Best Experience Gifts, NYC

What do you give someone who says “nothing” or “I don’t know” when you ask them what they want for Christmas or Hanukkah?

Well, you could give them socks, but they’d be much more excited if you give them an experience. Something to DO rather than have. And what better experience to give than one of the many experience gifts NYC has available.

NYC experience gift pinterest 1

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Best Experience Gifts, NYC

New York is already awesome, but if you are planning a trip to New York City, or even if you live here like I do, supplementing your time in the city with an experience or activity that is unique to the city will make your time here that much better.

Are you wondering what to experience in New York? Here are my top 25 of the best experience gifts in NYC. They make the perfect gift – either as an add on to a trip you will already take it or as the impetus for a weekend getaway (or longer trip) to the most exciting city in the world (IMHO).


For the Adventurer

1.  In the air: helicopter flight

If you like a bit of a thrill and want to see NYC from a perspective that very few do, then one of the best experiences in NYC has to be a helicopter ride over Manhattan and New York Harbor. Seeing the towering buildings, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge from the air is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that makes the perfect gift.

helicopter gift guide nyc

2.  On land: cycle Brooklyn Bridge

Cycling over the Brooklyn Bridge is another of the unique things to do in New York that makes the perfect gift. There is a dedicated bike lane above the traffic, and cycling over the bridge gives you a unique perspective. The two-hour tour takes the stress out of knowing how to get there and off so you can focus on enjoying the experience and the incredible views.

cycle brooklyn bridge experience nyc gift guide

3.  On the water: jet ski in New York Harbor

Another of the most incredible unique New York experiences is to get on to the water. Manhattan is an island, so get wet! Not in the middle of winter, but if you’re visiting New York later in the year, a fun gift to give us a jet ski tour in New York Harbor.  A fun four-hour trip to see the Statue of Liberty and the Downtown skyline.

jetski experience nyc gift

For the Romantic

4.  Dinner cruise in New York Harbor

Will you be traveling to New York with your significant other? It’s an incredibly romantic city, and what could be more romantic than a candlelit dinner cruise around New York Harbor with the city lights sparkling. Upgrade for a table for two with champagne. One of the absolute best NYC experiences for couples .

Couple gift guide experience nyc

For the Foodie

New York is foodie heaven. I have a whole post on six NYC food crazes not to miss. But if your loved one is a foodie, then these New York food tours make perfect gifts.

5.  Greenwich Village food tour

When it comes to experience gifts, New York has so many on offer that it can be overwhelming. So why not start eating your way around my neighborhood. Give the gift of a 3.5-hour food tour that takes in the High Line and then a walking and cultural tour of Greenwich Village, stopping off along the way to sample New York treats. This is a great gift for a first-time visitor to New York.

6.  Lower East Side food tour

The Lower East Side has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the incredible food. So, another of my favorite unique NYC gift ideas is a three-hour food tour to try some of the best Tacos, dumplings, bagels in the Lower East Side.

NYC experience gift guide lower east side food tour bagels

7.  Little Italy and Chinatown food tour

Another of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC.  Who doesn’t love Italian and Chinese food? Learn the history of these fascinating areas and try delicious food. This food tour of Little Italy, Chinatown is a gift you could just give yourself!!

8.  Brooklyn pizza food tour

Eating a slice of authentic New York pizza is another of my top unique things to do in NYC.  So, give a gift of pizza! How can you go wrong? Leave Manhattan and head to Brooklyn for a tour of some of the best pizza in New York.


For the Nature Lover

9.  Take a walk in Central Park

New York isn’t all about architecture and people. Central Park is an oasis of nature smack bang in the middle of it. I’ve seen turtles, hawks and even a raccoon in Central Park’. This 2-hour walking tour around the park and many of its highlights makes the perfect present.

Central park nyc experience gift guide

For the TV Lover

10.  Visit locations of a classic TV show

I love Sex and The City (well, other than the final movie) partly because New York features so prominently.  Live out your loved one’s SATC fantasy on a 3+-hour tour of many of the places that featured in the iconic TV show.  Having a drink at one of their bars and snacking on a cupcake from their favorite bakery will be one of their favorite New York experience gifts to get. Plus, they’ll be regaled with lots of fun facts along the way.

