The New York City Flower District – an expert guide to one of the city’s hidden gems
Walking the streets of New York City can sometimes feel like getting lost in an endless sea of concrete, finding yourself surrounded by grey buildings that fade into the similarly grey sky. But tucked away in the heart of Manhattan you’ll find a bright and colorful flower-filled getaway known as the New York City Flower District. NYC’s Flower District is a hidden paradise in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood (for non-locals, Chelsea is generally regarded as the area in Manhattan that stretches vertically from 14th Street to 34th Street and horizontally from 6th Avenue to the Hudson River).
The Flower District currently encompasses many storefronts along both sides of 28th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue. And although it is home to one of the busiest “flower markets” (calling it a market is definitely an understatement) in the country, most people–even many New Yorkers themselves– don’t know about NYC’s Flower District. Perhaps this is because the block-long flower market extravaganza is somewhat hidden away in its not-very-foot-traffic-heavy location (at least compared to other areas of Manhattan) and doesn’t generally get that much press.
But for the New Yorkers and visitors who do know about the district, it’s a haven for unique, affordable blooms, garden supplies, and much more. From florists, retailers, and wholesalers to artists, home gardeners, and those just looking for a nice bouquet at a reasonable price–there’s something for everyone. You might stop by to pick up a simple bouquet for a special occasion (or just to decorate your apartment) and end up inspired to start a full-fledged home garden or a flower-inspired art project.
A brief history of the New York City Flower District
In its earliest days, the Flower District was located on the much busier thoroughfare of 34th Street but moved to its current location all the way back in the 1890s. At one time it had somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 vendors operating, but today is just a fraction of what it once was. Luckily, there are still many long-standing vendors going strong– and they’re definitely worth visiting. And we’re here to outline everything you need to know before you go: when to when, how to get there, how to go about planning your trip, what you might want to see (and potentially buy), and what you definitely don’t want to miss while you’re there.
Here’s your guide to navigating one of NYC’s sweetest (smelling) hidden gems!
Transportation/Getting to the New York City Flower District:
There are several options for getting to the district. Here are a few suggestions:
- The closest subway station is 28th Street, where the yellow line (R, W) stops. This is a local stop. You can transfer from the express (N, Q) at 14th Street- Union Square or 34th Street-Herald Square.
- Check bus routes from your location. NYC has an extensive public bus system, a good option for traveling within Manhattan.
Taxi or car
- Take to the corner of 28th Street & 6th Avenue or 28th Street & 7th Avenue. If you have your own car, you’ll need to first locate the nearest parking garage or find available street parking.
When to visit the New York City Flower District
The Flower District operates year-round but is particularly great to visit in the spring (mid-March to early June) since the selection of flowers will be the most extensive, not to mention the temperate weather in NYC this time of year will make for enjoyable outdoor browsing and meandering.
The best–and really only–time to go is in the mornings any day Monday-Saturday, as most shops are closed on Sundays. The vendors generally begin selling to the public in the mornings around 8-9 AM (and 5 AM exclusively to wholesalers/retailers), and they generally remain open only until around noon-1PM, although you’ll find a rare few that remain open as late as 5 PM.
So try to arrive bright and early for the best selection. Of course, some of the experience depends on luck- what’s in stock that day and how many other eager customers have arrived early that day. But given the amazing variety of shops, you can rest assured that you’ll always find plenty of beautiful blooms worth admiring.
It’s Worth the Trip
The Flower District has its place in New York history, so it’s definitely worth putting on your New York bucket list if you’re visiting the city. Since many New Yorkers don’t even know about the district, you’ll be able to tell your New York friends something new and you’ll have experienced an impressive piece of New York’s history that many haven’t. And if you still need another reason to go, then consider that your time to visit unfortunately may be running out.
Why? Well, many shops within the district have been closing their doors in recent years. As mentioned, there used to be at least five dozen vendors within the district and today there are only about a dozen. If you’ve ever spent any time in New York, you probably won’t be very surprised by this fact. Turnover rates for storefronts in the city are extremely high. In a few years of living here, you could see one storefront occupied consecutively by several different businesses, all of which eventually close their doors. Local mom and pop shops especially struggle to keep up with the ceaselessly rising rents.
Planning Your Itinerary
NYC’s Flower District is a wonderful place to just wander around without a plan, simply enjoying the sights and smells and taking it all in. But it might also be helpful to do a little research beforehand so that you’re aware of which shops you definitely want to stop by or if there’s a particular shop you’d like to visit first.
There are several niche shops that specialize in all sorts of flower-related items–from handmade bouquets and specialty flower arrangements to gift baskets and faux flowers to vases and other home décor. A good strategy would be to do an initial walk-through, browsing all the shops and what they have on offer, and then re-visiting the shops that catch your eye.
Luckily, we’ve done some of the work for you. You can check out the profiles of some of the shops we recommend below, which will help you get an idea of what they offer and which ones you definitely want to check out. You can see their location and hours so you can begin planning your itinerary.
Florist shops we love visiting in the New York City Flower District:
Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies
149 W. 28th St. NY, NY 10001
Mon-Sat 6:30 AM- 5 PM
This shop is a home & garden supply mecca. The massive shop boasts a huge array of both decorative items and garden supplies. Shop for home accents such as vases, silk flowers, artificial potted plants and succulents, candles, holiday decorations, and much, much more.
106 W. 28th St. NY, NY 10001
Mon-Sat 6:30 AM-5:30 PM, Sun: 9AM-5PM
Looking for tropical plants and exotic flowers? This is the place. They’ve got a huge selection of both indoor and outdoor plants, including orchids, succulents, cactus plants, and other exotic blooms. This is where you’ll find some of the most beautiful, colorful blooms in all of New York. They also provide landscaping, design, and event services.
110 W. 28th St. NY, NY 10001
Mon-Sat 8 AM- 4:30 PM
Dubbed a “fantasyland” by The New York Times, this is probably a spot you don’t want to miss. Although you won’t find any “real” flowers here, you will find just about everything else you’ll need for decorating your home and/or garden. Stop by to browse their show-stopping selection of faux flowers, fabrics, and art supplies.
120 W. 28th St. NY, NY 10001
Mon-Fri 9 AM -6 PM, Sat: 10 AM-3 PM
Looking for elegantly designed bouquets (with an emphasis on roses)? Well then, look no further. In their own words, this French shop designs bouquets “the French way, with elegance and according to the seasons.” and have outposts in New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia. They even deliver to over 1,500 cities in the Northeast & Midwest regions of the U.S.–so maybe you can even have a bouquet sent to your home.
120 W. 28th St. (#4G) NY, NY 10001
Mon-Fri 8 AM -6 PM, Sat: 9 AM-1 PM
This is your ideal spot for luxurious, modern flower arrangements. Located upstairs away from the hustle and bustle of the street, this florist boasts some of the highest quality bouquets with seriously sophisticated designs. They are highly rated and recommended by many with discerning floral tastes.
120 W. 28th St. NY, NY 10001
Mon-Fri 5:30 AM -12 PM, Sat: 6 AM-1 PM
Another spot for more unusual, exotic flowers, foliage, and leaves that you won’t find at most flower shops. They occupy a smaller storefront, but their unique offerings are certainly enough to merit a visit.
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