Best Souvenirs To Buy in NYC

Best Souvenirs To Buy in NYC featured image

Wondering what mementos to bring back from your New York City adventure? Finding the best souvenirs to buy in NYC can be as overwhelming as the city itself, with its endless shopping options and iconic memorabilia.

This guide is here to navigate you through the bustling streets of New York to discover the most memorable and unique keepsakes that the city has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Uncover a curated list of quintessential NYC souvenirs that capture the essence of the Big Apple, from classic I ❤️ NY tees to artisanal finds.
  • Learn where to find these treasures, whether it's the historic shops of Greenwich Village or the bustling stalls of Times Square.
  • Get tips on how to select souvenirs that are as special and diverse as New York City itself, ensuring you return home with pieces that truly represent your experience.

Whether you're looking for something distinctly New York for yourself or gifts that will delight your loved ones, this guide promises to equip you with all you need to make those perfect picks.

Continue reading to discover the best souvenirs to buy in NYC that will keep the city's magic alive long after you've returned home.

The 10 Best Souvenirs To Buy In NYC

Ah, New York - the Big Apple, arguably the most renowned city across the globe, and now, you're about to set foot in this urban marvel.

But if you're anything like me, capturing memories extends beyond the realm of snapping picturesque photos. No, we yearn for something more tangible, artifacts that embody the very soul of the places we visit.

These are not mere objects but treasures that, when displayed in our sanctuaries, allow us to revisit those cherished moments or contribute to an ever-expanding collection of mementos from around the world, and now its time to add to our ever growing collection with a gift from one of the United States most famous cities.

So here's a curated list of the top souvenirs to buy in NYC and what makes them so special:

1. I ❤️ NY T-Shirt

I love NY T-Shirt

The "I ❤️ NY" t-shirt stands as perhaps the quintessential emblem of New York City. This iconic design was conceived by Milton Glaser for the Wells Rich Greene advertising agency as part of a broader initiative to bolster tourism during a challenging era for the city.

The creation of this emblematic logo—sketched spontaneously on a piece of paper during a taxi ride—was initially expected by Glaser to have a lifespan of only a few months.

Contrary to these modest expectations, the "I ❤️ NY" symbol transcended its promotional origins, evolving into a cultural icon.

Today, it is celebrated as one of the most universally recognized and emulated designs, a testament to the enduring allure and resilience of New York City. With a rich history like that, can you really afford to go to New York and not return with an ‘I ❤️ NY’ shirt?

2. Statue of Liberty Replicas

Statue of Liberty Replica

Visiting Rio de Janeiro, you might bring home a Christ the Redeemer statuette; in Agra, a miniature Taj Mahal is a must; and in London, a tiny Elizabeth Tower (perhaps what you refer to as ‘Big Ben’, the biggest clock inside.) makes the perfect memento.

Similarly, when in New York, it's almost a rite of passage to acquire a replica of the Statue of Liberty—one of the most iconic and universally recognized monuments in the world.

The Statue of Liberty stands as a towering symbol of freedom and democracy on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

A gift from France to the United States in 1886, in celebration of America's 100th anniversary of independence, this magnificent neoclassical sculpture was crafted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, with its sturdy metal framework masterminded by Gustave Eiffel.

Throughout the decades, it has emerged as a symbol of hope and a beacon of welcome to immigrants arriving from distant shores.

A fascinating detail about the Statue of Liberty is its transformative color palette. Not always the vibrant green we recognize today, the statue originally boasted the dull hue of copper, similar to that of a fresh penny.

This transformation is the result of an oxidation process, where the copper reacted with the moist, marine air of New York Harbor, gradually developing the green patina that now acts as both a protective layer and a symbol of the statue's enduring legacy. So if you see a copper coloured replica on your journey and wonder why, well wonder no more!

3. Broadway Memorabilia

Broadway Memorabilia

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Embarking on a journey through New York's illustrious Broadway district is like stepping into a living tapestry of theatrical history.

