Here’s a rundown of New York’s most interesting shopping scenes, with highlights of each to give you a feel for the neighborhood. If a location is not given, refer to the store’s full listing by category in Shopping A–Z.
Lower Manhattan & the Financial District
Head toward the East River via Fulton Street to visit the Seaport (tel. 212/732-8257; Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, M to Fulton St.). It has a collection of fun shops, including SJP (93 South St.), which is actress Sarah Jessica Parker's shoe store, and the wonderful McNally Jackson Books (4 Fulton St.), plus stunning harbor vistas and a collection of eateries. In recent years, a number of outdoor and indoor farmers markets have popped up in this neighborhood, making the outdoor scene quite lively. There's also an outpost of TKTS here for all your theater ticket needs. For a full direcctory of stores, visit www.seaportdistrict.nyc.
Meanwhile, on Wall Street, check out designer retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Hermès on nearby Broad Street. Near to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is the architecturally daring Oculus, a transportation and shopping hub with over 100 stores including an Apple Store, Aesop, Cole Haan, John Varvatos, Kiehl's, Sephora, and Montblanc. Nearby there are more stores at 2 and 4 World Trade Center. Across West Street from the monument is another urban mall, Brookfield Place, which has two dozen more shops, including Bonobos, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Madewell, and Tory Burch.
Don’t expect to find the bargain of a lifetime on Chinatown’s crowded streets—those Louis Vuitton bags at street stands are most definitely fakes—but there’s always great browsing. The fish and herbal markets along Canal, Mott, Mulberry, and Elizabeth streets are fun for their bustle and rare finds—as well as for the handful of Italian food markets still hanging on from the Little Italy days.
Dispersed among them (especially along Canal), you’ll find a mind-boggling collection of knockoff sunglasses, handbags, fragrances, shoes, and watches. It can be a fun browse, but quality is questionable, and usually so are the sellers—and remember to bargain before busting out your wallet. Skip the bootleg perfumes and software—these are likely stolen goods, and you will be disappointed with the product. I’d steer clear of electronics altogether, but if you must buy, at least open the package before exchanging money to make sure you’re not buying a brick in a name-brand box.
Perhaps the best matrix of Chinatown shops are the side streets tucked south of Canal, between Mott Street and the Bowery. The sidewalks are jammed, the stores are cramped, and vendors sell $1 egg rolls from carts—it’s enough to make you question what country you’re in. If it’s Chinese housewares, spices, and delectables you’re after, try wandering Centre Street and Grand Street, where you’ll surely enjoy the photo opps if not the merchandise.
If you’re out for cool and colorful mementos, duck into Ting’s Gift Shop, 18 Doyer St. (tel. 212/962-1081), one of the oldest operating businesses in Chinatown. Under a vintage pressed-tin ceiling, the shop sells good-quality Chinese toys, kits, and lanterns. Tea lovers should not miss Ten Ren Tea & Genseng, 75 Mott Street (tel. 212/349-2286), where the lovely staff will help you select delectable teas and all the right brewing accessories.
Two final picks for this area: Canal Street Market is half food hall, half artisans bazaar, where locals sell cute and coy handmade goods, from unusual perfumes to jewelry to housewares. And Pearl River Mart is a megastore for all things Asian—silk goods, chopsticks, blinged-out phone case holders, and more.
The Lower East Side
The bargains aren’t what they used to be in the Historic Orchard Street Shopping District, which basically runs from Houston to Canal along Allen, Orchard, and Ludlow streets, spreading outward along both sides of Delancey Street. There are a handful of old-fashioned lingerie (read: girdle) shops, plus leather goods, shoes, linens, and fabrics-on-the-bolt shops. But the street today is mostly a hipster haunt, filled with art galleries, designer-owned tiny boutiques, craft beer emporiums, and lots of bars and restaurants.
In fact, artists and other trendsetters have been turning the entire Lower East Side into a bastion of hip. You’ll find a growing—and increasingly upscale—crop of alterna-shops south of Houston and north of Grand Street, between Allen and Clinton streets to the east and west, specializing in up-to-the-minute fashions and edgy club clothes, plus funky retro furnishings, Japanese toys, and other offbeat items.
The Lower East Side is also a mecca for cooks. Bowery between Kenmare St. and East Houston features a number of restaurant supply wholesalers. Their prices are often a fraction of what you’ll find in shops geared toward consumers rather than industry insiders, though most of these wholesalers are open to the general public.
