Whether you’re a Game of Thrones superfan, an NBA die-hard, or wish you could take the museum art home with you, these niche-y specialty shops are worth a visit.
While you’re in NYC, you have to do some shopping, and see some of the city’s famous entertainment. But with these specialty stores, the shopping itself has never been so entertaining. These shops are destinations in their own right. Shop, you can, but you can also tour, taste, browse, and play.
NBC’s Experience Store, located at “30 Rock” (Rockefeller Plaza), just below the studio, is almost like visiting a mini version of Universal Studios. They’ve got all the memorabilia for your favorite shows, so you can pick up everything from a Today Show mug (and start your morning just like Matt Lauer), or a jersey for the Rio Olympics, or a Central Perk cup from the hit series Friends. There are also great props for photos, like the chair from The Voice! The store is also your one-stop shop for signing up for studio tours, and even free shows like Seth Meyers’ daily monologue at 3 PM, where he tries out his jokes for the night. If your TV is glued to NBC, this store is a must-stop. (49th St. btwn 5th and 6th Aves.)
Like the Museum of Modern Art itself, the MoMA Design Store is the ideal stop for lovers of aesthetic beauty of all kinds. There are prints of modern art, certainly, but some paintings look just as pretty on the wall as they do on a mug, or a t-shirt. You can find something for every room of your home or office, from funky decorative vases, to beautifully crafted furniture to detailed paperweights. The ultimate gift shop, there are hundreds of unique items that are perfect for that person you never know what to buy for. For example, delicately blown multicolored glass sake cups might be the item you never knew you needed, along with specialty tea infusers, clocks, and coasters. The store has two locations—one in SoHo, and one just north of Times Square. (53rd St. btwn 5th and 6th Aves.)
The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) has long been considered one of the essential symbols of style and class in NYC. You may have heard of the Met Ball, an annual gala studded with celebrities, and the museum is also host to some of the world’s finest and most famous art collections. While you may not be able to afford one of the pieces inside, the Met Store will certainly have something along the same lines. Most of the merchandise you can only find there, filled with souvenirs related to the museum, but also other really nice pieces that would impress even the savviest boutique shopper. The jewelry is beautiful and decently priced, making this a great destination for Midtown residents and tourists alike! (Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.)
Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey has been around for around 80 years, but the lines around the block have come more recently…thanks to its popularity on TLC’s “Cake Boss.” The goodies inside are worth the wait: fresh cannolis, lobster tails (cream filled flaky pastries), cookies, cupcakes, and of course…cakes! The chaos inside is just like on the show, but worth it when you walk out with a box of tasty treats. If you’re not ready for the full experience, there is an outpost of the bakery with the same family recipes on 42nd St. in Manhattan. But for those who are truly committed to “the Boss,” it’s just a quick trip outside the city and worth every sugary bite. (8th Ave. btwn 41st and 42nd St.)
It may not be the “happiest place on earth,” but stepping into the Disney Store is almost as happy as its namesake. The Times Square location is just as crowded as the street outside, but you won’t even notice, thanks to oodles of magical details surrounding you. The set up and displays are creative and beautiful, including an escalator ride that you’ll think about for weeks later. Don’t miss the video screening section, with clips of old Disney shows that will delight children and grandparents alike. From giant clocks and chandeliers straight out of Cinderella to everyone’s favorites from Frozen, the store has recreated items from much-adored Disney movies and brought them to life. If you’re traveling with kids, this could almost save you a trip to the parks at some point! (Broadway at 46th St.)
If you’re standing anywhere near the corner of 45th and 5th Ave, you can’t miss the NBA Store, thanks to a 32-foot LED-lit basketball net replica in the entrance. With three floors and over 25,000 square feet of basketball fandom, the NBA store is a destination for every hoopster who sets foot in NYC. You can customize your favorite team’s jersey with your name on the back in around 15 minutes, which will give you plenty of time to pick a pair off the sneaker wall—if you can choose just one from the 40-foot display. Interactive display screens give you everything from player stats to game highlights and product info, while the walls are covered with decals commemorating the finest moments in NBA history. This might just be the next best thing to courtside seats. (Fifth Ave. at 45th St.)
If hoops isn’t your thing, walk into the NHL Store instead for some hockey heaven—you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into your favorite team’s locker room. They’ve got a much broader selection of merchandise than just jerseys, so you’re sure to find a unique way to represent your team on or off the ice. The store often hosts events with NHL personalities and celebrities, so you never know if you’ll end up with an autograph on the shirt you just bought! (6th Ave. at 47th St.)
Whether you’re a Game of Thrones follower, or a Sex and the City fan, the HBO Shop will let you pay homage to all your favorite network shows. Where else could you picture a GoT dragon egg and the shirt Sookie wore on season one of True Blood? It’s like re-watching all your favorite shows again, as each detail and replica will bring back the same flood of excitement as when you saw it the first time. (6th Ave. btwn 42nd and 43rd Sts.)
If you’re a gamer, the Nintendo New York is your mecca. A mini-museum of Nintendo and Pokemon will bring you back to the simpler times, while kiosks around the store offer just about every current game the console offers. The store transports you into your favorite games, where you can pose with the Super Mario mushroom, and snuggle hundreds of Pokemon plushes. A great place to demo a product, immerse yourself in Nintendo gaming history, or just “geek out.” (Rockefeller Center, 48th St. btwn 5th and 6th Aves.)
(Photo: MoMA Design Store / Soho)