Trace the footsteps of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte on this very entertaining New York City Film Locations Tour for "Sex and the City". All aboard the funniest bus in NYC! R‑rated of course…
What is it all about?
About Sex and the City
As one of the most popular film locations in the world can be found here, New York City has been the setting for countless films and TV series. But there are not many productions that are as synonymous with New York City as Sex and the City – a comedy-drama TV series that ran from 1998 to 2004 (plus two movies released in 2008 and 2010).
The storyline follows a 30-something called Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). Carrie is lives in an apartment in a typical New York City "brownstone house" and works as a weekly column writer for the fictional newspaper New York Star (today, she would most certainly be a fashion blogger!).
In her free time, she regularly meets up with her three besties Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) to gossip about men, sex and New York City. Pretty much in this order.
The ladies from "Sex and the City". Photo: HBO
About the Film Locations Tour
The Sex and the City Hotspots Tour is a bus tour with several "walk around stops" along the way. It takes you from Midtown Manhattan to Greenwich Village, SoHo and finally to the trendy Meatpacking District.
Scenes from the TV series were shown on screens in the bus.
While you get driven around in your tour bus, you will see scenes from Sex and the City on TV screens. There is also live commentary by a dedicated tour guide.
The guides are usually actors or comedians. So great entertainment is a given! My tour guide was Melissa Stokoski – a popular New York City standup comedian. Her commentary was the best. I laughed so much and still have to giggle when I think about the tour now.
What's there to see?
Stop 1: A Sex Shop
After we started our tour in Midtown Manhattan and drove past several magnificent shopping destinations (and filming locations) on New York City's famous Fifth Avenue, we reached out first stop. And that was – of course – a sex shop!
After we saw the scene, in which Charlotte buys her "rabbit", we stop at the actual film location – a sex shop called Pleasure Chest. Here, we got a few minutes for some awkward "shopping time" or to grab a coffee before we continued our tour to the leafy Greenwich Village.
Stop 2: Carrie's house
Carrie's lovely neighbourhood in "the Village".
Next up was Carrie's beautiful brownstone apartment in "the Village". Well, at least the outside of it because it was just the stairs of this house that were used to showcase the exterior of Carrie's apartment. The interior scenes were, of course, filmed in a studio.
The current owners paid a fortune to live here, so it's understandable that they don't like masses of film tourists literally lingering on their doorstep. We were told to stay on the other side of the street, but we all got a quick souvenir snap.
Me in front of "Carrie's House"
It was also good to see that the current owners use the popularity of their house to make an important political statement.
Stop 3: The Magnolia Bakery
Within walking distance from Carrie's brownstone house is one of the most best bakeries in the whole of New York City. At least in my humble opinion. The Magnolia Bakery was the location where Miranda and Carrie stuffed themselves with delicious cupcakes when they decided to take a break from their complicated love lives.
I've been here before on my New York City visit in 2015 and instantly fell in love with the "Red Velvet" cupcake. At 3.50 to 3.75 US Dollars a cupcake, I think the Magnolia goodies are actually quite reasonably priced, too.
Better than sex? Miranda and Carrie enjoying their cupcakes in front of the Magnolia bakery. Photo: HBO
After this stop, everyone on the tour will also get a FREE cupcake from the guide. While we were enjoying our cupcakes, our tour guide Melissa gave us the lowdown about Greenwich Village and SoHo, which is where the Sex and the City ladies discover many of their favorite, little-known haunts.
Greenwich Village is also one of the of the most popular New York City neighbourhoods for celebrities to own an apartment. And while we were there, I actually saw Julianne Moore hushing down the street!
Stop 4: Aidan's Bar
At Cosmo o'clock, we stepped into Scout – the "most wooden bar" I've ever seen. But this doesn't come as a big surprise if you know that Aidan, one of Carrie's ex boyfriends, earned his living by building furniture.
