The Sopranos was a seminal event in American television that paved the way for a slew of quality, morally ambiguous dramas to follow in its wake. It landed on our screens in 1999 courtesy of HBO and creator David Chase, immediately introducing us to Tony Soprano, one of the most complex and relatable characters ever conceived. Mainstream success quickly followed, with the show clocking up an impressive six-season run, spanning ten years. The Sopranos was so well written that it constantly splits between high comedy and high drama, giving us some of the most memorable laughs and unforgettable shocks ever seen on the small screen. And it all takes place in the Garden State of New Jersey.
Chase and his writing staff were experts in using the Jersey locale to their advantage, especially when contrasting it with the ominous New York skyline – a constant reminder to Tony’s gang that they were outgunned and outmanned by the five families across the river. The iconic opening titles of The Sopranos took viewers across Jersey with Tony as he made his way home, and set the scene for the industrial landscape that populated much of the show’s world.
If you’re a big fan of The Sopranos, you can get right back into the feel of the show with a bucket list trip to Jersey. The show was shot on location, so many of the exterior scenes still exist. So, grab that BUCKiTDREAM planner and join us on this mobbed-up trip through Jersey!
Pick Your Way Through the Pine Barrens A heavily-forested expanse of coastal plain, the Pine Barrens featured heavily in a much-loved episode of the same name. Paulie and Christopher manage to lose a seemingly fatally injured Russian out in the Barrens, and the ensuing search leaves them hilariously fighting for their lives in the harsh Jersey winter. While you don’t have to get stuck out in the wilderness like the dynamic duo Paulie and Christopher, the Barrens are in fact the perfect place to hike or ramble, providing a huge amount of outdoor terrain options like rivers, lakes, and forests. And if you DO happen to cross paths with that pesky Russian…
Settle In at Holsten’s Ice Cream Parlor Though it was slightly redesigned as a family dinner for the cryptic final scene of the series, Holsten’s is a working eatery which is still up and running in 2017. You’ll recognize the interior right away, and if you’re lucky, you can bag the table where Tony chose “Don’t Stop Believin'” on the jukebox while he sat waiting for a fateful dinner with his family (or maybe not so fateful, depending on which way you interpret the controversial ending). When James Gandolfini passed away in 2013, Holsten’s acknowledged the great actor by placing a simple reserved sign on Tony’s table.
Address: 1063 Broad St, Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Take in the George Washington Bridge The numerous bridges linking New Jersey to New York feature heavily in the show; they’re the locations of countless insidious meetings between Tony and his equivalents in New York. Taking in these beautiful bridges is a must-see when you’re in Jersey. They look good from any angle, but one of the best ways to view them (and follow in Tony Soprano’s footsteps while you’re doing it), is from down by the water’s edge. The George Washington Bridge, in particular, has a couple of beaches on the Jersey side from which you can take in the splendor of the architecture, and the dominating black steel of the Pulaski Skyway is a major recurring location throughout the series.
Check Out Downtown New Jersey Sightseeing among the gritty urban landscape of Jersey will make you feel like you’re traveling through Tony Soprano’s world. A simple tour around downtown Jersey City and the neighboring locale of Newark should land you right in the middle of Soprano’s territory, allowing you to take in sights like the Pizzaland, the Muffler Man and if you’re feeling inclined, Satin Dolls, the real-life location of the infamous Bada Bing strip club. At the very least you can grab a photo with the sign!
The Official Option If you’re only in town for a day or two, or just prefer to be led around as opposed to exploring yourself, On Location Tours run a pretty comprehensive itinerary of Soprano’s hot spots, with a packed tour that clocks in at around four hours. There really is no better way to immerse yourself in what is arguably the greatest TV series ever made.
Love it or hate it, The Sopranos was a major milestone in television history that paved the way for complex, morally-ambiguous dramas like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Mad Men and House of Cards. Part of the show’s success was its authenticity, with creator Chase insisting the series be shot on location (another first for a long-running show). His vision paid off, and any fan wishing to salute the series can ramble ’round the atmospheric Jersey locale. So, if you’re an insatiable Sopranos fan, what are you waiting for? Grab that BUCKiTDREAM planner and go for the ultimate ride in New Jersey!