Looking for the best souvenirs from NYC? This local has you covered.
I’ve called the Big Apple home for 8+ years and have received and/or gifted every souvenir under the sun. In that time, I’ve expertly honed in my (personal) list of the best NYC souvenirs to get for folks.
I wanted to share my list of the best New York City souvenir ideas to help you spend less time shopping and more time exploring. I’m not one for small talk, so let’s get to the list of the best souvenirs from New York City. Hope you enjoy!
Best spots to buy New York City souvenirs
It won’t take long to notice that Times Square is peppered with souvenir shops on every corner. And while these are great spots to buy souvenirs in New York City (especially when you’re in a pinch), I find them overwhelming.
Between the bright lights and thousands of nick-knacks vying for your attention, it’s hard to last longer than five minutes before feeling overstimulated. But don’t get me wrong, these stores are some of the best spots to get quick and cheap souvenirs from NYC, so they’re worth a visit when you’re in a bind.
However, if you have more time then I suggest going elsewhere. There’s the five places that I love buying NYC souvenirs from:
The Strand Bookstore
The Strand Bookstore has an entire section devoted to interesting souvenirs like mugs (I’ve had mine for 8 years), journals, key chains, totes and photo books. Not only will you find some of the best New York City souvenirs here, but you will also be visiting one of the most iconic bookstores in NYC. Hard not to love that.
The New York Transit Museum Store
The New York Transit Museum Store is an underrated gem and I’m hesitant to write about it because I want it to stay that way. But I’d be doing you a disservice by keeping it a secret because they sell some of the best souvenirs in New York City. Expect to find everything from epic subways maps, transit toys and other iconic metro-inspired garb.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store (The Met)
Admittedly, the New York City souvenirs sold at the Met store are more expensive than the other two options mentioned above, but if budget isn’t a concern — this store has you covered. You’ll find some of the most unique NYC souvenirs and gifts that are sure to delight your family and friends.
The MoMA Design Store
The MoMA Design Store is one of my favorite places to pick up NYC souvenirs, I especially love the location in SoHO. Like the souvenirs at the Met store, these won’t come cheap, but goodness, if budget isn’t a concern then you’re guaranteed to find some of the most interesting souvenirs from New York City.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting NYC during the holidays (it’s magical, everyone should do this at lease once), then you’re in for a treat. There’s a plethora of great holiday markets that sell some of the best souvenirs in New York City and should not be missed!
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Best Souvenirs from New York City
I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I won’t ever dare ask that question.Dylan Thomas
#1. Foolproof souvenir from New York City: The classic Yankees baseball cap
When you visit NYC it’s inevitable that you will see thousands of NY Yankees baseball caps bopping along the sidewalk. The reason? You can find them for sale on almost every tourist hub in NYC — Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, etc. and they’re usually very affordable.
What’s more, these popular NYC souvenirs are not reserved solely for tourists, I own three myself! The Yankees ball cap is synonymous with the Big Apple and I’ve seen these hats worn all over the world. To that end, what better way to remember your trip to NYC than with the most classic souvenir from New York City?
#2. Simple NYC souvenir idea: An iconic coffee cup
Do you know anyone that doesn’t start their morning with a cup of coffee or tea? Me either. Why not gift them a souvenir from New York City that they’ll see on a daily basis?
But not all mugs are created equal, far from it! I highly recommend getting the iconic “we are happy to serve you” mug that is unique to New York City, which you’ve probably seen in movies and shows based in New York.
An iconic mug like this is the perfect souvenir for a friend or even yourself. I’m embarrassed to admit that my NYC mug collection is 12 mugs strong, but what can I say? I can’t get enough.
#3. Best souvenir from New York for coworkers: Statue of Liberty or Taxi
You probably have at least one coworker that loves New York City as much as you do, right? Well, why not pick up a simple souvenir from New York to share with them. It’s a tiny effort that will make them feel special without costing an arm and a leg.
For an affordable NYC souvenir idea, I suggest a little Statue of Liberty figurine or an iconic yellow taxi toy car. It’s an easy souvenir to keep on a desk and doesn’t take up much space, making it an easy win-win!
I get out of the taxi and it’s probably the only city which in reality looks better than on the postcards, New York.Milos Forman
#4. Best NYC souvenir for kids: LEGOS
How many cities have an entire toy store dedicated to LEGOs? If you’re visiting New York City with a young one in tow, swinging by the LEGO Flagship store is non-negotiable. This epic toy store is what dreams are made of! Think impressive life-sized LEGO creations and fascinating decor.
