Explore New York City

Why Madison Ave Stays on the Luxury Travel Radar

It’s the longest luxury shopping district in the U.S., but there’s a lot more to this storied avenue.

There is so much to see in NYC that sometimes less is definitely more. Why not stay focused on one neighborhood? How about an elegant stretch of Madison Avenue—say, 57th to 86th Street on the Upper East Side? With 1.5 miles of designer boutiques, galleries and restaurants, this area of Madison Avenue is the longest luxury shopping district in the U.S. Below we’ve culled a selection of fashionable stops for dining, shopping, art and nightlife that are sure to make your visit to Madison Avenue a memorable one.

Sumptuous Restaurants

Delicious desserts from Sant Ambroeus
Delicious desserts from Sant Ambroeus (Courtesy Sant Ambroeus)

Decadent Pastries: Arianna Huffington has said that one of her favorite places to eat in the city is Sant Ambroeus (1000 Madison Ave., btw E. 77th & E. 78th sts., 212.570.2211, santambroeus.com). This Italian pasticceria has indulgent cappuccinos and espressos, in addition to a selection of robust teas, to get you ready for your day’s adventures. Have a breakfast sandwich on a soft, home-baked roll perfumed with olive oil or their famous cornetti (Italian croissant) served plain or with apricot jam, cream, sugar or chocolate. Additional sweet treats include almond brioche, cheese Danish or marble pound cake with a fresh fruit salad. 

Elegant French Cuisine: Indulge in fine French fare and make reservations at Michelin-star recipient Cafe Boulud (20 E. 76th St., at Madison Ave., 212.772.2600, cafeboulud.com). This carefully curated menu is divided into four separate inspirations—La Tradition (classics and country cooking), La Saison (seasonal dishes), Le Potager (dishes crafted around farmer’s market ingredients) and Le Voyage (world cuisine). The delightful dessert menu is split the same four ways, with the addition of silky ice creams and fruity sorbets. A TripAdvisor user raved that “service was impeccable from everyone and we felt well looked after,” while another marveled, “just what you would expect from Daniel Boulud and the food was superb.”

Serafina Always
Fresh pizza from the oven served right to your table. (Courtesy Serafina Always)

Crispy Pizza: Sometimes you just want a nice slice. Serafina Always (33 E. 61st St., btw Park & Madison aves., 212.702.9898, always.serafinarestaurant.com) is an upscale Italian eatery with top-shelf house-made cuisine, including pastas, soups and salads. “Everyone from families to fashionistas” dine here for “satisfying” meals, notes diners from Zagat. The pizza is crispy—cooked in a cherry-wood-burning oven—and made with the finest Italian ingredients including Sicilian sea salt and handmade cheeses.

Sophisticated Shopping Destinations

Fashion Forward: La Perla (803 Madison Ave., btw E. 67th & E. 68th sts., 212.570.0050, laperla.com) has some of the city’s most opulent lingerie and loungewear. A Yelp user, Bridget B., confessed that a nightgown she bought here was “more gorgeous than [her] wedding dress.” Nearby at Oscar de la Renta (772 Madison Ave., at E. 66th St., 212.288.5810, oscardelarenta.com) you’ll find the latest trends in women’s fashion—from ready-to-wear dresses, evening gowns, knits and skirts to runway couture and bridal wear.

Glamorous Accessories: Ladies, you’re going to need a gorgeous handbag or silk twill scarf. And, gentlemen, how about a suave pocket square or silk tie? For these must-have items, you’ll want to go to Hermès (691 Madison Ave., at E. 62nd St., 212.751.3181, hermes.com). Speaking of handbags, I have a theory that one can never have too many of them. Whether you’re looking for yourself or a loved one, Coach (595 Madison Ave., at E. 57th St., 212.754.0041, coach.com) always has a great selection of classy styles and bright colors on trend with the season.

