You can’t take a trip to NYC without visiting 5th Avenue. To truly understand the essence of NYC, one needs to join the hustle and bustle of this thoroughfare, get lost in the crowds, and enjoy the true anonymity that the city provides. Plus, you’ll see some of the most impressive designer digs here.
Why You Should Visit 5th Avenue Shopping District
Iconic: New York City is full of shopping, and 5th Ave. is probably the most iconic for high-end shopping.
Photographic: Between the iconic historic buildings (The Plaza, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, St. Patrick’s) and the contemporary structures (Apple Store), there’s plenty of photo opportunities here. The windows on 5th Ave. will also yield some of the best fashion photographs in the city. You can also pop over to the LOVE sculpture one block away on 6th avenue if you’re looking for more photo ops between shopping.
Architectural: You’ll see block after block of important architecture on 5th Ave., from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the St. Regis Hotel.
Historic: Originally farmland and forest, 5th Ave. became a destination for NYC’s upper class after St. Patrick’s moved to its current location in the late 1800s. You’ll can still see one of the famed Vanderbilt mansions, which is now Bergdorf Goodman. The Plaza and nearby Central Park are also hotbeds of history.
Kid Friendly: Though 5th Ave.’s most famous kiddie store, F.A.O. Schwartz has shuttered its doors, there are still some kid friendly stores nearby. The LEGO store in Rockefeller Center is one such example.
Shopping/Fashion: There are hundreds of high-end and chain stores located along 5th Ave.
Religious: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, and Fifth Avenue Presbyterian are all on Fifth Ave.
Literary: Many novels have used 5th Avenue as a setting, including The Great Gatsby, The Age of Innocence, and Confessions of a Shopaholic (I know, that last one isn’t really high literature. We’ve all got our guilty pleasures, okay?).
Celebrity: Though many celebrities opt to take town cars and taxis to the stores on 5th Ave., you’ll still see some browsing the cases and shelves of some of the high-end stores.
Cinematic: Plenty of movies and TV shows have been filmed on 5th Ave., including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Home Alone 2, Elf, Sex and the City, and Gossip Girl.
Outdoorsy: If you need a break from crowded stores, head to nearby Central Park for some respite.
Like a Local: Even locals brave the crowds of Midtown to go shopping on 5th Ave. You’ll see plenty of New Yorkers shopping their ways up 5th Ave. along with the tourists.
5th Avenue Shopping Cost/Money Savers:
5th Ave. is free to visit, but you’ll need to drop some serious dough if you want to shop here. Window shopping is always free.
How Much Time to Spend on 5th Avenue/Time Savers:
Fly-By: 30 minutes to walk up 5th Ave. from Lord and Taylor to Bloomingdale’s
In-Depth: 2-to-4 hours
Need to Know:
Don’t get intimidated over entering high-end stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany’s. These guys get customers of all demographics, from all over the world. They are used to many shoppers “just looking”.
Why You Should Skip:
If you hate shopping and/or crowds, you can probably skip the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue.
When to Go to 5th Avenue:
First thing in the morning when shops open to avoid the crowds.
How to Get to 5th Avenue:
Walking: Head to 5th Ave. and 42nd Street (near Bryant Park), and walk north on 5th Ave. until you reach Central Park. Most of the stores are between this stretch of 5th Ave.
Subway: Take the 7, B, D, F, or M trains to 42nd Street.
Taxi/Car: Tell you taxi driver to take you to Bryant Park.
Bus: Really, must you use the bus to get here? As you may know, traffic is awful in Midtown.
Related Attractions/Other Ways to See 5th Avenue:
Top stores on Fifth Avenue include:
Lord & Taylor
Saks Fifth Avenue
Bloomingdale’s (well, technically it’s on E. 60th & 3rd Ave., but it’s part of the shopping district; jeez, don’t get your designer panties in a bunch)
Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.
Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!