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 the “Shopping A to Z,” section.
Lower Manhattan & the Financial District
The mother of all discount department stores is Century 21, across Church Street from the World Trade Center site. New inventory flows in literally all day, as do throngs of customers. Despite its often elbow-to-elbow aisles, the store is worth a visit—just aim to go on a weekday morning to take advantage of its bargains before the crowds appear.
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.). Corso Como is the latest shopping mall iteration for the area, and this one will be a bit chicer, as it is curated by Carla Sozzani, a former editor of Italian Vogue magazine. You'll also find a lot of chain names (J. Crew and the like) as well as the very first bricks and mortar shoe store from Sarah Jessica Parker. Best of all are the stunning harbor vistas, and the collection of hot 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 shopping needs. For the names of all the stores here, visit www.seaportdistrict.nyc.
Meanwhile, on Wall Street, check out designer retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Tumi, as well as Hermès on 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, Reiss, Longines and Montblanc. Across West Street from the monument is another urban mall Brookfield Place which has two dozen more shops, including Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Michael Kors, Lululemon, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Don’t expect to find the bargain of a lifetime on Chinatown’s crowded streets, but there’s always great browsing. The fish and herbal markets along Canal, Mott, Mulberry, and Elizabeth streets are fun for their bustle and exotica—as well as for the handful of Italian joints 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! (Also, skip the bootleg perfumes and software—these are 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 eggrolls 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: the Canal Street Market which is half food hall, and half stands of individual NYC-based artisans who make all sorts of cute and coy goods, from unusual perfumes, to jewelry, to housewares. And Pearl River Mart, a mega store for all things Asian—silk goods, chopsticks, bling bling 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 (really girdle), 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, I'd say the artists and other trendsetters who 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.
However, 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 towards consumers rather than trade (though most are open to the general public). And Essex Street Market moved to a larger, glitzier spot on the corner of Essex and Delancey streets in the spring of 2019; on-site are dozens of food and cookware purveyors, many of which sell made-in-NYC goods (chocolates, beers and more).
Before you head into the Orchard Street thicket, pick up a shopping guide at the Lower East Side Visitor Center, 54 Orchard St., between Hester and Grand streets (tel. 866/224-0206; Subway: F to Delancey St.). Or you can preview the list and learn all things LES online at LES.nyc.
Over the past few decades SoHo has gone from undiscovered to uber-fashionable. It’s true, J. Crew and Old Navy 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 ambiance 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 direct from the artists lined up on Spring, Prince, and other high-traffic side streets (right outside designer storefronts).
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 Club Monaco, Bebe, Victoria's Secret and H&M, the economical Swedish department store with cutting-edge fashions. Bloomingdale’s has a downtown branch on Broadway, while nearby, Prada’s flagship store is worth visiting for its spacious, almost soothing design alone (by Dutch “starchitect” Rem Koolhaus).
The ‘hood also boasts some fabulous foreign additions, like Spain’s colorful Desigual, 594 Broadway (tel. 212/343-8206), Japan’s sleek Uniqlo, 546 Broadway (tel. 917/237-8800), and two imports from London: the brilliant Topshop and Topman, 478 Broadway (tel. 212/966-9555), a megaclothier and Karen Millen, 114 Prince St. (tel. 212/334-3492) which does particularly well by gals with hourglass shaped figures. Bricks-and-mortar iterations of web phenoms also figure in the neighborhood, which is the home to one of beauty purveyer Glossier's shops.
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. If you’re still hungry for the ultramodern and artistic, stop by the Museum of Modern Art Design Store, 81 Spring St. The Midtown museum has a grand SoHo outpost, and 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. So whether you’re looking to expand your art collection or just see the work of the Next Big Thing, be sure to come to SoHo with plenty of time to wander. You can find a full list of shops and galleries (most are closed Monday) at www.artseensoho.com.
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.