With its origins stretching back to the early 18th century, Broadway has long been the heart and soul of American theater, evolving from a humble collection of theaters in downtown Manhattan to the dazzling, neon-lit epicenter of live entertainment known worldwide.

It's here that iconic shows have debuted, careers have been made, and the very essence of performance art has been redefined time and again.

For the theater enthusiast or the casual visitor alike, bringing back a piece of Broadway Memorabilia is akin to holding a fragment of this rich history in your hands.

From playbills of groundbreaking performances to posters of iconic productions or tickets themselves, each item serves as a tangible connection to the magic of the stage.

Collectible items might also include limited edition cast recordings, intricately designed merchandise from current shows, or even autographed scripts and photographs of Broadway stars.

These souvenirs not only capture the spirit of Broadway but also serve as cherished reminders of a unique New York experience, allowing you to relive the grandeur and excitement of live theater with every glance.

4. Magnets

Big Apple New York Souvenir

Ok so maybe not the most exciting of ideas, but purchasing a magnet as a souvenir from New York City is a delightful and practical way to commemorate your visit to this iconic metropolis.

NYC magnets, in their vibrant and compact form, capture the essence of the city's landmarks, culture, and unforgettable experiences in a way that is both accessible and enduring and displaying magnets from various countries or cities on your fridge is a visually striking and constant reminder of your global adventures, keeping those cherished memories alive and at the forefront of your consciousness every day.

5. Subway Tokens and MetroCards

Subway Token NYC

The New York City subway system, steeped in history and significance, presents a distinctive souvenir choice: from the now-retired Metro Tokens to the contemporary MetroCards.

Launching in 1904, the subway has been an emblem of the city's vibrant pace and essential infrastructure. Initially, tokens provided access to this underground network, but since April 13, 2003, the MetroCard has been the sole key to navigate the city's transit system.

Owning either the classic token or the modern MetroCard offers more than just a memento; it forges a deep connection with the soul of New York City.

These items are not merely tokens of travel; they are relics of daily life for countless New Yorkers through the ages.

They capture the spirit of the city's ongoing narrative, linking you directly to its pulsating heart and its relentless march forward.

6. New York Yankees Cap

New York Yankees Cap

The New York Yankees are one of the most storied franchises in Major League Baseball (MLB) and, by extension, in all of American sports history.

Founded in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles, the team moved to New York City in 1903 and was renamed the New York Highlanders before finally becoming the Yankees in 1913.

Over the decades, the Yankees have become synonymous with baseball excellence, winning 27 World Series championships—a record in the sport.

The team's iconic logo, the interlocking "NY," is recognized globally, making Yankees merchandise, especially the cap, a coveted item. The Yankees cap is not just a piece of sports apparel; it's a symbol of New York City's culture, resilience, and ambition.

It represents a winning spirit and a connection to a team that has featured legendary players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and many more.

Of course you can buy a New York Yankees cap anywhere but purchasing a Yankees cap as a souvenir during a trip to the Big Apple allows you to carry a piece of New York's rich sports heritage with you directly from the source.

It's a stylish and functional item that connects you to the city's history and its passionate love affair with baseball.

Whether you're a die-hard sports fan or simply looking for a fashionable keepsake, a Yankees cap is a tangible reminder of your New York City experience, embodying the spirit of one of the city's most beloved institutions.

7. New York City Cab Replica

New York City Taxi Car Model

New York City's Yellow Cabs are as iconic as the skyline itself, a symbol of the bustling metropolis known worldwide. The story of these taxis began in the early 20th century, with the first gas-powered taxi cabs hitting the streets in 1907.

By 1912, the city had introduced regulations to standardize taxis, which eventually led to the bright yellow colour we recognize today.

This decision was made in the 1960s by New York City taxi commissioner John Hertz, who, after a study from the University of Chicago, concluded that yellow was the most noticeable colour from a distance, thus making it easier for potential passengers to spot the cabs.

