14 Things for Fashionistas to Do in New York City
AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller
New York City is one of the top travel destinations in the United States because it has a little something for everyone, including fashionistas. Every February and September, the city fills with designers and their models as they showcase their latest designs during Fashion Week. Year-round, there’s great shopping and plenty of iconic places for fashion lovers to visit.
Whether you’re visiting during New York Fashion Week or any other week, here’s a curated list of fashion things to do in New York; just toss it in your Vuitton bag and hit the streets in this mecca for fashionistas.
Table of Contents
- What to do in the Garment District in NYC
- Fashion Museums in NYC
- Shopping in NYC
- Fashion Things to do in New York City During Fashion Week
What to Do in the Garment District NYC
Your first stop as a fashionista should be the Garment District, also called the Fashion District, where you’ll find plenty of things to do. It’s 21 blocks (bordered by Sixth Avenue, Ninth Avenue, 35th Street and 40th Street) and includes showrooms for major brands, pop-up shops for up-and-coming brands and stores that sell textiles and notions to designers.
1. Walk the Fashion Walk of Fame
As you walk down the east side of Fashion Avenue (aka Seventh Avenue) between 35th Street and 41st Street, look down at the sidewalks. Here’s where you’ll find the Fashion Walk of Fame, 28 round bronze plaques paying homage to designers like Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan and Norman Norell. Each plaque includes a sketch of one of the designer’s designs, a brief biography and their signature.
If you want to take pictures of the plaques, it’s best to do so when there’s less foot traffic to avoid bumping into people. The best times are from noon to 3 p.m. and after 6:30 p.m.
2. Look Up at the Button & Needle Sculpture
When you’re near the Fashion Center Information Kiosk at Seventh Avenue and 39th Street, look up—you’ll see an Instagram-worthy sculpture of a 15-foot yellow button threaded with a 31-foot needle.
The original sculpture was part of the Fashion Center Information Kiosk, which was removed in 2022. The once-black button is now yellow in a nod to the iconic NYC taxi, and the button’s five holes form the letter F.
3. Shop for Textiles With the Design Pros
If you’re an aspiring designer or just love to make your own clothes, the Garment District has plenty of iconic textile stores for you to check out.
- Mood Designer Fabrics: Whether you’re looking for fabrics or just want to pet Swatch, the dog made famous by Project Runway, you don’t want to miss shopping at Mood. You may see a few Project Runway alums, and there are literally hundreds of fabrics to choose from at any price point (located at 225 W. 37th St. on the third floor).
- M&J Trimming: If you need ribbons, buckles, buttons or other embellishments (or just want a unique New York fashion souvenir), hit up M&J Trimming. Established in 1936, this store has it all in colorful floor-to-ceiling displays filled with every type of notion you could imagine located at 1008 Sixth Ave).
Other popular shops include B&J Fabrics, ABC Fabrics and Lou Lou Buttons.
4. Take a Shopping Tour
There are so many showrooms, pop-up shops and other stores in the Garment District that it can be a little overwhelming. Instead, schedule a shopping tour to help you hit all the best ones. Group and private tours are available, so you can get a personalized experience based on your style and budget.
5. Take an Instagram Photo with The Garment Worker
On Seventh Avenue, you’ll find a bronze statue of a man in a yarmulke sitting at an old-fashioned sewing machine. The 8-foot statue commemorates all the Jewish and immigrant garment workers from the early 1900s. The creator, Judith Weller, based the statue on her father, who worked in the garment industry in the mid-1900s.
Fashion Museums in NYC
New York City has long been associated with fashion, whether it’s the garment industry or iconic fashion events like the Met Gala. Celebrate that long history at one of the city’s many museums that showcase fashion as art.
6. Explore the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Address: 1000 Fifth Ave.
- Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Wednesday: closed
General Admission: $30 with discounts available for special groups
If you only have time to make one stop during your trip, make it here; it’s de rigueur for fashionistas. Named for Vogue’s editor-in-chief, the Anna Wintour Costume Center of the Met is world-renowned for exhibits like Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations and Punk: Chaos to Couture. In the spring of 2023, the exhibition's theme was Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. You’ll have to plan ahead for this stop—to protect the textiles, the collection is not open to the public year-round, although designers, students and scholars can schedule private appointments.
If you can time it right, witness the Met Gala, held the first Monday in May, where stars of film and song try to outdo each other with outrageous fashions—to wit, Sarah Jessica Parker’s 2006 tartan ensemble by Alexander McQueen (or any of SJP’s Met Gala dresses, for that matter).
7. Wander the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Address: 227 West 27th St.
- Wednesday through Friday: Noon to 8 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Although small in square footage in comparison to other museums, the Museum at FIT has more than 50,000 garments and accessories spanning the past 250 years in its collection. Exhibitions always include historical and modern avant-garde fashion in the mix. They’ve recently explored such topics as Fairy Tale Fashion; Global Fashion Capitals; and Denim: Fashion’s Frontier. MFIT also holds fashion-related events, so if you time your visit right, you may see your favorite designer participating in panel discussions and symposiums. Admission is usually free to exhibits and lectures, so you’ll have more cash for shopping.
8. View the Costume & Textiles Collection at the Museum of the City of New York
Address: 1220 Fifth Ave.
- Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Friday through Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $20 with discounts for special groups
The Costume & Textiles Collection at the Museum of the City of New York houses more than 25,000 pieces that capture New York’s unique sense of style. Many of the garments in the collection were worn by real people and reflect the work of the city’s garment industry, bringing New York’s history to life.
The museum often runs thematic fashion exhibitions based on its permanent collection, so check back frequently to see something new.
Shopping in New York
There are a few iconic places every fashionista needs to shop if they want to be considered the real deal, and New York City is one of them. New York has everything from thrift stores to designer showcases to brand flagship stores.
9. Go Thrifting
Skip big-name stores; you’ll find those in Anytown USA. Instead, try thrift shops and places like Topshop, a trendy London store with several locations in New York, including one in SoHo and on Fifth Avenue. Head to La Boutique Resale, where you’ll run across designer duds for uber-cheap or Metropolis in the East Village for vintage concert tees and hipster chic.
At the Upper West Side’s Goodwill Thrift Shop, scoop up slightly used designer duds. For discounted brand-new clothing, check out Century 21, an outlet-style store overflowing with swoon-worthy goodies.
10. Visit Iconic Flagship Stores
A flagship store is the primary location for a specific brand, and it’s usually either the brand’s first storefront or its largest or most popular location. While there are flagship stores all over New York City, most are located on Fifth Avenue or in SoHo or the Meatpacking District.
Macy’s is perhaps the most iconic flagship store in New York City, thanks to its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you’re in town the weekend before Thanksgiving, walk by the Macy’s storefront to see the beautiful holiday window displays before the crowds hit. The store is not only Macy’s biggest location, it’s also the largest department store in America, with 2,100 square feet spread over 10 floors.
Definitely stop in at Saks Fifth Avenue, the store that made Fifth Avenue famous for shopping. Shop top designers, luxury beauty products and more. If you can, walk by the storefront at night to see the building’s outdoor lights.
Other famous flagship stores to check out while you’re in New York include:
- Apple Fifth Ave
- Prada New York Fifth Avenue
- Cartier Store Fifth Avenue
- Adidas Flagship Store New York City
- Nike SoHo
Fashion Things To Do in New York During Fashion Week
Fashion Week NYC means there’s always a fashion show happening. But there’s more to do than just sit at runway shows.
11. Catch a Show (or Two) During New York Fashion Week
Tickets to New York Fashion Week are hard to come by, but even if you don’t have one, you can catch the excitement just by being a bystander. After all, there’s a chance you might bump into a celeb or supermodel. Instagram ops abound, so don’t forget your camera and/or cellphone. Dress to kill and up your chances of getting street-styled (having a blogger or photographer take your pic and share it on social media). Afterward, head to bars like Top of the Standard in Chelsea, where models and celebs party through the night.
12. Stay at the Hilton New York Fashion District
Address: 152 W. 26th St.
AAA designation: Three Diamond, 2022 Inspector’s Best
AAA member benefit: Save up to 10 percent and earn Honors points when booking AAA rates
Stay in the Garment District, the epicenter of Manhattan’s fashion industry. Check into the AAA Three Diamond Hilton New York Fashion District, which is bound to suit any fashionista’s fancy. The hotel lobby’s décor features a Mondrian-style artwork made of spools of thread in primary colors, chic mannequins in the front window and mirrors in assorted sizes surrounding the elevators. Sophisticated guest rooms are like a smartly assembled ensemble, done in dark neutrals and accented with white linens, pinstriped carpet, whimsical polka-dot wallpaper and artsy black-and-white photos of thread-wrapped bobbins.
13. Take an On Location Tour
Broadway & 51st St.
If fun things to do with friends are on your agenda, step into Carrie Bradshaw’s Manolo Blahniks on a New York City walking tour and discover many of the sites where HBO’s “Sex and The City” was filmed. On Location Tours will take you and your gal pals on a whirlwind cosmo-sipping, cupcake-eating, location-scouting tour of many of the hot spots frequented by Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, including the stoop at Carrie’s brownstone, Greenwich Village shops and Steve and Aidan’s bar. You’ll also get the skinny about the girls’ favorite boutiques in one of the fashion capitals of the world.
14. Look for Free Fashion Week Events
You can be a part of Fashion Week New York even if you can’t afford a ticket. Each year, a few select Fashion Week events are free and open to the public. For example, in 2023, Dreamland Fashion Week in Central Park set the record for the largest attendance at a fashion show with its open-to-the-public fashion show with at least 3,000 people in attendance.
Some brands may also set up pop-up shops with free exhibitions documenting their history or host open-to-the-public events. Pay attention to social media for great opportunities to celebrate Fashion Week without depleting your bank account.
You can also hang out at rooftop bars or popular restaurants and spy on a celebrity or model grabbing a drink.
Plan Your New York Fashion Week Trip With AAA
New York has plenty of attractions for everyone, and planning a trip that pleases the entire family can be tricky whether you’re staying for three days or three weeks. Use Trip Canvas to plan your dream trip and book it with your local AAA agent. Use your AAA membership for exclusive deals and pack more fashion fun into your stay.
AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller
AAA Travel Editor Patricia Miller is an AAA Travel Expert.