Walk in the high heel footsteps of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte on this New York City Film Locations Tour. Well, actually, don't walk. You'll get conveniently driven around New York City in a bus while you will spot many familiar filming locations and see scenes from the series on screens. At the same time, the comments of your entertaining tour guide will surely make you smile. 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, New York City has been the setting for a dozen of film and TV series. But there are not many productions that are as synonymous with New York City as Sex and the City – a US TV series that ran from 1998 to 2004 (plus two movies released in 2008 and 2010).
The storyline follows a New York City 30-something called Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). Carrie is mostly single, lives in a apartment in a typical New York City "brownstone house" and works as a weekly column writer for the fictitious 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.
About the Tour
On Location Tours is a specialized tour provider for film location tours in New York City and Boston. To name just a few of the tours they offer, you can trace the filming locations of the reality TV show The Real Housewives of New York City, see where the spoiled Upper East Side girls in Gossip Girl (2007–2012) used to hang out or follow in the footsteps of your favourite superheroes.
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 the trendy Meatpacking District, also referred to as MePa.
While you get driven around, you will see scenes from the show on screens throughout the bus. There is also live commentary by a dedicated tour guide who will provide you with one or two fun facts about the show and New York City.
The guides are usually actors or comedians. So great entertainment is a given! On the tour I went on in April 2017, the 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.
So according to my experience, here is a little more detail of what you can expect:
What will I see?
Stop 1: A Sex Shop
After we started our tour in Midtown Manhattan and drove past all those magnificent shopping destinations (and filming locations) on New York's famous Fifth Avenue, we reached out first stop. And that was – of course – a sex shop!
It was here at the Pleasure Chest where Charlotte bought her "Rabbit". We got a few minutes for some awkward "shopping time" or to grab a coffee at a nearby coffee shop. And off we went to the leafy Greenwich Village.
Stop 2: Carrie's house
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. So everyone was happy.
It was also good to see that the current owners use the popularity of their house to make an important political statement in these turbulent times!
Stop 3: The Magnolia Bakery
Within walking distance from Carrie's brownstone stoop is one of the most delicious bakeries in the whole of New York City. At least in my humble opinion. The Magnolia Bakery was the setting for Miranda and Carrie stuffed themselves with delicious cupcakes 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.
However, after this stop, everyone on the tour will also get a FREE cupcake by the guide, which was equally delicious! 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 up-and-coming, little-known haunts.
Greenwich Village is also one of the of the most popular New York City neighbourhoods for celebrities to own an apartment. So it may not be too surprising that we actually saw Julianne Moore hushing down the street here!
Stop 4: Aidan's Bar
It's Cosmo o'clock! After our walk around historic Greenwich Village, 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 US Dollars (+ 1 Dollar tip, apparently a very good price for New York City standards). It was pretty strong, but also very Sex and the City and therefore a must-do!
Stop 5: The Rehearsal Dinner Venue
After we had traced all the Sex and the City filming locations in Midtown Manhattan, Greenwich Village and SoHo, it was finally time for the trendy Meat Packing District, also referred to 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 cuisine restaurant Buddakan. This is the venue where Carrie's and Big’s 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
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 even 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.
Parks and Playgrounds
We drove by several playgrounds and parks where the girls have met.
The "dark alley" where Carrie got mugged
The "dark alley" where Carrie got mugged and famously didn't want to give away her Manolo Blahniks, is actually right in the middle of one of New York's most famous shopping districts.
- Getting driven around in a bus
- 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, such as stand-up comedian Melissa in my case
I really liked the fact that scenes from the series were shown on screen. This made it so much easier to put the filming locations into context.
I also loved our tour guide Melissa, whose jokes were hilarious! By the end of the tour, you definitely knew she is a comedian!
If you want to get a good overview of New York City AND see as many filming locations of Sex and the City as possible in a short amount of time, this tour is highly recommend! I definitely enjoyed it!
When does the tour run? The tour runs daily at 11am. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are additional tours at 3pm. (Check the On Location Tours website for more additional tour times).
Where does the tour start? In a centrally located spot in Midtown near 5th Ave. and 58th St. (exact location given upon booking)
How much does it cost? 49 US Dollars (47 US Dollars if you book online)
How long is the tour? The duration is approximately 3.5 hours
Ready for the city?
Book your tickets here: Sex and the City Hotspots Tour
Other On Location Tours in New York City
1. Central Park TV & Movie Sites Tour (walking tour)
Does this line of trees seem familiar? The so-called "Mall" or "The Promenade" in 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 sight.
For more info and to book tickets, go to: Central Park TV & Movie Sites Tour
2. When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour (bus tour)
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).
For more info and to book tickets, go to: When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour
Looking for more things to do in New York?
Check out my other New York City Travel Posts!
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 experience.