Over the decades, yellow cabs have become intertwined with New York City's identity, featured in countless movies, TV shows, and photographs, symbolizing the city's constant motion and energy.

They've carried millions of New Yorkers and visitors alike, from everyday commutes to life-changing moments, making them a witness to the city's history.

A replica of a New York City taxi is a fantastic souvenir for several reasons. First, it's a piece of the city's hustle and bustle that you can take home with you. It represents the fast-paced lifestyle and the diverse, never-sleeping nature of the city.

Secondly, it's a universally recognized symbol of New York, making it an instantly identifiable memento of your travels.

Lastly, it carries with it stories of the countless passengers and drivers who have traversed the city, making it not just a model of a car, but a vessel of human experiences and the spirit of New York City itself.

Whether displayed on a shelf, a desk, or given as a gift, a replica yellow cab is a small reminder of the big city that dreams are made of. And after all, you’ll probably be taking one!

8. Books or Something Else from Strand Bookstore

The Strand Bookstore, a legendary independent bookstore located in the heart of New York City, near Union Square, is a paradise for book lovers and a landmark of literary culture.

Opened in 1927 by Benjamin Bass on Fourth Avenue's famous Book Row, The Strand has withstood the test of time and the digital age, flourishing as a beacon for readers, writers, and tourists alike.

Its motto, "18 miles of books," reflects the vast collection of new, used, and rare books that fill its shelves, offering something for everyone across every conceivable genre.

A souvenir from The Strand isn't just an item; it's a piece of New York's rich cultural tapestry. The store's famous tote bags, adorned with its iconic logo, are more than just a means to carry books; they're a symbol of the city's intellectual and artistic vibrancy.

For book enthusiasts, a first edition or a rare find from The Strand is a treasured possession, a tangible connection to the literary world's past and present.

Even for those less inclined towards reading, The Strand offers a range of memorabilia, including quirky stationery, apparel, and accessories, making it the perfect place to find a unique gift or keepsake.

Shopping at The Strand is an experience in itself, a journey through a maze of books that feels like stepping into another world.

It's a reminder of the joy of discovery, the pleasure of holding a physical book, and the conversations that can spring from a shared love of reading. 

A souvenir from The Strand carries with it the spirit of exploration, the love of knowledge, and the essence of New York City's never-ending story. Whether for yourself or as a gift for a fellow book lover, it's a meaningful way to bring a piece of the city's literary heart home.

9. New York City Snow Globe

Mini New York City Snow Globe

New York City Snow Globes encapsulate the magic and allure of the city in a way few other souvenirs can. These charming keepsakes offer a miniature, whimsical view of the iconic skyline, landmarks, and sometimes even the bustling streets of New York, all within a serene, snowy setting.

With a gentle shake, the snowflakes dance around the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, or a quaint depiction of Central Park, transforming the globe into a mesmerizing, wintry scene that captures the imagination.

Snow globes are a popular choice for many because they serve as both a decorative item and a nostalgic memento.

They can instantly transport you back to the time of your visit, reminding you of the vibrant energy, the dazzling lights, and the unforgettable experiences New York City offers.

Each globe tells a story, whether it's of a first trip to the city, a special moment shared with loved ones, or even a dream of future adventures in the Big Apple.

Moreover, New York City snow globes are a testament to the city's status as a global icon, celebrated in films, literature, and art throughout the years.

Owning one is like having a piece of that iconic imagery in your home, a small tribute to the city's enduring charm and appeal. They appeal to all ages, making them perfect gifts for friends and family or a cherished keepsake for yourself.

In a world where digital memories fade into the background of our devices, a snow globe stands out as a tangible reminder of travels and adventures.

It's a piece of the city that you can hold in your hand, a timeless souvenir that evokes a sense of wonder and nostalgia long after you've returned home.

