'How I Met Your Mother': A Legendary New York Tour
Could we find the real-life equivalents of our favorite places featured in the show? Challenge accepted!
How I Met Your Mother is filmed on a set in Los Angeles, so most of the storefronts and street scenes you see aren't really New York. A lot of the places featured in episodes, while plausible for New York, are purely fiction -- "DoWiSeTrePla" (Downwind of the Sewage Treatment Plant) is, thankfully, not a real neighborhood in the city. But the show's creators once lived in NYC, and drew from their experiences in the city to inspire a lot of HIMYM stories. This means many of the spots featured in the show are actually rooted in real-life New York places.
Here's where to find them:
MacLaren's is modeled after a midtown New York pub where the show's creators used to hang out while working at The Late Show with David Letterman. The real name of the bar in How I Met Your Mother is... wait for it... McGee's Pub, on W. 55th Street. The bar now embraces its TV alter-ego with special drinks like the "Robin Sparkles" and the "Naked Man." It also hosts How I Met Your Mother trivia nights and takes a break from its usual sports-centric broadcasting to dedicate all bar TVs to showing new HIMYM episodes on Monday nights. Unlike the Cheers bars in Boston, however, this one has remained a neighborhood spot -- most patrons just think it's a good Irish pub for an after-work drink. Which is exactly how Ted and Co. would want it.
The show fudges geography a bit: the apartment (home at some point to everyone except Barney) is supposedly right above MacLaren's. There are apartments above McGee's Pub, but serious show devotees know that the characters live on the Upper West Side. The How I Met Your Mother address is actually an apartment on W. 75th Street and Amsterdam Avenue (show creator Craig Thomas confirmed it's based off his and co-creator Carter Bays's former home at this address). Will this landmark become as popular as Carrie's Sex and the City stoop? Doubtful, but it's a nice neighborhood where you can check out other HIMYM hotspots, including Gray's Papaya, the Natural History Museum and Central Park.
Best Burger in New York
While Marshall (and Regis Philbin) scoffs at the suggestion that Corner Bistro is the best burger in New York, the burger episode of HIMYM actually serves as a great guide to the city's top bites. Corner Bistro, Paul's da Burger Joint and the 21 Club are some of the most famous New York burger spots, and shouldn't be written off just because they didn't win Marshall's approval. You could head to W. 106th Street and Manhattan Avenue looking for the elusive red neon sign and green door (which is quite similar to the real-life Corner Bistro), but as was the case for Marshall, you won't find any burger restaurants there.
This one's a bit tougher to plan for, but some New York HIMYM fans have been pleasantly surprised to find a familiar taxi driver name answering their Uber cab requests:
In the "Little Minnesota" episode, Marshall takes Robin to a bar full of friendly Vikings fans. On Sundays in New York, this Vikings bar is a reality -- purple and gold-clad Minnesotans take over to cheer on their football team (and still shake their fists at Gary Anderson's missed field goal) at Bar None in the East Village. Contrary to the show's suggestion, the crowd here's more likely to give you the boot if you're a Green Bay Packers fan, not a Canadian.
The people here might not know the words to "Let's Go to the Mall," but Ontario, a bar in Brooklyn, serves Canadian beers and has air hockey tables -- it's a home away from home for New Yorkers from the North. Canucks fans may prefer to check out the Flying Puck, a hockey-obsessed bar in midtown. Hungry? Follow Barney and Robin's lead and hit up a Tim Hortons -- no need to go to Toronto, there are outposts in NYC. Just don't turn off the lights...
Walk through Central Park to see a few favorite HIMYM spots -- just don't get too close to the snow monkey exhibit at the Central Park Zoo (where Marshall claimed to get mugged by a monkey). A little farther west you'll come across the Central Park Carousel, where Robin returns to look for her buried locket at the end of Season Eight. Spoiler alert: don't waste your time digging to find it.
Victoria's code name upon meeting Ted at the wedding in Season One turns out to be the name of the bakery at which she worked. They won't be frosted with Victoria's tears (probably a good thing) but the cupcakes at the real Buttercup Bakery in Midtown East rank high among the city's best bakeries. (Though the banana pudding's the biggest draw here.)
Natural History Museum
The gang attends a black tie benefit at the Museum of Natural History, where they meet The Captain. You can visit without a fancy invite -- be sure to check out the Hall of Ocean Life and its suspended blue whale, which Barney claims to have knocked down as a six-year-old. Unfortunately there's no whispering gallery in the real museum; you'll have to go to Grand Central Terminal for that.
Empire State Building
Listing all the show's references to this iconic tower would be as long as Ted's architecture lectures. From the episode with Robin's sister to the King Kong monkey to countless skyline shots throughout the series, the Empire State Building is an integral part of HIMYM's landscape.
New York Rangers Game
Robin's ideal date spot is a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Catch a game and listen for the organ -- though odds are it's not being played by Jessica Glitter.
There aren't any laser tag venues in Manhattan, but there is one in Staten Island, where Barney grew up. Stinson out.
How We Met the Mother
Our first encounter with "the mother" takes place at the ticket counter for the Long Island Rail Road train to Farhampton. Ok, so Farhampton isn't a real place, and this scene was filmed on a set, but if it did exist you'd have to get a LIRR ticket at Penn Station. The station is hardly glamorous, and best avoided if you're not commuting somewhere, but if you love the mother as much as Ted does, it might be worth the trip.
Did we miss any? Add your favorite How I Met Your Mother filming locations in the comments.
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Photo credits: CBS via Getty Images; courtesy Josh Moody