sites. While I’d assumed this type of activity was saved for visitors, the fact that I knew the sites so well meant I got a ton out of it. I was repeatedly saying, ‘What? I pass this place every day and it was in that movie?’ With every new block, I was oohing and ahhing.
So what did we see?
We started up by Columbus Circle, which appeared in movies including ‘Enchanted’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Home Alone 2’ and ‘I Am Legend’. Borat also slept in the bushes when he first arrived in the U.S.
We zipped past the Plaza (where Kevin stayed in ‘Home Alone 2’), whizzed down Fifth Avenue, where we spotted scenes from ‘Breakfast at Tiffanies’, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and waved at the Trump Tower, the home of Wayne Enterprises in ‘The Dark Knights Rises’.
At each location, a TV screen played snippets from the corresponding movies, and our tour guide, Deo, had us giggling. (I was expecting your average tour guide, so when this stand-up comedian with a very dry sense of humor picked up the mic, I was surprised — and a big fan. I think most of his jokes went over the heads of the tourists, but Ryan and I were cackling in our seats.)
As Deo chatted, we meandered down to Washington Square Park, where we jumped off to pose in front of Will Smith’s house from ‘I Am Legend’ before scooting over to SoHo, the Financial District, Battery Park and the court houses, seen in ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, ‘Wall Street’, ‘CSI’ and ‘Law & Order’, among many, many others.
Finally, we headed across to the West Village and Tribeca, where we waved at Beyonce and Jay-Z’s pad, before hopping off at the Ghostbuster’s fire house and checking out Ugly Naked Guy opposite the Friends apartment.
After the three-hour tour, which included five or six walking stops, my head was bursting with new facts. It was a really refreshing way to spend a Saturday and gave me a chance to see the city in a totally different light.
As well as being a pinch too long, the only issue with the tour was there was no map of the route. While this is fine for someone who knows the geography of the city pretty well, I wonder if it was disorientating for visitors, who can’t have known which part of the city we were in (or which direction we were going) at any given point.
That aside, I think this is a brilliant option for a city tour if you’re visiting. It’s not your traditional ‘and here’s the Empire State Building’ tour. Instead, it allows you to see all the most recognizable parts of the city, as well as some quaint and hidden ones, with loads of comedy and trivia thrown in (and a free black and white cookie).
I know if you’re a local, it’s not the sort of thing you’ll think to do, but if you have someone visiting, it’s a great option. They’ll get a lot out of it, and you’ll probably get a whole lot more.
On Location Tours has a selection of TV and movie tours, including tours of Sex and The City, Gossip Girl, The Sopranos and TCM Classic movie locations, all a few hours in length and running throughout weekdays and weekends. They also have a walking tour, which would be a good summer option, but their other tours are great for the winter as you spend most of the time on the bus.