Bryant Park Holiday Market. Photo: Brittany Petronella
Holiday shopping in New York City is a one-of-a-kind experience. Not only will you find a gift for everyone on your list but you’ll also see the City at its most magical. Come late November, when Fifth Avenue department stores unveil their world-famous window displays, ice-skaters flock to rinks across the five boroughs and parks become cozy outdoor markets, NYC feels like a winter wonderland.
We’ve curated a list of essential shopping spots that bring you up close to the holiday magic, including right by the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Follow our recommendations for a gift-getting experience packed with holiday cheer—along with places to pause and fuel your shopping.
Rockefeller Center. Photo: Brittany Petronella
Rockefeller Center is an iconic complex of art deco buildings, including 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where live tapings for NBC shows like Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Seth Meyers take place. Get your giftee a piece of TV memorabilia at The Shop at NBC Studios, like an SNL or a mug from their favorite morning show. The complex offers plenty of other shops with New York City–themed gifts, like the Yankees Clubhouse store, indie bookshop McNally Jackson and the FDNY Fire Zone, which hosts interactive experiences and sells FDNY collectibles.
Saks Fifth Avenue. Photo: Matthew Penrod
It’s easy to be dazzled by the elaborate holiday window displays along Fifth Avenue, which perennially show bright, sparkling motifs. After taking it all in, see what the big stores have inside. To spoil someone on your gift list, stop at Bergdorf Goodman for clothes and accessories from designer labels like Gucci, Prada and Dior. Nearby, Saks Fifth Avenue carries luxury and designer gifts for under $50 that cater to a range of tastes. Tiffany & Co.'s landmark flagship, which was recently overhauled, is worth a visit whether or not you leave carrying a little blue bag: if your giftee is a Breakfast at Tiffany’s fan, take them to see the replica of the famous Givenchy dress Audrey Hepburn wore in the movie that’s on display, followed by breakfast or tea at The Blue Box Café.
FAO Schwarz. Photo: Eric Vitale
FAO Schwarz puts other toy stores to shame. A New York City fixture, the brand shuttered its storied location on Fifth Avenue in 2015 before reopening several years later at Rockefeller Center. This is the spot for classic holiday toys, like nutcrackers and snow globes, or more flashy gifts like a kid-size G Wagon. Consider treating the kids or kids at heart in your life to one of the store’s VIP Experiences, like a guided tour with a toy soldier that includes a chance to raid the FAO Schweetz Candy Bar.
Courtesy, Starbucks Reserve
Holiday shopping in New York City can be a journey, so you’ll likely need to fuel up during your outing. Located within the Empire State Building, the multilevel Starbucks Reserve store offers signature coffee drinks and cocktails on the upper level such as the fan-favorite Starbucks Reserve Espresso Martini, plus other festive options from their holiday menu. Starbucks hosts immersive Signature Experiences here, like guided tastings and hands-on workshops to learn about their brewing methods (book online in advance).
Multitask by picking up a Starbucks Reserve limited-edition 2023 holiday gift set. You’ll find something for everyone—from coffee lovers to aspiring mixologists—on your list. These are the options: the Mixologist Magic gift set; a Whiskey Barrel-Aged coffee brewing kit; a coffee press with a bag of Starbucks Reserve’s Christmas 2023 blend; NYC-inspired drinkware with local chocolates and the New York Roastery microblend; and a NYC Roastery illustration postcard, magnet, and mug. They also sell a New York City crewneck with colorful lettering.
Union Square Holiday Market. Photo: Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet
New York City parks and shopping centers transform their grounds into festive winter bazaars during the holidays. The Columbus Circle Holiday Market, near the southwestern Central Park entrance, has over 100 vendors selling handmade goods like art and jewelry; visitors can also ice-skate at nearby Wollman Rink. The Union Square Holiday Market features more than 150 stalls, with eclectic items like vintage toys from Dan’s Parents House and puzzles from the New York Puzzle Company.
Uptown, the Grand Holiday Bazaar is a top spot for gifts from local artisans—and all the market’s profits go to supporting local public schools. Midtown’s Bryant Park Winter Village is an essential stop this time of year. Come for the vintage and handmade gifts and stay for the activities: carousel rides, bumper cars on ice, ice-skating or warming up in a private igloo.
Courtesy, American Girl
Whether you grew up with American Girl dolls in the 1980s or ’90s, or want to introduce them to a new generation, the American Girl Place is a good place to geek out. Of course, you can buy an American Girl doll for someone on your list, including the 2023 Shimmering Silver Holiday Collector Doll, but if they already have doll friends of their own, think about treating your recipient and his or her doll to a special holiday in-store experience. See the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall followed by dinner at the American Girl Doll Cafe, or build an American Girl–themed gingerbread house. Visit their website to see dates for select activities and pricing.
MoMA Design Store. Photo: Lucía Vázquez
If your visit to NYC includes a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which continually exhibits specially curated works from world-renowned artists, you’d be remiss not to visit the MoMA Design Store across the street. Note: this is not a museum gift shop (though the museum stores have a number of great items) but a standalone store with carefully selected design objects from a range of artistic movements; museum members receive a discount on purchases. You don’t need to be a design expert or have a collector’s budget to find a great gift here. The store sells NYC-centric items, like this colorful 3D model of the city skyline and a limited-edition Jean-Michel Basquiat basketball. If you’re stuck, take a look at their holiday gift guide to find the best selection of home decor, playful yet functional kitchen gadgets, tech and art.
Courtesy, Rough Trade
Though its record store and music venue in Williamsburg is no longer, Rough Trade lives on at Rockefeller Center. The UK-headquartered record label is responsible for seminal album releases by bands like The Smiths and Sufjan Stevens. Music heads are sure to appreciate a gift from the indie shop, like Rough Trade NYC Merch or this Rockaway Beach Ramones patch, not to mention brand-new vinyl from every genre.
New York City’s creators (photographers, filmmakers, recording artists) frequent B&H Photo for everything they need for a project or production. Browse aisles of state-of-the-art cameras, audio and lighting equipment, entertainment devices and accessories across the two-floor megastore’s 70,000 square feet. If you’re shopping for a photographer or gearhead of any kind, you can’t go wrong with a B&H gift card. You’ll find options for hobbyists, too, like pinhole cameras and Polaroids.
For a comprehensive, year-round look at shopping in NYC, check out our Shopping 101 guide, which spans the five boroughs.