Essex Market now inhabits a glitzy, airy space on the corner of Essex and Delancey streets; onsite are dozens of food and cookware purveyors, many of which sell only made-in-NYC goods such as chocolates, beers, and more. Russ & Daughters at the corner of Delancey and Orchard is a legendary provider of smoked fish, caviar, and Eastern European fare. It's a fabulously evocative, historic place to visit, even if you're not in the market for fish.
Over the past few decades SoHo has gone from undiscovered to uber-fashionable. It’s true, J. Crew and T.J.Maxx are two of many big names that supplanted many of the artists’ lofts that used to fill SoHo’s historic buildings. But the fact is, no neighborhood rivals the ambience here. The elegant cast-iron architecture, the cobblestone streets, and the distinct artist vibe give SoHo a look and feel unlike any other neighborhood, which is why it’s a landmarked district. And by the way, you can still buy original art directly from the artists lined up right outside the designer storefronts on Spring, Prince, and other high-traffic side streets.
SoHo’s shopping grid runs from Broadway west to Sixth Avenue, and Houston Street south to Canal Street. Broadway is the most commercial strip, with big names like Zara, Brandy Melville, Nike, and Converse. Bloomingdale’s has a downtown branch on Broadway, and Prada’s nearby flagship store is worth visiting for its spacious, almost soothing design by Dutch “starchitect” Rem Koolhaas.
The ‘hood also boasts some fabulous foreign additions, like Spain’s colorful Desigual, 594 Broadway (tel. 212/343-8206), and Japan’s sleek Uniqlo, 546 Broadway (tel. 917/237-8800).
There are plenty of avant-garde fashion shops in SoHo, and you’ll find shoe stores galore and high-end housewares, as well as one-of-a-kind boutiques—like the Hat Shop, 120 Thompson St., between Prince and Spring streets (tel. 212/219-1445), a full-service milliner for women that also features plenty of off-the-rack toppers. For ultramodern and artistic home goods, stop by the Museum of Modern Art Design Store, 81 Spring St. This is the Midtown museum's grand SoHo outpost. It offers the original’s same classic and contemporary artists’ designs, ranging from books to furniture from the museum’s collection. There also are several hot galleries along West Broadway and sprinkled throughout SoHo, though the heart of the art scene is now in Chelsea (see below), the Lower East Side, and Brooklyn.
Not so long ago, Elizabeth Street was a quiet adjunct to Little Italy. Today it’s one of the hottest shopping strips in the neighborhood known as Nolita (North of Little Italy). Elizabeth and neighboring Mott and Mulberry streets are dotted with stylish shops between Lafayette Street and the Bowery, below Houston to Kenmare. It’s an easy walk from the Broadway/Lafayette stop on the F or M line to the neighborhood, as it starts just east of Lafayette Street; you can also take the no. 6 train to Spring Street, or the N-R to Prince Street and walk east from there.
Among Nolita's notable stores are John Fluevog (250 Mulberry St.) for sexy, utterly unique, and surprisingly comfortable footwear; Everlane,which opened one of the first brick-and-mortar stores for the brand's well-made and affordable basics on Prince Street; and Min & Mon (55 Spring St.), which sells appealingly quirky handbags.
Frankly, just cruising the blocks will do the trick in this area. There are too many fabulous shops to list.
The East Village
The East Village has long personified bohemian hip and it’s a can’t-miss shopping neighborhood. The easiest subway access is the no. 6 train to Astor Place, which is just east of the prime hunting grounds.
If it’s funky, sassy, and usually pretty cheap, it’s probably for sale on St. Marks Place, which is the alternate name for 8th Street between Third Avenue and Avenue A. The strip between Third and Second avenues, however, is a permanent street market with countless T-shirt stands, tattoo parlors, and boho jewelry storefronts. Beyond endless sunglasses and hat stands, here vintage clothing buffs can have a field day.
For chi-chi stuff, walk on East 9th Street, between Second Avenue and Avenue A, to find an increasingly smart collection of boutiques, clothing and otherwise. We especially like the clothes of independent designer Meg, 312 E. 9th St. (tel. 212/260-3269), and the savings at the Eileen Fisher outlet store (314 E. 9th St.).
That same strip also draws shopping hawks circling for vintage duds, which are bountiful in the East Village. Highlights include: Cobblestones, 314 East 9th St. (tel. 212/673-5372), specializing in ’30s and ’40s authentic garb; Fabulous Fanny's, 335 East 9th St., for insanely cool vintage eyeglass frames and sunglasses; and Cloak & Dagger, 334 East 9th St. (tel. 212/982-7918), specializing in sometimes kooky, sometimes refined women's wear, from both the house brand and other designers.
