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With the Holidays approaching so quickly, we are always on the look out for the best and most unique gifts for our loved ones, especially with so many things to choose from in New York. Are you an early or last-minute shopper looking for great gift ideas? Then you’ve come to the right place! At Dreams in Heels, we know how hard it is to decide what to give some people, especially when they already have “everything” they need. In my opinion, there is no better gift than experiences. This is why, as a local New Yorker, I decided to put together this list of New York Gift Experiences.
This post is featuring unexpected, unforgettable and unique New York experiences including helicopter rides over NYC with champagne, sugar rush tours, fun shows, day trips, exclusive shopping tours, and much more. Read on to find the perfect opportunities for the ones you love! Investing in Experiences makes us happy for longer, while spending money on material things, only bring us short-lived happiness.
Please know that many of these amazing activities are available as online vouchers, suggesting the experience, or as gift cards with the monetary value inside. With a simple click of a button, gift guides can be pre-purchased or arranged at the last-minute (but the sooner, the better; New York gift experiences get sold out quickly) so shipping is not required. Plus, you can send these gifts via email at checkout as well (send directly or print after purchase). You can also do a stylish design with a personalized message. Incredible, unique New York Experiences made easy, and for different budgets and interests. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and take a gander at Dreams in Heels’ suggestions below!
An ultimate list of New York Gift Experiences!
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 For Those Who Love Skyline Views – See New York City from the Sky
- 2 For Photography Lovers
- 3 For Travel Lovers
- 4 Prefer to give a 24 Hours trip from New York City?
- 5 Philly & Amish Country Day Trip from NYC
- 6 For Pizza Lovers
- 7 For Food Lovers
- 8 For Wine Lovers
- 9 For Sweets and Sugar lovers!
- 10 For Shopping Lovers
- 11 For Running Lovers
- 12 For Street Art Lovers
- 13 For Music Lovers
- 14 For Broadway Shows Lovers
- 15 For Holiday Shows Lovers
- 16 For Night lovers!
For Those Who Love Skyline Views – See New York City from the Sky
Arrange a romantic date or family outing on your very own private helicopter with stunning aerial views of Manhattan. And enjoy the occasion with champagne in flight.
Note: All tours are personally narrated by friendly and experienced pilots. Basic, luxury and ultra luxury helicopter options available.
On a 30-minute helicopter tour, skilled pilots will dazzle you with bird’s-eye views of the Hudson River, East River, Yankee Stadium*, Harlem, Central Park, Columbus Circle, Times Square, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, George Washington Bridge, Freedom Tower, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island (with the exception of any restricted areas). *Yankee Stadium accessible outside game times only.
Fly directly over world-famous New York landmarks
Get live tour narration by friendly and experienced pilots
Have a complimentary champagne in flight (must be 21 or older)
For Photography Lovers
Make sure if you are either living or visiting New York City that your time is picture perfect with a Photo Safari walking tour and photography workshop. Using Central Park as your backdrop, learn to capture memories that will impress for a lifetime.
- Gain photography skills that will last long after your trip to New York is over
- Experience the beauty of Central Park and much more
For Travel Lovers
Experience the majesty of Niagara Falls on this 2-day trip from New York City! Travel through the Hudson Valley by train and soak-up its beautiful views. On arrival, enjoy fun-filled sightseeing shopping, dining and touring.
Niagara Falls is nothing short of amazing; you have to experience the 3 waterfalls in person to truly grasp its magnificence. On this 2-day trip, board the Amtrak Train from Penn Station in New York City in the morning and travel north via the Hudson River waterfront. Enjoy scenic views as you journey through upstate New York to Niagara Falls, USA.
You will be met by a driver and guide who will escort you to the waterfalls for your first photo opportunity. Check into your hotel and get advice on the best time to go watch the beautiful light show on the falls.
The next morning, begin your day with the Maid of the Mist voyage. This tour includes a ticket on this famous sightseeing cruise, getting you right up close to the thundering falls.
Enjoy some time alone for shopping and sightseeing. Stroll around the city and visit the aerospace and science museum, casinos, observatories and much more. For the only panoramic view of all 3 of the Niagara Falls, including the American Falls, the best choice is the Niagara Falls Observation Tower. Jutting out dramatically over Niagara Gorge, the architectural wonder provides unobstructed views of the wild cascades of Niagara Falls, as well as the raging whitewater below.
You’ll have worked up an appetite by that point, so enjoy a 2-course lunch at The Hard Rock Cafe Niagara with VIP priority seating. Delicious food with just a short wait, will fuel you for a short walk to the various casinos, where you can indulge in some afternoon excitement. How you spend your day is up to you.
