Authentic, Affordable New York Souvenirs
Leave the plastic taxis and miniature Lady Libertys in Times Square—these mementos from local institutions have enough urban style to please even the locals, and they'll tide you over till your next visit.
Beer Tote ($20) and Tokens (6 for $20), Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn Brewery opened its Williamsburg location in 1996. About 20 percent of the beer is still made here (the rest is made upstate), but that 20 percent includes all of the brewery's reserve beers. To get a beer at the very popular happy hour, you must first buy and then redeem a wooden token (six for $20, or one for $4). The expansive tasting room fills up quickly, so come on the early side if you want a chance to sit at one of the communal picnic tables. For an easy souvenir, hang on to your token (or stow away a coaster). The store also sells other mementos, including playing cards and a light but sturdy case for carrying six bottles. 79 N. 11th St., Brooklyn, 718/486-7422, free tours on the hour on weekends between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., happy hour Fridays at 6 p.m.–11 p.m.
Candy Bars ($9) and Peppermints ($4), Economy Candy
This Lower East Side fixture hasn't changed its look much since it opened in 1937: it still has linoleum floors, mirrors near the ceiling to discourage shoplifting, and shelf after shelf brimming with candy. Gummy strawberries, Pixey Stix, huge gumballs, Sugar Daddys, lollipops, chocolate-covered graham crackers, and dried fruits and nuts are all on hand, as are more obscure sweets, including novelty foil-wrapped chocolates of city landmarks, the hard-to-find Beemans Chewing Gum, and candy cigarettes. 108 Rivington St., 800/352-4544.
Coffee Mugs ($10), Fishs Eddy
Named for an unincorporated village in upstate New York, this housewares store near Union Square piles its goods a little haphazardly on lived-in wood tables and old barrels. The store's 212 design, which incorporates Manhattan's skyline, comes on coffee mugs, plates, and salt and pepper shakers. If you've overloaded on Manhattan, try the Brooklyn pattern, or, better yet, the Brooklynese designs—the coffee mug says "cawffee." Broadway at 19th St., 212/420-9020.
Leather Wallet ($40), Off the Train Cuffs ($25), and Silver Jewelry ($25–52), The Market NYC
Held on weekends in a youth center on the edge of SoHo, this bazaar is a handy way to see what young designers have up their sleeves. The up-and-coming tastemakers do a good business with handmade jewelry, purses, and racks and racks of clothes, most of them for women. The market often fills up with tourists and trendy neighborhood regulars, so expect a little hand-to-hand combat if there's something you really want. Prices range from relative bargains (a $15 bracelet, a $19 pair of shoes) to extravagant (a $250 leather handbag). Recent finds there include bracelets sculpted from vinyl records (from Wrecords by Monkey) and hand-cut sterling-silver jewelry (by Elena Volovelsky). 268 Mulberry St., with another location at 490 Hudson St. that's open Sat. only.
Subway T-shirts ($20), Wooden Trains ($10), and Subway Map Umbrella ($20), New York Transit Museum
The museum is devoted to a major and often contentious presence in so many New Yorkers' lives: the subway. Housed in a former station built in 1936, the museum has lots of vintage equipment that makes it well worth a stop. But if you just want to check out some cool souvenirs, you can also head to the separate shop and gallery in Grand Central Terminal. Popular items include T-shirts carrying the symbols for various subway lines, as well as kid-size models of subway trains. Boerum Pl. and Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn, 718/694-1600. Grand Central Terminal, 87 E. 42nd St., off the main concourse in the shuttle passage, 212/878-0106.
Red Tote Bag ($8) and Adrian Tomine Tote Bag ($11) , Strand Books
Famed for its "18 miles of books," the Strand crams cheapo paperbacks, review copies, remainders, first editions, and rarities onto imposing tables and bookcases that rival those in any library (it can get crowded with people, too). The battered wooden floors creak, the stairs are worse, and the staff can be curt, but for many fans, that's just part of the fun. The store is just about the only survivor of the city's Book Row, once home to 48 bookstores, and you can bring home a bit of that history by getting one of its classic tote bags. 828 Broadway at 12th St., 212/473-1452.