A ‘Girls’ Guide to New York
Follow in the footsteps of HBO's 'Girls' on our tour of the real-life locations featured on the hit series
When the HBO series Girls wraps up its second season next week, there will only be a total of 20 episodes in the can, but the show has already inspired legions of obsessive fans. Since the half-hour comedy blew up in 2012, there has been a steady stream of media coverage about Lena Dunham, the show’s now 26 year-old creator, producer, writer, occasional director and lead star, whose character Hannah seems to share many things in common with her author. The real-life parallels are part of the show’s appeal, which is one reason Girls has struck a chord with such a large group of people who feel the series reflects their own post-college experiences, particularly if they started out in New York.
While there’s no official Girls tour, as there are for the more established and oft-compared New York-based series Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, you can still step into the world where Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna self-obsess their way through their awkward and funny early twenties. Below, we shine a spotlight on the actual bars, restaurants, apartments, streets, shops and parks where the fictional Girls hook-up, grow-up and throw-up (just once.) Some of these destinations are more accessible and exciting than others, so we’ve added a note to let you know which are worth a visit and which are better off as-seen-on TV. Just because the season’s ending doesn’t mean you have to wait another 8 months to get your next fix—you can always relive it in person.
Spoonbill & Sugartown in Williamsburg
218 Bedford Ave, spoonbillbooks.com
In the first episode of season two, Hannah and her ex-boyfriend Sandy (played by Donald Glover), banter about love and dating rules while smooching among the shelves of this Williamsburg bookstore. It’s where Hannah says, “You don’t know how many dementos, weirdos and slugs I’ve dated. I used to like any guy who liked me.”
Insider Tip: Spoonbill & Sugartown handpicks thousands of new and used books every month. Expect to find a friendly staff and an in-house cat.
Worth it for its easy accessibility and as a fun place to browse for books. The shop looks just like it does in Girls.
See it on Girls: Season 2, Episode 1, 02:42
The Williamsburg Edge
22 N 6th Street, williamsburgedge.com
Jessa and Marnie meet Thomas John (Jessa’s future husband) at a bar and agree to go back to his apartment for a nightcap. The two friends end up making out on an expensive rug before spilling wine on it. Thomas John admonishes the girls, “Daddy didn’t buy me this rug, or this apartment, or this nose!”
Insider Tip: Until relatively recently, Williamsburg was a neighborhood populated by Hasidic Jews and starving artists looking for low rents and lots of space to create. Now the area has been developed with luxury condominiums and expensive shops, creating something of a class divide in the neighborhood.
Unless you happen to be roaming around in Williamsburg, it’s probably not worth it because you won’t be able to get into the building without a real-life Thomas John.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 8, 20:02
Bedford Avenue L Subway Station
N 7th St Bedford and Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg
After Hannah and her gay roommate/ex boyfriend snort cocaine together, they hover on the steps of this entrance to the L train looking agitated as various hipsters exit and enter the station. Episode 4 of the same season shows the interior of the station, where Shoshanna and Ray talk about living together while waiting for the train after an uncomfortable dinner party at Hannah’s apartment.
Insider Tip: You wouldn’t know it from watching this scene but people over the age of 40 do ride the L train. This specific station is a popular spot for street musicians and buskers.
Worth it because the L train is the portal in and out of Williamsburg and Bushwick, two Girls-centric neighborhoods, and there’s great shopping on Bedford.
See it on Girls: Season 2, Episode 3, 10:47
193 Meserole Avenue in Greenpoint, cafegrumpy.com
Ray is the manager of this coffee shop where Hannah works as a barista so she can pay back the rent she owes Marnie. After showing up for her first trial shift wearing a white dress, Ray tells Hannah, “You’re daring a homeless person to wipe their blood on your breasts.” Episode 5 of season 2 shows several interior scenes of the coffee shop.
Insider Tip: Cafe Grumpy is actually a chain of coffee stores with four locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Hannah works at the one in Greenpoint which is known for hand-roasting small batches of speciality-grade coffee on a restored Probat coffee roaster.
Worth it because the real clientele is made up of Hannah-esque freelance writers and twentysomethings, and with so many scenes shot here, it’s a key stop. Plus they’ve got great coffee.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 9, 10:53
Peter Luger Steak House
178 Broadway in Williamsburg, peterluger.com
Free-spirit Jessa meets her straight-laced husband’s parents for the first time at this iconic Brooklyn steak house. Jessa attempts to break the ice when she says, “I hate this restaurant, but I don’t even care because I’m so happy to meet you guys,” before talking about her past heroin addiction with her new in-laws.
Insider Tip: Peter Luger is known for being an anti-vegetarian establishment.
Worth it for arguably the best steak in the city—if you’ve got plenty of cash on hand (they don’t take credit cards). Expect to be surrounded by families celebrating special occasions and business men closing deals.
