If you know someone who lives in or near New York City, or you have a loved one who’s traveling there soon, consider giving them a unique experience instead of a traditional gift. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best NYC experience gifts for history buffs, foodies, sports fans and more.
1. Art, Music, & Culture
No trip to New York would be complete without taking in a Broadway show. Musicals like The Lion King, Frozen, and Aladdin would be perfect for families with children.
If your wife is headed off on a girl’s weekend with her friends, get her tickets to an award-winning show like Wicked or Chicago. If you know someone who’s still waiting to receive a Hogwarts acceptance letter, he or she will flip over tickets to the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
You don’t have to be an art expert to appreciate the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tickets to The Met make a wonderful NYC experience gift for people of any age. Browse work from artists across the globe, from modern artists, and pieces from thousands of years ago. Not only will your recipient learn about other cultures, but he/she may even leave with inspiration to create something of his/her own!
Music lovers will marvel at the opportunity to see an incredible orchestral performance in historic Carnegie Hall. Created by renowned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, the history of the building will wash over you just as much as the beautiful music. Walk through the same halls as music greats like Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, Billie Holiday, and The Beatles.
If edgy, modern art is a better fit for your loved one, consider gifting a Brooklyn graffiti and street art tour. This tour isn’t about tagged railcars; it showcases some of the incredible, colorful murals on display around NYC. The tour lasts two hours and is an excellent experience gift for summertime in NYC.
Madison Square Garden hosts some of the biggest music, comedy, and sporting events in the country. If your friend lives in or near NYC, give her tickets to see Ariana Grande or Adele. If your brother is going to NYC for his bachelor party, give him tickets to Aziz Ansari so he can laugh until his stomach aches. Instead of giving your dad or your father-in-law yet another tie for Christmas, get him tickets to a boxing match at MSG.
2. NYC and American History
New York has been one of America’s most important cities for hundreds of years. As such, it contains some of America’s most significant historical landmarks. The perfect coffee table history book is a wonderful gift but letting your loved one actually walk around the landmark and feel the weight of its history is a much more impactful gift.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic landmarks in America. Although you can’t climb to the top of the statue anymore, looking up at her face will still fill you with awe. Seeing her fiery lantern will make you feel the same sense of hope that it gave millions of immigrants whose first encounter with America was seeing Lady Liberty on NYC’s shore.
The ticket also includes admission to Ellis Island. Although America welcomed millions of immigrants through Ellis Island, it wasn’t an easy journey for any of them. The feeling you get when you walk through the same rooms that nervous, excited immigrants wandered through won’t soon leave you.
Follow up one of the most hopeful American symbols with one of the most tragic but unifying landmarks by gifting tickets to the 9/11 Memorial. This is an excellent experience gift in NYC for any patriot. If your loved one still recalls precisely where he or she was when the planes hit the towers, then he/she will appreciate the opportunity to pay tribute to the brave men and women of the NYPD and FDNY during a tour of the 9/11 Memorial.
Seeing the entire city of New York spread out below you from the top of the Empire State Building is something you’ll never forget. Sometimes, locals are the least likely people to sightsee in NYC. If someone you love has lived in the city for years and still hasn’t toured the Empire State Building, get him or her tour tickets. Seeing the city from above will give him/her a whole new appreciation of the bustling metropolis.
3. Romantic Ideas for Couples
NYC has a lot to offer couples who vacation to the city. If you’re looking for the perfect way to spoil your wife or girlfriend while you’re in the city, get her a gift certificate to a high-end spa. The Shibui Spa will pamper your lady with a facial or a massage. If she loves fitness, she can even spend her certificate on a personal training session.
If you want to give the most magnificent wedding gift of all time, give a pair of newlyweds a weekend getaway at a luxury hotel like the Ritz Carlton near Central Park. They’ll start their marriage off with an unforgettable weekend at one of the swankiest hotels in the world. Take the gift up a notch by packing them a champagne and fruit picnic that they can take to Central Park and you’ll definitely be giving them the very best experience gift for couples in NYC.
Brand new couples or those who have spent decades loving each other will both love taking a horse and carriage ride through Central Park. This iconic Central Park staple is one of the best experience gifts for couples in NYC, especially if they follow up their ride with a hotdog from one of the many vendors in the park.
If your favorite couple has a sweet tooth, they’ll love a gift card to the Serendipity 3 café. They can enjoy decadent treats at the same tables as celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ron Howard, and Selena Gomez. The unique décor and chance of a celebrity sighting, not to mention the sugar high, will leave a lasting impression.
