Since 2006, viewers of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchises have gotten a glimpse of the lives — and fights — of wealthy women from around the U.S. and Canada. From the sunny shores of Orange County, Calif., to the streets of New York, each installment of the series has introduced new levels of drama and fabulousness from women who think nothing of spending six figures during an afternoon shopping spree.
Part of the voyeuristic appeal of these reality shows is not only getting to see how the other half [or 1 percent] lives, but seeing where they eat, shop and play. In fact, in some cases the places where the wives hang out are as much a character in the shows themselves, and fans search for flights and flock to these locations to experience life as a “Housewife” and maybe even catch a glimpse of a shoot in progress.
❤ New Jersey
Arguably the most contentious and dramatic of the “Real Housewives” shows, one could arguably build a tour itinerary around the sites of famous arguments — and fistfights — of the Jersey crew. Of course, the first stop would be the Brownstone in Paterson, N.J., the banquet and event centre owned by the Manzo family and the setting for some of the more memorable events on the show. But to see where cast member Theresa Giudice famously flipped a table after an argument with Danielle Staub, head to Lu Nello in Cedar Grove. Other notable locations where the wives gossip and argue include Chateau Salon in Franklin Lakes, and Posche Boutique in Wayne, where you can purchase the same clothing as your favorite wife.
❤ Beverly Hills
On the other side of the country — and by some accounts, a different planet — from New Jersey, the ultra-wealthy cast of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” shop on Rodeo Drive and attend parties with celebrities in their fabulous, and huge, mansions. However, some cast members also run businesses that feature prominently on the show. For example, Lisa Vanderpump owns 26 restaurants and clubs around the world, including two in Beverly Hills: Villa Blanca and Sur. Villa Blanca, on Brighton Way in Beverly Hills, is well regarded for its food and atmosphere, while Sur [which featured on the “Housewives” spinoff “Vanderpump Rules”] on N. Robertson in West Hollywood is a sexy and exclusive nightclub. Another Beverly Hills housewife, Kyle Richards, is the co-owner of the boutique Kyle by Alene Too, right down the street from Villa Blanca on Brighton Way.
The newest installment of the Housewives franchise takes place in Miami — but that doesn’t mean they don’t bring the drama. Much of the drama takes place at Mynt Lounge, the exclusive Miami Beach nightclub owned by the boyfriend of cast member Joanna Krupa. The club caters to the famous and fabulous, but that doesn’t stop the wives from engaging in their outrageous antics while they hang out there. For something a little more relaxing, the Rik Rak Spa at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown offers a special spa package designed for those who want to experience the lifestyle of a Miami housewife; the hotel also happens to be a client of PR maven and cast member Marysol Patten.
In 2012, the wives went international with the addition of the “Real Housewives of Vancouver,” and soon they started popping up in locations all around the city for shooting. Coffeebar in Gastown is a popular spot for gossip and gripe sessions, and vintage boutique Glass House Couture in West Vancouver is owned by controversial cast member Jody Claman. Other episodes were shot at Q4 restaurant, Van Dusen Botanical Garden and Hawksworth Restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.
Regardless of whether you prefer the over-the-top opulence of the Beverly Hills cast, or the equally over-the-top fighting of the New Jersey girls, there’s no denying that the “Real Housewives” are addictive reality fun. When you’re visiting a host city, keep an eye out for the cameras [or just follow the shrieking] or head to one of these locations to soak up a bit of glamour, and put the “real” back into reality television.
About the Author: An unabashed “Real Housewives” fan, Sarah Zieman has watched every season of every franchise since the shows premiered. She writes about television and entertainment for several blogs and entertainment sites.