These Are the 25 Coolest Things to Do in New York: A Complete Guide

new york city

We the People Style

No material gift can really compare to an unforgettable experience—the one that you'll remember forever. While the pressure mounts to find the perfect gift as we inch toward the holidays or another special occasion, we're fully endorsing skipping the cashmere sweaters and colognes in favor of dynamic shared experiences that will mark your memories long after your sweater pills, and the spritz du jour wears off. And what better place to share that experience than in the heart of New York City?

Whether you're a jaded Manhattanite or a bright-eyed tourist, you'll equally enjoy these experiences that will give you a taste of the best of New York. These ideas are not your average Sex and the City walking tours or Broadway shows. From a 24-course Michelin-starred meal to jumping off a 23-foot tall platform on a trapeze, to flying through the city skyline at sunset—there's a little something for every taste and budget. Big Apple dwellers and visitors alike, you'll never forget these 25 New York experiences.

01 of 09

The Meals

People gather around the chef's table at Brooklyn Fare
Courtesy of The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare

The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare

The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare isn't just a regular dinner night out—it's a three–Michelin star restaurant serving a 24-course, seafood-centric, omakase-style tasting menu by chef César Ramirez. Gather around the communal stainless steel kitchen counter and watch the team prepare a parade of unforgettable dishes right before your eyes.

Blanca

For those who are game for experimental dining, The Infatuation recommends heading to Bushwick for Blanca's 19-course tasting menu that might include "outstanding dishes ranging from steak and pork collar to a single, thin piece of pancetta."

Atla

New York magazine recommends enfrijoladas and chicken soup at Atla in NoHo, the more casual sister restaurant of popular Cosme. As all-day cafés grow in popularity, Atla is certainly an NYC go-to. The space features a long, terrazo bar, natural woods and greenery.

02 of 09

The Fitness Classes

Trapeze school on the west side highway in New York City

belterz / Getty Images 

Trapeze School

Skip your regular workout this year and try the Trapeze School, where you'll swing through new heights while jumping off a 23-foot tall platform and fly through the air while twirling and pirouetting in tandem. Warning: You may get addicted.

Sword Fitness

In Harlem, eastern and western sword styles combine to bring participants Sword Fitness, a 60-minute, medium intensity class that will improve "movement quality, coordination, and kinesthetic awareness." 

Surfset

Mimic the powerful, full-body movements required of surfing—on land, and in an urban setting. At Surfset in East Village, work to strengthen and stabilize, as well as enhance your cardio capabilities atop a 6-foot surfboard set on three balance balls. Surfset classes come in a variety of formats, too, such as Strength & Yoga, and "day at the beach," classes which incorporates props like volleyballs, sandbags, and towels.

03 of 09

The Floral Schools

Ikebana floral arrangement

 

PhotomanRichard / Getty Images 

Little Flower School Brooklyn

More than just your average flower arranging class, Little Flower School Brooklyn offers workshops on the art of still life arrangements according to Dutch masters. The class also offers a professional photographer to capture your arrangement, as well as a light lunch and refreshments to keep you sustained. If workshops aren't available for a date you're interested in, inquire about a private lesson; they offer half- and full-day classes on request.

Resobox

Ikebana, or the traditional Japanese art of flower arranging, is available at Resobox's East Village and Long Island City locations. According to a post on FTD's By Design blog, Ikebana goes beyond aesthetics and views flower arranging as a "spiritual process that helps one develop a closeness with nature and merge the indoors and outdoors."

New York Botanical Garden

While New York Botanical Garden's floral design program offers a certificate in floral design, take a class for fun and learn the basics on everything from simple bouquets to grand-scale arrangements.

04 of 09

The Shows

Scene from Sleep No More theatrical performance in New York City

Courtesy of Mckittrick Hotel 

Sleep No More

Didn't get your hands on a pair of tickets to Hamilton? Fear not—we've got the next best thing. Skip Broadway this time and head to West Chelsea to experience Sleep No More, the immersive Macbeth-inspired performance where you roam the five-story production and create your own adventure. Stop by the rooftop at the McKittrick Hotel for a drink beforehand.

Then She Fell

This intimate (15 guests per show), interactive show is performed in the former Greenpoint Hospital. A host of fantastical characters guides you through a psych-ward to peek in on scenes like an interloper... until you're discovered. What's more; Time Out reports that "no two individuals will have the same evening."