Nolita is the cousin of SoHo—making it cute and not cheap. Its curb-to-curb boutiques are largely the province of shopkeepers specializing in high-quality fashion-forward products. More and more, it’s become a beacon of niche designs from around the world. Calypso, 280 Mott St. (tel. 212/965-0990; www.calypso-celle.com), has evolved into a successful brand of boho-hippie-chic styles for women, children and babies, with stores in Nolita and SoHo. Nearby you’ll find laid-back, military-inspired men’s fashions at Unis, 226 Elizabeth St. (tel. 212/431-5533), which are within reach of most wallets. Everlane has one of its first bricks and mortar stores on Prince street, and it, too, sells goods that are quite affordable.
Nolita is also an accessories bonanza; stop in at Erica Weiner, 173 Elizabeth St. (tel. 212/334-6383) for affordable, funky jewelry often crafted from other types of antiques (like 1920's martini stirrers); or John Fleuvog at 250 Mulberry St. for sexy, utterly unique and surprisingly comfortable footwear. 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, though many New Yorkers would argue the area, with its shiny new condos, has been engulfed by gentrification. Nevertheless, 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.
That said, 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), the funky vintage eyeglass frames at 335 E. 9th St. and the savings at the Eileen Fischer 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, 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, both the house brand and other designers. And if you enjoy sake, Sakaya (324 E. 9th St.; www.sakayanyc.com) 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. It 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 (they 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 Amy’s Bread, Murray’s Cheese and a slew of gourmet ice cream and pastry shops. In between are vintage stores, guitar shops, and a sprinkling of artsy boutiques, many pop-up stores for online fashion purveyors. On Christopher Street, you’ll find such wonders as the Porcelain Room, 13 Christopher St. (tel. 212/367-8206; www.theporcelainroom.com), which is located below street level and offers amazing antique and contemporary porcelains from Europe and Asia; and Sockerbit at No. 89 which is where you run to when you run out of Scandinavian candies. Not kidding.
The Ink Pad (tel. 212/463-9876; www.theinkpadnyc.com), at Seventh Ave and the corner of 13th street, is "New York’s only rubber stamp art shop," and is home to a remarkable array of cool and crafty stamps, along with classes to make clever art with them. The Village is full of adorable, locally owned storefronts like this one.
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 to new superstores. Marshalls, TJ 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 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 Chissholm 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.
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 megashopping zone with Whole Foods, Forever 21, and DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse). And while the city’s first Nordstrom Rack replaced the music wonderland known as Virgin Megastore loooong ago, you can still browse for a melodic memento at Academy Records up on 18th 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 Bookstore, at Broadway and 12th Street. On University Place is one of the city's best lingerie stores La Petite Coquette and 10th 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, is the shopping emporium ABC Carpet & Home, where the loft-size floors hold brilliantly decadent displays of furniture, housewares, linens (thread counts off the charts), and tchotchkes of all sizes and shapes. Upscale retailers who have rediscovered the architectural majesty of lower Fifth Avenue include Banana Republic, Eileen Fischer, and Brandy Melville. You won’t find many small-name shops along Fifth, so head down its side streets for something more unique.
And then, certo, there is Eataly, at the stately northwest corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Legendary chef, restaurateur and Italian-American 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 (www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com) is a marble-clad, four-level, 720,000-square-foot behemoth that has the ambiance of a high-end Asian shopping mall. Some 100-plus shops have moved in, including everything major luxury brand, ubiquitous brands like Zara and Banana Republic, the city’s first Nieman Marcus, Dallas’ garments-as-art boutique Forty Five Ten, and B8TA, a showplace shop for internet-only brands (the goods are reminiscent of what the Sharper Image used to offer). The mall also has an impressive range of eateries. Hudson Yards is the development 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-proclaimed "biggest department store in the world." At Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street is the Manhattan Mall (tel. 212/465-0500; www.manhattanmallny.com), home to typical mall standards like Aeropostale and Express. And there’s plenty of big shopping all around the mall, including an outlet of Lush, England’s penultimate 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 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 a real out-of-business store, you won’t be able to return a lemon camera you bought there. Better to stick with buying souvenir trinkets and T-shirts at these joints. Electronics are more wisely purchased at B&H for real bargains with set prices—and 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; www.scentelate.com), which stocks candles, handmade soaps, essential oils, an array of products made by local artists, and the legendary Lampe Berger perfume lamps (one of the few places to find them 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. (Find out more at www.restaurantrownyc.com.)
