Best gift shops: Upper West Side

Find out where to shop for gifts in this uptown Manhattan neighborhood.

Photograph: Naomi Ellenson
Laytner's Linen & Home

Critics' picks

C. Wonder

Businessman Chris Burch has opened his whimsical brand’s second NYC location (the flagship is in Soho) for classic-with-a-twist women’s threads ($22–$248) and accessories ($24–$198). The 7,740-square-foot shop also carries a noteworthy collection of home goods ($10–$128). Clothing highlights include leopard-print boat-neck sweaters ($78), ikat-patterned stretch jeans ($128) and bird-adorned shirtdresses ($198). Complete your look with suede wedge booties ($128), leather chain-strap handbags ($148) and vibrant enamel bracelets ($38 each). Your pad will get an upgrade with ceramic plates featuring dogs ($38) and embroidered pillows ($34–$58). There’s even a cute selection for pets, such as jeweled dog collars ($20) and vibrant food bowls ($24–$38).

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Upper West Side

Essentials Plus

In a city where a packed Duane Reade or an unstocked CVS can throw the most hardened urbanite into fits of tears, this innocuous drugstore is a godsend. The modest exterior hides a beauty store, salon, basic dry-goods store and second-floor toy store complete with play area. Where else can you pick up a decent $7 umbrella while you’re checking out Bert and Ernie puppets ($15 each) and about 70 billion different kinds of Thomas the Tank Engine pieces (starting at $7)? Anyone who doesn’t live in the area will be jealous of this neighborhood staple.

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Upper West Side

J.Crew

J. Crew is a perennial ruler of the American apparel game, and with good reason. Its trusty, exquisite pieces radiate the relaxed propriety of Stateside elite with just the right amount of trendy tangent. Recent forays into evening and wedding attire have also been brilliantly successful.

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Upper West Side

J.Crew Men’s Shop

Creative director Jenna Lyons made J.Crew a shopping staple for women who crave classic pieces with a high-fashion bent, and now the brand is attempting to take over the male market as well by adding a new men’s shop—the fifth of its kind in the city—to the brand’s expanding empire. Like the clothing inside, this handsome space is classic and clean, featuring reclaimed white oak trim and floors made from large slate slabs. Up front, you’ll find casual basics like heavyweight flannel button-ups ($98) from J.Crew’s recently unveiled high-end line, Wallace & Barnes. As you move inward, peruse the suiting collection, including double slim-fit wool suits ($590). Toward the back, you can sink into vintage chairs while trying on footwear, such as waxed leather wing tips ($485) from J.Crew’s collaboration with old-school New England shoemaker Alden, and check out Mougin & Piquard leather-strap Swiss watches ($425), made in limited quantities exclusively for J.Crew.

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Midtown West

Laytner’s Linen & Home

Critics' pick

Before there were big-box home furnishing chains, value-minded Upper West Siders turned to Laytner’s for their linen and bedding needs. In addition to the affordable organic 300-thread count sheet sets ($40), cotton bamboo towels ($17) and down alternative comforters ($80–$120) the family-owned houseware emporium is known for, the flagship location hawks handsome wood furniture, cozy microfleece bathrobes and a colorful array of shower curtains in both lightweight silk and heavy-duty plastic. Decorative items such as teak wood coasters, dog-bone-shaped picture frames and ceramic sushi sets do well as housewarming gifts or as finishing touches in your own apartment.

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Upper West Side

Thérapie

Critics' pick

Part pharmacy and part beauty-and-gift emporium, this sprawling three-level store has been catering to a well-heeled clientele (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dustin Hoffman are regulars) since 2004. Owner Renee Chow stocks the shelves with everything you need to look polished, from upscale grooming products like Mason Pearson brushes and chichi men’s lines Jack Black and Zirh to racks of Spanx and Hue hosiery. There’s even a Dr. Hauschka natural makeup counter and an entire mezzanine devoted to all things boobie (cutlets, flash tape, decorative bra straps, etc.). Procrastinators should make Thérapie their go-to for last-minute gifts—between the gorgeously packaged Seda candles, witty Knock Knock notepads and a basement bursting with children’s toys, you’re bound to find something for any occasion.

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Upper West Side

Williams-Sonoma

This posh and well respected kitchen supply store marries style with quality and gleaming stock, from gadgets and bakewear to settings and accessories. Foodies and style mavens alike can find reason to browse.

