I have a simple list of things that must be done in NYC: eat, shop, eat, shop. And plenty of walking in between. So take my lead, strap on your most fashionable walking shoes (please, Manhattan doesn’t want your Tevas) and get ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
First, fuel up in Chinatown. Keep your wits about you - Chinatown is chaos epitomized. Don’t worry, the dim sum is worth it. Try Tai Pan Bakery (194 Canal Street) or Sun Say Kai (220 Canal Street) for a cheap satisfying breakfast.
Work off those steamed buns with a walk to the Lower East Side for the start of your retail therapy. Foley & Corinna has gorgeous dresses that are perfect for rooftop cocktails, if you don’t mind breaking the bank. For something cheaper and more masculine, find the inconspicuous (no sign, get buzzed in the door) Alife Rivington Club for hipper-than-thou sneakers: perfect for hiking through the Beastie Boys’ old stomping grounds. (Paul's Boutique was on the corner of Ludlow & Rivington.)
Over to Soho now, where the cast-iron-facade buildings have been taken over by H&M, Pottery Barn, J Crew…all the usual mega-mall suspects are here. Skip the obvious choices and try Uniqlo, Japan’s response to the Gap.
Don’t even think about complaining about your aching feet yet! Soldier on to the East Village, where there are more trinkets to be bought at John Derian and John Derian’s Dry Goods on E 2nd Street. In two storefronts you’ll find plates decoupaged with 19th-century botanical prints and other charming objets d’art.
Zigzag over to the West Village, and rest your tootsies while you grab lunch at one of many quaint (and some world-famous) eateries. What’ll it be: Italian at Babbo? Gourmet gastropub grub at the Spotted Pig? Organic local fare at Blue Hill?So many options, so little time.
After lunch, stop by CO Bigelowto gawk at the glorious space that houses the country’s oldest apothecary, and pick up some pretty pampering products (they cater to men as well).
Next, it’s up to Chelsea, where you can’t go without grabbing an afternoon snack in the halls of Chelsea Market. The chocolate milk from Ronnybrook Dairy is dreamy, and perfect for dunking cookies from Sarabeth’s Kitchen. While you’re in the building, drop by 202 where you can have a glass of wine (if the chocolate milk didn’t do it for you) and browse luxurious homewares, antiques, and clothing. Now brace yourself (and your wallet) for Midtown.
Fifth Avenue: shoppers’ paradise. Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Jimmy Choo, Prada- if you can’t afford to shop at these stores, it's free to admire. These houses of luxury worship deserve your devotion.
Of course, you could go on shopping for days without scratching the surface of what NYC has to offer,but after all this, you'll be exhausted – not to mention thirsty. Time to slip on that cocktail frock you bought earlier and find a rooftop bar. Cheers!
Get more therapy with Lonely Planet's New York City Shopping Pick & Mix chapter - it even has a sample sale survival guide.