The store is located in the heart of Midtown, right across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in New York City — making it an easy stop while exploring the Big Apple.
In terms of best NYC souvenirs for kids, I suggest picking up this EPIC Lego set of the NYC skyline.
You might enjoy reading: 15 Exciting New York City Toy Stores Guaranteed to Inspire Your Inner Child.
#5. The Classic New York City Tote
Confession time, folks. I currently own 15 totes and more than half of them are NYC-themed. I love a good tote bag and make it a point to use them when grocery shopping or running errands (we only have one planet, right?). Out of town visitors would often remark at how cute some of my NYC totes were so I started giving them out as souvenirs from New York.
Turns out they’re a big hit! Based on the reception received, I’m pinching myself for not thinking of this NYC souvenir idea earlier! If helpful, this exact tote is, by far, the most complimented tote I own (and the one folks love to receive most).
#6. NYC Homesick Candle
Not every visitor leaves NYC missing the smells, but those that call the city home find it nostalgic. NYC isn’t a clean city by any means, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best places in the world.
So if you love NYC and the (pleasant) smells that come with it, I highly recommend the NYC homesick candle, it’s always a hit!
New York City candle scent description: The distinctive scents of spring days in Central Park, fine department stores, and concrete capture the energy of the greatest city on earth
#7. New York City luggage tag
This is one of those practical souvenirs from New York City that I keep reaching for without realizing. NYC’s yellow taxi and metrocard are some of most recognizable items from the Big Apple and every time I catch a glimpse of this sturdy luggage tag, I’m always reminded of home.
#8. Best NYC souvenir for the die-hard New Yorker: Pretty City New York
If you have someone that’s hard to shop for but loves New York, I suggest picking up one of the best photo books of New York City. This book is chock-full of inspirational and charming photos, making it a thoughtful souvenir from New York City that is sure to impress.
The reason I consider this a foolproof souvenir from NYC is because I’ve come across this gift in people’s homes after gifting it to them. My sister keeps it in her office and my friend uses it as a coffee table book.
Grab a copy of this great New York City souvenir: Pretty City New York
Bonus: New York City in Stride
New York City in Stride is yet another beautiful book about the Big Apple. Full of stunning illustrations and helpful descriptions of notable places in NYC, this is one of my favorite books to keep around the house. I enjoy perusing the pages when I have free time and find myself reaching for it before heading somewhere new.
Interested? You can pick up a copy of New York City in Stride here.
“But there is one thing about it—once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”―John Steinbeck
#9. Best Edible Souvenir from New York City
Personally speaking, there’s nothing I love more than an edible souvenir from New York City (one of the best food cities in the world!).
My go to edible souvenirs from NYC are either cookies from Levain Bakery (considered the best cookies in the world) or the unbelievable chocolate babka from Breads Bakery. These souvenirs are also well received by my family and friends and they often request them on subsequent visits — which tells you everything you need to know.
#10. A stamp from Casey’s Rubber Stamps
A unique New York City souvenir that is sure to evoke a memory of your time in the Big Apple is an iconic stamp from Casey’s Rubber Stamps. This small business in the East Village has been running for more than 40 years and is filled with floor to ceiling shelves of custom handmade stamps.
Casey’s also offers to make custom stamps, which means you can commission a stamp you’ve had your heart set on but haven’t found. I have a manhole cover stamp and although I can’t say it serves a daily purpose, it still never fails to bring me joy.
#11. New York Snow Globe
Staying in line with the holiday themed souvenirs from New York City, I also suggest the classic snow globe. Now before all the millennials come after me saying snow globes are nothing but a icon of 90’s sitcoms and that nobody actually has uses them, allow me to introduce you to my mother.
The first time I visited the city and asked what she wanted me to bring back for her, without missing a beat, she asked for a snow globe. I feel confident in saying somebody in your life would enjoy the nostalgia associated with this cheesy but beloved New York City souvenir.
Worst case scenario you end up with a paper weight that has the greatest city in the world encapsulated, and that doesn’t sound too bad to me.
#12. Swag from the NBC Store
Gift shops in New York City are a dime a dozen but some shine brighter than others. On the bottom floor of the Rockefeller center you’ll find an NBC studios gift shop with has some of the best NYC souvenirs. You can sit on a mock set of the Today show and shop for all the traditional NYC-inspired merch. You’ll find trinkets of your favorite NBC shows like Friends and The Office.