At the end of the day, you’ll be escorted by your private driver back to the airport. Take a 45-minute airplane ride back to New York City and finish up your tour in Midtown Manhattan.
- Experience rail and air travel in one package to Niagara Falls
- Enjoy an overnight stay in Niagara Falls and explore the local area
- Feast your eyes on the 3 breathtaking waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls
Departing from New Jersey, come aboard and enjoy the most entertaining lunchtime experience in Manhattan! Enjoy the gourmet buffet lunch prepared by our Executive Chef and relax to the sounds of live entertainment, with the magnificent New York skyline as your backdrop.
You’re in for a special time from the moment you are escorted to your table. Many tables are designed for cabaret-style seating with other guests, reminiscent of prior ocean cruises. Order drinks, then feel free to explore the ship while the crew casts off for two fabulous hours. Your waiter will invite you to the lunch buffet. Take as little or as much as you like. While you dine, enjoy a fascinating narrated tour of New York’s breathtaking skyline, easy to see from the boat’s huge panoramic windows. Take your drinks topside and relax on the largest outdoor deck in the City. From line dances to top 40 hits, the DJ knows how to get everyone up and dancing, right until the end of your cruise. Beautiful views, delicious food and drinks, dancing – this experience includes it all!
- Enjoy a sumptuous buffet
- Relax on your 2-hour lunch cruise
- View New York’s skyline and savor the magnificent views
- Dance the afternoon away to the on board entertainment
- Glide along the Hudson River
Visit Philadelphia and Washington DC, and experience the lifestyle of the Amish people in Lancaster County on this 2-day tour from New York. Explore the famous sights in these 2 large US cities before enjoying an authentic buggy ride in the Amish country.
Day 1: New York – Philadelphia – Washington DC
Depart from New York and travel through New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Upon arrival, you will embark on a panoramic tour that includes, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Elfert Alley (the oldest inhabited street in America) and more. Arriving in the historic area of Philadelphia you will visit the famous Liberty Bell, Constitution Square and Constitution Hall, one of the symbols of freedom in America. Departing Philadelphia you will see the famous “Rocky Steps” and then continue east to Lancaster county, home of the Amish people. Start your visit with a ride in an authentic Amish buggy through the Amish farm country and learn how they live without the benefit of modern technology: no electricity, running water, telephone service or appliances. After the ride, visit the marketplace where you can shop for handmade arts, crafts and products. In the late afternoon, depart east for an evening arrival to your hotel, where you’ll stay overnight at Wyndham Garden, Washington, DC.
Day 2: Washington – Amish Country – New York
Start the day with a visit to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, by the Tidal Basin, surrounded with famous Japanese cherry blossom trees. Visit the Arlington National Cemetery and the Kennedy family grave site. Next stop is Capitol Hill. See the US Capitol and the White House to understand the core of the US government. Continue to the Air and Space Museum before visiting the Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Korean and Vietnam Memorials. In the late afternoon, depart north for an evening arrival in New York City.
- Explore Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Elfert Alley on a panoramic tour of Philadelphia
- Visit the famous Liberty Bell, Constitution Square, and Constitution Hall in the historic center of Philadelphia
- See the famous “Rocky Steps”
- See Capitol Hill, the Senate, and the White House in Washington DC
- Visit the Air and Space Museum and the Lincoln, Washington, Korean, and Vietnam Memorials
- See the changing of the guard at the Arlington National Cemetery and the Kennedy family grave site
- Experience the lifestyle of the Amish people in Lancaster County
Prefer to give a 24 Hours trip from New York City?
Visit historic Philadelphia and Pennsylvania’s Amish Country on an excursion from New York. See the Liberty Bell, Constitution Hall, the famous Rocky Steps, and much more, before heading out to Lancaster County to experience Amish culture.
Following your sightseeing in Philadelphia, the tour heads to Lancaster County, home to Pennsylvania’s Amish community. Explore the Amish market and enjoy some local, country cooking during lunch.
After lunch, at the Amish market, you’ll go on an authentic Amish buggy ride through farm country and learn how the Amish live without the benefit of modern technology. Imagine no electricity, no running water, no telephones, and no appliances!
- See the world-famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia
- Visit Constitution Hall and Independence Square
- Run up the “Rocky Steps”
- Take an authentic Amish buggy ride and visit a traditional market
Experience the diversity of Boston, from Bunker Hill and the Boston Common to the campuses of Harvard and MIT. Walk the Freedom Trail and see Boston Harbor, site of the Boston Tea Party – one of the major events leading up to the American Revolution.
