New York is home to some of the best holiday shopping spots in the world. The shining lights, the elaborate window displays and the carols piping through the sound system can make you feel like you’ve been dropped right into your favorite winter film. Whether you’re just doing a bit of window shopping or you’re stocking up on your holiday gifts, the festive vibes can make your experience much more pleasant. And with a hearty helping of New York department stores, shopping districts, and flagships to choose from, there are plenty of ways to get your dose of seasonal retail therapy this season. Read on to explore the city's best stores and shopping neighborhoods to visit during the holidays.
Image: Julia Mitchem
If you love grabbing a hot cocoa and basking in the glow of holiday lights, this is the perfect spot for you. During its Shine Bright program, Hudson Yards is illuminated with millions of golden twinkle lights, from golden escalators to a dazzling hot air balloon. If you’re looking for unique gifts, you can stop in fun spots like novelty shop PIQ and greeting card emporium Lovepop. Indulge in macarons at Ladurée, or refuel at the sleek eatery Electric Lemon for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. When you’re finished shopping, step outside and peruse exhibitions nearby art space The Shed, see the city from above at the Edge Observation Deck, or stroll the Public Square and Gardens.
Hudson Yards: 20 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001 / hudsonyardsnewyork.com
Situated right across the street from the World Trade Center and overlooking the Hudson River, Brookfield place has no shortage of luxurious gift options for any lucky recipients on your list, with outposts from designer brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. You can also get holiday-party ready with a stop at Drybar or Jack’s Unisex Barber Shop, or have a fun-filled day with the activities on site, including ice skating at the Rink at Brookfield Place. Beginning November 24th, you can shop under a canopy of 640 colorful lanterns that twinkle and change colors and intensity with The Luminaries, an installation created by the LAB at Rockwell Group for the public to enjoy for free. In December, the shopping plaza will have additional holiday offerings, including performances of The Nutcracker put on by the New York Theatre Ballet, Selfies with Santa, and a Hanukkah Celebration at onsite food hall Hudson Eats, featuring live music. From November 24 through December 31st, bring your receipt for Brookfield Place purchases to the second floor by the Winter Garden escalators for complimentary gift wrapping.
Brookfield Place: 230 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10281 / bfplny.com
Image: Julia Mitchem
With one-of-a-kind architecture and 67 shops to choose from (including Apple, Sephora, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum Store), Westfield World Trade Center’s Shops at the Oculus offer plenty of ambience throughout the year. But the sprawling retail complex in Lower Manhattan will get an extra dose of holiday cheer with the debut of the Winter Whirl roller rink, open from November 24 to January 2024. Tickets start at $30 for adults and $25 for kids aged 8-18, covering 45 minutes of skate time with rentals included. Skate along to festive tunes beneath the stunning 160-foot glass and steel ceiling before fueling up at eateries like Épicerie Boulud and Eataly—and if you’re stocking up on presents, ask about the complimentary gift wrapping stations available from Freeform and Unwrp.
Westfield World Trade Center: 185 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007 / westfield.com/westfieldworldtradecenter
Founded in 1861 and housed on the corner of 59th Street and Lexington Avenue since 1886, this luxury department store has been a cornerstone of New York City's retail landscape for over 160 years. Along with festive window displays, Santa will be in stores from November 24-26, December 2-3, December 9-10 and December 16-24. A new addition to the festivities is a Wonka-themed holiday pop-up shop, recently launched to tie into the release of the whimsical film (in theaters December 15) and featuring curated gift picks inspired by the silver screen chocolatier. Bloomingdale’s most recognizable symbol is its signature brown shopping bags, which happen to be celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Mark the occasion by picking up one of the store’s commemorative brown bears: with each purchase, the store will donate $5 to the Child Mind Institute.
Bloomingdale’s: 1000 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022 / bloomingdales.com
Image: Julia Mitchem
Head to the Shops at Columbus Circle, right across the street from the southern entrance of Central Park, to take in a festive display of illuminated 14-foot stars hanging from the 150-foot ceiling. Billed as the largest display of its kind in the world, the exhibition also features light and music shows daily, every half hour from 5pm to 11pm through January 1st. Take a stroll under the stars to browse in shops from Diptyque and H&M to Hugo Boss and Williams Sonoma, or grab a bite at one of the celebrated eateries on site. On Thursdays through December 14th, head to the second floor to see performances from top Broadway shows, including Wicked, Chicago, The Lion King, and more. And if you’re in search of more stocking stuffers or souvenirs, take the escalator that’s just outside the building (look for signs for the A, C, B, and D at the 59th St. subway station) and head below the city streets to the Turnstyle Underground Market, where you’ll find kiosks and boutiques with jewelry, beauty products, desserts, and more, along with a range of food stalls. No need to spend subway fare before you shop—no Metrocard is required to enter.
The Shops at Columbus Circle: 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 / theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com
Image: Julia Mitchem
Nordstrom’s seven-floor NYC flagship, located on 57th Street, will be decked out in holiday decorations starting on November 18. Santa will arrive on November 24, and families can enjoy “Snow Shows” daily at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., featuring indoor snowfall, live performers, and a photo session with Santa. Nordstrom has also partnered with Central Park’s Wollman Rink to offer holiday activations through January 1st. Through the end of November, you can receive a $20 Nordstrom gift card with a purchase of a ticket to the ice rink on Monday through Thursday. Visitors who purchase a Premier Pass (a $40 upgrade to your admission and skate rental) can enjoy up to two hours in the cozy Nordstrom Chill Lounge, along with expedited entry, light refreshments, and free locker use. For a luxury retreat, consider a holiday package that includes a stay at JW Marriot Essex House for two guests, along with tickets to Some Like It Hot on Broadway, a dining partnership with buzzy Italian restaurant Carbone, and services at Beauty Haven, Nordstrom’s spa floor. Or enchant the kiddos with a message to Santa: drop off handwritten letters at the store starting on November 24 for a personalized response from St. Nick.
Nordstrom: 225 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019 / nordstrom.com
Macy’s has a long and illustrious legacy as a holiday destination: in 1874, it was the first department store to debut Christmas window displays, and the flagship store in Herald Square is the signature location of the 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. In 2023, its legacy is still going strong: Macy’s Santaland begins on November 24, with a theme celebrating the magic of friendship. With 11 floors and over 1.1. million square feet of retail space, you can certainly get your shopping done, or simply enjoy some time admiring the elaborate window displays. But those wanting face time and a photo opp with Santa should plan ahead: reservations to visit with Santa can be made up to five days in advance beginning on November 19th.
Macy’s Herald Square: 151 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001 / macys.com/new-york-ny
Spanning Madison Avenue between East 57th and East 86th Streets is the iconic Madison Avenue shopping district, featuring some of the world’s most celebrated boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and hotels, from Ralph Lauren, Chanel, and Irene Neuwirth to Hermès, Prada, and The Carlyle hotel. If you’re looking to treat someone on your gift list with a luxury shopping experience, you’ve come to the right place—but it’s also a dreamy spot for a bit of window shopping during the holiday season. On December 2nd, the 37th Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: at over 60 participating stores, 20 percent of sales (up to $15,000 per store) will be dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer programs at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center. Shoppers can also enjoy strolling holiday carolers, and four-legged special guests from MSK’s Caring Canines Therapy Dog Team. Can't make it in person? You can still make a purchase at one of the participating stores in support of The Society of MSK, by calling or emailing that retailer’s Miracle Personal Shopper and telling them that you would like your purchase to be rung up on Miracle Saturday to benefit The Society of MSK.
Madison Avenue: Madison Ave. between East 57th Street and East 86th Street / madisonavenuebid.org