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Upper West Side

More shops for gifts

Pure Yoga

Both locations of this modern yoga mecca boast an impressive variety of classes, but it’s the West Side studio that wows with its selection of downward-dog-ready apparel and accessories. The spacious, Zen-like shop stocks everything a modern yogi could desire, including colorful mats ($47–$66) and stretchy yoga pants ($75–$88). Standouts include Tanya B’s tie-dye organic halters designed by Pure instructor Tanya Boulton ($85) and electrifying neon lace Phat Buddha sports bras ($55). For those who want to embrace the Om lifestyle without breaking a sweat, there are wellness-themed books, candles and Chakra-printed tanks, but none offers the tongue-in-cheek humor of Alternative Earth’s spiritual gangster graphic tees ($48).

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Upper West Side

Thérapie

Critics' pick

Part pharmacy and part beauty-and-gift emporium, this sprawling three-level store has been catering to a well-heeled clientele (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dustin Hoffman are regulars) since 2004. Owner Renee Chow stocks the shelves with everything you need to look polished, from upscale grooming products like Mason Pearson brushes and chichi men’s lines Jack Black and Zirh to racks of Spanx and Hue hosiery. There’s even a Dr. Hauschka natural makeup counter and an entire mezzanine devoted to all things boobie (cutlets, flash tape, decorative bra straps, etc.). Procrastinators should make Thérapie their go-to for last-minute gifts—between the gorgeously packaged Seda candles, witty Knock Knock notepads and a basement bursting with children’s toys, you’re bound to find something for any occasion.

Read more
Upper West Side

Laytner’s Linen & Home

Critics' pick

Before there were big-box home furnishing chains, value-minded Upper West Siders turned to Laytner’s for their linen and bedding needs. In addition to the affordable organic 300-thread count sheet sets ($40), cotton bamboo towels ($17) and down alternative comforters ($80–$120) the family-owned houseware emporium is known for, the flagship location hawks handsome wood furniture, cozy microfleece bathrobes and a colorful array of shower curtains in both lightweight silk and heavy-duty plastic. Decorative items such as teak wood coasters, dog-bone-shaped picture frames and ceramic sushi sets do well as housewarming gifts or as finishing touches in your own apartment.

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Upper West Side

Maxiga CLOSED

Critics' pick

Husband and wife Mark and Agnes Szlendak maintain that every item carried in their three Manhattan locations “must make customers smile.” In the year they’ve been in business, the couple (hailing from Poland) has curated a collection of local and international products with a focus on home decor—but you won’t find these kitschy housewares in your typical Bed Bath & Beyond. The Upper West Side spot is Maxiga’s largest yet at 1,000 square feet, and features cheerful, orange-accented displays of colorful tchotchkes. Novelty items up for sale include David Weeks’s animal head–shaped chip clips (set of three $13), Diva rubber duckies that are dressed to the nines ($16) and Karlsson colorful acrylic pinwheel clocks ($125).

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Upper West Side

Essentials Plus

In a city where a packed Duane Reade or an unstocked CVS can throw the most hardened urbanite into fits of tears, this innocuous drugstore is a godsend. The modest exterior hides a beauty store, salon, basic dry-goods store and second-floor toy store complete with play area. Where else can you pick up a decent $7 umbrella while you’re checking out Bert and Ernie puppets ($15 each) and about 70 billion different kinds of Thomas the Tank Engine pieces (starting at $7)? Anyone who doesn’t live in the area will be jealous of this neighborhood staple.

Read more
Upper West Side

Urban Outfitters

Don’t let the facade fool you: What’s designed to look like an old-school hat shop, hardware store, neighborhood bar and bodega (before every New York City block was littered with chain stores) is actually Urban Outfitters’ newest Upper West Side location. It might appear different, but it’s still the same hipster haven you know and love, full of cool-kid standbys like BDG colorful twill cigarette pants ($49), Silence & Noise’s fitted basic blazers ($78) and men’s Standard Issue plaid button-downs ($48). In addition to men’s and women’s clothing, shoes and accessories, the 15,800-square-foot megastore—Urban’s ninth location in Manhattan—will offer nonboring, bold items to decorate your pad, such as streak-dyed ceramic bowls ($8, four for $20) and zigzag-printed velvet pillows ($32).