Relaxation is a hard gift to give, but somehow the New York Botanical Garden has managed to wrap serenity up with a lovely, floral bow. With over 250 acres of gardens to explore, this is a gift you can give over and over. Your favorite couple will never tire of strolling along the verdant grounds.
4. Foodie Paradise
NYC is a foodie’s dream destination because you can’t walk more than a block in NYC without coming across a vendor cart or restaurant. You could spend weeks just eating your way across the city!
Speaking of eating your way across the city, give your foodie friend a Manhattan food cart tour. Food carts aren’t just for carnivals anymore. Some of NYC’s most upscale food is served on the street nowadays. Spending two hours strolling and snacking is an experience gift in NYC that you just can’t pass up.
It’s hard to find the perfect gift for a dad. However, an amazing NYC experience gift would be a beer making workshop. In just a couple of hours, he’ll learn the basics of malts, grains, and yeasts. This is a gift that’ll keep on giving as he perfects his brewing skills at home for years to come.
Iconic Chelsea Market is a top destination for foodies when they visit NYC. When you gift a tour of Chelsea Market to your loved one, you’ll fill their belly with delicious foods and inspire their mind with creative cooking ideas to take home. They’ll never forget walking the High Line, NYC’s elevated outdoor park, as part of their tour.
Taking a gourmet dinner cruise on the Hudson River is one of the best experience gifts for couples in NYC, especially couples who love to eat! Not only will they take in beautiful views of New York from the river, but they’ll, of course, fill their bellies with delicious foods and drinks throughout the cruise.
5. Cheer on Your Favorite Team
New York has some of the greatest sports teams in the country. Whether you’re buying NYC experience gifts for families, couples, or individuals, seeing one of New York’s professional teams is an activity you can’t pass up when you’re in the city. Even locals would love getting sports tickets as a gift!
There’s nothing better on a warm summer day than kicking back in a stadium chair with a beer in your hand to watch the New York Yankees play. Even if the Yankees aren’t your team, you won’t be able to resist cheering them on. Plus, your kids will love munching on stadium treats and trying to catch fly balls.
If basketball is more your family’s speed, take them to a New York Knicks game. If you donate to the Garden of Dreams Foundation, you’ll also get a VIP experience you and your family will never forget. Watch the Knicks players warm up before the game and take pictures on the court afterward. Don’t be surprised if your kids start dreaming about becoming the next Patrick Ewing after this exciting experience!
One of the very best NYC experience gifts for sports lovers is taking in a tennis match at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The US Open is one of tennis’s biggest events every year, and watching greats like Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic would be a memory no tennis lover would ever forget.
6. Experiences You Can Only Have In NYC
If your wife, sister, or girlfriend is obsessed with Sex and the City, the best NYC experience gift you could possibly give her is a bus tour that takes her to all of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte’s favorite places. She’ll spend the best 3.5 hours of her life seeing where Carrie and Mr. Big filmed their most romantic moments and much more!
No family vacation to NYC is complete without a stop at Luna Park Coney Island. From the rollercoasters to the games, your kids will never stop talking about their trip to Coney Island! When you need to cool down after a long day in the sun, get a Coney Cone filled with delicious homemade gelato.
No matter their age, your gift recipient will delight in a whale and dolphin cruise. After four hours in the New York Harbor, your recipient’s camera roll and heart will be full of memories from the unique gift. In addition to seeing the majestic creatures glide through the ocean, they’ll also get a one-of-a-kind view of the city from the ship.
7. Free NYC Experiences
You don’t have to break the bank to give an extraordinary experience gift in NYC. Some of New York’s best offerings are actually free. As a gift, prepare a sample itinerary with a map for your loved one and tuck it into his/her suitcase.
Strolling through Central Park to listen to the birds, wandering Times Square at night to see all of the lights, or walking hand-in-hand with a loved one across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge cost no money, but create memories that last a lifetime.
You can ride the Staten Island Ferry, see exquisite music or ballet performances at Juilliard, and tour Grand Central Station for free. Future brides would love to walk the aisles of Tiffany & Co.’s to get lost in the sparkle of the world’s most beautiful jewelry, and best of all, no purchase is necessary (though, your lovely lady will likely encourage one!).
There’s an endless list of free museums and landmarks that will keep visitors busy for their entire trip, and even locals could visit a free museum every weekend and not run out of stops for quite some time.
Experience NYC Once, Remember it for a Lifetime
You can’t genuinely appreciate New York City without visiting it. Whether you want to give a luxury trip or treat or take in the city’s splendor without breaking the bank, you can create an endless supply of memories in New York by giving the gift of an experience rather than a “thing.”