Seinfeld has proven to be an incredibly prolific sitcom. If you didn't watch it during its original run, you have definitely caught it on reruns in the evenings and learned all about Festivus, Vandelay Industries, being the "master of your domain", the fact that it's not a lie if you believe it, and that a show about nothing can be pretty damn entertaining. Put on your best puffy shirt and explore New York City's best Seinfeld filming locations...and watch out for Close Talkers, High Talkers, Low Talkers, Two-Faces, Man-Handed Women...basically, everyone.
Tom's Restaurant served as the exterior filming location for Monk's, the coffee shop that Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, and George frequent. After you snag a picture of the outside (ignore the outdoor seating that they've added), head inside to enjoy a big salad, a muffin (top only, of course) or whatever the opposite of tuna on toast is. The interior shots of Monk's were filmed elsewhere, but there's a reason that Tom's is a favorite for students from nearby Columbia... the classic Greek-American diner food is solid, the service is quick, and the coffee is hot and strong.
In the "Festivus" episode, we find out that Kramer actually has been employed all along...he's just been on strike from his job at H&H Bagels the whole time. The original two H&H Bagels locations have closed, but one remains open on the Upper East Side, and still serves up mouthwatering NY-style bagels. Ask the workers behind the counter which bagels are the freshest and have them load it up with lox and cream cheese for a classic New York experience.
J. Peterman has a habit of buying stuff from auctions at Sotheby's. He purchases a slice of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wedding cake from 1937, and sends Elaine to buy JFK's golf clubs. It's one of the oldest and most illustrious auction houses in the world, and it's one of the largest brokers of everything from antique jewelry and art to vintage cars and real estate.
The house where Frank and Estelle Costanza (and George, for a bit) lived is located in Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. You can practically hear the notoriously loud couple bickering at each other as you stroll past.
Rockaway Beach is where Kramer likes to come to work on his golf technique...and where he accidentally gets a Titleist stuck in the blowhole of a whale, which George removes while pretending to be a marine biologist. The beach is open year-round and has a nice boardwalk where you can ride bikes or take a casual stroll...plus, it's NY's only legal surfing beach!
Kramer also likes to swim in the East River on occasion, which is not suggested, because it's dangerous and gross and Kramer is an insane person. However, you can and should visit East River State Park instead. Its location in Williamsburg offers great views of Manhattan, and it's a nice green space for lounging or strolling. Keep your eyes peeled for historical interpretive signs outlining the park's history as a 19th century shipping dock!
You can also visit "The Nexus of the Universe" as a lost Kramer calls it, which is at the intersection of 1st Street and 1st Avenue (avenues run one way and streets another, that's how 1st intersects with 1st, as Jerry so aptly explains).
Papaya King is Kramer's favorite hot dog in New York City...he's even willing to mess up complicated plans for the group to see a movie together in order to get one. The hot dogs here are definitely better than anything you'd find in a movie theater concession stand: they come topped with chili, slaw, pineapple, and other tasty condiments, plus they have tater tots and curly fries, and, of course, their signature fruit drinks (hence the name "Papaya King").
In the episode with the Sniffing Accountant, where Jerry fears that the man handling his finances is using cocaine, but is actually having an allergic reaction to a wool sweater, Kramer follows their suspect into Pete's Tavern and does some recon work. Pete's Tavern also happens to be NYC's oldest continuously operating bar and restaurant, and still serves up traditional Italian food and stiff drinks to regulars. Bonus: author O. Henry frequented this joint back in the day!
Bania! When Jerry owes rival comedian Kenny Bania dinner, he brings the often-annoying comic to Mendy's Kosher Delicatessen, where Bania orders the soup, and declares that the meal doesn't count as "dinner." Order the classic matzoh ball soup if you don't want "dinner," or the stuffed cabbage rolls if you do!
It's always a good idea to make sure you've returned all your library books to the New York Public Library. This iconic building has been featured in tons of other films and shows as well (like "Ghostbusters"!), but Seinfeld fans will remember this as the spot where Jerry finds out that he has an outstanding fine with the library for a book from 1971, and is investigated by a "library investigations officer." Yikes. Hopefully "library investigations officers" aren't real but still, better be safe and return anything you check out from here, just in case.
The "Soup Nazi" episode of Seinfeld is one of the most popular, and believe it or not, it was based on a real restaurant: these days, it goes by the name "The Original Soupman." The menu offers several different mouthwatering soups each day, from chowders to gumbos to chilis and more. And yes, there really are rules that must be followed to place an order. Don't worry, they only request that you have your order in mind and your cash handy; they're much nicer in real life than on the show!
Hopefully you don't actually wind up here at Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, but if you do, make like Kramer and do a little exploring. This is where he stumbles across an alleged Pigman. Oh, and be careful where you park your car here, too. This is the episode where George finds a prime parking spot right in front of the hospital...only to have a mental patient jump out of a window and land right on his car.
In the show, the gang is invited to the apartment of smarmy dentist Tim Whatley (played by Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston!), because he has a great view of the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons being inflated the night before the event. In real life, the filming location used for Whatley's apartment does overlook Central Park.
Elaine moves around a bit throughout the show, and even once almost moves into Jerry's apartment when he considers moving out, but for most of the earlier seasons, Elaine's Apartment Building is near Central Park. Not a bad location!
When George isn't living with his parents, he lives in this apartment building on W. 90th street. It's a great place to celebrate The Summer of George...from the comfort of a recliner, of course.
Stop by George's former place of employment, Yankee Stadium (the one in the show has since been razed as of 2010, but if you're lucky you might be able to see George driving around the parking lot with a World Series trophy dragging behind his car). Try and catch a game here, because baseball factors so heavily into the show, from the gang's short-lived friendship with star Keith Hernandez to Kramer promising a sick kid that Yankee Paul O'Neill would hit not one, but two home runs for him.
If you really want to get deep into the mythos of Seinfeld, and maybe even get a little meta with it, you can take the Kenny Kramer Tour. Kenny was sort of the real-life inspiration for Cosmo Kramer, and Kenny's tour was even parodied on the show...remember when Kramer ghostwrote Mr. Peterman's autobiography, then offered a bus tour of his/Mr. Peterman's life? The tour actually has glowing reviews across the interwebs...but hopefully, Kenny doesn't offer homemade pizza bagels made with donuts to tourists, though!
Sure, things have changed since Seinfeld went off the air. Some filming locations have closed and a lot of the plot lines don't stand up to modern-day technological advances, but there's no denying that some things still ring true: things always come full circle, shows about nothing can be pretty entertaining, and, most importantly...it's not a lie if you believe it.