'GAME OF THRONES' GUIDE TO NYC
Winter is coming…across the five boroughs
If you’re reading this, I assume it’s because you love this show as much as I do. But if you are unfamiliar or are in different let me just say Game of Thrones is a show we all should know and love. If you haven’t discovered the magic that is Game of Thrones now is the time, especially as the final season returns on APRIL 14TH! The countdown is on, you have 3 months from the published date of this post to catch up!
Anticipation is at an all-time high as one of HBO’s most successful series is nearing its end. Whether you’re into the fantasy genre of magic, zombies, dragons, murder, sex, and revenge, or not, I spent over a year of my life while living back east in New York City painstakingly researching each of the 7 kingdoms within the show and the appropriate location, restaurant and/or watering hole, or activity to match each one.
Take note, this guide is not something that can be achieved in one day, and if you do MAD PROPS and I want you to message me directly about that experience. This is a robust Game of Thrones guide that can take you as much time as you desire. Within the guide I have included each kingdom, a description, the main characters associated with the kingdom and the activity in NYC to accompany it.
I am an avid fan of the show and when it comes to putting together the best guide possible. I’m not trying to half ass you all here, I want you to be satisfied, and in true SDW fashion whether you’re a local, visiting for the first time, or are on your millionth trip to the city, I want to you find and experience something you have never even heard of before.
So clear your mind, gather your fur coats, say a little prayer, and head out on (at the very least) but more accurately the greatest fantastically medieval experience of your life.
THE SEVEN KINGDOMS
With a harsh climate ‘The North’ is a place not for the faint of heart. If you’ve seen the most recent season, you know, winter (really) is coming.
House Stark (winter is coming); The Knights Watch
WHERE IN NYC?
ADJUST YOUR BODY TO THE TEMPERATURES IN THE LAND OF SNOW & ICE IN CRYOTHERAPY
Cryotherapy has been around for a while. Longer than the recent hype would suggest. The benefits range from treating symptoms from tissue damage, decreasing inflammation, increasing cell rejuvenation, improving skin tone and reducing the signs of aging. It’s also not as expensive as you would think, especially as many places offer discounts for first-time customers, or you can eve find a Groupon deal like I did. Need I say more?
** At the time of this post going live CryoGuru is unfortunately no longer in business. As a suitable substitute I am including and suggesting the highly rated Vitality NYC to get your Cryo-fix! **
Loosely based on medieval France, ‘The Reach’ is the known as the highly developed and sophisticated kingdom within Westeros.
House Tyrell (Lady Oleanna, Margaery and Loras)
WHERE IN NYC?
TREAT YOURSELF TO A LUXE SPA EXPERIENCE AT AIRE ANCIENT BATHS - FOLLOWED BY DINNER AND DRINKS AT CHEZ MOI/LE BOUDOIR (THE HIDDEN ATTACHED SPEAKEASY)
Everyone deserves a little ‘treat yourself’ day, amiright? Elegance, pampering, over-indulgence… could there be any other words associated with medieval France? Think about all those lords and ladies. Now picture yourself in their shoes. After a long week of work, or traveling, or sightseeing, you deserve a soak in some amazingly therapeutic baths followed by a pass out it was so good French meal. You deserve to be happy, all the time. Just saying…
Additional options include: Spa Castle Premiere (in Midtown), Café Henri and/or Chez Josephine
**all photos above were taken at SoJo Spa in New Jersey**
‘Dorne’ was inspired by Moorish Spain (during the 13th to 16th centuries), in which the architectural style was characterized by arches and ornate, geometric ornamentation. Moorish Spain shaped Iberia differently through its adaption of a new religion, language and culture - culturally setting it apart from the rest of Spain and Western Europe. This is used as a reference point on how ‘Dorne’ compares and relates to the rest of ‘Westeros’ as a whole.
House Martell (Oberyn & Doran); Ellaria Sand and two of the Sand Snakes (Tyene & Obara)
WHERE IN NYC?
VENTURE OUT TO BROOKLYN FOR AN AMAZING SPANISH HAPPY HOUR, AND DINNER, WITH ALL OF THE VIBES AT MY MOON
This place is gorgeous, and will literally give you a meal you will never forget. The only reason I bring up even more information is because I have never found a place that embodied a kingdom so well until I discovered My Moon. The restaurant, located in a 19th-century building, serves classic Spanish fare & tapas, and also features an amazingly large patio. Come for happy hour (which runs daily from 5-7pm) and stay for dinner. The subway ride out to Brooklyn will totally be worth it.
The environment of ‘The Vale’ is less hospitable and lacks in many key resources. The Valemen who live here are seen as honorable, reliable warriors who care deeply about their honor and the Faith of the Seven.
House Arryn (Lysa, Catelyn Stark's younger sister, and her son Robin Arryn); Petyr Baelish (“Littlefinger”)
WHERE IN NYC?
