One of my greatest regrets is that it took most of my life to get to my favourite place on Earth: New York City. Of course, I had wanted to go most of my life, but circumstances didn’t really conspire in my favour until my friend Janet (of guest posts and Popcorn Dinner fame) and I opened a bottle of wine on a July night in 2009 and had a trip booked by the end of the evening.

Since then, I’ve returned to New York many times, and have another trip booked for April 2013. It’s a great city, in my opinion the best city, because it features so prominently in so many of my favourite movies, tv shows and books over the years. Sometimes part of me wonders if my delay in getting there was due in part of my fear of being disappointed. In retrospect, that was a foolish thought, New York never ceases to delight and amaze.

NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza & Saturday Night Live

Noted 30 Rock fan that I am, visiting 30 Rockefeller Centre, better known as the home of NBC, was a top priority for my first trip to New York. I was far too excited to see the iconic entry and stopping by the NBC Experience store before checking out the skating rink area. Rockefeller Plaza ended up exceeding my expectations all around, it is a remarkable collection of Art Deco buildings, and you could easily spend a couple of hours taking in the architecture alone.

NBC 30 Rockefeller Plaza

We also visited Top of the Rock, the observation deck on top of 30 Rock, which I prefer because of the sweeping view of Central Park and terrific eye-level view of the Empire State Building.  A few months later, I was back in the building for one of my top 10 travel experiences ever, attending a live taping of Saturday Night Live.

SNL4

Battery Park & Desperately Seeking Susan

Battery Park has featured prominently in many movies and tv shows over the years. For me, however, it was one of the most important characters in Desperately Seeking Susan, a Madonna-starring vehicle from 1985 that made New York look positively terrifying in the coolest way possible. It had changed quite a bit by the time I got there, but was thrilling nonetheless, because I still have the movie committed to memory to this day.

New York Battery Park

Battery Park Desperately Seeking Suan

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Washington Square Park & When Harry Met Sally

Watching When Harry Met Sally, something looked vaguely familiar. It was the Arc de Triomphe, which made no sense. Later on, I learned New York had it’s own arch in Washington Square Park. Walking around where Sally dumped Harry after their awkward parting, especially on a nice, sunny day, was a great was to relive a classic rom-com moment.

Washington Square Park New York

Washington Square Park When Harry Met Sally

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New York Public Library & Ghostbusters

I didn’t find this one, it found me. A friend was showing me around the Library, and when we got to this room, he just swept his arms open and said, “Yeah? Remember this place?” Sadly, I did not, but after he reminded me, I was flooded with memories of the movie.

Confession: we also posed dramatically in the stairwell where Carrie got dumped by Big at their wedding in the first Sex and the City movie.

New York Public Library

Who ya gonna call?

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Out of This World Ghostbusters

Gray’s Papaya & How I Met Your Mother

This one was a bit of stretch because while How I Met Your Mother is set in New York, it’s filmed in Los Angeles, so all of the NYC locations are often made up or based on other real places. While wandering in the Village and dying for something to eat on a Sunday night, Gray’s Papaya presented itself like a beacon in the night. We scarfed down some of their famous budget-friendly hotdogs and a pina colada juice and carried on with our adventure. That plot was borrowed from a Season One New Year’s Eve episode, where Gray’s Papaya proved to be a similar beacon for a hungry character who missed dinner.

Gray's Papaya New York

Charging Bull & Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

On a quiet Saturday morning, I intended to start my day downtown and work my way up. I like to get out early when I travel, because it’s the best time to catch iconic sights without many tourists in front, all jockeying for the same picture. On this particular day, I thought I was being particularly smart because the Financial District is pretty quiet on the weekend, so I thought I could get a nice, cler shot of Charging Bull, the famous bronze sculpture which stands in Bowling Green. No such luck. On this morning, Charging Bull had been transformed into a shooting location for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. While it was more on an accidental pilgrimage than anything, I’m counting it.

Charging Bull Wall Street Money Never Sleeps

Other NYC pop culture stops

When I put the question to my Twitter friends, I got a lot of answers that mirrored our mutual pop culture interests. Like finding Carrie’s stoop from Sex and the City, or any number of places from Law & Order.

Where are your favourite popular culture stops in New York City? Let me know in the comments!

See for yourself:
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Between Fifth Ave and Avenue of the Americas/Sixth Ave and W49th and W50th Sts.
Subway: 47-50th St Rockefeller Center

Battery Park
Battery Pl, State St and Whitehall Sts
Subway: Bowling Green

Washington Square Park (arch side)
Fifth Ave, Waverly Pl, W4th St and Macdougal Sts
Subway: W4th St

New York Public Library – Main Branch
Fifth Ave between W40th and W42nd Sts
Subway: 42nd St-Bryant Park

Gray’s Papaya
402 Avenue of the Americas/Sixth Ave at Greenwich Ave and W8th St.
Subway: W4th St

Charging Bull
1 Bowling Green at Broadway
Subway: Bowling Green

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