Midtown Manhattan Shopping Tour, New York

Midtown Manhattan Shopping Tour (Self Guided), New York

Midtown Manhattan, alongside other things, is also the shopping hub for New York City. Attesting to this are the ever-busy Times Square and Rockefeller Center areas replete with designer goods offerings and street vendors at every corner.

The famed Fifth Avenue has long been synonymous with a shopper's paradise where you can find every kind of store imaginable, ranging from the affordable to ultra-fancy fashion brands and luxury goods. Whether it’s Prada, Tiffany or Bergdorf Goodman, these brands, among many others, symbolize wealth and social standing, so if you happen have a lot of money, Fifth Avenue is a good place to spend it. In any case, it is worth checking its unique heartbeat.

Strolling around town, here and there, you can't help noticing a recognizable Big (or Little) Brown Bag from Bloomingdale’s. Their flagship store on Lexington Ave is a must-see for shopping aficionados of all stripes, and it carries from pricey luxury designs to the more contemporary and affordable items. To blend with the crowd, just swing by Bloomie’s, pick up an item and then walk proudly with the most iconic shopping bag in NYC! Indeed, why don't ya!

Lexington Avenue is also the location of several other well-known retailers like Zara, Levi's, and Nine West. Still, most of its stores are lesser-known boutiques with unique products, offered at reasonable prices and in a less touristy atmosphere (compared to the always crowded Fifth Avenue and Madison).

So, if you want to treat yourself to a bit of shopping therapy, whilst in New York City, join us on this self-guided walking tour and explore some of Midtown Manhattan’s best and most fabulous shopping locations!
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Midtown Manhattan Shopping Tour Map

Guide Name: Midtown Manhattan Shopping Tour
Guide Location: USA » New York (See other walking tours in New York)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Times Square
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Fifth Avenue
  • Madison Avenue
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Lexington Avenue
Times Square

1) Times Square (must see)

Once a native pathway running the length of the Island of Manhattan, Broadway, unlike other streets in NYC, was not laid out on a grid. Hence, it intersects with Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, forming two triangular shapes, like a bow tie. Times Square is the name of the southern triangle, while the northern triangle is called Duffy Square, after Father Francis P. Duffy of the 69th Infantry Regiment of World War I.

The section of Broadway between 41st and 53rd Streets, clustered around Times Square, is also often referred to as the Great White Way. The nickname comes from the many lit-up billboards, posters, and marquees that promote plays and musicals in Theater District. This frenetic pedestrian area is the heart of the city's entertainment industry, and it draws annually up to 50 million visitors (or 330,000 souls per day), who come here by subway or simply walking, while looking for something extraordinary.

Times Square was known as Longacre Square until 1904, when Adolph S. Ochs, the owner and publisher of The New York Times, moved his headquarters into the newly erected Times Building, currently One Times Square. Within a decade, the New York Times outgrew its space and moved offices again, but not before starting a tradition of the annual New Year's Eve Ball Drop. The tradition began on December 31, 1907, and continues to date, attracting over a million visitors every year.

The square has many other attractions like ABC's Times Square Studios, The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (Seafood), and Planet Hollywood, to mention but a few. The illuminated signs in Times Square rival those of Las Vegas, and, according to their size, are called either "spectaculars" or "jumbotrons."

Among these are quite a few neon-lit signboards of retail establishments like Gap, Old Navy, Forever 21, Levi’s, Disney Store, the Hershey’s and M&M, that make up the Times Square shopping scene. This commercial hub in the center of Midtown Manhattan is also ideal for scooping up a souvenir to commemorate your stay in NYC.
Rockefeller Center

2) Rockefeller Center (must see)

In 1801, New York physician David Hosack bought 22 acres of open land from the city with an aim to establish the country's first botanical garden, the Elgin Botanic Garden. The latter had lasted only until 1811, for the lack of funds, following which the territory was taken over by Columbia University, in 1823.

