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. Bonpoint

    Upper East Side | Clothing

    Celebrities and mere mortals love this French children's boutique for the beautiful designs and impeccable workmanship—think pony-hair baby...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. American Girl Place

    Midtown West | Toys

    Grade-school kids are crazy for American Girl dolls, whose lines range from historically accurate characters to contemporary girls with all...Read More

  • 5. Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store

    Park Slope | Gifts/Souvenirs

    The perfectly giftable, Brooklyn-made products at this variety store include Apotheke candles and diffusers, Bellocq teas, Claudia Pearson’s...Read More

  • 6. Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

    Park Slope | Toys

    If you can't crack a smile in this store—where all proceeds from superhero costumes, gear, and secret identity kits benefit 826NYC's writing...Read More

  • 7. Dinosaur Hill

    East Village | Toys

    Forget about Elmo and Barbie. This little shop is crammed with quirky gifts for kids like hand puppets and marionettes from Asia, telescopes...Read More

  • 8. Economy Candy

    Lower East Side | Food/Candy

    Oh, to be a kid in a candy store! Economy Candy has been making life sweeter since 1937, and the floor-to-ceiling shelves and candy-and-nut...Read More

  • 9. Fine & Raw Chocolate

    Food/Candy

    On a mission "to save the world through silliness and chocolate," this company makes its products with organic ingredients and low-heat techniques...Read More

  • 10. Infinity

    Upper East Side | Clothing

    Prep-school girls and their mothers giggle and gossip over the tween clothes (with more than a few moms picking up T-shirts and jeans for themselves...Read More

  • 11. Kidding Around

    Union Square | Toys

    This independent shop is piled high with old-fashioned wooden toys, sturdy musical instruments, classic kids' books, and plenty of arts-and...Read More

  • 12. Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market

    Harlem | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    This canopied marketplace offers an array of funky African and African-inspired jewelry, Afrocentric art and wood carvings, and festive clothing...Read More

  • 13. Norman and Jules

    Park Slope | Toys

    Unique toys and dolls from around the world score points with children and their parents at this high-end toy shop. It stocks an excellent selection...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Space Kiddets

    Flatiron District | Clothing

    The funky (Elvis-print rompers, CBGB onesies) mixes with the old-school (retro cowboy-print pants, brightly colored clogs, Bruce Lee T-shirts...Read More

  • 16. Williams Candy

    Coney Island | Food/Candy

    Selling homemade candy apples, marshmallow sticks, popcorn, nuts, and giant lollipops for more than 75 years, this old-school corner candy shop...Read More

  • 17. WORD

    Greenpoint | Books/Stationery

    What this pint-size bookshop lacks in space, it more than makes up for in community spirit and book enthusiasm. It's known for popular readings...Read More

  • 18. Brooklyn Flea

    Fort Greene | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    The country's chicest flea market is a collection of antiques dealers, artisanal woodworkers, culinary craftsmen (try the roasted garlic achaar...Read More

  • 19. BookCourt

    Cobble Hill | Books/Stationery

    This wonderful, family-run shop has been a star on Court Street for more than 30 years. The tables and shelves are filled with books to browse...Read More

  • 20. By Brooklyn

    Carroll Gardens | Local Specialties

    The name says it all. This is the borough’s prime purveyor of dry goods, gifts, and comestibles conceived of and created in Brooklyn. Fill a...Read More

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