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NYC Moving Guide

8 Best Shopping Areas in NYC

Without a doubt, New York City is a shopper's paradise. In almost every corner of the city, you'll stumble upon designer boutiques, mom-and-pop shops, and department store chains such as Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Century 21. But where is the best place to shop in New York? There are too many to count, but these neighborhoods promise some of the top choices, providing stores for all budgets and tastes. The next time you're in the mood for some retail therapy, bring your credit cards and head to any of these shopping areas in NYC.

1. SoHo Shopping

Known for its beautiful cast iron architecture, "South of Houston" or SoHo was once a mecca for artists and galleries. While some creative types still remain in the neighborhood, today this downtown district is a hub for both chain retailers and independent boutiques. Some favorite SoHo stores include the Hat Shop for custom millinery, Mystique Boutique for fashion on a budget, What Goes Around Comes Around for vintage designer clothing, and Soho News International for publications from around the globe. You'll also find stylish shops such as Madewell, John Varvatos, David Yurman, Olive & Bette's, as well as a location of Bloomingdale's.

2. Midtown Shopping

Fifth Avenue shopping NYC

It may come as a surprise to some that shopping in Midtown is worth the time. Tourists tend to stay at hotels in the Times Square area because they like easy access to the Theater District and they love the excitement (and chaos) that prevails in this part of town. Meanwhile, locals tend to avoid Times Square and its surrounds because it's one of the most congested parts of Manhattan. But even with crowds, no one can ignore the shops at Rockefeller Center or the shopping parade on Madison and Fifth Avenues, some of the best streets for shopping in NYC. Tiffany & Co., Prada, Louis Vuitton – all the design houses have found homes in the East 50s, and at 58th and Fifth, just before you reach the Upper East Side, is the greatest store of all: Bergdorf Goodman.

3. Shopping on Madison Avenue

Did you know that Madison Avenue is the largest shopping district in the country? Stores start in the Flatiron District near Madison Square Park and continue into Midtown and through the Upper East Side, where a string of high-end shops begins in the 50s and stretches north to the 90s. Tory Burch, Fendi, Ralph Lauren, and Lily Pulitzer are just a handful of the famous brands you'll find when shopping on Madison Avenue. Spend any time in these luxury stores and you'll understand why the Upper East is usually considered the swankiest neighborhood in NYC.

4. Shopping in the West Village

Murray's Cheese Shop in NYC

Located west of Sixth Avenue between 14th and Houston, the West Village is a cool and hip section of NYC for shopping. The area has charming, tree-lined streets featuring some of the most coveted addresses in NYC. Beyond the blocks of historic brownstones and the thriving food and drink scene, though, this pocket of Manhattan is a top shopping neighborhood, offering a stockpile of stores, many of which are exclusive to the area. Browse unique glassware and New York-centric gifts at Kaas Glassworks, some of the city's finest cheese and gourmet foods at Murray's Cheese, and hard-to-find health and beauty items at the legendary apothecary C.O. Bigelow. Other places to check out are Faicco's (an old-school Italian market), Amy's Bread, and Carmine Street Comics.

5. NoLIta Shopping

"North of Little Italy" lies north of this once Italian-immigrant neighborhood, which has become a popular tourist destination and a great shopping district in NYC if you're into trendy boutiques. Here you'll find design emporiums, chic clothing and accessory stores, as well as an outpost of renowned Le Labo, the New York-based French perfumery loved for its custom fragrances. Other local favorites include Love, Adorned for hidden treasures and unique jewelry, Aesop for cosmetics, and McNally Jackson, one of the city's most visited indie bookstores.

6. Chinatown Shopping

Chinatown shopping in NYC

You won't find much trendiness in the real Chinatown (borders continue to expand, however) – this is where to shop in New York if you want local markets for vegetables and Asian specialty foods. Wander the streets and you'll find traditional Chinese ingredients such as dried mushrooms and cuttlefish and bitter melon, not to mention an array of Chinese herbs for healing almost any ailment. Canal Street is known as the spot to purchase designer fakes, so bring cash for Chanel and Louis Vuitton knock-offs as well as jewelry, fragrances, souvenirs, and all sorts of tchotchkes.

7. Park Slope Shopping

Not all the best places to shop in NYC are in Manhattan. O Live Brooklyn, Bird, and Pink Olive are just a handful of quaint shops that line Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. Labeled the "other Fifth Avenue," this main street runs through one of Brooklyn's most desirable neighborhoods and is a shopping haven. The border starts at Flatbush Avenue and extends to Prospect Park South; from east to west, Park Slope spans from Fourth Avenue to Prospect Park West. You'll come across more one-of-a-kind shops on Seventh Avenue and Flatbush, the other main drags.

8. Williamsburg Shopping

This hip Brooklyn nabe continues to evolve and be a go-to for art, culture, food and of course, shopping. "The Burg," as it's often called, boasts its share of vintage clothing stores, ideal for fashionistas in search of a bargain.  Many of Williamsburg's fave boutiques, such as Catbird for women’s apparel, Whisk for all things kitchen-related, and Bedford Cheese Shop, are located on Bedford Avenue. If you meander the streets, though – and you'll be happy you did – you’ll discover tons of other retail stores. Try Rough Trade on North Ninth for records (it doubles as a cafe and performance space), Alter on Graham Avenue for men's and women's clothing, and for a bottle of vino after a long day of buying, head to D.O.C. Wine Shop on Broadway.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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