Holiday shopping is upon us—the mad rush to get gifts to delight your loved ones, just in time to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s. While online shopping may have reigned supreme in 2020, this year many of us are ready to get back to the malls and shopping centers to check out gift possibilities in person.
Luckily, the New York metro area has plenty of fantastic shopping malls to discover, from Manhattan to Long Island to Connecticut, and all of them are accessible by the MTA’s network of trains. That means not having to deal with the hassle of traffic or waiting forever to find a place to park. So hop aboard and get ready to check off everyone on your list. Here are five shopping malls for almost every type of shopper.
6 minute walking from 34 Street - Penn Station
4 minute walk from 34 Street - 11 Avenue (Hudson Yards)
6 minute walk from Penn Station
Manhattan’s west side recently got a new shopping and dining destination when the glamorous Manhattan West had its grand opening in September. Its gleaming skyscrapers right across from Penn Station are filled with offices, the city’s first Pendry hotel, and plenty of restaurants, cafės, and even a food hall, making shopping here a well-rounded experience.
And that food hall is most certainly not your mother’s mall food court: Called Citizens, it boasts outposts of beloved restaurants like Umami Burger, Soom Soom, Katsuya, and Plant Nation to re-energize yourself between stops at the NHL Shop, O.P.R. Eyewear, and Public Rec for athleisure. The newest outpost of Danny Meyer’s Daily Provisions café is across the plaza, and above it is his newest restaurant in NYC since 2018: upscale Italian spot Ci Siamo. Got a foodie on your list? Grab a gift card at any restaurant for a dining experience they’ll remember.
For Deal Hunters:
Tanger Outlets Deer Park
5 minute shuttle bus ride from Deer Park
If you’re seeking great deals on tons of name brands, take advantage of the Tanger Outlets MTA Away Deal for an easy day trip from the city. The dozens of outlets here offer discounts as high as 40%. Those bringing kids can get an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt book that will keep little ones busy all day -- searching for clues while you search for deals -- at shops like Michael Kors Outlet, Banana Republic Factory, and J. Crew Crewcuts Factory.
For One-Stop Shopping:
13 minute NICE bus ride from Mineola
The MTA Away Roosevelt Field Mall Deal is an ideal one-stop shopping excursion. The massive Mall gives you more than 240 options to chose from , including apparel favorites like Donna Karen New York, kids shops like Build-A-Bear Workshop, and department stores such as Macy’s and Neiman Marcus. Jewelry lovers can pop into Alex and Ani while cooks can explore kitchenware store Williams-Sonoma. For techies, there’s always the Apple store. Refuel in between stops with a hot drink and pastry at Le Pain Quotidien. And make a reservation for a family picture with Santa, from now through December 24. On select Sundays, pets are welcome, too.
For a Family Adventure:
20 minute Hudson Link shuttle ride from Tarrytown
Rockland County’s Palisades Center is the ideal place to give your family an adventure while you cross all the gifts off your list. In addition to its 225 stores, Palisades Center also has 16 sit-down restaurants, a bowling alley, ice rink, the world’s tallest indoor ropes course, and a comedy club: meaning you can have a full day of shopping and adventure at the same time.
While you’re there, get your kids photographed with Santa and they’ll get a complimentary treat from Great American Cookies. Easily accessible via the Hudson Link bus that goes right to the mall, you can be shopping and entertaining your family in no time.
For Style Seekers:
The SoNo Collection
13 minute walk from South Norwalk
If you’ve got some stylish people on your gift list—or could use a little boost yourself—SoNo Collection is the place for you. The chic mall has shops like Bloomingdale’s and Tailor Vintage, plus home stores like H&M Home, Artee Home, and Arhaus, for all your design-forward friends.
To get into the holiday spirit, walk through Holiday Bells Grove to see how your movements unlock ringing bells, glorious music, and an illuminating light show. Then head up to the Camp store to take selfies with Santa on your phone or camera for free. If hunger strikes, have lunch at Yard House, Uncle Seven, or Pokelicious, or try Nordstrom’s Ebar for an expertly made espresso and buttery pastry.
Devorah Lev-Tov is a travel and food writer based in Brooklyn. She has been living in NYC for 15 years and writes for publications including The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Eater, Thrillist, and more.