Macy’s Herald Square is the flagship of the storied American department store. It opened more than 100 years ago and is famously located on 34th Street in New York City. It’s particularly worth seeing at Christmas time, but as one of the most famous department stores in the world, it’s a popular destination any time of the year.

But visiting is like going to the Louvre in Paris — it can be more than a little overwhelming and requires strategy. Here are three tips to get the most out of your quintessential New York experience.

1. Set a specific meeting place

When I made plans to meet my friend Nichole — a native Brooklynite — for my first Macy’s visit months ago, she kept asking me where I wanted to meet to shop. I kept insisting at Macy’s. She’d laugh and ask, “Yeah, but where?” At the time I didn’t realize just how big the “world’s largest store” was.

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It takes up an entire Manhattan city block, is 11 stories tall, has multiple main entrances, and comprises  2.2 million square feet. We eventually settled on meeting across the street at the entrance to the Gap to make it easier to find one another.

2. Know beforehand that the interior has been modernized

Neither Nichole nor I were looking for anything in particular. I really just wanted to experience the store itself and compare it to other famous 19th century department stores I’ve explored around the world.

I was surprised and disappointed to find Macy’s interior so modern. It was recently revamped with a bright white and glassy aesthetic. It still feels luxurious, and even has some of it’s old school charm like the iconic wooden escalators. But there’s no marble, wrought iron, or chandeliers. It doesn’t have the resplendent 19th century opulence like the Gallery LaFayette in Paris or the authentic industrial era extravagance of Jenners in Edinburgh.

We wandered aimlessly admiring the glitz and glamour of the newish facelift, but I was soon overwhelmed by its vastness. We left empty handed.

3. Go to Macy’s with a mission to find something specific

Macy’s is the perfect store for finding something specific — it helps give the overall experience direction. Plus unlike any other experience I’ve had while shopping for something very particular, I actually found exactly what I was looking for.

A few days ago I went to Macy’s for my second time. It was a very different experience because I actually needed to find something right away — new black heels for work.  I had already checked countless stores all over the country while on layovers, but never found anything that fulfilled the strict parameters of my uniform policy.  My current shoes had become noncompliant because they were too worn.

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Once inside Macy’s, it took a little exploring to find the women’s shoe section. But I was on a mission to find those heels, so I didn’t let the confusing network of floors, bridges, and escalators deter me. By the time I reached the women’s shoes department I had already spent more time and seen more of the store than on my first aimless visit.

The women’s shoe section is immense. It’s larger than any other entire Macy’s store I’ve ever been to. It encompasses an entire floor of the massive building and is organized by designer. I decided to methodically work my way down one side, up the middle, and back down the other to search for anything that would work.

To my delight I quickly found several shoes from various counters that were uniform compliant. I had gone from not being able to find anything anywhere to having the luxury of considering comfort and price. This has been the only time I’ve ever been able to actually find exactly what I wanted, while shopping for something very specific.

It was miraculous.

— Laura Rowley

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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