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Upper West Side

Westsider Rare and Used Books

Bibliophiles should clear their schedules before hitting this bilevel bookshop: Westsider puts every square inch of its limited real estate to use, haphazardly double-shelving gently used tomes from floor to ceiling. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and dig, you’ll unearth some real gems at about half the cover price—the eclectic selection includes everything from photography and art titles to cookbooks and French literature, though the sci-fi, horror and mystery sections are particularly solid. Lazy bones can rifle through the $1 books, $3 VHS tapes and $5 DVDs on shelves outside, though they’ll miss out on the old-school charm of precarious sliding ladders and the intoxicating smell of musty pages indoors. The mezzanine houses rare books, like a signed, leatherbound first edition of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried ($250), plus a random assortment of vintage postcards. A music annex on 72nd Street is just as overstuffed with more than 30,000 rock and jazz LPs, scores and sheet music, books on performance art, and vintage turntables for under $200.

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Upper West Side

Make Meaning

Critics' pick

This arts and crafts hub hosts all-ages classes, birthday parties and walk-in offerings that revolve around six different "experiences": soap, jewelry, paper, candles, glass and ceremaics. The UWS center lets kids do the fun stuff (painting ceramic T-rex figurines, designing pendants), while its experts tackle the messy parts (the kiln firing, the glass slumping). In addition to goodies from Butterfly Bake Shop, an in-house cafe also serves coffee and wine, so you can renew your creative energy. Before leaving, peruse the boutique section—it's stocked with tons of cool arts supplies for kids plus a variety of gifts from independent designers.

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Upper West Side

Maxilla and Mandible

Since opening in 1984, this cramped curiosity shop has served as the nearby American Museum of Natural History’s unofficial (and much cooler) gift store—why settle for a plastic model dinosaur when you can buy a real Megalodon fossil tooth ($12–$200) here? Though Maxilla once dealt exclusively in ancient skeletons—owner Henry Galiano is a paleontologist who operates a dinosaur quarry in Wyoming—the merch has since expanded to include all science-related ephemera, including taxidermy, mounted entomology and seashells. There’s also a dedicated counter for the kind of jewelry that tomboys can appreciate (along the lines of beetle wing earrings and stingray bracelets) and plenty of cheap thrills, including a Cricket Lick-it insect-encased lollipops ($5) and syringe pens ($2).

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Upper West Side

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Featuring 100 artisans and food vendors, the uptown counterpart of the Union Square Holiday Market provides shoppers with a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Adjacent to Central Park, the more intimate bazaar is an eye-popping smorgasbord of handmade crafts and delicious, locally made treats. Pick up unusual and affordable holiday gifts, such as Lineposters’s contemporary New York City screen prints ($28) and Brooklyn Charm envelope pendant necklaces ($28). Foodies will also love sampling comestibles from Mrs. Dorsey's Kitchen and Sigmund Pretzel Shop, among others.

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Upper West Side

Paper House

The perenially cheerful staff at this charming neighborhood stop will guide you through the slew of party basics.

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Upper West Side

Bed Bath & Beyond

Everything you need to stock your home with basics—All Clad pans, map-emblazoned shower curtains, 400 thread-count linens, alarm clocks—is available at these sprawling, sometimes hard-to-navigate emporiums. Don't fret about finding a cab to haul it home: They deliver anywhere in Manhattan (as well as out to Fire Island and the Hamptons during the summer). -Rebecca Messner

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Upper West Side

Gracious Home

Make sure to formulate a plan of action before stepping into any of this minichain’s locations. The sheer volume of stock—from bedding to pots and pans and even holiday decorations—can make you forget why you came here in the first place. Once you’re inside the mazelike Upper East Side flagship that spans almost an entire block, bypass the pricier furniture and lighting sections in favor of well-priced accessories for the bathroom, such as tortoiseshell-printed tissue boxes ($30–$35), discreet bamboo toilet brushes ($25) and subway-map-printed shower curtains ($36). Gracious Home is also an excellent resource for picking up luxe housewarming gifts in a pinch, like beautifully packaged Agraria soaps ($20 each) and yummy Voluspa macaron-scented home sprays ($21).

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Upper West Side

Michaels, UWS

Youngsters love to customize and personalize: The more stuff they can write their names on, the better. At Michaels, kids put their stamp on tote bags, jewelry boxes, scrapbooks, T-shirts…you get the idea. Invitations and all craft materials—puff paints, glitter paints, sequins, felt appliqué—are included in the party price. Parties from $6 to $20 per child, depending on craft.