05 of 09

The Staycations

Interior shot of a table setting at The Beekman Hotel in NYC
Courtesy of The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel

The Beekman

The hottest hotel to hit the Manhattan streets in 2016 is The Beekman, located in the heart of the Financial District (the building it's in however, was constructed in 1883.) Between its highly Instagrammable nine-story atrium, old-world charm, and three well-attended restaurants, you'll feel like you're in an entirely new city—and you'll never want to leave. Dine at Augustine, have a drink in the Bar Room, and be a tourist in your own city.

1 Hotels

Choose from 1 Hotels's waterfront location near the Brooklyn Bridge or Midtown Manhattan locale overlooking iconic Central Park. The sustainable-minded brand offers eco-luxe design, lots of native greenery, and community activities like terrarium workshops, complimentary yoga and boxing classes, and live music in the lobby.

06 of 09

The Cooking Classes

Exterior of Eataly in New York City

Ben Hider / Getty Images 

Brooklyn Kitchen

If there is something you've been yearning to learn how to cook, Brooklyn Kitchen likely has a class for you. They offer cooking classes in dumplings, to knife skills, a class on Middle Eastern Cuisine, and one even dedicated entirely to sauces.

La Scuola di Eataly

Enroll at La Scuola di Eataly, Eataly's cooking school, and sharpen your cooking skills, from fresh pasta to stews or seasonal seafood. Children's classes and four-course chef's table dinners are also offered. Each course focuses on its own specialty—from Urbani truffles to fresh market produce—so pick your favorite and get ready to eat well.

Milk Bar

The popular bakery helmed by Christina Tosi also offers baking classes at its Brooklyn headquarters. Book your desired baking class online to learn how to whip up their classic Milk Bar Pie (formerly known as Crack Pie), chocolate caramel pretzel cake, and birthday cake.

07 of 09

The Spa Experiences

Treatment room at The Spa at Equinox Hotel in New York City

Courtesy of Equinox Hotel

Ancient Aire Baths

Ancient Aire Baths will transport you to the ultimate, otherworldly relaxing experience with a network of vault-like hot and cold baths illuminated by flickering candlelight. Its red wine experience also allows you to bathe in a private antique thermal tub filled with a concentrate of Spanish Tempranillo grapes—and soak up all the antioxidants.

The Spa at Equinox Hotel

Included in The Spa's treatments is the Wave Table, which combines sound and harmonic resonance therapy to purportedly achieve deep relaxation in 30 or 60 minutes. Or opt for a CBD-infused massage, a vitamin-packed IV drip, or a meditation session in its E.Scape pods, developed with the help of sleep scientists. Equinox Hotel is the fitness brand’s first foray into hospitality, and we imagine its spa as sleek and as packed with innovative experiences—just like its luxe gyms.

Ora Space

Ora Space is a modern acupuncture sanctuary that combines ancient Chinese techniques with a soothing environment. After your treatment, opt for a specialty tea blend to cap off the experience.

08 of 09

The Wine Tastings

Group of friends enjoy glasses of wine

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images 

Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit

As Eater reports, part of the fun of Bottlerocket tastings are the surprises that come along with it, like the impromptu appearance of a celebrity guest, or an unusual pairing—wine and candy, anyone?

Corkbuzz

Additionally, Eater reports that sommelier-stacked, wine-centric restaurant Corkbuzz offers a host of wine classes; including blind tastings, and classes dedicated to rosé, volcanic wines, and wines from Italy.

Otto Enoteca

Follow the lead of Otto Enoteca’s house sommelier as they lead guests through a 90-minute wine class. By the end of the session, you’ll walk away knowing the difference between the distinct profiles of Sangiovese, Piemonte, or Chianti, for example. Cheese and house-cured meats to snack on also included.

09 of 09

The Tourist Experiences

A helicopter flies above the NYC skyline
Courtesy of Blade

Helicopter Ride via Blade app

For a helicopter ride that's more than your average tourist trap, live your own evening of pure luxury with the Blade app, which offers a private sunset trip around Manhattan, complete with cocktails in two Blade lounges. You may not become a regular app user any time soon, but you can still get a small taste of the luxe life.

The Cloisters

Take a trip back in time to Medieval Europe. Officially known as The Met Cloisters, those who are willing to venture uptown shouldn't miss the art, sure, but remember to also spend time at the cloisters themselves; they're located outside and offer a tranquil space to sun bathe and spend time with friends or loved ones.

Woolworth Building

Calling architecture and history-lovers. When the Woolworth Building was built in 1913 by Cass Gilbert, only its (affluent) residents were allowed to revel in its beauty. Now, anyone can admire its mosaic ceiling and Gothic-style aesthetics. And for film aficionados, see if you can recognize this building in Singin’ in the Rain, The Great Gatsby, and Fantastic Beasts.

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