The Top 15 Places Travelers Should Visit To Get The Real Broadway Experience
From hot spots where you’re bound to run into Broadway stars, to fascinating lost pieces of theatre history accessible to the public, here are 15 places you can’t miss if you want to get the insider Broadway experience while visiting New York City! By the Great White Way Expert Jennifer Tepper.
Sardi’s: Broadway’s most beloved watering hole has been in operation since the 1920s! Visit the first floor for old-school theatrical glamour or check out the second floor to rub elbows with today’s Broadway artists grabbing a bite between shows.
The Drama Book Shop: The store, which has operated in various locations since 1917, is a New York institution. Aspiring artists and theatre elite can be found side by side purchasing play scripts.
West Bank Café: Another eatery where one is bound to spot a star or two, the West Bank Café is a classy gathering place for the theatrical cognoscenti. You can also catch a cabaret show downstairs at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.
The Mark Hellinger Theatre: What is now the Times Square Church was once the Broadway theater where shows from My Fair Lady to Jesus Christ Superstar premiered. Since it’s open to the public, you can stop in and check out this palatial venue. For more secrets about the former Mark Hellinger, pick up volume one of The Untold Stories of Broadway.
Joe Allen/ Bar Centrale: With walls filled with the posters of short-lived musicals, Joe Allen celebrates the true theatre insider. If you check out the unmarked door upstairs, you’ll find yourself in a hidden destination for in-the-know show people: Bar Centrale.
Schmackary’s : Gourmet cookies and a lively atmosphere attract theatre folks to this lovable shop.
Glass House Tavern: This restaurant has become a staple for the Broadway crowd. Visit after seeing a performance and chances are that you’ll run into someone you just saw on stage.
The Apollo Link: When the old Lyric and Apollo Theatres on 42nd Street were combined to become one space (today’s Lyric Theatre) in the 1990s, one vestige of space remained. Called ‘The Apollo Link’, the glittering hallway looks today exactly as it did in 1910. Peer inside and get a peek for yourself!
Don’t Tell Mama: At Broadway’s most legendary piano bar, you’re bound to find either a star or a star-to-be belting out a number.
One Shubert Alley / Theatre Circle Shop: One Shubert Alley was created in the 1970s when theatre merchandise became popular—the Booth’s star dressing room was repurposed into this shop! The Theatre Circle Shop on 44th Street sell a variety of fun souvenirs for theatre lovers. Volume two of The Untold Stories of Broadway features more history about these celebrated stores.
Green Symphony: Looking to grab some health food alongside theatre gypsies? Look no further than this storefront canteen which has become key for actors in rehearsal.
The Edison Ballroom: The ballroom of the Edison Hotel on 47th Street was once a Broadway theater! Ask to check out the event space and you’ll see where shows such as the infamous nudie musical Oh, Calcutta! once played. I interviewed a dozen artists who once worked at the Edison for volume three of The Untold Stories of Broadway, so check it out to get the full scoop on this oddball ‘lost’ Broadway house.
The 43rd Street Parking Garage: This tucked away spot near 9th Avenue features the greatest public array of historic Broadway posters in New York. Take some selfies with the colorful artwork, but watch out for cars!
Kodama: Where Broadway goes to eat sushi! This celebrated destination includes dishes named after shows on its menu and is located right in the heart of the theatre district.
Feinstein’s/54 Below: At this Broadway supper club (where I’m the director of programming), you can take in everything from stars’ solo debuts to musicals in concert—all in an intimate space with fantastic cuisine. With 18 performances every week, there’s always something exciting happening!
And of course, the best places to visit to get the real Broadway experience are the Broadway theaters themselves! Not only can you experience a great show, you can also see fun and historic spots in each venue, from the Theatre Hall Of Fame at the Gershwin to the “Judy Garland Staircase” at the Palace. For more on all of this, check out The Untold Stories of Broadway series! To pre-order the third volume of Jennifer Tepper’s The Untold Stories of Broadway, you can find it here.