In a city famous for shopping, choosing what to buy in New York as a reminder of your trip may be the hardest decision of all. There are the usual souvenirs: a snow globe featuring a miniature Manhattan skyline, anything with a Yankees logo, or M&M’s in every flavor under the sun. But if you’re looking for souvenirs that aren’t sold on every street corner, read on. Here are some ideas for the best things to buy in New York.
What to buy in New York
Immigrant History Keepsakes
At the Tenement Museum, visitors can tour actual apartments where newly arrived families lived during the largest waves of immigration to NYC. The museum should be on every itinerary. After your tour, be sure to stop by the gift shop for souvenirs that commemorate an era that defined the city as the multicultural hub that it is.
One of the most popular items is a finely detailed metal fire escape ornament, which represents how fire escapes were integral to the lives of immigrants. They used them to connect with their neighbors, step outside for air, and even store household goods that their cramped apartments didn’t allow for. On a rainy day in NYC they sometimes needed an umbrella! But that did not stop them!
Souvenirs of Your Favorite Television Shows
Are you that person who can quote lines at will from your favorite TV show? If so, you deserve a reminder of the show you love so much. The Shop at NBC Studios sells memorabilia from popular NBC programs both past and present. Here’s your chance to bring home the magic of television by purchasing a Golden Girls Trivial Pursuit game, a Brooklyn Nine-Nine puzzle, or a T-shirt or mug adorned with the face of your favorite character. You could even buy your very own Dwight from The Office bobblehead. I am sure you will find many famous New York quotes that will make for perfect NYC Instagram captions.
Artisan Chocolates at MarieBelle
If you’re looking for sophisticated New York souvenirs, go to MarieBelle, an elegant SoHo chocolate boutique. Their New York Collection includes chocolate ganache squares decorated with colorful illustrations of your favorite NYC landmarks. They are almost too pretty to eat, until you try one and realize they absolutely melt in your mouth. Everything is handmade with the highest quality ingredients. A cacao bar serving hot chocolate, coffee, and pastries is located in the back of the shop.
New York City LEGO Sets
A new flagship LEGO store on Fifth Avenue features a life size yellow cab, a model of Times Square, and scenes from the movie Ghostbusters. The Flatiron store has a LEGO version of the original Statue of Liberty torch, complete with a tiny man standing on its ledge. That is to say, the LEGO stores in New York are famously museum-like and worth a trip to simply look around. But if you’re still looking for the best souvenirs, consider purchasing a LEGO set and building your own reminder of the Big Apple, whether it’s an iconic skyscraper, the Friends apartment, or even a LEGO version of Andy Warhol’s pop art masterpiece of Marilyn Monroe.
Quintessential New York Food
Nothing represents the diversity of New York City more than food. So, if you can’t get enough of the pastrami on rye at Katz’s Deli, the famous Lower East Side restaurant will package and ship many of their products anywhere in the U.S. In addition to their selection of slow-roasted meats, homemade mustard, sauerkraut, and pickles are also available for shipping. Edible souvenirs are also easily purchased at Zabar’s on the Upper West Side. Pre-made gift baskets filled with New York favorites like chocolate babka, smoked salmon, and bagels will create perfect memories of your trip.
Gifts from the New York Public Library
Book lovers will appreciate souvenirs that are reminders of New York’s literary history. The New York Public Library gift shop sells a range of merchandise for all ages, from whimsical knick knacks and T-shirts to sophisticated brooches and scarves. Many items feature images of the famous Fifth Avenue Beaux-Arts building that houses the Main Branch. The NYPL was founded in 1895 and is the largest library system in the United States. The gift shop’s merchandise celebrates this achievement.
NYC Scented Candles
It’s a well-known fact that certain scents can trigger vivid memories. Now you can bring the smell of New York home with you. A fragrance company called Homesick makes all natural soy wax candles infused with scents that are intended to create nostalgic memories. Their New York City candle, available at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, is infused with fragrances that are meant to evoke a spring day in Central Park. Or stop by the The Koop, a locally owned candle company in Brooklyn that has created a candle called Mercer St., and is inspired by the street of the same name in SoHo.
New York City-inspired kitchenware and décor
If you’re looking for souvenirs that are truly quirky, go to Fishs Eddy in the Flatiron for an eclectic selection of dishes, glassware, and home décor. Many items pay homage to New York City and will add kitschy character to any home. Popular merchandise includes dish towels, mugs, and totes stenciled with the Brooklyn or Manhattan skyline, drawings that actually make the pigeons of NYC endearing, and a Statue of Liberty LED light, perfectly sized for a bedroom nightstand. Other fun items include Ruth Bader Ginsberg coffee mugs and Aaron Burr shot glasses.
Author Bio: Michele DeBella is a travel writer and blogger from New York City. She is the founder of From Inwood Out, a blog that shares tips, stories, and advice on getting the most out of your travels in New York state. You can also follow Michele on Instagram