GET LOST IN THE MUSEUM BUILT LIKE A MEDIEVAL CASTLE, THE CLOISTERS
One of the best things about The Cloisters is that it is a part of The Metropolitan Museum. This means that once you are done Uptown (way Uptown) you can head over to the Upper East Side and a visit the larger, more infamous space on Fifth Avenue, The Met. Your ticket will work for both museums!
Heavily forested with a climate that varies from warm and wet, to very cold and alpine, ‘The Stormlands’ can loosely be compared to (in terms of the environment) medieval Germany.
House Baratheon (Stannis & Robert); House Tarth (Brienne of Tarth)
WHERE IN NYC?
WALK THROUGH THE NORTH WOODS IN CENTRAL PARK (A LOCATION YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T EVEN THINK TO VISIT), FOLLOWED BY A LIGHT LUNCH (OR PASTRIES AND TEA) AT CAFÉ SABARSKY (INSIDE THE NEUE GALERIE ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE)
I’m not going to lie, it was a little hard to find locations in NYC that emanated medieval Germany. If there is one culture that is very distinct and hard to mimic (without being slightly corny) throughout the US it’s Germany. Why? They are a strong and proud culture. I have been surrounded by Germans, like actual Germans who either immigrated to the US or were here on a work/school visa, for a majority of my life (fun fact). I respect and admire the culture and know how important it is that you do it right. Therefore I give you the closest location that you’re going to get into nature (within NYC’s city limits) without being surrounded by hoards of picnicking people and imposing Uptown architecture: The North Woods of Central Park. In general it’s easy to get lost in the park and after doing so for hours you deserve a good, hearty, and authentic German meal. Side note: You better NOT ignore my advice and go to Rolf’s instead. Ambiance is worth it, yes, the food, helllll no.
Additional options include: Café Katja or Edi & the Wolf (just beware you’ll have to get on the subway and travel for these two)
Immensely rich with natural resources (particularly silver and gold) this is a smaller region within Westeros. The metals found in ‘The Westerlands’ are how the Lannisters amassed their wealth.
House Lannister of Casterly Rock (the current royal house of the Seven Kingdoms); "The Mountain" and "The Hound" (who are brothers if you didn’t know)
WHERE IN NYC?
MOLD AND SOLDER YOUR OWN METAL JEWELRY AT EATMETAL IN JERSEY CITY
I’m not going to lie, there is something about holding a torch to solder metal together that kind of makes you feel like a badass. The best part about metal jewelry? It’s gender neutral! Whether you’re into bangles, heavy duty rings, or earrings, there is something for everyone at EatMetal. Sure, you may have to cross the Hudson River in order to get to this class, but you will learn so much when it comes to working with metals (such as copper), forging, creating patterns and textures, and finishing. EatMetal makes everything easy as they provide all of the materials and tools, and the instructors are super patient with you, especially when it comes to banging the metal out and using the chemicals and torches.
Additional options include: Fitzgerald Jewelry in Williamsburg or a more intensive class at Brooklyn Metal Works
THE IRON ISLANDS
The Ironborn are known for their unmatched naval skills and the transportability of their ships. Their culture and their reputation is centered around maritime raiding and pillaging.
House Greyjoy (Theon, Yara and their uncle Euron)
WHERE IN NYC?
AXE THROWING AT STUMPY’S HATCHET HOUSE IN NEW JERSEY ($40 for 2 hours)
Do you want to up your badassery (yes I made that up)? So much so that Jon Snow will come a calling? Then axe throwing is the thing to do. It also happens to be the perfect activity for The Iron Islands as you can literally unleash your inner anger (or family issues) by throwing metal at a target. I won’t judge what you’re getting out as you eye those targets. I will say, as someone who has gone axe throwing multiple times, it’s surprisingly easy to pick up, supremely therapeutic and is the ultimate activity to impress almost anyone. To be completely honest, I am surprised there aren’t more axe throwing facilities peppered throughout the US, and many of them are going to be a slight trek to get to unfortunately. But never fear! Grab a group of friends, secure a cheap car rental and head out of NYC to Jersey. The Fairfield location of Stumpy’s is going to be the closest to the city.
Additional option includes: Project Woodchips class at Gotham Archery in Brooklyn
**If you’re in the mood to travel, check out my post about Rage Axe Throwing in Montréal!**
**all photos above were taken at Rage Axe Throwing in Montréal, Québec**
ADDITIONAL NOTABLE KINGDOMS
and their subsequent, related NYC activities
This kingdom not surprisingly gets its name from the numerous rivers running through it. This makes the land very fertile and the vessels (pun intended) for the trading and transport of goods. The people within ‘The Riverlands’ are known as warriors and fishermen.
Catelyn Stark; House Frey (Walder aka that asshole that helped orchestrate the Red Wedding)
WHERE IN NYC?
INDULGE IN A SEAFOOD FEAST AT THE MERMAID INN (ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE)
If you’re a little unsure about fully committing to The Mermaid Inn, and really just a seafood feast in general, this spot has got you covered. One of the best things about this place is they understand not everyone is an oyster whiz, so prior to arriving you can download their Oysterpedia app! The app helps take the guesswork out of ordering oysters, highlighting the various types by weather, region and method of cultivation, and also gives you a tool for recording oysters you have already tried.