- Walk Boston’s Freedom Trail
- See the USS Constitution, America’s oldest commissioned Navy ship
- Enjoy lunch on the Boston Commons
- Visit the campuses of Harvard and MIT
For Pizza Lovers
Climb aboard a big yellow school bus for a 4.5-hour pizza tour of New York, and visit 4 of the best pizzerias across the outer boroughs to sample New Yorkers favorite fast food. Learn where to find the sit-down or take out pizza for the rest of your stay! A great way to experience the diversity of the NYC pizza scene.
Although stops change weekly – making each tour unique – you can expect to find some of the best pizzerias on the whole damn planet! Even native New Yorkers rarely venture to some of these secluded havens.
Before finding the best pizza in the city, factor in the many variables. In fact, it’s like asking an artist their favorite color! There are just too many options, from whether you want a sit-down restaurant, a slice or whole pie, with loads of cheese or different toppings.
Every trip starts in Manhattan, but possible visits along the way may take you to Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Wherever you end up, you will eat slices at 4 different venues, including pizzerias with the oldest brick ovens in the city, classic New York slice counters, and more, all the while discussing the intricacies of the City’s pizza culture!
- Discover some of the finest pizzerias in New York City
- Travel via a big yellow school bus where you can relax between visits
- Sample 4 different slices at different venues
- Leave Manhattan to find the best pizzerias in the outer boroughs
For Food Lovers
Savor the flavors of Brooklyn on a 3-hour food tour, and sample breads, cheeses, and pastries crafted by those who treat food as an art form. Venture away from the beaten tourist path as a local guide takes you to mom-and-pop stores, food courts and more.
- Discover why Brooklyn is now the center of the NYC food scene
- Visit family-owned food stores to get the lowdown on the culinary scene in Brooklyn
- Stroll down beautiful tree-lined streets
- Explore the many faces of Brooklyn’s cuisine, from New American to Middle Eastern food and beyond
- Eat some of the best food New York City has to offer
- Explore the cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood, Greenwich Village
- Shop in some of New York City’s coolest shops
- Visit Jazz clubs, bookshops and much, much more
- Eat some of the best food that New York City’s Chinatown has to offer
- Enjoy many different types of food, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai
- Explore the narrow alleys and little shops that make Chinatown so special
- Learn of the fascinating history behind Chinatown’s development
Savor the flavors of Italian American style on a 2-hour food tour of one of Manhattan’s most colorful neighborhood. Sample pizzas, prosciutto, and cheeses in Little Italy, and learn the history and culture of the neighborhood at family run bakeries and dairies.
- Sample delicious pizzas, pastries, and cheeses in New York City’s Little Italy
- Learn the history of immigration to New York in the early 20th Century
- Visit family owned bakeries and pizzerias
- Discover New York’s bootlegging depot from the days of prohibition at Curb Exchange
- See Little Italy movie site locations, from movies such as “The Godfather” and “Donnie Brasco”
For Wine Lovers
Relax as you cruise around the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty in a climate controlled glassed-in observatory on a beautiful yacht, while enjoying wine and cheese pairings. This Holiday Wine Tasting is perfect for friends or family, and getting into the Holiday spirit!
- Taste five different wines paired with Artisan cheeses
- Learn the basics of tasting in a fun, informative setting
- Discover the perfect wine to match with your Holiday meals
- Enjoy beautiful views of Manhattan’s skyline and the Statue of Liberty
A 2-hour walking tour through the historic Lower East Side of Manhattan visits at least eight different venues. You will experience bakeries, candy stores, ice cream shops, and more, with complimentary tastings included.
The diversity of NYC is on full display in the downtown district, as customers are exposed to treats from all over the world. These select locations are all to be explored as you indulge yourself on this cosmopolitan tour. You can experience one of the city’s oldest and most historic regions, with an artistry unique even to New York.
Along the way, indulge in the dessert offerings from among the top pastry chefs and food artisans in the City. This is a unique opportunity to explore NYC with, and like, a local, whilst indulging in the food culture. Complimentary tastings at select locations are included.
- Visit at least eight dessert venues on the Lower East Side of Manhattan
- Indulge in complimentary tastings at select locations
- Take a hosted tour with a local New Yorker who is an expert on the neighborhood
Are you a cupcake lover?
Indulge your passion for cupcakes on a 2-hour walking tour of New York City, and discover the latest food craze in Greenwich Village. Sample colorful cupcakes at boutique bake shops, and build your own custom cupcake along the way.
