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Holiday Shopping: Experience Gifts You Can Only Get in New York

December 5, 2018 - by Regina Molaro
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Holiday season is upon us! Rather than gifting another sweater, bottle of bubbly, or set of pajamas, create some interest by gifting friends and family with an NYC experience gift. From a baking session with a renowned pastry chef to an exciting helicopter tour around Manhattan to a night out listening to live music, there are a host of enticing Manhattan gift experiences at a variety of prices. Here are a few ideas for some inspiration.

NYC Experience Gifts: Live Music and Southern Bites

Ashford and Simpson's Sugar Bar interior

Live entertainment venue Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar features a show every Tuesday through Saturday evening. Explore the show offerings, which range from R&B to soul and jazz. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, enjoy—or participate—in the open mic night. 254 W. 72nd St., 212-579-0222, sugarbarnyc.com

NYC Experience Gifts: Learn to Bake

This is an ideal gift idea for the baker on your gift list. Michelin-starred pastry chef Ryan Butler offers baking enthusiasts an after-hours, private baking workshop on site at Butler Bake Shop and Espresso Bar—his Brooklyn-based cafe. After being greeted with a glass of wine and some delectable appetizers, bakers-in-training will learn how to whip up one of Butler’s signature pastry dishes. They’ll will leave with a box of freshly baked goods to enjoy or give as a gift. 40 Water St., butler-nyc.com

NYC Experience Gifts: Mimosas on the Water

bateaux brunch nyc

All aboard! Take in the iconic New York City sights from a Bottomless Mimosa Brunch Cruise on Bateaux that sets sail around the dazzling New York harbor area. Sip mimosas while enjoying a yummy self-serve brunch and taking in impressive views of the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, and beyond. A pianist will set the scene by creating some feel-good tunes. Unlimited mimosas are for those 21 and over. Pier 61, Chelsea Piers at W. 23rd St., 866-817-3463, bateauxnewyork.com

NYC Experience Gifts: Comedy Shows

Gotham Comedy Club

Native New Yorkers Chris Mazzilli and Michael Reisman opened the doors to this comedy hotspot in 1996. The duo strived to create a comedy club with ambiance. The fun destination has become the backdrop for many TV shows and films such as Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedian” and Larry David’s pilot of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The Gotham All Stars—a Showcase spotlighting comics from “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” and “The Late Show” is on schedule for December 19, 20, and 23. There’s also a Kids n’ Comedy Show, being held December 16.This original stand-up show is written and performed by comics who range in age from 11 to 18. 208 W. 23rd St., 212-367-9000, gothamcomedyclub.com

NYC Experience Gifts: Helicopter Rides!

A Helicopter Flight Services Tour flying over Manhattan.

Soar above Manhattan’s holiday crowds and take in the city sights on The New Yorker helicopter tour. Fly over the bustling island of Manhattan and witness the splendor of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Governors Island, and Ellis Island before zooming up the Hudson River. You’ll take in stunning views of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, Chelsea Piers, Central Park, and beyond. Downtown Manhattan heliport, Pier 6, 212-355-0801, heliny.com/tours/the-new-yorker-tour

NYC Experience Gifts: Magic and More

the illusionists light balance

Photo by Joan Marcus.

Give the gift of Broadway. The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays boasts a rotating cast of five to eight magicians who specialize in various genres—from stage illusions to mind reading, escapology, and comedic magic. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com, call 877-250-2929, or purchase in person at Marquis Theatre box office, 210 W. 46th St.

NYC Experience Gifts: Theater and Drinks

Christmas Imbible

Photo: Russ Rowland

The Imbible fuses music and comedy with history, science, and cocktails! Journey through time and jet set around the globe while learning about and sipping innovative cocktails and spirits. Shows include A Spirited History of Drinking; Day Drinking: The Brunch Musical; and Christmas Carol Cocktails. This fun cocktail experience was created by Anthony Caporale—an internationally renowned beverage educator. All performances include three complimentary craft cocktails. Cheers to that! Ages 21 and up. 800-447-7400, imbible.nyc

NYC Experience Gifts: Craft and Fashion

This experience gives new meaning to paint and sip. Bring a bottle of your favorite wine or drink and join creative duo Mary and Vasu at their NoMad studio to dish on all things New York and fashion. Beyond getting creative and receiving a how-to on painting the Empire State Building on your kicks (a new pair of sneakers will be given out at the studio), guests will have an opportunity to chat with a New York City apparel designer. 49 W. 28th St. (Third Floor), 646-798-9513, lapitturastudio.com 

NYC Experience Gifts: Latin Jazz

live jazz sound bite nyc

Grammy-award winning guitarist David Oquendo will perform Latin jazz on December 8 with his quartet at Hell's Kitchen hot spot The Sound Bite. The musical talent has performed at many prestigious venues from Madison Square Garden to Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and beyond. You can also celebrate New Year’s Eve at The Sound Bite. Live entertainment will be provided by Wynton Marsalis protege Drew Anderson and Newtet. The party kicks off at 8pm and ends at 1am. Beyond the open bar, there’s a four-course dinner, party favors, a champagne toast, and of course, live coverage of the buzz in Times Square. 737 Ninth Ave., 917-409-5868, thesoundbiterestaurant.com

NYC Experience Gifts: History Tour

A view of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

This Ground Zero walking tour is presented by John Coghlan—a first responder who worked as part of the rescue and clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center. On the tour, he will share personal stories and intimate recollections about the September 11 attackes.The tour begins at St. Paul’s Chapel, which is located less than 100 yards from where the Twin Towers once stood. The chapel endured the attacks and became a haven for rescue workers. Other sites include St. Peter Catholic Church; the 9/11 Cross, the twin reflecting pools, which mark the spots where the towers once stood; and beyond. After the tour, guests will enter the 9/11 Memorial & Museum with pre-reserved priority entrance tickets. www.9-11tours.com

NYC Experience Gifts: Sightseeing Cruises

Dine, dance, and take in the city sights while journeying around the New York by boat. Spirit Cruises offers a lineup of fun holiday, lunch, dinner, moonlight, and specialty-themed cruises. Experience panoramic skyline view while enjoying the warmth of a climate-controlled interior deck. The boats also boast rooftop lounges, so you can rock out on the dancefloor to the festive tunes being spun by the DJ. Leaves from Chelsea Piers in New York City (62 Chelsea Piers) and Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, NJ, 800-700-0735, spiritcruises.com

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