Movie Location Tour New York City for free

Movie Locations Tour New York City - Travel for a Living

As Alicia Keys sings in her song Empire State of Mind: ‘a town that is famous as a place of movie scenes’. Even if you’ve never been to New York in real life (although, if you haven’t, I’d absolutely urge you to go. It is just such a wonderful place), I am certain you have a whole bunch of pictures flick through your mind when you think of New York. The city has been the setting of so many movies and TV series over the years, that we all feel familiar with certain corners (whether or not they actually exist like this in real life is a different matter). So, as we headed back to New York for yet another week, I thought it was finally time to head out on a movie location tour through New York City. 

Well, to be honest, there are loads of ready-made movie location tours available in New York, it could be rather difficult to choose just one. So instead, I decided to have a bit of all and create my very own self-guided movie location walking tour through New York. Intrigued? Let me tell you all about the movie locations we visited. And the good thing? My movie location tour is completely for free. See, not everything in New York needs to cost a fortune (in fact, there are heaps of things you can do in New York for free or very little money).

OK, before we even start, I have a confession to make. My New York City Movie Location tour wasn’t actually one tour. Instead it was a variety of locations dotted all over the city and we fitted them in as and when it made sense (as in, whenever we were near a location).

Self-guided movie location tour through New York: Sex and the City

Doing a proper Sex and the City tour has been on my bucket list for quite a while. But somehow Mr T wasn’t quite buying into it. No idea why. So, whilst I have parked the SATC tour for the time being (this will be tackled again when I go to New York with my friend, it is on our current 5-year plan), I did sneak in a few Sex and the City filming locationsregardless.

Magnolia Bakery

Nowadays there are several outlets of Magnolia Bakery all over New York (and if you have a sweet tooth, I would very much urge you to go and visit at least one for their cheesecakes and banana puddings), but this one on the corner of Beeker Street and West 11th Street was the very first one. And it was probably down to that scene of Carrie and Miranda sitting in front of the bakery, eating a cupcake, that Magnolia Bakery rose to fame.

Movie Locations Tour New York City - Travel for a Living

Sex and the City filming locations: Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment

Just around the corner from the Magnolia Bakery is Carrie’s apartment, located at 66 Perry Street.

Countless scenes have featured these stairs leading up to the house. 

However, I guess the current occupants are a little fed up with people stopping by and taking photos of themselves sitting on said stairs.

Sex and the City Filming locations - Travel for a Living

So, if you are visiting this Sex and the City filming location, please be considerate and respect their right to privacy. 

Jefferson Market Garden

In walking distance of Perry Street on the junction of Greenwich Avenue and West 10th Street is Jefferson Market Garden. This little enclosed garden was the setting for Miranda’s wedding to Steve in Season 6 (ok, so this isn’t strictly a movie locations tour in New York, it does also consist some TV series locations, hope you don’t mind).

Since I failed to check opening hours before heading to the garden (yes, I know, there’s a first… NOT), I only realised upon arrival that the garden is open from April to October (and I visited early March). So, whilst I could see it being a rather lovely garden, I could only take photos through the fence, not actually go in. 

Sex and the City Filming Locations: Balzac (aka Balthazar, 80 Spring Street)

You remember the episode of Sex and the City Season 1 where Carrie and Samantha want to go to that very trendy restaurant Balzac, but can’t get in? At least not until Carrie uses the restrooms and ends up helping out the hostess with a tampon? 

Although the restaurant is actually called Balthazar in real life, it does still exist. 

New York Public Library

One of New York’s landmarks and another one of the Sex and the City filming locations.

The New York Public Library is the location, where Carrie and Mr Big want to get married in. Although that then doesn’t quite go to plan as he doesn’t show up.

Entry to the New York Public Library is for free, so even if you aren’t into Sex and the City, I would recommend you go and visit. As it is a beautiful building.

Sex and the City isn’t the only movie that features the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue.  It also is one of the filming locations of ‘Day After Tomorrow’ as the place where they hide out to try and stay clear of the arctic snowstorm, whilst burning some of the books to stay warm.

Movie Location Tour New York: The Loeb Boathouse Central Park

This restaurant features in several movies and TV series. Not just in Sex and the City (yep, yet another Sex and the City filming location), where you can see Carrie and Mr. Big have lunch there. 

The movie ’27 Dresses’ with Katherine Heigl also uses the Loeb Boathouse as one of their filming locations.

We walked past the restaurant during our last visit. To be honest, going there for lunch or dinner is very much on my bucket list of things to do in Central Park. However, as I would prefer to actually sit outside and overlook the lake, early March wasn’t the best timing for it. But we promised ourselves we’d come back another time (provided we actually ever visit New York in the summer).

Movie location tour New York City: You’ve got Mail

The late 90s movie ‘You’ve got Mail’ is set on the Upper West Side. And there are still loads of locations to visit, even 20+ years on. So many, I actually wrote an entire post about the You’ve got Mail Movie Locations. Go and check it out! But do make sure you come back for the rest of my Movie Locations Tour of New York City.

New York City movie locations: Friends

OK, another 90s classic TV series set in New York. Although to be honest, the series doesn’t feature too many New York shots. Instead it mainly plays in 3 locations: the two flats and the café ‘Central Perks’. Which were all studio sets, I am afraid. But one building that does feature several times is the exterior shot of the Friend’s building. And you can go and check it out for yourself, if you want. Not far off the Sex and the City filming locations, the Friend’s building is also located in Greenwich Village, on the corner of Bedford Street and Grove Street.

