New York City is a popular destination for winter travelers: the shop windows at Macy’s, the enormous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and ice skating at South Street Seaport and Central Park are just a few favorite holiday traditions.

OVER AT MATADOR LIFE, we just published Alexis Wolff’s article about off-the-beaten-path holiday activities in the city. If you’re also looking for some off-the-beaten-path places to shop, here are a few options:

Photo: mazerdesign

The Holiday Handmade Cavalcade: The Holiday Handmade Cavalcade is a one day event, but if you’re in town, it promises to be worth checking out.

Artists and other crafty folks who peddle their wares on Etsy.com will be selling their handcrafted goods at The Knitting Factory this Saturday, December 6, from 10 AM to PM.

*Housing Works: Housing Works has become a New York institution, having pioneered the idea of the upscale thrift shop. Celebrities and New York’s elite donate their gently used goods to sell to you; shopping at HW has become a status symbol for many folks.

In addition to a chain of thrift stores, HW also has a used book shop and cafe in SOHO.

Best of all, the proceeds from your purchase funnel directly back into the social service part of the company, which provides housing, counseling, and other services for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Photo: baslow

Holiday Shops at Grand Central and Union Square: More and more storefronts in Manhattan are turning over to cookie cutter chains, victims of landlords’ insatiable rent hikes.

If you’re looking for something you’re sure that another gift-giver won’t wrap up for a mutual friend, then stop by these markets, where handmade jewelry, scarves, accessories, and home decorations are among the many items for sale.

Bonus points for being in locations that are convenient to public transportation and great food! (And check out the light show in Grand Central!).

Are you a resident or frequent visitor of NYC? If so, what are your favorite shops?