If you enjoy sake, Sakaya (324 E. 9th St.) carries rare brands from Japan and elsewhere and has an expert staff to help you pick the right bottle.
Lafayette Street from SoHo to NoHo
Lafayette Street has a retail character all its own, distinct from the rest of SoHo. The thoroughfare has grown into something of an Antiques Row, especially strong in furniture. Prices are high, but so is quality. Lafayette is also home to the kooky new-style mall Showfields, which showcases internet-only brands (vendors pay to be displayed) of all sorts, many quite odd. The stretch to stroll is between 8th Street to the north and Spring Street to the south. Take the no. 6 train to Astor Place and work your way south, or get off at Spring Street and walk north, or take the F or M to Broadway–Lafayette and you’ll be in the heart of the action.
The West Village is great for browsing and gift shopping. Specialty bookstores and record stores, antiques and craft shops, and gourmet food markets dominate. On 8th Street—NYU territory between Broadway and Sixth Avenue—you can find trendy footwear and affordable fashions.
But the biggest shopping boom of late has happened on Bleecker Street west of Sixth Avenue. Between Carmine Street and Seventh Avenue, foodies will delight in the strip of tantalizing food shops, including Faicco's Italian Specialties, an old-timey Italian market at #260; the incredible Murray’s Cheese; and a slew of gourmet ice cream and pastry shops. Also on Bleecker: vintage stores, guitar shops, and a sprinkling of artsy boutiques, many pop-up stores for online fashion purveyors. Christopher Street has several fabulously kitschy gift shops.
When 23rd Street was the epitome of New York fashion a century ago, the major department stores stretched along Sixth Avenue for about a mile from 14th Street up. These elegant stores stood in huge cast-iron buildings that eventually were abandoned. Fortunately, the past decade has seen those grand structures transform into new superstores. Marshalls, T.J.Maxx, and Bed Bath & Beyond are all at 620 Sixth Ave., with the Container Store across the street so you can figure out how to store all your purchases.
The Meatpacking District has also zoomed from quaint to hot (and some say it's already over) in no time, with such fashion emporiums as Jeffrey New York, 449 W. 14th St., and big-name designers like Christian Louboutin, 59 Horatio St. (tel. 212/255-1910). If you’re seeking unique souvenirs over fancy clothes, stop by Chisholm Larsson Gallery, 145 Eighth Avenue (tel. 212/741-1703), which has sold original vintage posters for nearly four decades. You don’t have to be a collector to marvel at the huge array of original movie, advertising, propaganda, and other posters. In addition, such popular chains as Restoration Hardware, Madewell, and Tory Burch have recently moved into the Meatpacking District.
Chelsea is the hottest area in the city for galleries. You'll find some 250 of them between 14th and 29th streets, between 10th and 11th avenues. Click here for our advice on how to tackle the area, and our picks for galleries with the most consistently exciting work. If seeing all that art lights a spark of creativitiy, head to the Ink Pad (tel. 212/463-9876), at 233 W. 19th St. New York’s self-proclaimed "only rubber stamp art shop" is home to a remarkable array of cool and crafty stamps. Classes are available to show you how to make clever stamp art of your own.
Union Square/the Flatiron District
The hottest shopping/eating/hangout zone in the city may be Union Square. The long-forlorn south side of the square is now a mega shopping zone anchored by a Whole Foods Market, Burlington clothing store, and DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse.
Long ago, the city’s first Nordstrom Rack replaced the music wonderland that was the Virgin Megastore. But you can still browse for a melodic memento at Academy Records up on 12th Street. On the north side of the Square, Barnes & Noble fills a beautifully restored 1880 cast-iron building, but for a real New York experience go to the one-of-a-kind Strand Book Store, at Broadway and 12th Street.
Tenth Street between University and Broadway is a mecca for those who love fine antiques, from silver lockets to mid-century modern lamps to belle epoque furniture. Of course, the beating heart of Union Square is the 4-days-a-week Greenmarket, the biggest farmers market in the city and the best place to see how Manhattanites shop for fresh local groceries. In November and December, the Square also partly turns into a pop-up mall with the Holiday Market, brimming with handcrafted art, jewelry, gifts, clothes, and everything else.
