New York City is known for a lot of things: an incredible art scene, amazing food, world-class entertainment, and of course our favorite activity--shopping.
So if you're planning a trip to our fair city, it's crucial to have a list of must-visit neighborhoods and shops prepared. Fortunately, we're going to let you benefit from our obsession. We present to you: our picks in five of the best shopping neighborhoods in NYC. Of course, make sure you leave yourself some time to wander and stumble upon new hidden gems of your own!
Maybe it's silly for us to even include Times Square because... duh, it's Times Square. But seriously, there's just no other place like it. True, you have to weave between photo-snapping tourists like you're slalom skiing. But the bright lights of Broadway hits, the excited energy of the crowds, and even the sky-high commercials just seem to sparkle you with magic. But when you need a break from all that energy, stroll right over to Fifth Avenue, otherwise known as Land of the Flagship Stores!
Here's where to shop (and yeah, since all three are flagships... they're huge):
1. Lord & Taylor - The gold-accented storefront is a sight in itself, but your eyes will really pop when you see the size of the sale section here.
2. Uniqlo - This Japanese import is the perfect place to get trendy basics--T-shirts, cardigans in every color of the rainbow, leggings, you name it. We're addicted to the prices and the quality at Uniqlo.
3. Joe Fresh - A relative newcomer to the fast fashion scene, we love Joe Fresh's funky colors and awesome fits. Snatch up a dangerously affordable (meaning you'll want seven of each) silk blouse or a cashmere sweater, then check out their shoe section. While you're there, please buy us that pair of calf-hair booties we can't stop thinking about...
The area around Lexington Avenue is close to just about everything--Grand Central, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and not to mention, some seriously awesome shopping. Grand Central itself is more than just a train station (and a place to pretend you're Serena Van Der Woodsen coming home from boarding school). While you admire its beauty, jump into a couple of these shops and get yourself a treat.
Here's where to shop:
1. Jo Malone - Pick out a new fragrance at the shop of one of our favorite scent masters. Better yet, get two and wear them both at once to create your own signature musk (obviously test this experiment in the store before trying at home).
2. Cursive - If you need a break from shopping for clothes, Cursive has a fantastic selection of sweet, funny, and quirky greeting cards to send to your friends back home (or save for birthdays, holidays, any-old-Wednesdays...). You'll also find delicious-smelling candles and some knick-knacks--great gifts for your pals or yourself.
3. TOTO - Since you're on vacation, maybe you deserve a little splurge. Check out the leather goods and handbags at TOTO: you can get crocodile or ostrich bags for a fraction of the price of bigger brands (but a warning... it's still a pretty big fraction). If you're on a tighter budget, leather gloves start at just $40.
Union Square is the coolest of the cool. The park is full of musicians, families, hip young people, artists, you name it (we're in New York after all). Grab a bite to eat at a restaurant or the farmers market, and sit in Union Square for some incredible people-watching. Once you've done that... make your way to the shopping. It's walking distance from SoHo and Greenwich Village, so there are plenty of options here! And a little tidbit: keep your eyes peeled for stray celebrities wandering incognito, especially on weekdays. Trust us.
Here's where to shop:
1. The Strand - You can't visit New York without going to The Strand bookstore--and don't you need reading material for the trip home? Go upstairs to the Rare Book Room and watch history unfold before your eyes.
2. La Petite Coquette - Are you a lover of lacy underpinnings? If so, you will just die over La Petite Coquette. This lingerie boutique is a bit on the pricey side (think $60-$200 for a bra), but they definitely do have something for everybody if you want a little something special.
3. MUJI - The second Japanese gem on our list, MUJI is a ten minute walk from Union Square (and there are plenty of places to grab food along the way: check out Dos Toros for burritos or Paradis for sandwiches). The clothing at MUJI is awesome, and has a simple-yet-slightly-rustic vibe, like you live in a minimalist-chic glass cabin in the woods. It also has an awesome housewares section, cool stationery and pens, and quirky little gifts.
Yes, Hoboken is just over the Hudson in New Jersey, but it's quickly becoming a hot neighborhood for young people in their twenties. The nightlife is great, and if you're a Cake Boss fan, you'll definitely want to get in line early at Carlo's Bakery. After you have your cake (and eat it too)... it's time to shop.
Here's where to shop:
1. Bella Ro - This cute boutique has some hidden gems at a great price point, and the staff is super sweet. If you're looking for a cute dress or jewelry that your friends back home will fawn over, make sure Bella Ro is on your list.
2. Luxe Face & Body - If Sephora gives you a headache, seek solace in make-up and skincare boutique Luxe Face & Body. Even better, they have a huge range of natural and organic products.
3. Town House Shops - Formerly known as Town House 620, Town House Shops has some funky-yet-trendy pieces, and great jewelry. In need of a great new statement necklace? Look no further--but good luck deciding on just one.
You don't have to be an investment banker to enjoy yourself downtown in the Financial District. Once you touch the Wall Street Bull and sneak a peek at the Statue of Liberty, go ahead and do what you really came to the city for...
Here's where to shop:
1. Century 21 - This department store is the motherlode of bargain shopping. Stuffed with amazing designer goods at just a fraction of the retail price, you miiiight need to buy an extra suitcase just to bring all your new purchases back home.
2. South Street Seaport - This historic open-air mall has plenty of shopping, not to mention a gorgeous view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Save room for dinner after your shopping spree, because there are delicious pubs and food vendors around every corner.
3. Housing Works - Housing Works is an NYC thrift shop, and if your experience there is anything like our (weekly) experiences have been, you're going to walk away with a fantastic new find. From clothes, to handbags, to all the dishes in our kitchen cabinets (a full set!!)... you can get it here.
The good news for those of you planning your NYC trips? There's a W Hotel in each of these neighborhoods, so you won't have to waste valuable shopping time commuting underground. No one wants to spend their whole vacation on the, er, fragrant New York City subway. Even better, wait til you see some of the insane views from your hotel window, especially looking at the glittering Manhattan skyline from Hoboken. But don't blame us if you "accidentally" miss your flight home to squeeze in another day of shopping...