9 ‘Sex and the City’ things to do in Los Angeles
After dodging spoilers and rumors all morning — feeling a little bit like Catherine Zeta-Jones weaving herself between a trellis of security laser beams in Entrapment — I finally sat down to watch And Just Like That… I’m not going to lie: My excitement was through the roof. Yes, that’s despite the fact that I’ve been burned by disappointing reboots before. (Looking at you, Gilmore Girls). How can I not be thrilled? Sex and The City, a cultural touchstone, has always had a special place in my heart.
Carrie is a writer. (Hello, that’s me, even though the closest I got to writing about sex was that one time, during a stint as a wellness writer, I wrote a column about sleep.) But she’s also a die-hard fashionista, which she almost uses as means of self-expression and a release valve for the challenges and life hurdles she encounters throughout the show. Many things to relate to, as you can see.
Most importantly, however, there’s the “city” part, which is central to the series. One of the most soul-warming, satisfying things about the show was the way it incorporated New York City as a part of the narrative. For a lot of viewers who don’t live in New York — and I’m sure, for even those who do — the episodes felt like a bit of an escape. I, too, wanted to slip into a pair of Manolos, leave my apartment, hail a cab and spend the afternoon gallivanting all over town. Sex and The City truly gave us that lifestyle porn we desperately needed.
In short, I fell in love with the city through the lens of the show, and I wanted to see if I could find the magic of New York in Los Angeles. At first glance, the two cities couldn’t be more dissimilar. Los Angeles is vast, unruly, and the temps can climb to 85 degrees in the dead of winter. But if you look closer, you’ll find a lot of New York in Los Angeles — cultural diversity, a truly vibrant and innovative restaurant scene, and incredible, world-class art museums. (In fact, LA has more museums per capita than any other city in the world.)
All to say, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the City of Angels, and I want to share my favorite New York-like spots in my neck of the woods. Most of the following locations are nestled in Downtown Los Angeles, which is chock full of historic architecture any culture lover will appreciate. So, whether it’s sipping cosmopolitans at a swanky bar or traipsing store to store for those perfect pair of heels for your next big date, here are a few ways you can enjoy SATC activities in Los Angeles. (Minus the cigarettes. Sorry, Carrie. No one smokes in Los Angeles.)
1. A walk through Griffith Park
Central park is the location of many strolls, dates and lengthy girl talks in the show. It’s where Miranda goes on a date with Roger, who’s divorced, and his kid. It’s where Charlotte runs with her dogs. The Los Angeles equivalent of Central Park is Griffith Park, which at 4,210 acres, is one of the largest urban parks in the country. Boasting beautiful landscape, trails and picnic areas, Griffith Park also feels like a green oasis in the middle of a concrete-ish jungle. A perfect place to escape the city and have those heartfelt conversations.
2. A boozy brunch at Water Grill
This Downtown LA institution has been slinging gorgeously fresh seafood since 1989. Walking past it, you can’t help but slow your stroll. From the outside, a sign that reads “cocktails and oyster bar” calls you in. Inside, the cozy-but-elegant interior, done up in paneled wood, leather seats and half-circle booths, is a near-perfect spot for weekend cocktailing and oyster slurping. (I can vouch for the Cosmos here. chef’s kiss) This is a place I definitely see the girls getting together at for brunch, but it can also serve as a great backdrop to a dinner date — because you know what they say about oysters.
3. Reading time at Central Library
We all know Carrie loved the New York Public library — it’s where she wanted to have her long-overdue wedding with Big. Well, the Central Library is to Los Angeles what the New York Public Library is to New York. Aside from being enormous and housing everything from books to photo and digital collections, the 1926 building is also an architectural gem in the heart of downtown — so make sure you don’t miss this on your next trip to the city!
4. A NY-style pizza break at Joe’s Pizza
As much as there were fancy-shmancy, super-fine restaurant scenes in Sex and The City, there were also some great, down-to-earth pizza moments, too. Like, when Steve treats Miranda to two large slices, and they eat them on a bench just outside the joint. Or when Carrie and Miranda grab a late-night bite. So, where can you grab a piece of NY-style pie here in Los Angeles? With its oversized, thin-crust, by-the-slice offerings, Joe’s Pizza subs in quite nicely.
5. Shopping-slash-cardio at Rodeo Drive
“Shopping is my cardio.” Who can forget Carrie’s famous line that made us all want to jump off our treadmills and hit the shops? Throughout the show, all four characters are seen window-shopping and shopping-shopping at high-end, luxury stores on Fifth Avenue. (RIP, Barneys). Well, Rodeo Drive is our Fifth Avenue. In fact, Fred Hayman, whose store kickstarted the street’s transformation into the luxe destination that it is now, always envisioned it would rival New York’s. And it does!
6. Date night at Redbird
When it’s time to meet your crush for a dinner date, there’s no better place to have it than Redbird, tucked inside the former rectory of a cathedral dedicated in 1876. You can cozy up with your date in the lounge area, the main dining room, which boasts an open-air retractable roof, or (my personal favorite) the lush-but-intimate garden. Aesthetics aside, Redbird offers up a delectable modern-American menu for brunch, happy hour and dinner — with some SATC-approved cocktails to boot.
7. Highbrow culture night at the LA Opera
The opera comes up several times during the series. We know Charlotte loves attending, and in one episode, drags Carrie with her. We also know that Samantha and Richard often frequent the opera. And how can we forget that one time Carrie almost made it to a performance with the Russian before fainting in the courtyard? But really, SATC aside, the LA Opera is just a wonderful place to go to witness some world-class talent and enjoy some black-tie festivities. A fantastic excuse to dress up!
8. Cosmos with the girls at Death & Co.
As we all know, a Cosmopolitan was Carrie’s drink of choice. And this list wouldn’t be complete without a late-night hangout that offers up the cocktail in the same kind of cool, vibey New York bar type of environment. (Think: the same kind of low-light, moody bar where Carrie meets bass-playing Ray). Described as “ New York’s famed spot for creative drinks” Death & Co.’s Los Angeles outpost fits the bill. There are tons (and I mean, a lot) of inventive cocktails to choose from here, and the bartenders can also whip up anything else you might want — including a Cosmo. (Pro tip: Make sure to make reservations ahead of time; the sit-down area gets busy on weekends. You can wait at the standing bar, but know that drink options are limited there.)
9. Attend an art exhibit at Hauser & Wirth
So many juicy conversations in Sex and the City take place at art exhibits. That’s no surprise, of course. Charlotte works at an art gallery, and even when she quits, the girls’ interest in art doesn’t fade. In Los Angeles, there are way too many art spaces to count, but one of the most prominent on the scene is Hauser & Wirth, which also has an outpost in New York, among other major cities. Also worth checking out? Kohn Gallery, Moskowitz Bayse, Mash Gallery, de boer and so many more. Insider’s tip: Sign up for Curate LA’s newsletter to learn about all sorts of new exhibits in town.
Bonus activity: Take a tantric sex class at …
… just kidding. I have no idea where to find that.