See it on Girls: Season 2, Episode 4, 28:46
Bushwick Loft Party
45 Bushwick Place in Bushwick
Jessa, Hannah and Marnie dress up and go to an epic loft party where Shoshanna accidentally smokes crack. Jessa foreshadows the memorable night when she says, “Jaded as I am, I still hold out hope that the next party will be the best party ever.”
Insider Tip: 45 Bushwick Place isn’t a real address, but the party was filmed at nearby Meserole Street between Bushwick Place and Morgan Avenue.
Probably not worth it because the neighborhood is far afield, not the safest, and there’s not much to see except for industrial lofts. If you can get invited to a party, go for it.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 7, 00:52
Hannah’s Greenpoint Apartment
India St in Greenpoint
Hannah’s shared two-bedroom apartment is located on a block of residential homes on picturesque India Street in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Greenpoint. In the first episode, Marnie and Hannah debate the best way to communicate in a dating relationship. Hannah argues, “How am I supposed to get him face to face if he refuses to text me?”
Insider Tip: Greenpoint is sometimes called “Little Poland” because of the large number of Polish immigrants living in the neighborhood.
Worth it because the neighborhood is idyllic and a lot of scenes are shot on the block. It looks exactly the same as it does on Girls.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 1, 06:52
549 Union Avenue, bellwetherbrooklyn.com
This is the bar where Hannah confronts her college boyfriend Elijah about his possibly giving her HPV just before finding out he’s recently come out of the closet. Hannah responds to his news with tears when she says, “What I’m having right now is an inappropriate physical reaction to my total joy for you and your self discovery.”
Insider Tip: The Royal Oak is now called the Bellwether.
Worth it because the interior of the bar wasn’t drastically changed for the scene. It’s a good place for a drink, but expect to find a crowded bar, not necessarily the private oasis Hannah had with her boyfriend.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 3, 13:34
53o Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg
Hannah has drinks at this French bistro with an editor who offers her an e-book deal. Though this is a dream situation for her, the pressure and reality of it lead her to vomit up her pink drink in front of several grossed-out pedestrians on the street. She says, “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Insider Tip: The exterior establishing shot for this scene makes it appear the pair are in The Abbey Bar next door, which is actually much more of a “bar bar.”
Worth it because in reality the clientele here is as beautiful and hip as they seem on the small screen.
See it on Girls: Season 2, Episode 6
The last episode of the first season ends with Hannah passed out on the F train after Jessa’s surprise wedding. Hannah is filmed sitting barefoot on the beach in the early morning hours. She eats a piece of leftover wedding cake in silence, with the famous amusement park looming behind her.
Insider Tip: Coney Island is the last stop on the F Train, which means Hannah was passed out on the subway for at least an hour.
Worth it in the summertime because Coney Island is an iconic and fun destination, easily reached via train. Take a ride on The Cyclone, the world-famous rickety-fast roller coaster. If you go early in the morning like Hannah did, the place will be virtually deserted. But expect big crowds on hot summer days.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 10, 28:07
The High Line
Entrance at Gansevort Street, thehighline.org
After an art show, Marnie and her crush Brook Jonathan try to get onto the High Line, Manhattan’s elevated park in Chelsea. He informs her that when he sleeps with her for the first time, “I might scare you a little because I’m a man, and I know how to do things.” In season 2, when the pair finally hook up, the only thing Marnie finds scary is the doll in Brook’s bedroom.
Insider Tip: The High Line is a public park built on a decommissioned elevated train track that stretches for 1.4 miles from Gansevort St. to 30th St. Its ideal for strolling and checking out views of the Hudson River, West Manhattan and New Jersey.
Absolutely worth it, even though Marnie never makes it up to the park (it was closed), you shouldn’t miss out on what is one of the most unique urban renewal projects anywhere in the world.
See it on Girls: Season One, Episode 3, 17:21
Staten Island Ferry
4 South St. in the Seaport District
Ray and Adam set out to return a dog Adam stole to its rightful owner on Staten Island. The two acquaintances have a serious conversation about Ray’s girlfriend Shoshanna while they cross new York Harbor on the ferry. Adam says, “Young girls are great. Young girls and older ladies; it’s the in-betweens that are the problem.”
Insider Tip: The Staten Island ferry is a free boat service that brings commuters from Staten Island to the southern tip of Manhattan. Visitors love the trip because it offers great views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and lower Manhattan.
Worth it for the memorable trip, and did we mention it’s free? You can also buy cheap beers on board to sip while you take in the views.
See it on Girls: Season Two, Episode 6, 13:32
Tom & Jerrys
288 Elizabeth Street, tomandjerrys.com
While her three friends wait for her at Soho Women’s Clinic (to support her during a scheduled abortion), Jessa orders a drink and hooks up with a stranger at this Manhattan bar. She says to the bartender, “These things never start on time. I’ll have a White Russian please.”
Insider Tip: Tom & Jerry’s is a popular watering hole for New York’s journalist and blogger crowd, though in reality, the space looks almost unrecognizable from the way its portrayed in the show.