Movie Locations Tour New York City - Travel for a Living

Movie Locations Tour New York: Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Although it might feel like most of my New York movie locations so far were from the late 90s or early 00s, there are obviously still numerous TV series and movies that are filming in New York today. One of them is the Amazon production ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’. Although, this one is actually set in the New York of the late 50s, you are able to find a few of the filming locations in today’s world.

Washington Square Arch 

Fairly early in Season 1, Midge Maisel finds herself amidst a group of women’s rights protesters in Washington Square and joins in.

Movie Locations Tour New York City - Travel for a Living

Marvelous Mrs Maisel filming locations: Lutzis Meat and Poultry

Who could forget the scene in the very first episode of season 1 where Midge heads to the butcher and tells him and everyone that the Rabie will be breaking fast at their house? 

OK, in real life, the butcher isn’t called Lutzis Meat and Poultry. But the shop front does actually look very similar to the 1950s version in the TV series.

The ‘Albanese Meats and Poultry’ is located in Nolita, at 238 Elizabeth Street.

Movie Locations Tour New York City - Travel for a Living

Sadly, I’ve read last week that the owner recently passed away. So not sure how long this shop will still be there.

Self-guided Movie Locations Tour New York: Ghostbusters

Let’s go back even further than the 90s. All the way to 1984 and the first Ghostbusters movie. I mean, obviously I could not miss the iconic Ghostbusters headquarter from my list, could it?

The FDNY Hook & Ladder 8 station, located at the corner of North Moore Street and Varick Street in Tribeca is still an active fire station. But it seems the guys there don’t mind people coming to take photos of the building. To this day, they still have a Ghostbusters logo on the wall inside the station. And logos painted on the floor either side of the entrance.

Movie Locations Tour New York City - Travel for a Living

Actually, only the external façade was used for the filming of Ghostbusters. The internal shots of the headquarter were filmed elsewhere.

Movie Locations Tour New York: Men in Black

Last but not least on my list of iconic movie locations in New York City is the Men in Black headquarter. That massive square brick building with no windows and massive fans as you enter.

Well, once you work out what the building actually is, it all makes sense.

Located at 504 Battery Place, the building is a tunnel ventilation shaft (the Hugh. L Carey Tunnel Ventilation Building to be precise), serving the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Now those massive fans make sense, don’t they?

MIB, Friends, Ghostbusters - Iconic Movie Locations Tour New York City - Travel for a Living

OK, obviously there are heaps of other New York locations and landmarks used in various movies and TV series over the year. And I do not claim that my little movie location tour of New York is in any way complete. Instead, these are just some New York filming locations we stumbled across during our trip to New York. I hope you enjoyed them.

Tell me, do you have any more to add? Which ones should we check out next time we are in town?

Leave a Reply


  1. You've got Mail Movie Locations Tour NYC - Travel for a Living

    […] movie locations we visited. Curious what other movie locations we found in New York? Head over to my next post and see for […]

  2. Stephanie

    This is such an awesome and unique list that you’ve put together! I live in NYC and it’s not often that you can do many kind of tours for free. I so appreciate all of the hard work that went into this, it’s so well done! I can’t wait to check these out in my own backyard.

  3. Bliss

    I’d love to see the friends locations. Great guide!

  4. Sharon

    What a fun post, Sarah! I LOVE NYC and last visited in December, enjoying all the Christmastime charm. I hope to return, and I’m pinning this to follow along with some of my favorites!

    • Travel for a living

      You and me both. And TBH, New York before Christmas is one that I am still missing.

  5. Emma

    I love finding movie locations. I did my own walk around London finding places from Harry Potter, Noting Hill and other British movies, but would love to spend more time in New York for the same reason. I still haven’t been to the Friends building which is my absolute favorite show. Next time!

    • Travel for a living

      Yes, should definitely have a look at some of the London movie locations next. Notting Hill would be a great one, as I absolutely love the neighbourhood. But as so often, then things on your door step are the things you do last (or is that just me?)

  6. Disha Smith

    Oh, this is so fun!! I can’t wait to visit these places when I’m back in NYC!

  7. Chrissy K

    Such a cool and unique post! I cannot wait to return and visit these places!

  8. Vanessa Shields

    What a fun post and makes me miss NYC! The first year I lived there I visited every place that had been in a movie, etc. Lol. So exciting to see the real locations in person! 😁

  9. EnRouteToSomewhere

    This is full of fun trivia – I love that MIB Headquarters is really a tunnel ventilation building. I also couldn’t imagine being the current occupant of a famous set; kicking people off your front stairs every day would be exhausting! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Travel for a living

      Yes, I can totally understand that it annoys residents greatly. So although it kind of spoiled the photos to have the stairs blocked by a chain, I can totally get it. It is their home after all.

  10. natalielaturno

    This is such a fun blog post idea! I studied film in college so I especially get excited when I see film locations. Magnolia Bakery is at the very top of my list!

  11. Pia - Dream and Wanderland

    so cool! I would love to visit the Ghostbusters building! I loved the movies!

  12. Krystianna (@VolumesNVoyages)

    Great post! I haven’t been to NYC in so long but I’d love to go back and do something like this one day.