Local’s Tip: If you plan your trip with enough time in advance you can sign up to attend a filming of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. You might be lucky enough to catch a t-shirt they throw into the audience or even shake his hand. (I did and they were very soft).
#13. New York City T-Shirt
Aside from the typical I ❤️ New York shirt everyone thinks of as souvenirs there’s a plethora of wearable attire that pays homage to NYC. You can find shirts that have subway prints, photos of the Notorious B.I.G. or the Empire State Building in various shops across New York City.
My suggestion however would be to stop by Uniqlo and pick up a collab piece, which they release seasonally. My favorite collaboration to date was the one with Jason Polan, an artist whose doodle captured the simple beauties of New York City.
#14. Custom New York Times Anniversary Book
There aren’t many brands quite as widely recognized as the New York Times and now you can have a piece of their history. NYT is offering an anniversary book in which you get to pick a date, then they will create a book containing all the published front pages on that anniversary from said date until the present.
It’s a great piece for a coffee table, office or bookshelf. Through the lens of the most iconic newspaper in the world located here in New York City, you get to see the events that shape our world one year at a time.
#15. Christmas Ornament
Want to be reminded of your visit to New York City on an annual basis? Look no further than this creative New York souvenir and pick up a beautiful Christmas ornament.
Remember how I mentioned the holiday markets in NYC earlier? Well, those are typically the best spots to pick up this beloved NYC souvenir. But if you’re not visiting during the holiday you’ll still be able to find Christmas ornaments at museum stores and souvenir shops.
#16. NYC Throw Blanket
Some people collect mugs (*raises hand). Some people collect coins (*lowers hand). The sophisticated collect throw blankets (*not sure what to do with hand). When in a pinch this is my go-to New York City souvenir if I’m trying to impress because it’s hard to go wrong with it.
You can find a variety of New York throw blankets online or in shops around the city. You will be able to find typical prints like maps and taxis but you also can find blankets printed with New York sports teams or merch for local shops.
#17. Katz Delicatessen Package
There are few souvenirs from New York City better than a bite of Katz Deli’s pastrami and we’re in luck because they offer care packages. You can order a birthday package, a Katz’s Superbox or a “Taste of New York” box and get free shipping nationwide for orders over $100. Whether you’re from NYC and away for the moment or find yourself at home months after a visit, Katz Deli has you covered.
#18. Phone Case
According to Business Insider 91% of iPhone users keep a case on their phones. Hence a New York City themed phone case is a great gift since it’s so practical and widely employed.
I once saw a street vendor with a phone case that had JFK airport boarding pass and I still regret not buying it to this day. Even if you can’t find a case to suit your needs a lot of shops will print custom ones, so find your favorite picture of your trip and have it made!
#19. NYU Hoodie
NYU swag is a great souvenir for those visiting New York City. Although I’m not an alum I have a few workout pieces that I love to wear daily. I gifted my sister a sweatshirt even though she attended a university on the west coast.
My favorite piece is a purple hoodie that I wear absolutely everywhere. NYU has a shop right outside of Washington Square Park which makes it easy to swing by when you’re in the area.
#20. New York City Tattoo
Why not make your New York City souvenir somewhat more, permanent? Some people, myself included, feel like New York City is made especially for them and want to carry the memories of the city around wherever they go. Body modifications are more common than ever so my final NYC souvenir idea is something you better be damn sure about because you’ll be taking it with you everywhere you go.
If you’re a diehard New Yorker at heart, have a go at a tattoo while you’re in town! If you’re more of a minimalist a little Statue of Liberty on your wrist might suit just fine. Whether you add color or leave it black and white, you can feel the magic of New York City every time you look at it.
Roundup of the best New York City souvenirs
- Yankees Cap
- The most iconic cup in NYC
- Statue of Liberty
- Lego set
- NYC themed tote
- Homesick candle
- Metro card luggage tote
- Pretty City New York
- Cookies from Levain
- NYC Christmas ornament
- NYC snow globe
- NBC store merch
- NYC t-shirt
- New York Times anniversary book
- Casey’s Rubber Stamps
- Throw blanket
- Katz Delicatessen package
- Phone case
- NYU Hoodie
- NYC Tattoo
Map of where to get the best souvenirs from NYC
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