11.  Visit a TV studio

Many TV shows are not only filmed on location in NYC.  There are also several major TV studios and taking a tour inside a TV studio is another of my favorite New York gift ideas.  This one combines a tour of NBC studio and some TV and movie locations.


For the Street Art Lover (or Street Artist)

You can experience street art by seeing it or by doing it.  New York has both.

12.  Take in some street art

Street art is elevated to a true art from in New Work.  From Keith Haring, Banksy or JR to other less famous but equally talented artists, there is no end of art to admire on the streets of NYC.  Which is why a walking tour of Brooklyn street art is another of the best New York travel gifts.

Graffiti gift guide nyc

13.  Try your hand at making street art yourself

If you don’t want to stop at admiring art, why not try it yourself.  Give a gift of a lesson in making graffiti art in Brooklyn.  How awesome is that?


For the Art Lover (or Artist)

New York has something for people who appreciate art and people who want to try their hand at creating art.

14.  Tour the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met for short) is my favorite museum in New York.  In fact, I have written a blog post about different ways to experience the museum.

One of my favorite New York travel gift ideas, therefore, is a private tour of the art of the museum.  Getting personal insight into some of the major pieces makes the perfect gift for art lovers.

NYC The Met Temple of Dendur

15.  Take a photography class with Manhattan as your classroom

Have an even deeper experience with art and try it yourself.  Take a location-based workshop with a professional photographer. Get photography tips and take some amazing shots.

16.  Learn to make jewelry

If you want to do an art or craft project that you get to keep – and wear – then this hand-made jewelry -making class is just the thing. This is especially great for kids.


For the Dance Lover (or Dancer)

Whether your loved one loves to watch dance or wants to dance the night away with you, New York has an experience for you to give them.

17.  Watch a dance performance

One of the best NYC Christmas gifts you could give for someone who loves dance is a ticket to the New York City Ballet.  One of the best dance companies in the world, seeing a performance by them at Lincoln Center is an iconic NYC experience.

dance ballet nyc experience gift

18.  Take a dancing lesson

Inspire the dance lover in your life and give a salsa dance lesson with you and your lover.  Has to be one of the most unique gifts NYC has.


For the theater buff (or budding actor)

Catch a show, or get up on stage and learn to act or try your hand at improv.

19.  Watch a Broadway show

You can’t visit New York City and not see a Broadway Show.  This makes the perfect gift and a very special night out! Check out the different options available here.

Theater experience in NYC gift guide

20.  Try your hand at improv

Every New Yorker wants to be a star!  So, why stop at watching a show.  Get up on stage and let it all hang out.  A class in improv comedy is the perfect way for someone to come out of their shell and be a comedy star in NYC – at least for an hour.

21.  Try an acting class – with wine!

If improv seems a little too intimidating, but you still want to give the chance to be a New York star, then an acting class with a glass of wine in hand might just be the perfect present!


For the Fashionista

New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, and there are so many ways to experience fashion in the City.

22.  See inside a fabric flower factory

Give an insider look into the Garment District.  Give them a tour inside a 100-year old fabric flower factory!

23.  Find a bargain

Of course your loved one will want to shop in New York City!  Keep things affordable on a tour of cheap and chic second fashion hand stores so they can pick up some awesome bargains.

24.  Go shopping with a personal stylist

Shop in style with the help of a personal stylist to hand-curate your shopping selection. If your loved one likes shopping (and who doesn’t?), this is the perfect gift!

25.  Be a New York fashion designer

Does your bestie fantasize about being a New York fashion designer?  This is the perfect gift for someone visiting New York who wants a chance to live out their designer dreams.  This whole-day fashion experience starts with buying fabric.  This is followed by a quick tour of the garment district before you have the chance to make your own fashion creation in New York City!!

Fashion NC gift guide

New York City truly has something for everyone.  No matter what you and your travel companion(s) like, there is a New York travel experience to give them (and give yourself at the same time, of course!!)


Happy holidays!

Do you have any other NYC experiences that would make great gifts ?   Let me know. Comment below. 

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NYC experience gift guide

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About the author

James-Ian-at-Travel-Collecting

James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents.  He is passionate about experiential travel, i.e. meaningful travel that actively engages with the environment and culture.  He helps people have similar experiences that involve active participation in activities and festivals; engaging with the local food and handicrafts through lessons and food tours; and interacting positively with environment by hiking, riding, rowing, diving and low/no impact animal encounters. 

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