On Broadway, just a few blocks north of Union Square, sits the shopping emporium ABC Carpet & Home, where the loft-size floors hold brilliantly decadent displays of furniture, housewares, linens with thread counts off the charts, and tchotchkes of all shapes and sizes. Upscale retailers who have rediscovered the architectural majesty of lower Fifth Avenue include Club Monaco, Eileen Fisher, Lululemon, Aritzia, Anthropologie, and Brandy Melville. This stretch is also home to an extraordinary toy store cum play space called Camp. You won’t find many small-name shops along Fifth, so head down the side streets for something more unique.
And then there's Eataly at the stately northwest corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Legendary chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich and partners have splayed seemingly all of Italy’s gastronomic delights across 50,000 square feet of prime Flatiron real estate.
The Shops at Hudson Yards is a marble-clad, four-level, 720,000-square-foot behemoth that has the ambience of a high-end Asian shopping mall. More than 100 shops have moved in, including every major luxury brand, ubiquitous retailers like Zara and Banana Republic, garments-as-art Dallas boutique Forty Five Ten, and b8ta, a showplace for goods reminiscent of what the Sharper Image used to offer. The mall also has an impressive range of eateries. The Hudson Yards development reaches from 30th to 35th streets, Tenth Avenue to the river (subway: 7 to 34th St/Hudson Yards).
Herald Square & the Garment District
Herald Square—where 34th Street, Sixth Avenue, and Broadway converge—is dominated by Macy’s, the self-billed "biggest department store in the world." At Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street is the Manhattan Mall (tel. 212/465-0500), home to standbys like Aeropostale and Express. There’s plenty of big shopping all around the mall, too, including an outlet of Lush, England’s preeminent bath-supply store.
A long block over on Seventh Avenue, not much goes on in the grimy, heavily industrial Garment District. This is, however, where you’ll often find sites for that quintessential New York event, the sample sale.
Times Square & the Theater District
You won’t find much in the heart of Times Square to entice the serious shopper. West 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, however, is the city’s famous Diamond District.
You’ll also notice a wealth of electronics stores throughout the neighborhood, many perpetually trumpeting going-out-of-business sales. These joints have been going out of business since the Stone Age—but one thing’s certain: Just like at a real out-of-business store, you won’t be able to return a lemon camera you bought here. Better to stick with buying souvenir trinkets and T-shirts at such places. Electronics are more wisely purchased at B&H Photo Video (420 Ninth Ave.) for real bargains with legitimate warranties.
Don’t leave the neighborhood just yet. Head up Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, between 42nd and 57th streets, home to a wealth of little shops and charming restaurants. One of the more interesting is Scent Elate, 313 W. 48th St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues (tel. 212/258-3043), which stocks candles, handmade soaps, essential oils, an array of products made by local artists, and the legendary Lampe Berger perfume lamps. This is one of the few places to find the latter in the city.
If shopping has left you peckish, you’re in luck: You’re a stone’s throw from Restaurant Row, 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues.
Wander over to 42nd Street to hit the big-name shops, like Lids (at #239), a chain that carries the official on-field baseball cap of every single Major League Baseball team, and what seems like every variation, too.
Fifth Avenue & 57th Street
The heart of Manhattan retail spans Fifth Avenue from the upper 40s to 57th Street and across. Tiffany & Co., which has long reigned supreme, sits a stone’s throw from the huge Louis Vuitton flagship at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. In addition, a good number of mainstream retailers, such as Uniqlo, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Puma, have flagships along Fifth, shifting the breadth of higher-end shopping to Madison Avenue north of 59th Street.
You will find a number of big-name, big-ticket designers radiating from the crossroads, including Versace, Bulgari, Chanel, Dior, and Cartier. You’ll also find big-name jewelers here, as well as grand old department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. All these Fifth Avenue mainstays must at least be browsed, even if your budget won’t allow for more than longing glances.
Madison Avenue from 57th to 79th streets boasts the most expensive retail real estate in the world. Bring lots of plastic. This ultradeluxe strip—particularly in the high 60s—is home to dozens of snooty designer boutiques.
But don’t be intimidated by the glamour of this shopper’s mile or any of the celebrities you might cross paths with. The luxury boutiques of Madison Avenue will be happy you stopped by if only to peruse their treasures. There’s also the joy of fine architecture among many of these upscale retailers. The stunning Ralph Lauren Store, for instance, is housed in a revamped mansion at 72nd Street. If you’re in the market for high-end French crystals, head to Lalique at 609 Madison Ave. (tel. 212/355-6550). The original Vera Wang bridal boutique sits on this stretch, too, at #991.
