It’s no secret that New York City is one of the most extravagant shopping destinations in the world. Throughout the year, people from all over the world come to the Big Apple for some world-class bargain hunting, ranging from the huge department stores of Midtown Manhattan to the smaller boutiques of Soho.
However, the Christmas season brings an even bigger reason to love the shopping scene in New York! Every year, some of the city’s top designer shops and department stores use their street-front window space to create eye-popping, themed displays. The windows themselves have become a tourist attraction over the years, as they are completely free to view and a dazzling showcase of world-class design, fashion, animatronics and lighting.
In celebration of the start of the holiday season and in the interest of free things to do, we’ve compiled the ultimate walking tour of the best of New York’s holiday windows to ensure that you don’t miss a thing! If you want to be in the center of the action, we at New York Habitat also offer furnished apartments and vacation rentals across all five boroughs of New York, and we’ve suggested some of the most conveniently-located accommodations and area attractions to supplement your window tour. You can also browse our whole apartment inventory online to find the ideal accommodation for you.
New York’s holiday windows: The complete tour
Before you head out on your window tour, be sure to check the weather and bundle up! The entire walking tour is about 2 miles long and will take about 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the time of day you visit, how fast you walk and how long you linger. The tour begins on the Upper East Side, a neighborhood known for its swanky designer stores and classic marble buildings. If you’re coming from downtown, Brooklyn, Queens, or another location in the city, we recommend taking the subway via the N, Q or F trains to Lexington Ave / 63rd Street station and walking down 3rd Avenue to 59th Street and the start of the tour. While in the area, you’ll pass an outpost of the famous Magnolia Bakery and Serendipity 3 on 60th Street—why not pick up a sweet treat or a hot chocolate to enjoy as you walk?
You can also skip the long subway ride by renting this studio apartment at Lexington Avenue and 62nd Street. This beautiful classic apartment has a private terrace and garden space and is only 300 meters from Bloomingdale’s department store, the first stop on our route!
1. Bloomingdale’s- The Grinch
The famous New York department store Bloomingdale’s gets into the holiday spirit every year with an extravagant window display, and this year, you’ll find a truly Grinch-y display at 3rd Avenue and 59th Street! Bloomingdale’s has teamed up with Illumination Entertainment to present a whimsical display themed around the studio’s new film The Grinch. The windows are sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike thanks to the fun, child-friendly theme and interactive elements like a selfie camera for the little ones, and high-end fashions on display for the grown-ups.
2. Barney’s New York- Make Change
Advance northwest towards Madison Avenue and 60th Street to find Barney’s New York. If the Grinch’s grumpy antics have got you down, you’ll discover the spirit of giving at Barney’s “Make Change” holiday display. A partnership with the charity Save the Children, “Make Change” uses over 2 million pennies to great, shiny effect, and the change used in the display will be donated to the charity at the end of the season.
3. Bergdorf Goodman- Bergdorf Goodies
To get to the next segment of the tour, you’ll continue one block over to 5th Avenue, which runs along the western edge of Central Park. If you prefer, you can take a scenic detour through Central Park’s Grand Army Plaza or a stroll by the Pulitzer Fountain!
On 5th Avenue and just above 57th Street, however, you’ll find the lavish windows of Bergdorf Goodman. This year, the display is tailored as a true visual “feast” – the windows of the designer clothing store are all themed around candy and holiday treats. Expect an eye-popping sugar rush of candy canes, cookies, cakes and more, sprinkled with Bergdorf’s designer clothes and accessories.
4. Louis Vuitton- Trees of the World
Directly across 5th Avenue, find luxury designer boutique Louis Vuitton bedecked for the holiday season! The sleek storefront has filled its windows this year with bright, jewel-toned trees to delight botany lovers across the globe. And of course, the trees are decorated with plenty of fancy Christmas ornaments!
5. Tiffany & Co.- The Holidays Made By Tiffany
A block south below 57th Street sits the Tiffany & Co. flagship store, made particularly famous by the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Each year, the jewelry boutique’s window displays incorporate their famous “Tiffany blue” in with the holiday theme, and this year is no exception. Find playful blue robots and Space Age technology laid out among the store’s sparkling rings, necklaces and bracelets.
6. Henri Bendel- Wishlist
Between 55th and 56th Streets along 5th Avenue is the luxury retailer Henri Bendel. The store is a must-see this year, because in January the store will close after 123 years in the Big Apple. See their last holiday window display ever in the form of an artistic and stunning tribute the NYC skyline made from handbags and hatboxes.