The Scout is, of course, the filming location for the bar that Aidan opens together with Miranda's boyfriend Steve.
Here, we refueled with one of the ladies' most popular drinks – the Cosmopolitan or Cosmo in short – which we got at a reduced price of 9 Dollars (+ 1 Dollar tip, apparently a very good price for New York City standards).
Me and my cosmo (now all that's missing is my group of girls!)
Stop 5: The Rehearsal Dinner Venue
Inside the Asian restaurant Buddakan – the setting for Carrie's and Big’s wedding rehearsal dinner
After we had traced all the Sex and the City filming locations in Midtown Manhattan, Greenwich Village and SoHo, it was time for the trendy Meat Packing District, also known as "MePa".
As one of the first to own an apartment in this up-and-coming area, "early adopter" Samantha made sure that we saw a lot of MePa in both the series as well as Sex and the City: The Movie (2008).
A particularly important filming location was the Asian restaurant Buddakan. This is the venue where Carrie's and Mr. Big’s wedding rehearsal dinner took place in the movie and where she gives him her last "single girl kiss".
Other Sex and the City film locations we drove by on the bus
The subway entrance
The Sex and the City ladies usually travel around in cabs – not only because it was more glamorous than the subway, but also for practical reasons. After all, it's incredibly difficult to shut down the heavily frequented New York City subway for filming – even for the shortest of scenes.
The only time we do see Carrie taking the subway though, she runs down these stairs!
The Tequila Bar
This is the place where Carrie got absolutely smashed on a date night.
The Meatpacking District / Samantha's apartment
Inviting the girls over to rooftop parties and fancy restaurants, Samantha made the Meatpacking District fashionable in the early 2000s.
So-called MePa is also known as a film location from Coyote Ugly (2000). After all, the original Coyote Ugly bar used to be here and the story in the film largely takes place here.
Parks and Playgrounds
We drove by several playgrounds and parks, which were used as film locations in Sex and the City, such as this small park popular with dog walkers.
The "dark alley" where Carrie got mugged
The "dark alley" where Carrie got mugged and famously didn't want to hand over her Manolo Blahniks, is actually right in the middle of one of New York's most famous shopping districts – Lafayette Street in Soho. And in reality, it didn't look that "dark" after all.
What's included in the tour?
- Getting driven around in a bus and watching scenes from Sex and the City
- FREE Cupcake!
- For those who want one, a Cosmo at a reduced price (9 US Dollars)
- Discount shopping voucher booklet for the fashionistas
- Little booklet which lists all the locations visited and driven by as well as their addresses
- Live commentary by a funny guide
My Sex and the City Hotspots Tour Verdict:
Ready for the city?
The girls meet for lunch. Photo: HBO
Other On Location Tours in New York City
Central Park TV & Movie Sites Tour (walking tour)
Does this tree-lined view seem familiar? The so-called "Mall" or "The Promenade" in New York's Central Park has served as a filming location in half a dozen New York City set films and TV series, such as Maid in Manhattan (2002), Friends with Benefits (2011) or Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).
New York's Central Park is actually THE most used film location in the world! So be prepared to see more than 30 other film and television locations on this two-hour walking tour through New York City's greenest attraction.
NYC TV and Movie Tour (bus tour)
The luxurious mansion from "Cruel Intentions" (1999)
This bus tour lasts for approximately 2 hours and takes you from Times Square along the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side.
You will see the film locations from comedy and romcom classics such as Seinfeld (1989–1998) and When Harry Met Sally (1989), but also those of more recent New York City set movies such as Black Swan (2010), Pitch Perfect (2012) or Trainwreck (2015).
My personal highlight on this tour was the epic Valmont House mansion, which the spoiled rich kids Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) call their luxurious home in Cruel Intentions (1999).
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com
Disclosure: In order to write my review, I received a complimentary ticket for the Sex and the City Hotspots Tour. The views expressed in this blog post, however, are entirely my own and reflect my personal, unbiased opinion.