In 1926, the property changed hands again when the Metropolitan Opera sought location for its new home; so the University leased the land to the theater's benefactor, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. After the stock market crashed, in 1929, the Met Opera move was canceled, and Rockefeller decided to build a mass media complex instead.

The ensued talks between Radio Corporation of America, National Broadcasting Company, and Radio-Keith-Orpheum Radio resulted in an agreement, in 1930, to build on the site an entertainment complex. Pursuant to this agreement, 228 buildings were demolished and 4,000 tenants relocated. Early on, the project was called "Radio City," "Rockefeller City," or "Metropolitan Square."

Presently, Rockefeller Center represents a compound of two complexes (comprising 14 Art Deco-style buildings), one solitary edifice on 51st Street (added in 1947), and four towers on the west side of Sixth Avenue. The venue covers all of Doctor Hosack's 22 acres, and, whilst there's no botanicals on the ground, it does have some rooftop gardens.

Radio City Music Hall occupies the western part of the Center. The Lower Plaza, at the heart of the complex, lends a sense of privacy, being sunken below street level. Architect Ieoh Ming Pei praised it as "the most successful open space in the United States, perhaps in the world." Most of the Plaza's outdoor area is taken up by an ice rink, installed in 1936.

In addition to the spectacular, unobstructed views of the NYC skyline opening from the top of the Rock’s three levels of indoor and outdoor observation decks, the Center offers a shopping experience like no other. The abundant choice of popular local brands, international names, and up-and-coming designers makes it one of the best shopping destinations in Midtown Manhattan. This is where you come to realize that shopping is as much about the place as it is about what you buy.
Fifth Avenue

3) Fifth Avenue

5th Avenue is a major thoroughfare in New York City's Manhattan, extending north from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village to West 143rd Street in Harlem. It is considered one of the most expensive and luxurious stretches of retail in the U.S., if not the whole world, which has been drawing a steady stream of fashion addicts for over a century now.

Few things can be equally fun and indulgent as shopping (or even window-shopping) at 5th Avenue, as most of the high-end designer outposts here feature ornamental window displays and, on any given day, the street resembles a couture runway. However, the experience can also be just as daunting and overwhelming, particularly for first-time shoppers, so here are some of the top shops worth checking out primarily on 5th Avenue:

- Tiffany & Co. is the incredibly famous fine jewelry brand flagship store where the iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany's” movie was set.
- Known worldwide, despite this being their only location, Bergdorf Goodman is the premier shopping destination for all luxury items. Many celebrities have been quoted as saying "Scatter my ashes at Bergdorf's".
- If you look for high-quality cultured pearls as a memorable gift for a special lady in your life, then look no further than Mikimoto.
- If you're lusting after the new iPhone or are just a tech lover, a visit to The Apple Store is a must.
- The crème de la crème of leather handbags, the outpost of French Louis Vuitton will set you back a hefty sum for a purse, but, given the timeless style, you'll be able to wear it for years to come.
- The Italian brand Prada offers a wide variety of luxury items, from fashion to shoes and handbags, and everything in between.
- Well-made suits for the well-heeled set are found in abundance at Hugo Boss, notorious since the late 1990s, courtesy of “The Sopranos” series.

Why You Should Visit:
The main artery of New York City's shopping scene with mass brands, upscale department stores and multinational retailers offering something for everyone.
Madison Avenue

4) Madison Avenue

Running south-north from Madison Square (at 23rd Street) to Harlem River Drive (at 142nd Street), Madison Avenue passes through Midtown and further up the Upper East Side, East Harlem, and Harlem. The avenue is named after the place it arises from, Madison Square, which in turn has been named after James Madison, the fourth President of the United States.

The street's name has been metonymous with the American advertising industry since the 1920s. Thus, the term "Madison Avenue" refers specifically to the agencies and methodology of advertising ("Madison Avenue techniques" – the gimmicky, slick use of the communications media to play on emotions).

