It’s been 20 years since Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha strutted into the hearts of fashion lovers around the world. The ultimate quad squad brought New York City to life in a way that no other series has matched, combining haute couture, bespoke cocktails, and relationship drama with endless laughs and not an insignificant dose of lifestyle envy.
But even with the rumoured third film being indefinitely shelved, the mania for all things Manhattan continues this year, on the 20th anniversary of the series launch. If you’re a fan of the show, these 4 locations are must-see, essential items for your “sexy” travel itinerary. But even if your interests in the show are more modest, following in the footsteps of the Sex and the City ladies will help you discover a new side to the city that never sleeps.
1. Buddakan Restaurant
Unassuming and understated from the outside, the inside of Buddakan is majestic, a multi-story masterpiece divided into several rooms, each with its own distinct feel. Two key scenes from the first Sex and the City movie were filmed here, most memorably the rehearsal dinner for Carrie and Mr. Big’s ill-fated wedding.
Thankfully, you don’t have to have a rich fiancé or dozens of fabulous friends to enjoy a soirée of your own here. Dinner reservations are strongly recommended for several of the rooms, but one in particular (which keen fans will recognize as the setting of Carrie’s “last single girl kiss”) is saved just for drop-ins and is perfect for cocktails, appetizers, and mingling. If you’re dreaming of a secret, sophisticated, sexy dinner stop, this is the place to go.
2. ONieals Bar
Fans of the series will recognize ONieals as the fictional “Scout” bar owned by the characters Steve and Aiden. In Sex and the City, Scout is named after Steve’s dog and the bar is located on Mulberry Street. In real life, it’s just one street away at 174 Grand St. That places it across the street from a retired police station (which is rumoured to be the crash pad of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tommy Hilfiger.) And while it can’t compete with the intrigue of will-they or won’t-they when it comes to Carrie and Aiden’s relationship, ONieals does have a bit of mystery all its own.
Legend has it that an illicit tunnel connected ONieals with the police station way back in the days of prohibition — just the thing for a little rum running! Today, all the drinks are completely above board and, yes, the staff will make you a Cosmopolitan on request. But their great wine list and craft beer selection is more in sync with the building’s character today. You should pop in for a drink if you’re in the neighbourhood.
As well, On Location Tours runs a Sex and the City bus tour that includes a stop here where participants can buy Carrie’s Cosmo for $10.
3. Perry Street and Bleeker Street
There’s no Sex and the City location as iconic as Carrie’s stoop. The pretty brownstone on the quiet street was the scene of countless goodnight kisses and even the occasional argument-from-the-upstairs-window with sexy scoundrels like Mr Big.
True fans of the series know that the Perry Street location wasn’t adapted as Carrie’s permanent home until season three, as the first two seasons alternated with some different buildings. But both die-hard fans and casual watchers will love this quiet residential street in the West Village. You’ll know you’re in the right location when you spot the house with a chain across the front step – this is a private residence after all and eager fans should keep a respectful distance.
On nearby Bleeker Street, there are delightful small shops aplenty, including the iconic Magnolia Bakery (made famous when Carrie and Miranda noshed on the sweet treats on a bench outside). New York City is overflowing with cupcake shops, but none can hold a candle to Magnolia. Fun fact: The bench you see outside the bakery is a recent addition. The one seen in Sex and the City was a temporary prop!
4. The Plaza Hotel and Its Neighbours
A New York icon in its own right that’s undergone a transformation in recent years, with condos now occupying a significant portion of the property, the Plaza was the setting of several memorable Sex and the City scenes.
They include Samantha’s encounter with a sexy senior in the Oak Room — complete with a cameo by Donald Trump. Outside, the fountain was the backdrop for some fashion-fabulous 80’s flashbacks in the second movie, while the adjacent Apple store (a relatively new addition) occupies the spot where Carrie was filmed during the famous opening credit scenes in her beloved tutu.
Nearby, Bergdorf Goodman’s swank department store is a fantastic destination for shopping (or perhaps window shopping if your budget is a little more frugal). It was also the backdrop to several scenes from the series, including the hunt for Stanford and Anthony’s wedding. Fans of the show (and French cinema) will want to pop into Bergdorf’s neighbour, the Paris Cinema, where Carrie went to see the film Joie For Two.
Fashion and trends are constantly changing, but Sex and the City‘s impact on New York City remains. Following in the series’ footsteps is a fabulous way to discover the city, no matter what your level of fandom.