Must-See Midtown: Shopping

Erin O'Hara

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Midtown Manhattan's shopping highlights are some of the most iconic in the world—the whimsical windows of Barneys, the shoe salon at Saks and the vast collection of stores that make up The Shops at Columbus Circle are just some of the highlights of this neighborhood. Extravagant holiday window displays on Midtown's stretch of Fifth Avenue attract dense crowds of bundled-up viewers each winter, while the variety of massive flagships, from chic fashion retailers to stores geared toward kids, brings throngs of consumers all year long. These 10 retail destinations make Midtown a shopper's paradise.

Macy's

The biggest department store in the United States sits majestically on West 34th Street in Herald Square, and given its 10 floors and more than 1 million square feet of space, you might want to set aside a few hours to explore the grandiose retail spectacle. Thousands of tourists and locals pass through its revolving doors daily to peruse and purchase from the store's seemingly endless selection of clothing, cosmetics, housewares, furniture and more. Macy's is also known for its beloved Thanksgiving Day Parade, which fills the City's streets with an audience of more than 3 million people, while over 20 million watch the star-studded procession at home.

Bloomingdale's

It's nearly impossible to walk through New York City without seeing at least one of the recognizable Big (or Little) Brown Bags from Bloomingdale's. The store is a must-see for fashionistas of all stripes, offering pricey luxury designs as well as more contemporary and affordable items. Bloomingdale's is more than 150 years old, starting as a single store in Midtown Manhattan and ultimately growing to a national brand, but there's still nothing like a shopping spree in the huge original "Bloomie's," with its characteristic black-and-white checkered marble floor and all-around luxe atmosphere. Its selection is the most extensive for younger or trendier women, but with eight floors of merchandise, there's plenty to be purchased for men, children and the home, too.

Barneys New York

Barneys is another quintessential New York shopping experience. Head inside to gawk at the nine floors of wearable eye candy—from hundreds of top designers, like Chloé and Christian Louboutin, and even eco-friendly brands like Loomstate and Stella McCartney Organic—as well as cosmetics, jewelry, stationery and more. After working up a shopping-induced appetite, settle in for a meal on the ninth floor at Fred's, which prides itself on its fresh, farm-to-chef products and is a magnet for celebs and "ladies who lunch."

Saks has an entire floor devoted to footwear—one so large it has its own zip code.

Bergdorf Goodman

The epitome of a high-end Midtown department store, Bergdorf Goodman fills the grandiose Vanderbilt mansion, a fitting home for its merchandise of unparalleled luxury and elegance—the couture floors' dressing rooms even have Central Park views. Browse hundreds of designer fashions, from Alexander McQueen to Zac Posen, and an especially large selection of accessories. Indulge even further on the penthouse floor, where the John Barrett salon offers a variety of beauty services, which include standards like haircuts, coloring, updos, makeup applications and manicures, as well as a few special offerings like eyelash extensions.

Tiffany & Co.

The world-famous jewelry shop, as renowned for its signature (and trademarked) blue as for its lavish accessories, has its flagship store in a bank-like building on Fifth Avenue. The centerpiece of films and many a marriage proposal, Tiffany specializes in diamond and sterling silver jewelry. The store also shows off a range of silverware and elegant stationery, which constituted its original stock in its pre-jewelry days—so, after the proposal, brides can pick up their wedding invitations and get a head start on their registry.

American Girl Place

For any American Girl doll enthusiast, this store is like stepping into a dream world where dolls rule. Tons of American Girl dolls, clothing and accessories are waiting to go home with you, but that's just the beginning. A salon lets dolls get really dolled up. They can get their hair and nails done, have their ears pierced or receive a cleansing facial. Then, girls can pose with their dolls at the photo studio. There's a doll hospital for damaged "girls" to be admitted and fixed up (the store sends the dolls out for that work), to be shipped back to their happy owners good as new. After all the excitement, unwind with a meal or afternoon tea at the American Girl Cafe—just be sure to make reservations in advance, because the tables fill up quickly.

Henri Bendel

Henri Bendel is synonymous with NYC chic. The upscale women's specialty store is a New York City legend, stocking fragrances, cosmetics, handbags, jewelry, accessories, home furnishings and gifts from its very own line. Housed in a landmark building on Fifth Avenue, Bendel was the first shop to offer in-house makeovers and stage its own fashion show; it also carried MAC cosmetics back when it was a little-known, struggling brand. And though the place no longer stocks clothing (something it did away with in 2009), its two floors of merchandise will not disappoint those looking to splurge on themselves or find a high-end gift. Shoppers who leave the flagship store with a signature brown-and-white-stripe logo bag or hat box know they've come away with something special—and something very New York.

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Bergdorf Goodman fills the grandiose Vanderbilt mansion, a fitting home for its merchandise of unparalleled luxury and elegance.

Saks Fifth Avenue

What other department store has an entire floor devoted to footwear—one so large it has its own zip code? In this and many other respects, Saks offers a singular shopping experience. The flagship’s aforementioned shoe floor carries brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Versace and Christian Louboutin (the latter brand displayed in a 1,600-square-foot shop-in-shop, supposedly the largest in the world). Other floors stock makeup, fragrances, leather goods, accessories and apparel. In-store boutiques from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chanel can turn even the most inexperienced luxury shopper into a pro.

Lord & Taylor

At this gorgeous 10-story Italian Renaissance Revival building, shoppers will find brands such as Nanette Lepore, BCBG and Michael Kors, as well as a selection of evening dresses, high-quality coats and shoes. The store also stocks a wide selection of watches and jewelry. This location, designated a landmark in 2007, houses Birdcage, a concept shop that features jewelry, cosmetics, apparel and home goods from up-and-coming designers. The store also hosts year-round trunk shows, pop-ups and events from NYC-based retailers.

The Shops at Columbus Circle

Housed in a soaring glass building that overlooks bustling Columbus Circle and Central Park, The Shops at Columbus Circle offers a luxe shopping experience. Come for a wide selection of brands including Coach, J. Crew, Stuart Weitzman, L’Occitane and Williams-Sonoma. If you’re so inspired, stay for dinner: the building houses some of New York City’s most famous high-end restaurants—Masa and Per Se among them.


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