Come in and try things, with less wallet guilt during their daily happy hour from 5-7pm, featuring $1.25 oysters, $1 clams, $3.50 fried oysters, $7.50 fried calamari, $3.50 clam chowder, $3 fish tacos, $7.50 shrimp sliders, $6.50 fried clam sliders, $6 beers, $8.50 wines and $8.50 cocktails. This is what I did and it was perfect, especially since I had never had an oyster before!
If you are already a seafood lover and want more than just a large amount of oysters stop by on Sunday nights for their lobsterpalooza! At only $32 you get a pound & a quarter lobster, red bliss potatoes & corn on the cob. I mean could a seafood deal get any better?!
Additional seafood options include: Crave Fishbar and/or the Fish Bar at North River Lobster Co. (on a boat which sails for free from April to September at 6:30pm)
This is the kingdom where the capital city of ‘Westeros’, ‘Kings Landing’, is located. ‘Kings Landing’ is also where you find the Iron Throne, which rules over all of ‘Westeros’. The societal structure of ‘Kings Landing’ is meant to mimic Western Europe during the Hundred Years' War (the period of transition from medieval to Early Modern). The people within ‘The Crownlands’ tend to be wealthier than the other kingdoms, which can be seen within society as they place an importance and focus around good food & drink.
House Targaryen (Daenerys and her brother Viserys); Davos Seaworth; House Baratheon (as it relates to Joffrey, Tommen, Myrcella and Shireen)
WHERE IN NYC?
GET TRULY MEDIEVAL AND TASTE MEAD AT HONEY’S TASTING ROOM (INSIDE EAST WILLIAMSBURG’S ENLIGHTENMENT WINES) - FOLLOWED BY A MEAT FOCUSED DINNER (AND SLIGHT SPLURGE) AT PETER LUGER STEAK HOUSE
Out of all of the locations on this list I would say these two are the two that are going to give you the most authentic medieval meal. Why you ask? Because mead (fermented honey and water) is literally the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, no joke. It’s been referenced throughout history, from the ancient cultures of China, to India, Greece, Scandinavia, and Egypt. As long as there have been bees (and honey) there basically has been mead, with the earliest documented evidence of people drinking mead happening 4000 years ago in India! In Nordic mythology the gods gave goddesses cups of mead, to hinder their resistance to the gods advances. And what else did people consume in the medieval times? Meat. Lots and lots of meat. So there you have it. You couldn’t get more medieval than chowing down on a plate of meat and chasing it with a big old glass of mead.
Additional option includes: take the IKEA ferry to Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook
COASTAL FREE CITIES (WITH A FOCUS ON BRAAVOS)
‘Braavos’ is the most northern, the richest, and the most powerful city of all the Free Cities. It is the banking center in ‘Westeros’, renowned for its ethnic diversity and religious tolerance. The city associates itself with illusion and deceit, and is also the location of the House of Black and White.
Notable Characters (from Braavos):
Jaqen H'ghar and Waif (from the House of Black & White)
WHERE IN NYC?
TOUR THE GOLD VAULT AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK IN THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT OF LOWER MANHATTAN
One thing you need to know about this activity is that it requires advanced reservations. Reservations you will end up having to make very far in advance. I tried for over a year to get tickets to tour, and the reason it took so long is because the tickets are free and are released on a first-come, first-served basis. You are most likely going to have to stalk their website to see when more tickets are released, and you will need to snatch them up as soon as they are. But, once you do get a timed ticket it will be one of the best (free) afternoon hours you will spend, and an experience you will never forget!
TIPS TO NOTE:
The tickets are first-come, first-served, and are released 30 days prior to a requested date: So watch the website like a hawk to see when more are released
Be prepared to get a ticket at a less than desirable time: The tours run Monday to Friday at 1pm and 2pm, so if you are a local you’re going to have to miss some work
Each time slot only allows 25 visitors: So again, be prepared to jump on these
Once you do get a ticket you MUST bring a printed versions to get it, they WILL NOT take the version you have saved on your phone
You need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your tour time: This is because the screening process is basically the same as going to the airport
Tours begin promptly and they will not be accommodating to any late arrivals: So many sure you plan AMPLE time to take the subway down (keeping in mind you need to arrive early to go through the security screening)
**as photography is not allowed within the Federal Reserve all of the images are from the site**
I hope you liked this very extensive and robust guide to NYC through the lens of Game of Thrones! As NYC is a place known for how quickly places open up and close down it was a challenge narrowing down locations and activities that you all could currently enjoy.
For all of you that have done this guide and still can’t get enough I’ve also listed below bonus locations where you can find and indulge in the Iron Throne beer by Ommegang Brewery (from Cooperstown, NY).
And for a bonus activity, CLICK HERE to see where to find and drink the Game of Thrones themed beers from Ommegang Brewery!
Don’t forget to pin this post! Even if you can’t get through everything on your next visit to The Big Apple I guarantee it’s something you want to save and continue tackling!