To the question “Where do I shop?”, NYC answers “How much you got?” For your last-minute holiday shopping needs, here is a guide to the best places to splash some cash.
Well-funded shoppers head to Midtown's Fifth Ave and the Upper East Side's Madison Ave. Soho has high-end boutiques stocking the wares of international and famous local designers, while Nolita has smaller boutiques of expensive, up-and-coming stylists. The Lower East Side and the East Village are traditional enclaves of vintage and indie fashion. The West Village has tiny, well-known boutiques, while the Meatpacking District is home to designer havens. Midtown is the place for big-box retailers like Macy's.
These days, Soho is one big shopping mall, with high-end fashion well represented along West Broadway between Houston and Grand streets. There are many ways to rack up debt at this major shopping destination, with hundreds of stores, big and small, scattered along its streets. Broadway is one of the main corridors, and is lined with less expensive chain stores. Hidden west along the tree-lined streets are pricier boutiques selling clothing, shoes, accessories and home wares. During the warmer months, you will also find street vendors hawking jewellery, art, T-shirts, hats and other crafts.
Less touristy than Soho, Nolita (Mott Street between Houston and Broome Streets) has lovely little clothing, shoe and accessory shops carrying up-and-coming designers. Mott Street is best for browsing, followed by Mulberry and Elizabeth.
For edgier fashions and urban style, begin your Lower East Side explorations on Orchard between Houston and Grand Streets. The downtown fashion crowd looking for that edgy, experimental, or "old-school hip-hop" look head to the shops in the Lower East Side. Sprinkled among the district's many bars and restaurants are dozens of stores selling vintage apparel, vegan shoes, one-of-a-kind sneakers, old-fashioned candy, left-wing books and more.
More pleasant than the chaotic St Marks Place one block south, East 9th between Second Ave and Avenue A is a good intro to the vintage stores and curio shops of the East Village. Once the archetype of underground, downtown style, the East Village is doing some soul searching (some might say "selling") these days. You will still find urban and outsider fashion, but new local designers, sleeker shops and even chain stores have moved into the area, blunting the neighbourhood's former edginess. Still, there is more than a whiff of those rockin' '80s days at punk-rock T-shirt shops, tattoo parlours and dusty stores selling furniture and vintage clothing, and the record stores are the real deal, with New York's best selection of vinyl.
Proudly flying the rainbow colours, Christopher Street between Greenwich and West 4th Streets has its fair share of leather and sex shops, with some friendly bars and cafes along the way.
Running south from Abingdon Square, tree-lined Bleecker (between Bank and West 10th Streets) is sprinkled with eye-catching storefronts and boutiques selling trendy apparel. The picturesque, tranquil streets of the West Village are home to some lovely boutiques, with a few antique dealers, bookstores, record stores, and quirky gift and curio shops adding a bit of eclecticism to an otherwise fashion-focused 'hood.
Between Central Park and Rockefeller Center, this commercial strip is the El Dorado of shopping. Stepping into Tiffany's, Bergdorf's and Takashimaya is just the beginning... A vast sea of concrete and chaos, Midtown offers shopping delights for commoner and debutante alike. Those with cash head north to movie-famed Fifth Ave and 59th Street, gateway to the Garden of Eden as far as luxury goods are concerned. Here, jewellers like Tiffany & Co and Cartier hold court, alongside the gilded department stores of Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel. Even if you left your Amex black card at home, it is worth going to see the artfully designed window displays, which change seasonally and get more spectacular each year.
To get "the treatment" (which can be good or bad depending on the size of your expense account), head to Madison and 72nd Street, gateway to the bejewelled storefronts of the Upper East Side. The main shopping is on, and just off, Madison Ave, from Midtown up to about East 75th Street. You will also find attractive one-of-a-kind boutiques, mainly on Lexington and Third Aves in the 70s and 80s, as well as gourmet food shops. For unique gifts, hit the museum shops, including those at the Met, the Whitney, the Jewish Museum and the Neue Galerie.
On another galaxy is Bedford Ave (between North 4th and North 10th Streets) - and North 6th Street for that matter - with alternative fashions, record stores and lots of flashy-trashy stuff. Williamsburg is famed (and scorned) for its hipster attire, worn by nearly everyone in the 'burg. Pick up the uniform at vintage shops, thrift stores and trendier boutiques on and around Bedford Ave.
For more Brooklyn fun, also cruise the shops of Boerum Hill's Smith Street and Park Slope's Fifth Ave. Atlantic Ave, running east to west near Brooklyn Heights, is sprinkled with antique stores, restaurants and boutiques, plus Arabic perfumeries, butchers and bookshops. Heading south from Atlantic, both Court and Smith Streets are lined with local designers' boutiques. Residential Park Slope, just west of Prospect Park, has a good selection of laidback clothing shops and bookstores along Fifth Ave (Lower East Side hip) and Seventh Ave (slightly more Upper West Side).
The article 'New York City’s top shopping strips' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.