“Louder, faster, funnier!”
That’s the mantra between takes on the set of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and now you can get a taste for yourself while on one of the hottest tours in NYC.
On Locations Tours guide Katherine Winter takes direction well, because she packs the two-hour guided tour with funny stories, behind-the-scenes details, and quippy asides about the show and her time working on it as a background actor. And if you’re like me and mourning that this will be the fifth and final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this tour will make you feel the loud, fast, and funny that every episode brings.
The hit Amazon Prime show tells the story of 1950s housewife-turned-comic Miriam “Midge” Maisel and the ups and downs of her ascension to comedic stardom. The show is beloved for the way it captures New York Jewish life (the show's creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, has Jewish heritage and based the character of Midge Maisel on her father). Since its premiere in 2017, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has made its mark as a beautifully adorned love letter to the New York City of the past.
In honor of the April 14 Season 5 premiere, I decided to take the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Sites Tour. Even though the tour isn’t officially affiliated with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you’ll still feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth of insider trivia about the show. That’s because the guides leading the Maisel tour have personal experience working on set as background actors and day players.
And though it was fun to visit the many familiar spots around the city that Midge Maisel and her family frequent, the best part of the experience was getting the inside scoop from our tour guide on what it’s like to work on such an iconic set.
Spoiler: the hours may be long, but the experience? Pretty marvelous.
The tour begins outside CUNY Graduate Center on West 34th Street, where eagle-eyed fans might recognize the building as B. Altman, the luxury department store where Midge works in seasons one and two. Of course, without its colorful set dressing and window displays, the building looks rather bland, but it happens to be the real-life location of the B. Altman & Co department store, which closed back in 1990.
When our tour bus arrived, I was disappointed that they didn’t surprise us with the vintage 1957 Studebaker used in their private tour (up to 3 guests). But with an enthusiastic group of about 20 Maisel fans, we needed the extra space.
Our first sight was The National Arts Club in Gramercy, where Joel brings Midge to meet his parents. This one was a quick view of the outside awning through the windows. As we passed by, tour guide Winter shared interesting trivia about the history of Gramercy Park and its role in the show.
Next up, we stopped at Old Town Bar on East 18th Street, the bar Joel Maisel frequents in seasons one and two. I grabbed a quick pic there while dodging the scaffolding just outside the bar (“the bane of my existence,” moaned our tour guide). There wasn’t time to stop inside for a drink, but Winter assured us we’d get a warm bar welcome at our next spot.
Back on the bus, Winter regaled us with some behind-the-scenes details about:
- Fashion and wardrobe on the show—nearly everyone gets clothed in real 1960s vintage pieces, down to their undergarments!
- The show’s vivid color palette—there’s one person on set whose job it is to manage the “color story” of everyone on screen.
- Craft services—the Maisel meal budget was high in comparison to most other TV sets. And unlike the average craft services table, the Maisel team created themed traditional Jewish meals based on each day’s scene location (options included brisket, latkes, and a Jewish takeout staple: Chinese food).
- The stars of the show—Winter gushed about how lovely the energy was on set, from #1 on the call sheet, Rachel Brosnahan, to each member of the crew. Not a diva in sight, Winter says!
Next came another famous NYC landmark, McSorley’s Old Ale House, which plays the part of the Cedar Tavern that Midge and Ben visit in season two. We had time to grab a quick beer and check out some of the history covering the walls of the oldest Irish saloon in NYC. Highly recommend for taking a close look and chatting up the jovial barkeeps.
This was followed by my favorite stop on the tour: the historic Albanese Meats & Poultry, or in Maisel land, Lutzi’s Butcher. You can see one of the most famous stills from the show in the shop window, and it’s here that Midge makes her iconic declaration, “We got the rabbi!”
Of course, I had to capture that moment for myself, and our tour guide was game to join me in shouting the line together in the doorway. Thankfully, the shopkeeper didn’t seem to mind.
When we returned to the bus, Winter surprised us with a famous NYC dessert, black-and-white cookies, just like the ones that Midge gets from Lutzi’s to give to her doorman and elevator operator.
From here, the tour became walkable, and we headed further into Greenwich Village, where we saw:
- The Up & Up craft cocktail bar, the location of the original Gaslight Cafe where Midge does stand-up on the show.
- The Music Inn, a famous spot for vintage instruments and antique records that gets featured in seasons one and two (notably, as the place where Susie hears the unofficial recording of Midge’s drunken stand-up routine from S1, e1).
- Caffe Reggio, home to the first cappuccino in NYC, where Abe meets with his lawyer to discuss the Bell Labs predicament. Make sure you stop inside to grab a coffee and check out the charming vintage interior!
- Washington Square Park, featured in every season of the show.
The tour concludes in the West Village at La Bonbonniere, known on the show as the City Spoon Diner, which Midge frequents with her ex-husband Joel in the earlier seasons. It also came highly recommended by our tour guide for its challah french toast, which you’ll be ready to order after this very active tour. Heads up: the diner is cash only, so make sure you bring some along if you want to close out your tour with a quintessential NYC diner experience.
Take the Trip or Skip?
So what’s the verdict? For locals and tourists alike, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Sites Tour is worth the ticket. It’s full of highlights for superfans of the show, as well as for lovers of New York City history. It’s also a great way to explore some of the classic landmarks of Lower Manhattan.
And perhaps the most important tip of all: dress for the occasion. That way you can capture your own Midge Maisel moment at each stop. Although in Midge’s words, “It’s downtown. If you have underwear on, you’re overdressed.”
Private tours are available. Pricing for public tours starts at $45 for kids ages 6-9; $66 for older kids and adults. Premium seating is available. For more information, call 212-683-2027 or book here.