Whether you’re a born and raised New Yorker or you came to the bright lights of NYC later in life, you’ve probably dreamed of living the relatively carefree lifestyles of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross.
Thing is, what with Friends being a TV sitcom and all (and arguably the greatest TV sitcom of all time), it was almost entirely shot in a studio. And the studio wasn’t even in New York, it was in California.
But Friends was all about twenty-somethings living in Manhattan. So here’s how to spend the day feeling like you’re one of the gang.
1. Splash around in a fountain
Let’s start the day like any episode of Friends: clapping to the theme tune while fooling around in a fountain.
Best we can do here is head to Cherry Hill fountain in Central Park because, as we’re sure you’ll be disappointed to hear, the real fountain is in Burbank, California.
Then again, others say it was the Pulitzer Fountain in Grand Army Plaza that inspired the intro. Either way, you’ll have to pretend it’s the actual one unless you want to fly to California.
2. Stand suspiciously looking up at the Friends apartment
While the enormous interiors of Monica’s apartment were of course shot in a studio, the establishing shot of the building does in fact exist. There’s limited fun you can have here, but we recommend a slow tilt down with your camera phone finishing with a selfie. You’ll find it in Greenwich Village on the corner of Grove and Bedford.
3. Rent a spacious apartment for an hour
One of the hardest things to believe about Friends is that Monica could afford such a spacious apartment in Manhattan. She does explain it away in one episode saying that her grandmother left her the rent-controlled pad.
But seeing as you, or any other New Yorker for that matter, are unlikely to be able to afford such an incredible place, why not rent one for an hour? Breather offers spacious apartments by the hour so you can make believe you’re living the Friends lifestyle.
4. Eat spicy Mediterranean food at Central Perk
The cafe with the best name in NYC history in reality goes by a different moniker. The Little Owl is the real restaurant on the ground floor of the Friends apartment building.
The good news is you can visit the place. The bad news is there’s no sofa, danishes or Gunther. It still attracts a lot of tourists though.
5. Use a personal shopper at Bloomingdale’s
Time for work. In later seasons, Rachel moved on from her waitress job in Central Perk to work as a personal shopper at Bloomingdale’s on Fifth Avenue. If you can afford the personal shopper treatment, that’s what you’ll be doing for this part of the day. If not, just recommend stuff to a friend or strangers for the shoe-string experience.
6. Accuse someone of stealing your sandwich at a dinosaur museum
Dr Ross Geller worked at The New York Museum of Prehistoric History, which made regular appearances on the show. It featured as the location of Ross and Rachel’s first date and Joey once got a job there as a tour guide. The museum from the show, however, doesn’t exist either in New York or a Californian soundstage. It’s made up.
But the American Museum of Natural History will more than make up for it. Go look at the dinosaurs and make sure no one takes your sandwich.
7. Visit the Lucille Lortel Theatre (best not to scream though)
Before he was the star of daytime soap opera Days Of Our Lives, he acted in a terrible play with a fiery director. The theatre is in fact real and you can check out a show.
We’d advise against pulling a Ben Stiller and screaming at an old couple.
8. Finally find out where Chandler works (at the Solow Building)
This is one for the true Friends fan. Not even the characters in the show knew where Chandler Bing worked or what he did for a living. In fact, Monica and Rachel lost their apartment in a bet because they didn’t know the answer to that question.
But head to 9 West 57th Street and you’ll be in the know.
Featured cover image: Friends Subtitles