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Upper West Side

Papyrus

Stationary. A lot of it. In the custom printing section, on-site graphic designers can honor your wishes for letterhead adorned with colored inks, pearlized paper and your fave images. There’s also a letterpress printing service offering exclusive designs for your change-of-address announcements. Of course, you can also pick up personalized basket-weave notebooks ($10–$13), frames ($5–$68) and paperweights ($32) to beautify your desk. Various other locations.

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Upper West Side

Jacques Torres Chocolate

Critics' pick

The third Jacques Torres outpost boasts a small café and a typically bountiful display of chocolate-y treats.

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Upper West Side

Barnes & Noble 82nd & Broadway

Many an author touches down at Barnes & Noble's citywide branches, and the behemoth book chain's Upper West Side branch is particularly notable. Panel discussions and actor readings spotlight new and lesser-known works, such as the first English translation of Brazilian playwright Nelson Rodrigues's oeuvre.

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Upper West Side

Berkley Girl

With Miley Cyrus on the speakers and racks full of pint-size designer duds—many of them from adult favorites like Ella Moss, Splendid, and T-Bags—it’s easy to see why this posh Upper West Side spot is a favorite among budding fashionistas. Lucky for those of us who can legally drink, Berkley Girl also offers a surprisingly good selection of affordable, not-too-cutesy accessories that appeal to (and fit!) gals of all ages. Scour the sleek shelves that line the space for uptown-style goodies, like edgy headbands featuring roses made from exposed zippers ($15) and Briati sterling silver initial pendant necklaces ($55). Or pick one of Pixel Moda’s irresistibly light silicon digital watches in a rainbow of colors (the OPS! style even comes in cocktail scents like Mojito, $20–$38). As for the solid array of cold-weather accessories, Nirvana Designs wool mohair cable-knit mittens ($27), Hat Attack rabbit-fur earmuffs ($42) and perfectly preppy striped knit beanie hats from Ralph Lauren ($35) have us looking forward to Jack Frost.

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Upper West Side

Stoopher & Boots

“Eclectic, happy, soothing and non-brand-focused” are the words owner Stephanie Goldstein uses to describe her Upper West Side gift shop, which at first glance looks like a child’s playroom. A chalkboard wall, coloring books and cubbyholes packed with toys scream kiddiefest. And while the 650-square-foot boutique is definitely a go-to for handmade children’s clothing and games, it also sells hip messenger totes ($38), mod lamps ($88), artsy wall clocks ($64), yummy-looking cupcake bath fizzies ($4–$8) and all-natural soy and essential oil candles ($24).

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Upper West Side

The Metropolitan Musuem of Art Store

Some of the most interesting treats and gifts come from museum shops and the Met is no slouch in its class. Get wall hangings, desk trinkets, home decor and arty jewlery at locations throughout the city. Seasonal and exhibit related items are constantly rotating through the stock.

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Inwood

L'Occitane

The natural beauty of Provence is packed into every product at this standby beauty chain. Lavender, olive, verbena and shea are just a few of the fine ingredients in the hundreds of sampleable skin remedies lining the shelves, not to mention essential oils, the use of which makes shopping for and using L'Occitane products a mood-altering olfactory experience.

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Upper West Side

Papyrus

Stationary. A lot of it. In the custom printing section, on-site graphic designers can honor your wishes for letterhead adorned with colored inks, pearlized paper and your fave images. There’s also a letterpress printing service offering exclusive designs for your change-of-address announcements. Of course, you can also pick up personalized basket-weave notebooks ($10–$13), frames ($5–$68) and paperweights ($32) to beautify your desk. Various other locations.

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Upper West Side

Pottery Barn

What started as a single store in lower Manhattan in 1949 has since become a household name. Stop in for braided rugs (starting at $79), organic sheet sets (from $129), picture frames (starting at $19) and everything else you could possibly need to make your space feel like home.

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Upper West Side

By Invitation Only Designs

Former art director and party planner Phyllis Roth offers loads of template books along with custom designs, catering to any style and occasion. Check out the lineup of graceful monogrammed notes for engagement declarations and modernist bar mitzvah announcements (average $1,000). Roth will also dole out discounts on comparable styles offered at other stationers.

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Upper West Side

Giggle

A stroller parking lot, an iPod listening station, an in-store changing table and weekly storytimes are just a few of the nifty amenities at these everything-for-baby spots. Be sure to check out the blankets, mobiles, bibs (we're particularly fond of the creations from Dwell Baby) and booties.

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Upper West Side

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