Complete Looks: At nearby Barneys New York (660 Madison Ave., at E. 61st St., 212.826.8900, barneys.com), you can find designer brands for your home and wardrobe needs. You might even see a celebrity eyeing that same cashmere sweater or crystal vase that you are! Michael Kors (667 Madison Ave., at E. 61st St., 212.980.1550, michaelkors.com) is also a great spot for the perfect dress for a night out, or a smart looking blazer for when he’s required to wear a jacket at the best restaurants in town. With the fabulous selection of leather wallets, rose gold-toned jewelry and signature shoes for everyone, Michael Kors can outfit you head-to-toe.

Madison Avenue
Enjoy the stunning views while spending the day on Madison Avenue. (©Andrew Warner)

Captivating Culture

Alluring Art: Why not peruse the works of creative geniuses—maybe even add a piece or two to your collection? Madison Avenue is home to more than 100 galleries, so there is sure to be something to catch your eye. Head to Acquavella Galleries (18 E. 79th St., at Madison Avenue, 212.734.6300, acquavellagalleries.com), where works from major artists—Degas, Cézanne, Giacometti, Klee, Warhol and many, many more—are on display at this French neo-classical townhouse.

Right next-door is the Rosenfeld Gallery (16 E. 79th St., at Madison Ave., 212.734.0900, rosenfeldgallery.com) that features artwork mostly from modern and contemporary masters, including Basquiat, Haring and Léger.

Former exhibition "A Visual Essay on Gutai at 32 East 69th Street"
Former exhibition "A Visual Essay on Gutai at 32 East 69th Street" (Courtesy Hauser & Wirth/©Genevive Hanson)

Minimalist gallery Hauser & Wirth (32 E. 69th St., btw Park & Madison aves., 212.794.4970, hauserwirth.com) and Opera Gallery (791 Madison Ave., at E. 67th St., 646.707.3299, operagallery.com) also showcase artists from this time period.

The Met Breuer
The Met Breuer is the Madison Avenue outpost of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; it's a stunning space dedicated to modern and contemporary art. (©Ed Lederman)

In addition to the galleries, you also can take in some must-see masterpieces at a museum. The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently opened The Met Breuer (945 Madison Ave., at E. 75th St., 212.731.1675, metmuseum.org), an additional space on Madison Avenue dedicated to modern and contemporary art programs. Guests can view a rotation of exhibits featuring Western and non-Western works in this architecturally engaging building, designed by Marcel Breuer, that was originally built to house the Whitney museum.

Vibrant Nightlife 

Feel the Pulse: When you feel ready to take on the city for one last fantastic hurrah before you surrender to sleep, make your way to Lavo (39 E. 58th St., at Madison Ave., 212.750.5588, lavony.com). Reserve your table in advance, order the fried Oreos that patrons are gaga for and then dance the night away at the downstairs nightclub that hosts well-known DJs and offers premier bottle service.

The bar at Club Macanudo
The bar at Club Macanudo (Courtesy Club Macanudo)

Luxury Cigar Bar: If cigars and libations are more to your liking, check out Club Macanudo (26 E. 63rd St., at Madison Avenue, 212.752.8200, clubmacanudo.com). This upscale watering hole boasts rich mahogany furniture and more than 130 varieties of handcrafted cigars that have guests coming back again and again. Smokers and nonsmokers alike can enjoy Club Macanudo’s signature cocktails. Try the 63rd Street Martini and chocolate truffles for a decadent late-night dessert.

And All That Jazz: The place to be for top-notch New York cabaret is Café Carlyle (35 E. 76th St., at Madison Avenue, 212.744.1600, rosewoodhotels.com). Located on the ground floor of The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, Café Carlyle hosts headlining music acts to serenade you while enjoying a late night out on the town. This intimate space seats up to 90, so make your reservation to take in some classic Manhattan entertainment. Bonus tip: Woody Allen, the ultimate New Yorker, plays there regularly with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band. Check the schedule.

All of these dazzling destinations are waiting for you on Madison Avenue. From Prada to gourmet pizza, revel in the shopping, dining and cultural offerings in this most elegant part of New York City.


This story is sponsored by the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District.