- Discover the cupcake craze sweeping New York City
- Visit some of the most popular bake shops of Greenwich Village
- Learn the history of the perfectly formed cupcake
- Build your own customized cupcake at Molly’s Cupcakes
- Get 22 flavors of gelato in just one bite!
For Shopping Lovers
Shop in designer showrooms, with VIP special access, and save 50-70% on current fashions. Fun, fabulous and quintessentially New York!
Shop Gotham blazed the trail for “special access showroom shopping” and ladies, this is where it all happens! The Garment Center “Insider” Shopping Tour takes you on a “behind-the-scenes” shopping expedition to the epicenter of the fashion industry. You will be escorted to six appointments – only Designer Showrooms not accessible to the public – to shop where department and boutique store buyers go, as well as fashion editors shop, and have access to WHOLESALE prices just like they do.
Shopping is for the current season and features designer apparel & accessories (handbags, belts, jewelry, scarves) at 50- 70% below retail. The designers we work with are a combination of household & exciting emerging names. Best not to come with an item in mind, but rather to shop and buy pieces you have never seen before and will be thrilled to have in your wardrobe.
On your Shop Gotham program, you will have the opportunity to meet a designer or two in their showroom, learn interesting tidbits about the fashion industry and the history of this fascinating district, and see iconic spots such as where the Project Runway contestants are housed. If there is a fabulous Sample Sale on the day of your tour, we will take you there!
- Enjoy a non-traditional shopping experiences along with NYC sights
- Shop at 6 Private Designer Showrooms at wholesale prices
- See historical landmarks in the Garment District
- Spend time with fashion knowledgeable bargain hunters
Learn how Industry City has been a revolutionary part of making goods in NYC, both past and present, all while meeting some of the passionate designers and artisans who operate there today — and sampling some great food and drink, too!
- Experience Industry City’s one-of-a-kind industrial setting on the Brooklyn waterfront and take in amazing skyline views
- Learn about the history of manufacturing in NYC
- Experience the wide array of makers and designers that NYC has to offer
- Shop Industry City’s unique artisanal offerings, from soaps to salumi, coffee to candles, lighting to liqueurs
- Spend the day at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
- Shop in over 220 designer name brand outlet stores
- Get a VIP discount book and take advantage of exceptional bargains
For Running Lovers
A non-competitive 5K run that follows along the winding paths and rolling hills of NYC’s most beloved green space! We make brief stops along the way to explore the Park’s most interesting landmarks and exciting history. No gym treadmill can compare!
- Experience running the way real New Yorkers do
- See the most iconic sights in Central Park
- Visit the John Lennon memorial in Strawberry Fields, the Great Lawn, as well as the Bethesda Fountain and many more
- Enjoy the most breathtaking views in all of New York City
For Street Art Lovers
- Work with a real NYC Graffiti Artist
- Create your own art
- Learn basic skills like planning, color combos, how to spray paint, etc.
For Music Lovers
For those of you obsessed with music, specifically with Hip Hop culture, you can go on the world’s only hip-hop experience that uses celebrity talent as guides for every bus tour. Participants on this tour learn about NYC’s hip-hop directly from veterans of the genre.
This Hip-Hop Tour aims to educate and entertain guests on the history of hip-hop, showing the evolution of a truly New York art-form through the eyes of actual artists. Each jam-filled bus journey is led by pioneers, including but not limited to GrandMaster Caz (Cold Crush Brothers), Kurtis Blow, Rahiem (Furious Five), and Reggie Reg (Crash Crew).
These artists take you through their old stomping grounds while sharing personal stories and anecdotes as only a pre-“old-school” rhyme master could. Follow in their footsteps with photo-friendly pit stops at the legendary Apollo Theater and an array of clubs. This 4-hour tour cruises through Manhattan and the Bronx, explaining the movement in its formative years and showing how it took its baby steps prior to becoming the musical genre of today. Join the musical journey through the birthplace of hip-hop and explore over 3 decades of its history.
- Take a journey to some of New York City’s most overlooked historical hubs on this celebrity-guided hip-hop excursion
- Stop by the Graffiti Hall of Fame
- Take a picture in front of the famous Apollo Theater
For Broadway Shows Lovers
Tickets for The Lion King Broadway Show
This is one of my favorite shows! See this performance of The Lion King, winner of six Tony awards featuring Oscar-winning music, live on Broadway. Marvel at the magnificent sights and sounds of this remarkable play, adapted from the classic 1994 Disney movie, at the Minskoff Theater. A must see while in New York.
