Fifth Avenue & 57th Street
Fifth Avenue is a legend for shoppers, as the blocks from the upper 40s to 57th Street have an incredible range of retail experiences. Stand where Audrey Hepburn gazed at diamonds at Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store before venturing inside or to other major brand flagships, including Cartier, Armani, Louis Vuitton and Chanel—to name just a few. It’s not all luxury goods on this stretch; Banana Republic, FAO Schwarz, the Apple Store and NikeTown are some of the many top names represented here. The street glitters with jewelers—DeBeers is one—and don’t miss the experience of browsing the area’s department store grand dames: Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel and Saks Fifth Avenue.
If luxury had a home, it would be the blocks between 57th to 79th Streets on Madison Avenue. With big names like Gucci, Prada, Christian Laboutin, Jimmy Choo, La Perla, Vera Wang, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace and DKNY, not to mention the iconic Barneys New York, make sure you’ve got money to burn if you intend to shop on this über-luxe row. The lovely brownstones give the area a wonderfully European feel, and the retail boutiques here keep the street a very civilized pocket of New York City. But don’t be afraid to just browse; that’s still free and the shop assistants are happy to see you stop by whether you’ve got your credit card handy or not.
The Greenmarket at Union Square
What started as a market with just a few farmers in 1976 has become a world-famous, not-to-be-missed destination when visiting New York. And that’s mainly because the residents of Manhattan definitely take advantage of the 140 regional farmers, fishermen and bakers who fill up Union Square each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. On peak days, over 60,000 foodies peruse an amazing variety of seasonal produce and products, from farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to cut flowers and plants, from heritage meats and handmade cheeses, plus artisan breads, jams and pickles to accompany them. And that’s just a selection of the market’s offerings. Don’t miss New York’s hottest chefs as they show off their talents during cooking demonstrations, as visitors usually get a taste.
Once the location of the National Biscuit Company, the Chelsea Market covers the two square blocks between 9th and 10 Avenues and West 15th and 16th Streets. Food lovers should plan to be there a while, browsing and eating their way through several bakeries, artisan shops selling cheeses, salt, chocolate and olive oil, and restaurants that include Morimoto and Mario Batali’s Del Posto. Upstairs houses media and broadcasting companies like Google, the Food Network and EMI Music Publishing, to name a few. The Food Network actually films its shows Iron Chef America and Emeril Live in the Chelsea Market. On the 10th Avenue side of the Chelsea Market, look out for access to the High Line urban park, where you can walk off the treats sampled from the shops.
SoHo is one of New York’s most unique neighborhoods, and a great place to shop from big name stores to quirky boutiques. The area’s cast-iron architecture and cobblestone streets have made SoHo a landmarked district, and give it an ambiance that’s hard to beat, whether you’re shopping, dining or just passing through. Easily recognizable American retailers like J. Crew, Guess and Bloomingdales dot the (usually crowded) SoHo streets, but there’s also been a welcome foreign invasion from Spain’s Desigual, London’s Topshop, Sweden’s H&M and Japan’s Uniqlo. The best part is that the artists haven’t been completely pushed out of SoHo just yet—you can still purchase works directly from the unknown artists on Spring, Prince and other streets, or prints, books and furniture from the Museum of Modern Art Design Store.
Like the SoHo district, NoLIta gets its name from the area’s location: North of Little Italy. It’s not so long ago that NoLIta was just a collection of charming streets, and now it is well known for a delightful variety of shops, from vintage clothing to designer flagships, from contemporary fashion to artists’ galleries. Wander down the quaint Elizabeth, Mott and Mulberry streets between Lafayett Street and the Bowery to sample some of the best shopping that New York has to offer. If the retail therapy makes you hungry, seek out Little Italy and its few remaining Italian food stores, like Di Palo Fine Foods and Piemonte Co., for some authentic delicacies.