New York City

The Big Apple is one of the best shopping destinations in the world, rivaled perhaps only by London, Paris, and Tokyo. Its compact size, convenient subway system, and plentiful cabs (or Uber or Lyft rides) make it easy to navigate with plenty of bags in tow. But what it really comes down to is the staggering number and variety of stores. If you can't find it in New York, it probably doesn't exist.

If you like elegant flagships and money is no object, head to Midtown, where you'll find international megabrands like Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, and Gucci, as well as famed department stores Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys. Nearby Madison Avenue has couture from Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang, and 5th Avenue is lined with famous jewelry stores such as Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston. This is also the neighborhood to indulge in bespoke goods, such as handmade shoes from John Lobb. If you like designer pieces but can't afford them, don't despair—there are plenty of upscale consignment shops around the city where you can find last season's Chanel suit or a vintage YSL jacket.

The small, independent shops that once lined SoHo have largely been displaced by the likes of J.Crew and UNIQLO, but if you want to hit the chains, this is a great place to do it, because the neighborhood also provides high-quality people-watching and superb lunches. Poke around on the side streets and in nearby NoLIta for outposts of smaller local and foreign designers and, if you're craving some of old SoHo's artistic spirit, don't discount the street vendors' stalls, which sell handmade jewelry and simple cotton dresses.

The East Village and Lower East Side are hotbeds of creativity and quirky coolness, with little boutiques selling everything from retro furniture to industrial-inspired jewelry. They're tucked among bars and old tenement buildings. The Meatpacking District is another great shopping destination to find chic designer stores like Diane von Furstenberg and rag & bone along with independently owned boutiques. And if you jaunt over to Brooklyn, you'll discover that some of the city's hippest designers are hanging out at boutiques just across the East River.

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  • 1. Books of Wonder

    Chelsea | Books/Stationery

    Readers young and old delight in Manhattan's oldest and largest independent children's bookstore. The friendly, knowledgeable staff can help...Read More

  • 2. Greenlight Bookstore

    Fort Greene | Books/Stationery

    If you build it, they will read. Popular demand—and some vocal attendees of a 2008 community board meeting—augured the opening of this independent...Read More

  • 3. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

    SoHo | Books/Stationery

    Operated by a nonprofit that puts all proceeds toward combating AIDS and homelessness, this New York institution has an impressive collection...Read More

  • 4. Smythson of Bond Street

    Upper East Side | Books/Stationery

    Although Smythson still sells stationery fit for a queen—check out the royal warrant from England's HRH—it is also a place to scoop up on-trend...Read More

  • 5. Strand

    Union Square | Books/Stationery

    Opened in 1927 and still run by the same family, this monstrous book emporium—home to 2 million volumes, or "18 Miles of Books"—is a symbol...Read More

  • 6. Terrace Books

    Books/Stationery

    The quintessential neighborhood bookstore, this small shop has extremely friendly staff as well as a small but well-chosen selection of secondhand...Read More

  • 7. Three Lives & Company

    West Village | Books/Stationery

    One of the city's best book selections is displayed on the tables and counters of this bookshop, which highlights the latest literary fiction...Read More

  • 8. Argosy Bookstore

    Midtown East | Books/Stationery

    Family-owned since 1925, Argosy is a charmingly old-fashioned place to browse for both bargain and priceless books. The shop keeps a scholarly...Read More

  • 9. Barnes & Noble

    Park Slope | Books/Stationery

    Two floors of books, a vast and varied selection of magazines, and an extensive collection of travel information for New York City and beyond...Read More

  • 10. Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop

    DUMBO | Books/Stationery

    The only New York City bookstore dedicated exclusively to poetry, Berl's is a family-run affair. The husband-and-wife owners are alumni of the...Read More

  • 11. BookMark Shoppe

    Books/Stationery

    The selection of books and knitting materials at this homey neighborhood shop makes it the perfect stop for the craft-loving reader, the book...Read More

  • 12. Community Bookstore

    Park Slope | Books/Stationery

    In a neighborhood known for its large population of authors, editors, and bloggers, it’s fitting to have a bookstore where pride of place goes...Read More

  • 13. Desert Island Comics

    Books/Stationery

    The sign above the storefront says Sparacino’s bakery, but the shop is actually home to a comic book utopia. Desert Island packs all kinds of...Read More

  • 14. Here's a Book Store

    Books/Stationery

    On the southern edge of Midwood, this independent bookstore has stood its ground for more than 40 years. Packed with used and new books from...Read More

  • 15. Idlewild Books

    West Village | Books/Stationery

    Named for the pre-1960s JFK Airport, this travel-inspired bookstore is one of the last of its kind in America. It stocks guidebooks, novels...Read More

  • 16. Posman Books

    Chelsea | Books/Stationery

    Come here for the outstanding selection of contemporary and classic books across genres. Don't miss the cheeky and serious high-quality greeting...Read More

  • 17. powerHouse Arena

    DUMBO | Books/Stationery

    Edgy art-book publisher powerHouse is a vision in concrete and steel at this bright showroom that sells illustrated titles, children's books...Read More

  • 18. Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers

    Books/Stationery

    Top-notch art and design monographs as well as harder-to-find magazines like Edible Brooklyn, Bomb, and Monocle share shelf space with used...Read More

  • 19. Unnameable Books

    Prospect Heights | Books/Stationery

    This tiny, beloved bookstore is jam-packed with poetry, fiction, art books, comics, and all sorts of esoteric titles....Read More

  • 20. Westsider Books & Westsider Records

    Upper West Side | Books/Stationery

    This wonderfully crammed space is a lifesaver on the Upper West Side. Squeeze in among the stacks of art books and fiction, or pop outside for...Read More

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