- Enjoy The Lion King, a six-time Tony award winner, live on Broadway
- Marvel as elaborate and colorful sets as are transformed into the African savanna
- Sing along to your favorite songs from this beloved Disney classic
For Holiday Shows Lovers
Celebrate the final weeks of the holiday season with this beloved annual tradition, which The New York Times credits with “rekindling the glow of the Christmas spirit.”
Watch the fantastic Christmas Spectacular at New York’s legendary Radio City Music Hall for a truly memorable festive experience. Watch the stage transform into a giant magical canvas right before your very eyes. Package includes an all inclusive meal.
- See the world famous Radio City Rockettes
- Enjoy New York’s iconic show featuring Santa Claus & the Rockette Reindeers
- Marvel at the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
- See a show in NYC’s largest theatre featuring spectacular Art Deco architecture
- Choose between two Times Square Restaurants for your family meal
For Night lovers!
With a local by your side to guide you through the cobbled backstreets, hop between late night hipster cafes, stylish wine bars and get a taste of the district’s iconic nightlife in the city that never sleeps.
Join a like-minded local and get ready to experience the city that never sleeps for yourself. The Meatpacking District is more than deserving of its reputation as one of the best places in the City to party and you will soon see why!
Spend the evening exploring this trendy neighborhood, where old warehouses have been repurposed as hip nightclubs, stylish bars or underground clubs; your local will take you to places that match your style and preferences.
With the first drink included, enjoy a cocktail in a famous bar where the locals are dressed to impress, or grab a table at a street side cafe and sip a glass of wine as you watch revelers heading out for the night.
Bar hop through the neighborhood, discover the most popular nightlife spots with your local and get a taste of the district’s party reputation – it doesn’t disappoint!
Get tips and tricks from your local about the best clubs and late-night bars to continue your night, so that you can keep partying like a local (possibly until the sun comes up!).
- Bar hop through this gritty-glam neighborhood and experience its nightlife with a local
- Visit the most famous and hip bars in the area or discover the hidden local spots
- Enjoy a drink included at the first bar you visit
- Explore the neighborhood as it comes alive after dark
- Get tips and tricks for where to continue your night and keep partying like a local
Something for everyone! I hope this curated list helps you to find the perfect New York gift experience for your family, friends and special loved ones. An experience is often worth more, and is far more valuable than most material presents. I hope that one of these unique New York experiences makes your loved ones smile! Enjoy!
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Traveling Anywhere Soon?
Everything you need to know before you go: Essential Travel Items to pack and more.
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to buy travel insurance whenever you travel since it is essential! I am a fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Best to protect yourself from any possible injury, sickness and theft abroad.
- Photos are critical for capturing moments, documenting memories and can make the most precious gifts! And since you’ll probably be snapping tons of them during your getaway, I would suggest getting a good quality mirrorless camera. It is not heavy to carry around, takes amazing pictures and, because it’s wifi enabled, I can send the photos straight to my mobile phone. The one that I personally use is: Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera. The portraits lens that comes with the camera is amazing but, since I take so many photos for work, I also bought an additional lens – the 18-105mm.
- I also recommend an action camera like the Go Pro Hero 6. Good for adventure travel, action shots, water sports shots and more.
- Weather can be unpredictable in almost every destination.This is why I always carry with me a small, lightweight umbrella and a raincoat.
- I always keep a big scarf in my bag, since it is helpful when it gets cooler in the evening, and it’s also a great accessory for my outfits, as a cover up especially when you need to go inside a spiritual or religious place. You never know! One of my favorite is an infinity scarf by Waypoint Goods, which has a secret Hidden Zipper pocket. You can hide money, your passport and any other valuables.
- I love to have a few sets of small earrings, because sometimes they tend to get lost.
- I always bring extra hair ties, pins and clips, in case the weather gets crazy, I can always pick up my hair.
- I prefer cross body travel bags. They are convenient, easy to access, transition well from day to night, as well as keeping you better protected from theft. I really like this one from Bagallini or this one from Lo and Sons.
- Waterproof boots – These are good regardless the weather.
- Comfortable walking sandals – For days with good weather.
- Earbuds – Perfect for listening to music during different stages of the trip.
- If you are a girl who loves make-up like myself, I totally recommend the Urban Decay Born to Run palette. It is what I always carry with me during my travels.
- For those of us who love answering emails, working or reading on the go: I cannot travel without my Amazon Fire Tablet HD 8. I have so many books on it from my kindle unlimited and it really keeps me entertained while on the go. Plus, it’s convenient for me to answer some emails and get some work done.