New York State of Mind

Kristy Eckert


A girl could spend a lifetime shopping in Manhattan and never get bored.

Where to start? At the top. Whether you're going to buy or just to ogle, you'll find a bevy of chic shops around the southeast corner of Central Park. Glamorous, world-renowned department store Bergdorf Goodman (oh, the shoes!) and Tiffany & Co. are there, as is toy mecca FAO Schwarz. And just keep walking, because the famed, buzzing streets Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue and Park Avenue boast one ritzy shop after another, from Valentino to Oscar de la Renta.

On the park's southwest corner, The Shops at Columbus Circle is a mall with a nice mix of sophisticated, but more affordable, stores like Coach, Cole Haan and J.Crew. Don't miss the upscale Montmartre, a gem-of-a-shop on the mall's third floor. You'll find a broad but well-edited selection of sophisticated and Saturday-chic clothing and accessories from designers like Milly, Alice + Olivia, 3.1 Phillip Lim and more.

Moving down into Midtown, you can't miss Macy's at Broadway and 34th. At 1 million square feet, it's the world's largest department store and a registered NYC landmark. It offers luxury brands not typically found in other Macy's stores, and the women's shoe department is the size of a small city. While in the area, vintage lovers should consider a trip to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market. Named one of the Top 10 Shopping Streets in the World by National Geographic, it boasts a slew of shops peddling vintage clothing, shoes, jewelry and more on Saturdays and Sundays.

Downtown, the Greenwich Village area offers high-end shopping in a more relaxed environment. Take a stroll down the charming Bleecker Street, west of Seventh, and you'll find James Perse, Alexis Bittar, Cynthia Rowley and others. The more you wander, the more you'll enjoy.

And then there's SoHo. It's vibrant and artsy, with great energy and a diverse mix of options, from $10 treats to $10,000 treasures. For fashion-forward looks at more affordable prices, try the massive, London-based Topshop. For something a bit edgier (and pricier but not outrageous), try All Saints, whose clothing and accessories are part vintage-inspired, part urban boho. For glamour (and splurging) try Intermix, which sells stunning pieces from designers like DVF, Helmut Lang and D&G. And keep your eyes peeled for pop-up shops. They are temporary, warehouse-like discount designer sales that could blow your mind (without blowing your budget).


If you really want to start a day the right way, Pasticceria Rocco in Greenwich Village makes a chocolate croissant and fruit bowl with whipped cream that you may still dream about months later. (It could be the best breakfast you'll ever eat.)

On the casual front, Eataly, which is nestled in the center of the island between Midtown and Downtown, is fun. Famed chef Mario Batali and friends run the giant, bustling, Italian-foods marketplace. You can buy goodies to take home or eat on the spot, from cheese to paninis. (Just be prepared to wait for a table.)

If you're wanting to lunch luxuriously, the legendary Balthazaar is delightful. Known for its brunch, it's an upscale French bistro with a fantastic Parisian feel and good eats. Tip: Reservations fill quickly, so book 'em early.

And if you only indulge in one spectacular dinner, consider doing it at Gemma. Adjacent to the ultra-glam, celebrity-spotting Bowery Hotel in the East Village, Gemma offers an intimate but exciting atmosphere. It's the kind of see-and-be-seen place that feels like a secret too good to keep. The food-mostly Italian, with a bit of a French accent-is perhaps not as creative or memorable as die-hard foodies might prefer, but it is very good. The service is impressive. And the electric-but-comfy vibe simply cannot be beat.


There is certainly no shortage of places to enjoy a cocktail. Rosa Mexicano, near the southwest corner of Central Park, is Mexican gone chic-a good spot to enjoy a frozen drink along with chips and salsa. If you're headed to the theater and looking for a pre-show appetizer, Cognac, at Broadway and 55th, is a lovely French brasserie with a savory cheese plate and good wine. And if latenight adventure is what you seek, try the Mulberry Project. It's a super tiny, almost-hidden, loud underground bar in Little Italy that prides itself on mixology (you tell them what you want; they'll make it better). It got some buzz during Fashion Week, so we tried it. Pretentious? Yes. Expensive? Yes again. Nonetheless, we found it just intriguing enough to stay for a second round (though you'll only want a third if someone else is paying!).


There may not be anywhere in the city that can pamper you as thoroughly or luxuriously as The Peninsula Spa, a stunning haven near the southwest corner of Central Park. On the flip side, if you're looking more for relief than spoiling, the nearby Townhouse Spa offers a pedicure that's $45 for 45 minutes. You won't get a plush robe or fancy décor. But after hoofing it around the city for a weekend, it's the perfect place to revive your feet before catching your flight home.


There is a reason this city never sleeps: There's just too much to do. Narrowing the pool can be tricky, even for veterans. But watching a Broadway show is something every gal should experience. Strolling Central Park is another thing you probably want to try, too, even if it's just so you can watch movies and say you've walked that bridge or seen that boathouse. And a lesser-known highlight worth a stop? Chelsea Market. The Downtown staple offers meals (fresh-squeezed OJ with your organic breakfast, anyone?), snacks (holy cupcakes!), gifts (too many to name), clothing (Anthropologie) and the occasional pop-up shop, too. It's comfortable and fabulous-an ideal place to spend a weekend morning after a late night.