Hosted in the iconic Grand Central train station, the Grand Central Holiday Fair is the only seasonal market in the city that's housed indoors. The artists here are often more established than at some of the other markets, so you can expect the quality to be top-notch. You'll also find New York associations like the Transit Museum selling their goods along the route. Just as with the other markets, there's a collection of goods, from jewelry to clothing to gourmet foods, though this market is particularly heavy in the jewelry department. The market is open until 6PM on Christmas Eve, and closed on Thanksgiving.
We could have easily put any of New York's stalwart luxury stores, including Barneys or Saks on this list, but we chose Bloomingdale's for a few reasons. For starters, their brown shopping bags are icons by themselves, and no one we've ever given a gift to has been disappointed when we hand them the bag. Secondly, Bloomie's is conveniently located on 59th and Lexington, which means if you choose the right subway exit, you don't even need to go outside. A shopping spree without braving New York's cold? Count us in. Lastly, the quality of the goods and the associated prices equal a pretty good value. In other words, if you shop wisely, you won't break the bank and you'll walk away with high-end threads that make everyone happy.
Pearl River Mart isn't your typical Christmas time destination, but we think it warrants a visit. A Chinese market nestled between the designer stores in Soho, Pearl River stocks everything from clothing and home décor to cultural tchotchkes and furniture. Snag stocking stuffers for your nephew or trinkets for grandma, while perusing the wide, wide range of wares. If you stay long enough, you'll eventually find something for everyone. And the best part? You'll have fun while you're doing it. The store doesn't take itself too seriously, and the randomness of the items ensures that you won't ever get bored - even if you end up only window-shopping.
Usually home of the city's largest green market, radishes and rhubarb are replaced during the holidays with a bevy of gifts made by local artisans and foodies. Helmed by Urbanspace, coordinators of the popular summer pop-up Madison Square Eats, the market features everything from hand-crafted jewelry to brew-your-own beer kits. As you weave your way through the stalls, strike up conversations with the artists and get an inside peek at that their process. That way, when your sister-in-law thanks you for her dog's new couture collar and leash, you'll be able to tell her all about the woman who made it.
Over 100 vendors and a pop-up restaurant called Celsius set up stalls at The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park this year. Surrounding the center ice skating rink, the shops are reminiscent of a European open-air market. Unlike the Union Square markets, these slightly sturdier structures are designed to look like jewel boxes, and do a much better job of blocking the wind. You'll still have to venture outside to bounce between stalls housing artisan jewelry and unique apparel, but the momentary reprieve from the biting cold is quite a welcome change. This market also runs past New Year's Day, so if your Christmas shopping procrastination has hit an all-time high, stop off here on the way to Aunt Linda's.
Media outlets around the country have called the Brooklyn Flea the best summer market in the US. Thankfully, after the summer has ended, the Brooklyn Flea combines with Smorgasburg (think delicious, delicious food) and moves indoors to a new location every winter. This year, the Flea sets up shop in Sunset Park's Industry City starting October 17. Though it's a bit of a hike from Manhattan, the second busiest Costco in the country is right next door, so you'll have the opportunity to knock out some bargain buying after sifting through the Flea's salvaged furniture, handmade jewelry and vintage clothes.
If you're ready to brave the crowds for a bargain deal, consider Century 21 the answer to your shopping prayers. This megastore is known by New Yorkers as a top spot to find high-end, designer brands at bottom of the barrel pricing. The catch is that the store is often a madhouse, so you'll need heaps of patience and a love of digging through disheveled displays to find your gems. Don't plan on going if you're short on time. Instead, make a day of it and go in with a battle plan. And look at it this way: even if you don't find your sister a sweater, you'll surely walk out with a story for the dinner table.
Located in Central Park, the scenery at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market couldn't be more picturesque for a Christmas market. Step inside and come face-to-face with the artisans and designers who've come to hawk their holiday wares. You'll find everything from handmade jewelry to artisan foods, and well-made toys to eclectic clothing. Local food vendors also set up shop between the stalls, so you can grab a cup of hot cocoa or a taco to warm up and recharge as you shop. To beat the crowds, try visiting early on - the market gets more crowded as the month wears on.
Sweet treats and sugar rushes are basically synonymous with Christmas day, so help to fuel the tradition and put Dylan's Candy Bar on your itinerary. A great place to pick up stocking stuffers for the little ones on your list, the store is 3 floors of all things candy. It's also a great place to conjure up a bit of nostalgia, as the flagship store stocks a large collection of old school classics from every era. Give grandpa some bottle caps, or put together a 1970s time capsule for mom and watch their eyes light up on Christmas morning - just like when they were kids.
Known for its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade (the most watched Santa parade in the world) and the movie it inspired ("Miracle on 34th Street"), Macy's is a venerable city landmark venturing 10 stories up and stretching the length of an entire city block. From a visitor's point of view, the store can be a bit daunting in its vastness, so get a directory as soon as you walk in the door and plan your route carefully. Two departments you won't want to miss: the toy department, which turns into a fantasy Santaland during the holidays, and the Cellar, a gastronome's paradise filled with every conceivable piece of cooking equipment and a huge array of gourmet foods.