Wander over to 42nd Street to hit the big-name shops, like Lids, 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 and Banana Republic, 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, 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 Fifth Avenue mainstays that 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 the most luxurious designer boutiques, with Barneys New York as the anchor.
Don’t be intimidated by the glamour of this shopper’s mile or any of the celebrities you’re likely to 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, like the stunning Ralph Lauren Store, 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); you'll also find the original Vera Wang bridal boutique on this stretch.
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. You can also score some comfy kicks at Harry’s Shoes on Broadway at 83rd Street, or down Broadway at Tip Top Shoes on 72nd Street. Still further south, the Shops at Columbus Circle features not only some of the biggest (and priciest) names in retail, but also offer shopping with a view 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, Sisley, Coach, Hugo Boss, Eileen Fisher, Thomas Pink and the massive 59,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, does the picturesque view really matter?
Few neighborhoods are free of big chain stores, and now 125th Street, Harlem’s central boulevard, is crowded with them. The heart of this shopping thoroughfare is between St. Nicholas Avenue and Fifth Avenue, where you’ll find and discount outlet for the GAP, along with H&M, MAC Cosmetics, the Children's Place, Starbucks, Old Navy, and Marshall’s. Also sprinkled among the big names are stores that represent the unique Harlem character. Hip-hop boutiques are 1-2-5 mainstays, including two locations of Jimmy Jazz, 132 and 239 W. 125th St. (tel. 212/663-2827) where you can get anything from a Kangol to Girbaud Femme. For a decade now, Hue-Man Books, 2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd., just south of 125th Street (tel. 212/665-7400), has been the neighborhood joint for books and readings—specializing in Harlem-based authors and local bestsellers, as well as “voices from the ‘hood” categorized under “Street Fiction.” 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).
And with plenty more shopping to be found on side streets, you can also do a little online browsing to zero in on specific shops or merchandise at www.harlemonestop.com, which also does local walking and trolley tours.
Brooklyn is a shopping destination in its own right, and 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 became great shopping territory, lined with adorable and diverse, independently-owned retailers 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, should you need to visit Brooklyn’s superbusy Target or another big chain store like Gamestop, Daffy’s, 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—and a Barney’s Co-Op at 194 Atlantic Ave. (tel. 718/637-2234).
Closer to Manhattan you’ll find the very scenic, cobblestoned DUMBO (that’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), with high-end stores in spacious shops, and Jacques Torres Chocolate. Over in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Flea weekend market (www.brooklynflea.com), should not be missed in either its Saturday warm-weather outdoor location on Lafayette Ave., or Sunday indoors at Skylight One Hanson, open year-round. Its off-shoot Smorgasburg (www.smorgasburg.com) takes place in Williamsburg and DUMBO and is a foodie market par extraordinaire. It's in the outer boroughs during the warm weather months on weekends, and at the South Street Seaport daily.
City Point (445 Albee Sq. West; http://citypointbrooklyn.com), a relatively new and massive mall, has turned Downtown Brooklyn into a prime shopping and eating destination (the onsite DeKalb Market food court is fabulous). An outlet of Century 21, kids store Torly & Tooby, and the (usually) online-only international fashion marketplace HioLife are among its most popular shops.
Billing itself, correctly, as the only outlet mall in New York City, Empire Outlets New York City (Richmond Terrace, St. George’s; http://empireoutlets.nyc) opened in the spring of 2019. While it doesn’t have the top designer shops that lure New Yorkers out to Woodbury Commons, it will have discounts on goods from such brands as Aerie, Brooks Brothers, Nike, True Religion, and Samsonite. 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.