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side’s best shopping street is Columbus Avenue. Small shops catering to the neighborhood’s white-collar mix of yuppies and families line both sides of the avenue from 66th Street to about 86th Street. The browsing continues along Amsterdam Avenue, but go one more block west to main-drag Broadway for some gourmet edibles at Zabar’s and Fairway markets.
Score some comfy kicks at Harry’s Shoes on Broadway at 83rd Street or farther down Broadway at Tip Top Shoes on 72nd Street. Still farther south, the Shops at Columbus Circle features not only some of the biggest (and priciest) names in retail but also views of Central Park. Situated just off the southwest corner of “the city’s playground,” the mall is 2 blocks long and four stories high. But for shoppers who set their sights on such retailers as Williams-Sonoma, Jo Malone, Coach, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Eileen Fisher, and a massive 59,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, does the picturesque view even matter?
Few Manhattan neighborhoods are free of big chain stores. Nowadays, Harlem's central boulevard, 125th Street, is crowded with them. The heart of this shopping thoroughfare is between St. Nicholas Avenue and Fifth Avenue, where you’ll find a discount outlet for the GAP, along with H&M, MAC Cosmetics, the Children's Place, Starbucks, Old Navy, and Marshalls.
Sprinkled among the big names are some stores that represent Harlem's unique character. For hip-hop boutiques, there are two locations of Jimmy Jazz, 132 and 239 W. 125th St. (tel. 212/663-2827), where you can get anything from Kangol headwear to Girbaud women's designs. And while 125th has no shortage of sidewalk vendors selling incense, we think you'll get the best African goods, in the most interesting setting, by heading to the Malcolm Shabazz Market on 116th St. between Malcolm X Boulevard and Fifth Avenue.
With plenty more shopping to be found on side streets, do a little online browsing at Harlem One Stop ahead of your visit to zero in on specific shops or merchandise as well as walking tours and special events.
Brooklyn is a shopping destination in its own right. Some of the best and most interesting things can be found in Park Slope, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens, DUMBO, and other neighborhoods.
In recent years, Park Slope has become great shopping territory. The area is lined with adorable, diverse, and independently owned shops selling unique wares. The main action is along Fifth and Seventh avenues, both starting from Flatbush Avenue all the way down to about 15th Street. There’s also the centrally located Atlantic Terminal Mall (139 Flatbush Ave.), should you need to visit Brooklyn’s superbusy Target or another big chain store like GameStop or Guitar Center. Mostly I skip the mall and wander down Atlantic Avenue toward Smith Street and Court Street in Cobble Hill to browse the wealth of charming boutiques.
Closer to Manhattan you’ll find the very scenic, cobblestoned DUMBO (that stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Jacques Torres Chocolate and other high-end stores occupy the spacious shops here. Over in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Flea weekend market should not be missed in either its Saturday warm-weather outdoor location on Lafayette Avenue or the year-round indoor version held on Sundays at Skylight One Hanson. An offshoot, Smorgasburg, takes place in Williamsburg and DUMBO and is a foodie market par extraordinaire. It's held during the warm-weather months on weekends.
The massive City Point mall (445 Albee Sq. West) has turned Downtown Brooklyn into a prime shopping and eating destination. An outlet of Century 21, kids store Torly & Tooby, and the usually online-only international fashion marketplace HiOLife are among the most popular shops. The onsite DeKalb Market Hall food court is fabulous.
If you're in the market for home furnishings, Industry City in Brooklyn's Sunset Park is a goldmine. The design district encompasses discount warehouses for such top brands as ABC Carpet & Home, Design Within Reach, Restoration Hardware, West Elm, and several smaller brands. Because Industry City offers affordable studio space to artisans, this is also an excellent place to find one-of-a-kind clothing, dishware, furnishings, and more made by locals onsite. The excellent Powerhouse Bookstore is here as well, along with many terrific eateries. All in all, it's a great area to while away an afternoon. Set on the waterfront, the development is just three subway stops from Manhattan; take the D, N, or R to 36th Street.
The only outlet mall in New York City, Empire Outlets (55 Richmond Terrace, St. George) opened in the spring of 2019. While the complex doesn’t have the top designer shops that lure New Yorkers out to Woodbury Common north of the city, Empire does have discounts on goods from brands such as American Eagle, Banana Republic, Levi's, and Nordstrom Rack. To get here, take the Staten Island Ferry.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.