If you’re looking for another NYC classic to supplement your stay, consider this 1-bedroom apartment rental in Midtown West! On 51st Street and 7th Avenue, you won’t be too far from all the delightful windows along 5th Avenue, but you’ll also be centrally located between Rockefeller Plaza and Times Square! Past tenants have given the apartment a 5-star rating for its location and praised the amenities like the rooftop terrace (it may be chilly at night in the winter, but the views of NYC will be unparalleled).
The designer boutique Cartier goes above and beyond decorating just the windows for their holiday display: they actually wrap the entire building in a giant red bow! Stop by to admire the building decorated for the season with boughs of pine, lights, and of course, their signature red-ribbon jewelry boxes. The whimsical window display of miniature trains, elevators and bellhops adds a glitzy and fun touch to the scene.
Two avenues over, you’ll also find this 2-bedroom furnished apartment that is decorated in a cozy and classic style for the holiday season! The apartment’s leather armchairs provide the perfect place to rest and recharge before finishing the holiday window tour, and you can even brew a cup of hot chocolate in the kitchen! If you have a showing of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular to catch, you’ll also be happy to know that this apartment is less than 500 feet from the world-famous Radio City Music Hall.
8. Saks Fifth Avenue- Theater of Dreams
It’s no secret that one of New York’s most famous attractions is its theater district along Broadway, and this year, Saks Fifth Avenue pays tribute the classic Broadway shows with its store windows! The stunning, sparkling display features vignettes that nod to the excitement and splendor of some of the theater’s greatest exports. Bright lights and beautiful fashions are certainly part of the appeal as well!
Being one of the most famous and popular stores in New York City, you should prepare for crowds around Saks, but this is where the heart of the action is. Before continuing down 5th Avenue for the rest of the tour, we recommend a quick detour into Rockefeller Plaza. Not only will you find more windows, particularly those of the LEGO Store and FAO Schwarz, but you’ll also find the towering Rockefeller Christmas tree, one of the most famous holiday traditions in the world!
You can also gauge the crowd and wait for the optimal time to visit when you choose to stay in a vacation rental like this 1-bedroom apartment in Midtown East. On 50th Street and 3rd Avenue, you’ll be only a stone’s throw from Rockefeller Plaza, the tree, Saks, and even Times Square. The apartment’s cool contemporary décor will add an extra touch of chic style to your vacation, perfect for the glitz and glamour of Midtown Manhattan that Saks is celebrating!
9. Lord & Taylor
Like Henri Bendel, Lord & Taylor will be celebrating its final holiday season in NYC this year on 38th Street and 5th Avenue. Because of the imminent closing of the store, we highly recommend going to see this New York landmark’s final window display—though the display will be scaled back to two windows instead of six. Though modest, its theme is a fitting send-off and a “thank you” for 104 years of business in the Big Apple, featuring a video board of some past window displays and snowy birch trees. As it was one of the first to create holiday window displays and start this great tradition, you can’t miss this chance to see Lord & Taylor before it closes its doors forever!
10. Macy’s- Believe in the Wonder of Giving
A turn onto 38th Street, followed by a quick walk down 6th Avenue and Broadway, will bring you to Macy’s. Macy’s is considered one of the de facto hosts of the holiday season in the Big Apple, welcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas in New York every year with the largest parade in the world. Because of its familiarity and family-friendly nature, it’s another great display to see with kids! This year’s theme hosts the story of a cheery new character, Sunny, as she travels through space to save Christmas.
The Herald Square store at 34th Street and 6th Avenue, which is the flagship store of the entire Macy’s brand, is also famous for its part in the beloved story of Miracle on 34th Street. Because of this, Macy’s also returns with an annual set of windows retelling the classic story with animatronic characters.
Good work! When you finish your tour at Macy’s Herald Square, you can grab dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area (we recommend a hearty burger at the nearby Shake Shack for those seeking a quick bite), or you can return to your furnished apartment or vacation rental for a long winter’s nap. With convenient accommodations all over the city, planning a holiday window tour couldn’t be easier—and you can always retire early if anyone’s feet start to get sore. From high-end designers to beloved NYC staples, we hope your window tour has taken you through all the bright lights and dazzling displays the city has to offer. All the same, we at New York Habitat wish you a holiday season that’s just as dazzling and bright!