Where to shop and walk in New York City

When I visit NYC I walk. And walk. A hundred blocks a day is not unheard of. It's a walking city and to appreciate the buzz and the energy and the smells and the looks and overhear the most amazing conversations, you do need to be on foot as much as possible. 

And when I walk I do a bit of shopping and I do a bit of eating too. So let's get started on a few of the places from my most recent trip.

On my very first trip to NYC a zillion years ago (before I met the man), I went to Tender Buttons at 62nd between 3rd and Lex. I try and go on most visits. It isn't a huge place and the shop has been in this location since 1965. Just think, characters on Mad Men could shop here! I think it would be Joan's mom, how about you? Or maybe Peggy to spruce up an old dress? They have an amazing selection up to and including vintage and antique buttons.

I hadn't been to Chelsea Market before despite great intentions on various trips. That does surprise me because it is only a few blocks away from one of my favourite coffee places, Cafe Grumpy on 20th between 8th and 9th Avenue. Chelsea Market has a bit of a reputation for being overpriced (you Toronto readers can liken it to the 5 thieves in Summerhill on Yonge Street) but it is all great quality in a stunning location - the renovated old Nabisco factory. I had the most amazing scone and cookies at Amy's Bread in the market -  a cherry cheese scone and a miniature orange butter cookie and a miniature kitchen sink cookie. Hey, I was walking 100 blocks a day!


Let's move east to Greenwich Village. It's not a long walk away at all.

I met Sheri Silver of Donuts, Dresses and Dirt  for coffee on Sullivan Street just a couple of blocks south of Washington Square Park. We met at Third Rail Coffee. Now I guess that it's the closest place for coffee to the park but I can safely say that it has the BEST pulled shots close to the park. 

Washington Square Park is at the tail end of renovations - the old asphalt humps in the playground are long gone. I won't bore you with the history (as an aside, if you do love historical walking tours, go with Big Onion. PhD candidates in history lead the walks in every 'hood in NYC), but the park is oozing in it. 

Check out the bottom right photo in the collage below - yes that is a grand piano that someone dragged/pulled/pushed into the middle of the park to play. The high class busker.

Sheri led me around the West Village where I hadn't spent a lot of time. All of Greenwich Village is picturesque - while the city is primarily on a grid (great foresight at the time), the older streets in the Village twist and turn. The architecture is beautiful. If I lived in NYC (since this is a fantasy I'd have that big bag of money and a  trunk of gold doubloons), I'd live in the Village.

One of our stops was the quaint and yummy Sockerbit - a Swedish candy store. In addition to having THE best candy - so fresh and tasty, this shop is one of the many reasons why I adore NYC. In a city of 10 million people a couple can have the inspiration to start a shop selling just Swedish candy and then just make it happen. And not only survive but flourish. No matter your niche, if you do it well, you will find a market for it. And they do it well - charming and friendly service.

When the man and I first travelled together to NYC we wanted a yummy meal. And we decided to go to Babbo, one of Mario Batali's restaurants. Still thinking of the gnocchi after all these years. It isn't huge and if you want a primetime table you do have to book a month in advance. But, here's a tip. Don't say I never do anything for you, dear readers! It's on Waverly Place just NW of Washington Square Park. It opens at 4:30 on Sunday evenings and 5 other nights. If you don't have a reservation, go Monday night and line up about 15-30 minutes before it opens. Maybe grab a coffee at Third Rail and walk a few blocks over to wait. Then you are pretty much assured of getting not only a seat at the bar as a walk in but a table. Now don't sue me if it doesn't work - keep in mind holiday season, etc. Like I said, Monday nights are the best bet.

It's pricey but the food is incredible. And it's neighbourhood-y - the staff is fantastically friendly and the service is as good as it gets. And if you don't get in, zoom  to the south of the park and go to Lupa at 170 Thompson, another Batali restaurant and more lowkey than Babbo. Very welcoming of families.

(The photo below is the window of Babbo).

And my dear friends, these are some of the places that I stopped in at while walking around NYC. Here I am in my cab to Newark on my rainy last morning. The only day that it rained. Lucky me!

I'll be back. Of course I'll be back.


Sandra Harris

I'm Sandra Harris, a food & lifestyle photographer based in Vancouver, Canada who also writes about creativity, art, food, photography & travel. Fan of film festivals too.