Hey Upper East Siders! I just put on my most fab pair of oversized sunglasses and went incognito to play tourist just for you. I got the scoop on where exactly our favorite Gossip Girls live, eat, play, shop and learn. I boarded a big tour bus and went around to all the hottest GG sites in Manhattan with the “On Location” (screentours.com) Gossip Girl sites tour. Here’s the lowdown on what I learned and where you can find Serena, B, Lil J, Chuck and the gang the next time you’re in the Big Apple.
The tour started out at the Palace Hotel, the most recognizable GG landmark as any true fan will tell you. This is the home of Serena, Lily and Eric van der Woodsen. The courtyard, of course, is where a hotbed of drama has gone down every episode since the pilot. We boarded the bus and our guide Lindsey (who actually works on the set of GG as Vanessa’s stand-in) whisked us off deep into the heart of the Upper East Side. We passed Vera Wang and Missoni, the spots of major shopping sprees by Lily and Lil J respectively, and headed to the two locations that serve as St. Judes School for Boys and Constance Billard School for Girls. The scenes that take place there are split between the Synod of Bishops Russian Church on East 93rd Street and the Museum of the City of New York on Fifth Avenue’s acclaimed Museum Mile.
Here’s a little known GG fact for ya . . . 80 percent of the show is shot on location. It costs anywhere from $10-60k a day just to use the space—and that’s not including the fees for cast and crew! It’s expensive to look sheik and it’s worth it!
So, our tour continued through the UES. We even sat on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This, of course, is where Queen B, Serena and the girls eat their lunch (a diet mainly of yogurt) everyday. In real life, students from Marymount School for Girls dine on those same steps too, which is how the producers got the idea to film there in the first place! Then, we passed the apartment on 74th street used as Nate’s pad. The building used is so exclusive that the street has it’s own private association and guard!
Then, our tour headed to mid-town with a stop at the posh Dylan’s Candy Bar. This is, of course, where Vanessa bought Nate some sour gummy worms as a birthday gift. After a quick sugar fix, we made our way to Fifth Avenue for some shopping at swanky Henry Bendel. While en route, our guide Lindsey provided us with some GG insider info that I promised I wouldn’t spill. Well, okay, as long as you won’t tell anyone . . . first, did you know GG was originally conceived as a movie starring none other than Lindsay Lohan as Blair Waldorf? And Leighton Meester who plays Blair is, gasp, really a blonde? She dyes her tresses just to play B. We passed the Sherry-Netherland, hotel to the deliciously evil Georgina, and learned that Michelle Trachtenberg was not originally offered the part. Nope! GG producers really wanted Georgina to be played by Mischa Barton (GG is produced by the same team behind The OC) but she was “over” the whole high school drama thing and passed.
Finally we arrived at Bendels where Eric Damon, GG’s own stylist does most of the shopping to dress the girls on the show. We had about twenty minutes (and a 20% off coupon!) to get in a little retail therapy. Of course we all headed straight back to the headband section and even I couldn’t resist bringing one home. Then it was time for a stop at Grand Central Station. We all paid our respects as we stepped inside because this is where it all began. Serena was spotted for the very first time in the main terminal in episode one. She was returning to NYC after mysteriously attending boarding school for a year. I looked around to see if anyone else was trying to slip out of town but looked the coast was clear . . . at least for today!
Then it was back on the bus for a jaunt to the hip Lower East Side. Lindsey played us clips from the show (as she’d been doing all day) that featured most of the spots we’d been hanging out at all day long. We passed the Prince George Hotel which served as the inside of the famed masquerade ball and the Met Life building that served as the outside of the event. Then we went by the uber expensive and ultra elite celebrity hangout The Box. This was used as the burlesque club Victrola that Chuck frequented (and prompted B to perform that sultry dance for him). We got out to stretch our legs on Brome Street for another sweet treat at the bakery Babycakes. This delicious little shop was featured in the Thanksgiving flashback episode where we see B trying to sober up a drunk Serena. They look over and spot Dan picking up Thanksgiving pies at none other than Babycakes right across the street. For being such good little GGs, our tour guide Lindsey wanted to buy us a little thank you. Since so many of my fellow tour goers were underage we were treated to frosting shots from Babycakes instead of actual shots (not that it stops Serena and company)! It was just as delectably sinful so we didn’t mind!
We wrapped things up with a quick walk down Broome Street past Café Habana where Dan bought some Cuban sandwiches, promptly ran into Serena (who was shopping next door at Tory Burch with B) and they set up their first date. And then we got back on the bus to pass the final GG hot spot of the afternoon—Butter. This hot restaurant has been the scene of some of the most glorious feuding between B and her minions!
It’s exhausting to be so fabulous but was well worth it to walk in the shoes of Serena, Blair and the rest of the GG gang for the afternoon and report back to you, my dear readers.
You know you love me . . . xoxo