Made in NYC: Things you can only buy in the Big Apple

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There are plenty of reasons to visit New York City – and shopping certainly is one of them. Amid the myriad shops, boutiques and department stores that call the city home, you can find souvenirs, gifts and knickknacks you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, if you’re looking for a uniquely New York find, check out these nine (plus a bonus beverage) picks you can only find in the Big Apple.

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Public transit memorabilia from the New York Transit Museum

Made in New York: Things you can only buy in the Big Apple
An assortment of New York-inspired souvenirs from the New York Transit Museum (Image: Annie Mole)

A great stop in the city for a look at New York’s extensive public transportation history, the New York Transit Museum is also a gem for shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind, New York-inspired goodies. The museum’s gift shop features a myriad of transit-related goods, including jewelry made from old subway tokens, playing cards featuring the New York City subway map and even metal subway signs to hang on the wall back home. The shop also holds collectible items like subway car handholds from the 1960s and builder plates removed from old cars.

Artistic souvenirs from the Museum of Modern Art

Made in New York: Things you can only buy in the Big Apple
The gift shop at MoMA offers one-of-a-kind products you won’t find anywhere else (Image: La Citta Vita used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, is a must-visit for any art lover, but it’s also home to a great gift shop for those looking to procure some uniquely New York souvenirs. The artistic gift shop is known especially for its stunning collection of artisan holiday cards. Other highlights include blown glass jewelry, modern interior décor and artistic kitchenware. Stock rotates regularly to include the latest and greatest from the art world.

Dorothy Parker gin at New York Distilling Company

Looking for a unique taste of New York to bring home? Then head to New York Distilling Company in Brooklyn, a craft distillery known for its high-quality American gin. After sampling a cocktail or two at the Shanty bar next door, pick up a bottle of New York Distillery’s signature Dorothy Parker gin to commemorate your trip. If you’re looking for something particularly strong, try the Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin, which offers an impressive 57 percent alcohol by volume.

Vintage dishware at Fishs Eddy

This Flatiron District shop is known for its extensive selection of dinnerware, glassware and tableware, and while you can shop on their website, you can only find their full inventory (including many vintage selections) by visiting the store in person. If you’re in the market for new and one-of-a-kind pieces to add some character to your kitchen, stop by the store on 19th and Broadway to pick up a “new to you” coffee mug, plate or tablecloth that you won’t find anywhere else.

Gamer swag at the Nintendo World Store

Made in New York: Things you can only buy in the Big Apple
The Nintendo World Store at Rockefeller Center sells exclusive merchandise you’ll only find in New York City (Image: TriggerHappyDave)

Relive the glory days of original Nintendo with a trip to the Nintendo World Store at Rockefeller Center. The 930-square-meter store is chock full of games, toys, clothing and accessories you won’t find anywhere else. Load up on collectible figurines, get limited edition apparel featuring your favourite Nintendo characters and score plushies, stuffed animals and other goodies you can’t buy online. While you’re there, be sure to try out the latest game releases and check out the exclusive Nintendo memorabilia showcase.

Chocolate treats at Nunu Chocolates

Handcrafted chocolate treats await at Brooklyn’s Nunu Chocolates, where single origin cocoa beans are painstakingly transformed into truffles, ganaches and caramels. A couple of the boutique’s in-store only exclusives include its cashew caramel bark (thin chocolate topped with cashew caramel crumbles and a dusting of fleur de sel) and chocolate-covered North Fork Potato Chips. While you’re there, treat yourself to a chocolate-themed craft beer or a glass of wine, and watch the chocolatiers work their magic.

New York-themed trinkets at the Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York celebrates the history of this iconic city, and its gift shop is the perfect place to find your own token of the Big Apple. The shop is filled with everything from artwork and posters of city scenery to jewellery designed by New York artists and city-inspired clothing. Grab a pair of yellow taxi-themed socks as a gag gift or a stock market-themed tie for the businessman in your life. Vintage New York postcards and an assortment of New York coffee table books also make great gifts.

Hard-to-find cookbooks at Kitchen Arts & Letters

Whether you’re a passionate foodie, a self-proclaimed home cook or a culinary mastermind, you won’t want to miss a stop at Kitchen Arts & Letters in Manhattan. Julia Child was among the first of this bookstore’s patrons in the early 1980s, and today, the store’s clientele ranges from local foodies to internationally acclaimed Michelin-starred chefs. More than 12,000 titles – including rare, out-of-print and hard-to-find cookbooks, food history books and technical manuals – await.

Pressed pennies

Made in New York: Things you can only buy in the Big Apple
Pressed pennies are a great way to commemorate your New York City trip (Image: Coco Mault)

Whether you’re a long-time collector of pressed pennies or just looking for a uniquely New York souvenir, you can have some fun roaming through the Big Apple in search of the city’s many penny pressing machines. Machines can be found at popular attractions like the Central Park Zoo, FAO Schwarz, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and the Statue of Liberty.

If you’re stopping by Yankee Stadium, don’t miss the two machines offering collectible Yankee-themed pennies. The designs change regularly, and a medallion machine also offers collectible designs that change monthly. For an up-to-date list of pressed penny machines around New York City, check out the Penny Collector website.

Bonus: Where to sip some of the best hot chocolate in New York

Shopping in New York isn’t for the faint of heart, but you’ll quickly feel renewed after a cup of what is arguably the best hot chocolate in the city. Here’s where you’ll find one of the Big Apple’s most renowned mugs of hot chocolate goodness:

City Bakery

Made in New York: Things you can only buy in the Big Apple
City Bakery is well known in New York City for having some of the best hot chocolate in town (Image: Violet Faversham)

When it comes to the finest hot chocolate in the city, there’s one place that often takes the cake: City Bakery in the Flatiron District. The bakery’s rich, thick cups of hot chocolate taste like pure dark chocolate bars in liquid form – not too sweet and just the right consistency. The icing on this metaphorical cake is the homemade marshmallow that melts into an eye-pleasing layer of creamy, fluffy goodness at the top of your mug.

Locals will tell you the hot chocolate at City Bakery can only truly be enjoyed with the house’s signature pretzel croissant, a sweet and salty icon of the pastry world. If you can, swing by City Bakery in February, when the café celebrates its annual Hot Chocolate Festival and features a new hot chocolate flavor each day of the month. Former creations have included the likes of Bourbon Hot Chocolate, Banana Peel Hot Chocolate and Creamy Stout Hot Chocolate.

(Main image: brittreints)

Made in NYC: Things you can only buy in the Big Apple was last modified: July 8th, 2015 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (893 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.