10. Lego New York City Set

LEGO Architecture New York City

So, you've conquered the concrete jungle, braved the Broadway crowds, and snagged that perfect slice of pizza. You’ve already gotten yourself the snow globes, the "I ❤️ NY" t-shirt and everything else on the list, so what is there left to get?

If you’re the architectural type, why not consider the NYC LEGO set: a miniature metropolis that lets you rebuild the city skyline, brick by glorious brick. 

In addition to its appeal to builders, the set serves as a stylish and modern memento that can decorate a home or office, sparking conversations and evoking memories of New York City's dynamic skyline.

It stands as a testament to the creativity and innovation that the city inspires, making it a special souvenir that captures the spirit of New York in a unique and personal way and if you’re not so good at building at least you’ll have a story to tell when you explain why your new lamp is shaped suspiciously like the Empire State Building.

Shopping Tips for Souvenir Hunting in NYC

When it comes to shopping for souvenirs in New York City, the experience can be as memorable as the keepsakes you bring home. However, navigating the bustling streets and countless shops can be overwhelming.

Here are some essential tips to make your souvenir shopping in NYC more enjoyable and fruitful.

1. Timing is Everything

  • Avoid Peak Hours: Try to shop during weekday mornings or late afternoons when stores are less crowded to avoid the hustle and bustle. This way, you can browse at your own pace, get better servive and maybe have the time to really dive deep into a store to find something you otherwise may miss during peak shopping times.
  • Seasonal Shopping: Keep an eye out for seasonal sales, this is a great time to find discounts on items but especially after major holidays when many stores offer huge discounts on merchandise they are looking to offload.

2. Bargaining and Deals

  • Street Vendors and Markets: Don't be afraid to negotiate prices with street vendors and at flea markets. It's part of the shopping culture, especially in open markets.
  • Discount Coupons: Look for discount booklets or online promo codes for popular souvenir shops. Tourist centers and hotels often have these available.

3. Authenticity Matters

  • Research Authentic Souvenirs: Learn a bit about genuine NYC products to ensure you're getting the real deal. For instance, authentic I ❤️ NY t-shirts have a specific design and quality.
  • Local Artisans: Support local artisans by purchasing items made in NYC. Not only does this guarantee authenticity, but it also contributes to the local economy.

4. Explore Beyond Tourist Traps

  • Neighborhood Boutiques: Venture into neighborhoods like Williamsburg, the East Village, or the Lower East Side for unique finds away from the typical tourist shops, these are great places to find hidden gems and unique items you might not find at the typical tourist markets.
  • Cultural Institutions: Many of NYC's museums and cultural institutions have gift shops with exclusive items that reflect the city's artistic and historical heritage.

5. Pack Smart

  • Consider Your Luggage Space: Be mindful of the size and fragility of the souvenirs you purchase, especially if you have limited luggage space. Remember to pack all fragile items in bubblewrap, plenty of newspaper or rolled into clothing to prevent any damage. Also remember not to pack fragile items side by side in protective materials as they might damage each other during transportation.
  • Shipping Options: For larger items, consider having the store ship them to your home address. Many shops offer this service and it can be a convenient way to manage bulky or delicate souvenirs expensive as it may be.

6. Keep Receipts

  • Save Purchase Receipts: Always keep your receipts until you're safely home with your souvenirs. They will be necessary for returns, exchanges, or in the event of any travel insurance claims.

By following these tips, you can navigate the vast shopping landscape of NYC with confidence. Remember, the best souvenirs are not just about the item itself, but the story and experience behind finding it. Happy shopping!


And there you have it – the top 10 best souvenirs you can buy in New York City (at least in my humble opinion)! Each of these carries a piece of New York City's vibrant spirit, making them not just objects, but cherished symbols of your experiences.

Whether you're a dedicated souvenir collector or someone searching for that perfect item to commemorate your time in the city, these choices are sure to evoke the excitement and energy of New York long after you've returned home.

And who knows? Maybe they'll even inspire you to plan your next visit!

Hermillis H.
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