Worth it because this is the scene where you fall in love with Jessa, if you hadn’t already been drawn in by her British accent and bohemian clothing. It’s also one of the best “normal” bars to meet for a casual drink in the area. Just don’t expect the TV version, which was cleared out and made to look more like a dive than it actually is.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 2, 16:28
The Jane Hotel
113 Jane Street in the West Village, thejanenyc.com
In episode 9, Hannah encounters her nemesis, Tally Shrifin, at the book party for Shrifin’s “Leave Me Alone,” shot at the Jane hotel in the West Village. Hannah is extremely jealous of the memoir her frenemy wrote. Shoshanna sums the book up when she says, “Her boyfriend killed himself, on purpose, by crashing a vintage car while on Percocets.”
Insider Tip: If you want to spend the night at The Jane Hotel while you explore your favorite Girls’ locations, rooms start at just $99 a night, with a shared bathroom.
Worth it because the Jane Ballroom is a magnet for young and attractive nighthawks of a certain set. Don’t be surprised to see the Olsen twins dancing in the corner.
See it on Girls: Season One, Episode Nine, 00:59
The Carlyle, 35 East 76th St on the Upper East Side
Hannah meets her parents at this iconic supper club and music venue to watch a live performance by Judy Collins. It quickly becomes apparent that Hannah’s previously unmentioned obsessive compulsive disorder is back in her life due to the stress of writing her first book. Hannah leaves the table and accidentally bumps into a seated gentleman, then proceeds to knock against his shoulder eight times before winding up in front of the bathroom mirror repeating to herself, “You are fine and good.”
Insider Tip: Woody Allen regularly appears at Cafe Carlyle on clarinet with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band.
Worth it if you can afford the pricey drinks or want to see a live show. Do not bump into anyone eight times unless you really do suffer from OCD.
See it on Girls: Season 2, Episode 8, 13:33
Gawker Media, 210 Elizabeth Street in Nolita
Hannah’s unpaid internship in episode 1 was filmed in Gawker Media’s offices on the third floor. She works up the courage to ask her boss if he’ll finally hire her as a paid employee but is quickly shot down. She begs, “I gotta eat,” before her boss fires her from the internship.
Insider Tip: Gawker.com is notorious for harshly criticizing both Lena Dunham and Girls.
You’ll never get inside Gawker’s headquarters unless you work there or have a meeting, but the surrounding neighborhood, NoLIta, is definitely worth the trip for its unique boutiques and restaurants.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 1, 10:42
65 W. 54th Street in Midtown, warwickhotelny.com
In the show’s pilot episode, this is the hotel where Hannah’s parents are staying while they visit her. Hannah passes out in their hotel room and is later seen walking down 6th Avenue the morning after her parents announce they will no longer be supporting her financially. Hannah explains, “All I’m asking for, to finish this book, is $1100 a month, for the next two years.”
Insider Tip: The Warwick Hotel was built in the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst, and has been an iconic location since.
Worth it for the beautiful rooms, European-style lobby, and cozy in-house bar, Randolph’s.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 1, 27:15
Washington Square Park
1 Washington Square East in Greenwich Village
Shoshanna, Ray, and Marnie walk together through Washington Square Park when Shoshanna runs into a college friend on vintage rollerblades who invites her to a party. Shoshanna explains to Ray, “She’s the richest Hindi I know.”
Insider Tip: Washington Square Park is ground zero for students attending nearby New York University.
Worth it because there’s always something fun and interesting going on in this downtown mecca for artists and performers, and it’s a great place to relax and people watch.
See it on Girls: Season 2, Episode 8, 30:46
248 Broome Street on the Lower East Side, babycakesnyc.com
Shoshanna runs into an old friend from camp on the street and the two of them sit outside BabyCakes bakery to catch up. After he confronts her with a rumor that she tried to commit suicide at camp by sucking all the air out of an inflatable raft, she says, “No way! I’m anxious, not depressed. I did that on a dare.” Later, she unsuccessfully attempts to lose her virginity to him after a date.
Insider Tip: The ladies on Sex and the City made Magnolia cupcakes famous, but Lena Dunham, known for eating cupcakes in the bathtub on Girls, seems to prefer the vegan and gluten-free treats at this independent cupcake shop.
Worth it if you’re in the mood for something sweet and delicious, and the surrounding Lower East Side was the original gritty-cool neighborhood before Williamsburg.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 4, 04:53
42-38 9th Street in Long Island City, thefoundry.info
Jessa surprises everyone when she has a surprise wedding with Thomas John at this private event space in Queens. Marnie says, “Oh my God, that’s Thomas John, the guy who tried to have a three way with me and Jessa.”
Insider Tip: Jemima Kirke, who plays Jessa, is married with two children.
The space isn’t open to the public, so it’s probably not worth the trip unless you’re thinking about hosting an event.
See it on Girls: Season 1, Episode 10, 06:08