“I love my money where I can see it – hanging in my closet,” quipped Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. As the fashion capital of the United States, New York is in a separate league, which helps ensure that your wallet stays a little lighter than when you came.
So the question is not what you will buy, but where. For those who like to shop and spend a lot of money, Fifth Avenue is a great place to start. You will find renowned designers and tall eyebrow display cases just waiting to be amazed. If you’re heading south to Nolita (north of Little Italy) and spending your shopping experience in Soho, there is no shortage of unique boutiques and pretty boutiques to keep you occupied for days. Or, if you’re looking to get a little more eccentric, cross the Williamsburg Bridge to this hipster haven where you can head to cheese shops, vintage stores and buy a cup of Joe at one of the many cafes in the area.
1. Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue has been the center of shopping elegance in New York for some time. Located between 39th and 60th streets, Fifth Avenue is a must for any fashion-oriented tourist. Start spending at Saks Fifth Avenue and head to the super chic Bergdorf Goodman. There is a separate store exclusively for men across the street. Along the way you will find Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, DeBeers and Tiffany’s where you can shop as you wish. Do not miss St. Patrick’s Cathedral and other large churches, which rub shoulders with retailers like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada, offering all the best products in the world.
2. Green Wich Village
This legendary part of the city is divided into east and west sections by 5th avenue and bounded by Houston Street, 14th Street, the Hudson River and Broadway. Stroll the streets, get inspired, be yourself: it’s Greenwich Village. The “Village” carries its own mystique, resulting from a rich history of 100 years as a refuge for the creative and the rebels. Rogue writers like Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs used to go to cafes on Macdougal Street like Café Reggio and Café Figaro. Today, the region is too expensive for a typical hungry artist, but the village remains a wonderfully open and tolerant community for anyone wishing to explore individuality, talent and thought. A strong gay presence adds character, and Bleecker Street is a paradise for music lovers (and buyers). Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain have already walked the zigzag streets now frequented by students, skaters and street musicians from New York University.
3. Lower East Side
The Lower East Side was once one of the roughest parts of the city, but it has become a trendy haven. Roughly located between the Bowery and the East River, and Canal Street and Houston Street, shopping on the Lower East Side has bargains and independent boutiques, but stores that offer designers who design and sew their own creations are the norm. The unusual and the unexpected are with us here. Furnishings, jewelry and of course trendy cafes and culinary experiences abound. You’ll find gourmet pastries, chic wine bars and charming cafes mixed with local residents still shopping at some of the old haunts like authentic Jewish charcuterie Russ & Daughters.
SoHo (short for South of Houston) once housed New York factories, from sewing to iron foundries. Now the warehouse buildings have all been converted into lofts used for living – if you’re super wealthy – and into an array of trendy designer boutiques, shops and restaurants for the rest of us. You will find a branch of the Guggenheim Museum, a Bloomingdales and even a Chanel boutique. The Dean & Deluca gourmet restaurant is a culinary fantasy not to be missed. Stroll through all the cobbled streets and you will be amazed by the displays of shops, which have some of the most creative windows in the city.
One of the most populous Chinatowns in the United States, NY’s is a dazzling journey into authenticity. In fact, New York has one of the largest ethnic Chinese populations outside of Asia. The bustling, rough and tumble district spans blocks and blocks from Canal Street to City Hall. You’ll find roasted ducks at the windows, as well as fruits and vegetables you’ve never seen before spilling out onto the streets. Acupuncturists, herbalists and other Chinese medicine specialists offer wonderful treatments to relieve your shoulders from the tension caused by holding too many shopping bags. For more modern shopping, stop by Canal Street Market to take a look at the high-end offerings. Visit the Yunhong baguette shop for a souvenir that will travel well and, according to Chinese tradition, spread happiness.
6. Union Square
The historic intersection of Union Square is located where Broadway and the old Bowery Road met in the early 19th century. It’s now a mega shopping area with everything from Whole Foods to Forever 21 to Nordstrom Rack, which populate the area.
During the holidays it is particularly charming, with outdoor tents with all kinds of gifts, handmade soaps, scarves and handicrafts. Home to the Greenmarket, Union Square is also the place where all local, organic and fresh food and flowers are presented on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays by New York farmers in an outdoor setting. Cozy cafes like Think Coffee are student favorites as NYU is close by. Many of the best restaurants in town are here, including The Union Square Cafe and Blue Water Grill.
7. Madison Ave
Madison Avenue, from 59th Street to the 1990s, is home to Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Luca Luca, Hermes, Carolina Herrara and almost all haute couture designers. Hotels like the Mark, Pierre and Carlyle, where famous celebrities and other dignitaries stay, are super luxurious. Formerly synonymous with the advertising world in New York, it is now also recognized for its wealth and unprecedented shopping possibilities. Many art galleries and the Whitney Museum are a dream for art lovers. Outdoor cafes are plentiful and populated with jet sets that have lunch between their spa and salon visits. You will see celebrities because this is where they shop. Look for the limo and the driver in front of Barney’s.
NoLita, (north of Little Italy), was once the home port of thousands of immigrants who came to New York for a better life. Now chic and super cool, the streets are full of unique boutiques, shoe stores, jewelry vendors and original downtown decor. Artists’ boutiques are a pleasure to browse or buy unique pieces that will add style to any wardrobe. From socially responsible children’s clothing to thrift store jewelry, NoLita is the rare combination of fashion and conviviality. The narrow streets are charming old-fashioned and ideal for people-watching in one of the many independent cafes.
9. Meat Packing District
With a name like the Meatpacking District, it is somewhat surprising that this area of New York is now a glamorous place. Once the headquarters of the meat industry, this district was completely transformed (but the old meat lockers and meat packers remain). At the corner of 9th Avenue and 14th Street, you will see the high-tech Apple Store, assaulted day and night. The cobbled streets are home to all the latest designer boutiques, Jeffrey, Stella McCartney, Catherine Malandrino. In addition, you will also find the trendiest hotels and fantastic restaurants. Whether you are a fashionista or a foodie, Meatpacking District has you covered.
10. William Burg
Although Brooklyn and Manhattan were once linked, it is high time that there is great value in the two neighborhoods. Extremely trendy and fashionable, the streets of Williamsburg have an impressive array of murals and street art. Hipsters gather here, whether they compose a song in a trendy cafe or scouring flea markets and food bazaars. For vintage clothing or local independent stores, even Manhattanites have to admit it’s worth going to Brooklyn. Skip the chains and try something different, like Desert Island, a must for any comic book nerd (or comic book nerd lover).