Interestingly enough, more recently, in 1984, the "Splash" movie gave rise to a new naming trend in the U.S. associated with Madison. In this film, a mermaid, who has adopted a human form, takes the name Madison after she sees it on a street sign. Ever since then, Madison, which had previously been an exclusively male name (meaning "son of Maud", Maud's son), has been used by females and become one of the most popular names for girls in the United States.

Similarly to London's Oxford Street and the neighboring Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue is known for its fashionable shops, especially in the section between 57th and 85th Streets, exhibiting timeless elegance with a contemporary flavor that is distinctively New York. This premier luxury district is a home to flagship boutiques of the finest fashion (& jewelry) designers like Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Luca Luca, Hermes, and Carolina Herrera. Numerous world class art galleries and the Whitney Museum of American Art are also found here alongside internationally renowned hotels such as the Mark, the Pierre, and the Carlyle. The exquisite local restaurants, spas and salons are geared to deliver exclusive pampering to the rich and famous.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

5) Bloomingdale's

Bloomingdale’s at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue is the flagship store of Bloomingdale's Inc., a luxury retail chain, founded in New York City by Joseph B. and Lyman G. Bloomingdale in 1861. More than 150 years later, the brand has become a household name denoting a network of 36 department stores operational across the United States.

But there’s still nothing like a shopping spree in Bloomingdale’s huge original location, with its characteristic black-and-white checkered marble floor and all-around luxe atmosphere. Ranking among the city’s top tourist attractions, Bloomie’s in Manhattan is extremely popular for the huge selection of quality items it carries. Over the years, their signature brown shopping bags (with a “big-”, “medium-” or “little brown bag” written on them) have become a girl’s best friend – you can see hundreds of them carried around the city, as you walk.

While the Bloomingdale’s selection is, indeed, the most extensive for younger or trendier women, featuring everything from shoes and handbags to designer duds and housewares, within its eight floors there’s plenty of merchandise for men, too. If not for themselves, you can often see them roaming the store to secure a perfect gift for their significant other. With this in mind, the Bloomingdale’s cosmetics hall is definitely not be missed whenever there is someone you know who deserves something special.

You can easy spend the entire day in this 815,000 square-foot venue, browsing high-end décor and merchandise from hundreds of brands, as well as indulging in their on-site dining options.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Lexington Avenue

6) Lexington Avenue

Running one-way southbound for its entire length, from 131st to 21st Streets, Lexington Avenue is largely commercial at the ground level, with offices above. Alongside the clusters of hotels in the 30s and 40s, there are numerous structures on Lexington designated as New York City Landmarks, National Historic Landmarks, and National Register of Historic Places.

Still, when it comes to attractions, the avenue is known primarily for its unique and more affordable shopping that makes Lexington stand out from the more touristy neighbors like Madison, Park, and Fifth Avenues. Most of Lexington's shops are relatively little-known outlets offering rather specific products. Transitioning from Midtown to the Upper East Side, the 20-block stretch from 50th to 69th street houses a variety of small stores, including jewelry, shoe, and home furnishing boutiques.

Among the ones worth visiting here are Elle W Collection, a high-end antique jewelry and home furnishings dealer (864 Lexington Avenue); Pan American Pheonix, specialized in hand-made Mexican clothing, accessories, and pottery; Diane B. Lady Shoes (at 63rd street) for women's shoes and handbags; and Galo (at 63rd street) for men's and women's comfortable and reasonably priced footwear, including comfortable shoes for wedding. And if you're shopping for a gift, stop by Le Sabon and Baby Too (at 64th street), which carries dainty gift items and adorable baby shower gifts.

Lexington Avenue is also home to a number of well-known retailers, such as Bloomingdale's, Zara, Levi's, and Nine West, offering a wide range of clothing, from moderately priced to some rather expensive, trendy garments.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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