The historic intersection of Union Square is located where Broadway and the former Bowery Road came together in the early 19th century. It is now a mega shopping zone with everything from Whole Foods to Nordstrom Rack populating the area. During the holidays it is particularly lovely, with outdoor tents featuring all sorts of gifts, handmade soaps, scarves, and craft items. Home to the Greenmarket, Union Square is also where all the local, organic and fresh food and flowers are showcased on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays by New York farmers in an outdoor setting. Cozy coffee bars like Think Coffee are student favorites, as NYU is nearby. Many of the city’s finest restaurants are here, too including the recently re-opened Union Square Cafe, which now has a new home just a few blocks up on 19th Street.
Courtney’s expert tip: Grab a blanket for a farmer’s market fueled picnic on the green space in the center of the park.
One of the most populated Chinatowns in the United States, NY’s is a dazzling trip into authenticity. In fact, New York has one of the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia. The bustling, rough and tumble neighborhood spans for blocks and blocks, from Canal Street to City Hall. You’ll find roasted ducks in the windows, along with fruits and vegetables you’ve never seen before spilling out onto the streets. Acupuncturists, herbalists and other Chinese medicine specialists offer wonderful treatments to get the tension out of your shoulders caused by holding too many shopping bags. For more modern shopping, stop by Canal Street Market to peek at higher-end offerings from local artisans. And don’t forget to check out Yunhong Chopsticks Shop for a souvenir that will travel well and, according to Chinese tradition, spread happiness.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: It’s a symphony of stimuli: from the surging crowds on Canal Street to the medicine and spice stores dotting the side streets.
Courtney’s expert tip: Don’t be afraid to wander off Canal Street: there’s plenty of authentic goodies to be found in other areas of this neighborhood.
SoHo (South of Houston)
SoHo (short for South of Houston) was once home to New York’s many factories – from sewing to iron foundries and everything in between. Now, the warehouse buildings have all been converted to loft spaces used for chic (read: expensive) living, while down below an array of high fashion boutiques, shops, and trendy restaurants abound for the rest of us. You’ll find a branch of the Guggenheim Museum, a Bloomingdales, and even a Chanel boutique sprinkled between the Hollisters, H&Ms and Zaras of the streets. You could easily spend a day here wandering the cobblestone streets, stopping for lunch or a cocktail and, of course, shopping, shopping, shopping.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Model-approved fashion trends and nearly every shopping outlet known to man: Soho is a hallmark of NYC’s shopping scene.
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side was once one of the roughest neighborhoods in town, but it has been reborn into a haven for the trendy. Roughly located between the Bowery and the East River, and Canal Street and Houston Street, shopping in the LES has great bargains and indie boutiques, but stores that feature designers who design and sew their own creations are the norm. The unusual and unexpected is at home here. Home furnishings, jewelry, and of course, hip cafes and culinary experiences abound. You’ll find gourmet pastries, chic wine bars, and charming coffee cafes mixed in with the local residents still shopping in some of the old haunts like the authentic Jewish deli Russ & Daughters.