New York City
From world-renowned department stores like Macy's (34th Street and Seventh Avenue), Bloomingdale's (59th and Lexington), Saks Fifth Avenue (50th Street and Fifth) and Henri Bendel (55th and Fifth) to specialty shops, charming boutiques and bargain basements, Manhattan is truly a shopper's heaven. Looking for souvenirs? Take home a Yankees cap or anything that looks like the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building.
Get an overview of the city's shopping scene with a Shop Gotham tour. These two- to three-hour excursions focus on stores that are exclusive to New York City and include information about not only shopping but also the history and culture of the local neighborhoods.
The city offers districts of stores devoted to particular items, such as furs off of Seventh Avenue in the West 30s, diamonds on West 47th Street and wedding gowns in the West 30s between Sixth and Ninth Avenues.
If you're a big spender -- or you just want to see how the 1 percent lives -- take a stroll down Madison Avenue, where you can duck in and out of stores such as Barney's, Armani, Versace and La Perla.
We love Nolita (which stands for North of Little Italy) for its many cute boutiques from up-and-coming designers. It's a great spot to pick up clothes, accessories and jewelry.
On Cortlandt Street in Manhattan's Financial District, Century 21 was once appropriately nicknamed "New York's best-kept secret." No longer is that the case for this store. It's pretty doubtful you'll leave empty-handed, considering this is the bargain hunter's mecca for deeply discounted designer merchandise. Be prepared to elbow your way through weekend crowds of savvy New Yorkers and international tourists to find your size. But who cares? It's worth it.
For an eclectic shopping experience, check out Chinatown. It's more Shanghai bazaar than city streetscape along Pell and Mott Streets, where funky herbal medicine shops and kitschy novelty stores sell everything from silk pajamas to Chinese board games and embroidered slippers. Come weekends, it's hard to break through the five-deep mob checking out the hard-to-tell-from-the-real-thing Gucci and Prada along Canal Street's stalls.
If you're dying to shop but not eager to break the bank, check out one of the city's many flea markets. One of Manhattan's oldest and best is GreenFlea, offering antiques, collectibles, jewelry and handicrafts on the Upper West Side every Sunday. If you're in Brooklyn, don't miss Brooklyn Flea, a massive market that runs in Fort Greene on Saturdays and in Williamsburg on Sundays. LIC Flea & Food is a similar offering in Queens that runs on weekends throughout the warmer months.
Bibliophiles should look beyond the usual Barnes & Noble outposts -- New York is home to a number of great independent bookstores. Rizzoli recently moved to a new location near Madison Square and is great fun to browse. Bluestockings is the spot for lefty types with its wide selection of titles on feminism, queer studies, capitalism and liberation. The Strand dates back to 1927 and claims to offer 18 miles of books at the corner of 12 Street and Broadway.