Easily accessible by most subway lines, Union Square is full of life on the weekends. Get off at Union Square Station or 14th Street.
Saturday is Farmer’s Market day at Union Square. Vendors set up stalls and tents selling seasonal fruits & vegetables, home made bread, cheeses and juices, spices and even exotic meats and preserves. There were mounds of unusual varieties of vegetables which I never saw before, even on foreign trips. I was dazzled by the array of fresh flowers and house plants.
New Yorkers demand good food, and the street eats were cheap and delicious. I tried Colombian empanadas (meat turnovers) while other street trucks offered Vietnamese snacks. The next truck had a long line-up; it was selling home made ice cream.
At the other end of the Square, enthusiastic drummers drew audiences as skateboarding kids whizzed by. Students were asking for donations for a good cause, while old men played on chess on boards set up on milk carton. Locals compared their dogs amid an array of organic dog food and pet products. Mixed into the crowd were the usual array of romantic young couples, hawkers, and public speakers.
There is plenty of shopping for the locals– Staples, Best Buy, clothing and shoe stores. I visited the newcomer, Burlington Coat Factory. Take the elevator upstairs to their 3 floors of discounted clothes, housewares and toys. If you need a new suitcase, check out the luggage section near men’s wear.
For booklovers. Barnes & Noble has a 3 storey lovely old building with every book imaginable. If you need a gift for the kids or grandkids, visit the enormous children’s section for books & games. In direct competition is The Strand, a classic bookstore in a vintage building at 12th Street & Broadway.
There’s nothing fancy about Union Square but it shows a side of life in New York City that most visitors never see.