I went on the 'Sex and the City' tour. For the show's fans, Carrie Bradshaw's New York City is still alive.

“The only reason I wanted to visit New York was because of the show,” one fan told me.

New fans and critics of Sex and the City are born every day. The series, which premiered on HBO in 1998, spawned six seasons, two movies and two seasons of the reboot And Just Like That. When the show was added to Netflix in April, it gained a whole new audience. Now younger generations are discovering it for the first time, weighing whether they’re a Carrie, a Charlotte, a Miranda or a Samantha.

The introduction of the beloved show to a new crop of younger viewers sparked strong feelings online among its existing fan base. Some expressed terror that first-time audiences would “cancel” the series for being outdated. Aside from an essay from a Gen Z-er dubbing it “cringey” and a few new memes about Carrie Bradshaw’s self-centeredness, most people recognized it for what it was: 25 years old.

As someone who was introduced to the show via streaming service, I wanted to hear from longtime fans and revisit the magic of the show’s friend quartet. Carrie once walked 48 blocks in $400 shoes, but she’s a stronger woman than I am, so I hopped in an On Location Tours van to see the show’s iconic set locations. After all, New York City is the fifth main character of the show.

Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall
Carrie Bradshaw and friends stroll through New York City in Sex and the City: The Movie. (New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection)

The tour, like the series, was for mature audiences only. Raunchy jokes from the group’s self-proclaimed Samantha flew without discretion, as did mentions of the gang’s sexploits. Of the 15 people who joined the tour, there were at least three chaotic Carries, four high-strung Mirandas and zero traditional Charlottes. In case you were wondering, yes, I’m a Carrie.

Primo, a longtime fan (and a fellow Carrie), watched the series on VHS and DVD right after its initial run ended in 2004. He introduced his soon-to-be-husband Frank to the show, and he also fell in love. (My fellow tourgoers asked me not to use their last names in the story for privacy reasons.)

“The only reason I wanted to visit New York was because of the show,” Primo told me. “I saw all those hot spots and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I want to live there.’”

While he didn’t jump ship for New York immediately, after 14 years with Frank, they decided to leave their family members behind in Texas to come to New York for the Sex and the City-inspired wedding of their dreams. While they wanted to get married on the steps of the New York Public Library — just feet away from Carrie’s ill-fated attempt at a first wedding — they settled on Central Park instead. A small group of wedding guests joined them on the tour one day before the ceremony.

Our tour boarded right next to the park at the Plaza Hotel’s fountain, where Carrie once confronted Mr. Big over his engagement to another woman. Our guide Amanda shared behind-the-scenes facts and pointed out touring locations down Fifth Avenue. There was a hot dog stand similar to the spot where Carrie was standing in a tutu when she was splashed by a bus in the show’s opening credits, a restaurant that used to be another restaurant where the friends hung out one time and a weather worn-church where Samantha met one of the few men who wouldn’t sleep with her because he was a priest.

Our first stop was the West Village brownstone where Carrie lived throughout the original series. We quietly took photos, but the buzz of passersby and the excitement of the location overcame a few of my fellow tourists. A neighbor stepped out of his door and firmly said, “This is five minutes of fun for you, but it’s all day for us. Please be quiet.” We shuffled back to the van.

Carrie Bradshaw's stoop
Carrie Bradshaw's stoop in Greenwich Village, New York City. (Kelsey Weekman / Yahoo Entertainment)

Tour guide Amanda said she’s always amazed by the way Sex and the City brings people together. She likes “prescribing” particular episodes to people; they share their problems, and she recommends a Sex and the City episode that addresses it. For instance, if a guy isn’t texting you back, watch Season 3, Episode 11, she said.

“Then they’ll come to me and say, ‘Oh, that gave me so much clarity,’” she explained. “That’s the power of the show.”

She said the tour attracts a lot of people who watched the show on TV during its initial run who tell her — someone who watched the show in her college dorm room during its first Netflix run several years ago — that she’s too young to have watched it. That just gives her another opportunity to share her appreciation for it.

“It’s just so freaking timeless,” she said.

I often remind friends during rewatches, while cringing through an offensive line or cliché scenario, that the show was groundbreaking in its time. Now it’s a time capsule — a reminder of a city and cultural moment that were so powerful, though not attainable for most people. The show’s underlying messages about friendship and true love still resonate, though its language and technology are often outdated.

Our next stop was Buddakan, the Meatpacking District hot spot where Carrie and Big had their rehearsal dinner, which was ultimately ill-fated after Miranda let it slip to Big that she was shocked he wanted to get married again. Touring its ornate rooms, I couldn’t help but wonder how high the rent must be for such a sprawling space.

Buddakan restaurant
Buddakan, the trendy Asian restaurant featured in Sex and the City. (Kelsey Weekman/Yahoo Entertainment)

We then navigated the cobblestone streets back to the West Village. Our guide reminded us that the actress who played Carrie, Sarah Jessica Parker, is an extremely savvy businesswoman and has her own shoe store a few blocks from Carrie’s house. Visiting tour groups get a discount! The shoes were beautiful, but no one bought anything.

Our guide snagged us some cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, which she said was only in the show for a few moments, but that was enough to make it skyrocket to fame.

I felt like a bit of a fake fan for much of the trip. I’ve seen the show multiple times, but I had no idea that there was lore behind the restaurant where a bird landed on Carrie’s date, the club where Samantha faked her identity or the playground where Miranda fell down. The places I pass daily without a thought held so much significance to my fellow tourgoers.

Carrie Bradshaw musing about love and life in the
Carrie Bradshaw musing about love and life in the Sex and the City movie. (©New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection)

I noticed two friends nailing every trivia question and picking up on every reference. Brittany, a lawyer, told me she was in New York celebrating her 37th birthday with her friend. She said the series made an enormous impact on her life when she first watched it as a teenager (too young, she admitted) and her fandom hasn’t dissipated since then. Her friend became a publicist because of Samantha. Although Miranda didn’t inspire Brittany to become a lawyer, she was her favorite character.

Everyone on the tour had a Sex and the City origin story — they remembered how they found it, where they watched it, how it made them feel and when they became obsessed with it. Angela came on the tour with a friend to celebrate their 40th “friend-aversary.” They’re just a few years younger than the cast and watched the show on HBO when it first aired. Angela knew the name of every street we turned onto, though she’d never visited New York before. Another tourgoer chimed in that she watched the whole series on TBS, where sexual scenarios were edited out.

“So the show was about six minutes long for you, then?” Angela joked.

Our final official stop was at Onieals Grand Street Bar, which fans might recognize as Scout — the bar Carrie’s boyfriend Aidan ran with Miranda’s husband Steve. We were led through an assembly line to purchase $15 cosmopolitans. Unfortunately, the bar wasn’t abiding by early aughts cocktail pricing.

Some of the Sex and the City tour group enjoying cosmos
Some of the Sex and the City tour group enjoying cosmos at O'Nieal's. (Kelsey Weekman/Yahoo Entertainment)

After passing the alley where Carrie was mugged and another favorite brunch spot that’s now a bank, the tour disembarked outside Bryant Park. We were advised to visit the carousel, which was featured in a And Just Like That scene.

So much of the New York City that fans might be eager to see doesn’t exist anymore. Even the most memorable restaurants and bars closed and have been replaced over time, but the joy of watching the show is still compelling enough to bring fans to the Big Apple, just to walk a few blocks in Carrie’s Manolos.

“If anyone asks you about the tour, tell them you got off four times,” Amanda joked as we all left. She technically wasn’t wrong.