Shopping on Manhattan’s Upper East Side

There’s really nothing like shopping in New York – especially on the Upper East Side. Long known as one of the most prestigious and charming neighborhoods in New York, the Upper East Side is full of luxury boutiques and big name department stores. You’ll find just about everything on Madison Avenue, from Michael Kors and Tiffany and Co.; Barneys New York to Bloomingdales. You’ll also find one of the coolest Apple stores around, as well as Hendri Bendel, Louis Vuitton, Bergdorf Goodman…the list goes on and on. Those on a budget will appreciate big box fast fashion stores such as H&M and Zara, which can also be found on Fifth Avenue – but the real glee is to be found in wandering up and down Madison and Fifth window shopping. Even if you can’t afford anything inside, seeing the window displays are an experience unlike any other.

Below, just a few places we recommend.

  • Bloomingdale’s, 1000 3rd Ave. (☎212-705-2000;, at 59th St. S 4, 5, 6, to 59th St. Founded in 1872 by 2 brothers, Bloomie’s is “not just a store, it’s a destination.” This huge high-end emporium—occupying 9 floors, 2 subfloors (with an entrance in the 59th St. station), and a full city block—invented the designer shopping bag (“big brown bag,” anyone?) in 1961. It turned Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Fendi into household names. If you can survive the mobs of dazed tourists and shoppers, you’ll love getting lost here. Personal shoppers are available for the financially endowed and the stylistically challenged. 40 Carrots Cafe offers a wildly popular frozen yogurt for $3.75. Open M-F 10am-8:30pm, Sa-Su 10am-7pm.
  • Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave. (☎212-826-8900;, at 61st St. S 4, 5, 6, to 59th St.; N, R, W to 5th Ave./59th St. An exclusive department store known for finding relative unknowns and turning them into cutting-edge designers. Armani suits, Balenciaga bags, Prada galore—you get the idea. Barneys is hardly for the frugal shopper, though sales and markdowns do happen, and sample sales are frequent enough to tempt even the most stingy. Displays, done in a stark, minimalist aesthetic are practically works of art. Did we mention they have a spa too? Open M-F 10am-8pm, Sa 10am-7pm, Su 11am-6pm.
  • Encore, 1132 Madison Ave. (☎212-879-2850), at 84th St., 2nd fl. S 4, 5, 6 to 86th St. This magnet for discerning shoppers has been selling new and gently used designer clothing for 50 years. These are still not cheap clothes, but you might find a new $3000 Armani suit selling for $700, or a pair of Manolos for $100. Chanel suits from around $300, and designer denim from $14. Open M-W and F 10:30am-6:30pm, Th 10:30am-7:30pm, Sa 10:30am-6pm, Su noon-6pm; closed on Su from July to mid-Aug.
  • Jan’s Hobby Shop, 1435 Lexington Ave. (212-987-4765), betwen 93rd St. and 94th St. S 6 to 96th St./Lexington Ave. In the middle of the Upper East Side museum-and-clothing-boutique country lies an oasis of model airplanes, toy soldiers, kites, and remote control boats. These diversionary pleasures can be cheap (kites $5.50) or as expensive as the neighborhood (1/35th scale German, WWI era railroad gun, $800). Open M-Sa 10am-6:30pm, Su noon-5pm.
  • Argosy Bookstore, 116 E 59th St. (☎212-753-4455;, between Lexington and Park Ave. S 4, 5, 6, to 59th St. This 6-floor bookstore, established in 1921, specializes in old, rare, and out-of-print books. You’ll also find autographed editions, original letters by authors, Americana, book covers, bookends, and antique maps and prints (from $3). Racks of $1 books outside. Open Sept.-May M-F 10am-6pm, Sa 10am-5pm; June-Aug. M-F 10am-6pm.

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