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Posted: Dec 15, 2019
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By: Jennifer Friedel

The Ultimate NYC Experience & Gift-Giving Guide For Couples

You don’t need the excuse of the holidays to gift your loved one something special. We’ve rounded up a selection of fun and unique experiences, and gifts that give back or support small businesses. There’s always a little something for everyone in NYC.

01

The Superhero

01

Maybe they can’t fly from rooftop to rooftop, but they certainly fly up and down from your fifth floor walk pretty quickly when you forget your sunglasses. Thank your significant other with some PG role-playing at Spyscape. This immersive spy museum allows you to crack codes, avoid laser beams, tail some targets and tinker with real-life spy gear (and not so real 007 set memorabilia), thanks to input and donations from ex-spies. Or, show off your #powercouple status with these cuff links and earrings that really pack a punch.

You can also walk in the footsteps of your favorite superheroes on the Super Tour of NYC that takes you to more than 40 iconic landmarks across all realms. Even if you’ve seen them before on your commute, you’ll hear some behind the scenes info which’ll help transport you. You can also create your own tour using this Free Tours By Foot itinerary as a guide, and stop by some of your other favorite hero - or villain - landmarks along the way.

02

Third Eye Open

Third Eye Open

Whether practicing for years or a newbie, there are plenty of yoga and other mindful journeys you can take in NYC, from the off-beat to traditional. The Woom Center offers experiences that engage your five senses, including taste with its vegan café, and complimentary elixir shots following some classes. There’s the Sound Experience which is slated as an “immersive sonic journey,” using your speaking voice as a meditative tool, breathwork, and the incorporation of gongs, Himalayan singing bowls, bells, and tuning forks. Another layer is the Spatial Sound meditation that incorporates vibrations as a way to connect with the present, as well as enhance your meditation. Woom offers several other sense-titillating experiences, in addition to Vinyasa and restorative yoga practice. If you’re having “a day,” you can also self-gift yourself a trip to MNDFL (https://www.mndflmeditation.com/), which offers classes based on what will make you feel better. If you need to improve your sleep, work through some emotions or boost your energy; there’s a class for that.

Speaking of energy … have you ever had your future told or aura read? Book an appointment with Dante Sabatino in Chelsea for a pretty in-depth reading of your cards. He’s a New Yorker through and through, who has been reading Tarot for more than 35 years, so nothing you say or ask will phase him. Brooklyn’s Maha Rose Center for Healing has crystal healing classes as well as other classes and workshops to create a “more connected you,” like reiki, solstice ceremonies, tantric workshops, and sound baths. Regardless of how your chakra feels, an added layer of protection can’t hurt. But rather than warding off evil with a Hamsa, try exuding positive vibes. Missoma’s open heart ring is designed as a symbol of strength, putting out vibes of love, luck, inspiration, and passion. There are also these cheeky Kama Sutra-inspired tarot cards if you want to try some readings on your own.

03

Break a Sweat

Break a Sweat

Couples who work out together… stay healthy together? Why restrict yourself to the typical workout when there’s so much going on around the city. There’s Switch Playground with partner-based classes, and each class has multiple trainers to ensure attention. If you’d like to see each other in some new positions, The Muse in Brooklyn offers a variety of circus classes. Learn how to suspend from aerial ropes, spin from a lyra hoop in the air, or try their partner acro classes to support one another. You can also stretch your legs outside, exploring new neighborhoods; check out some of our neighborhood guides for inspiration. Just make sure you don’t overlook important work out partners – comfy shoes and hydration. Allbirds makes comfy sneakers using sustainable methods and repurposed materials, like castor bean oil and recycled plastic bottles. And, on that note – Soma, which makes water bottles from shatter-resistant glass and packs them in boxes made from recycled items, donates to charity with every purchase.

And of course if you’ve got a four-legged family member, don’t leave them out of the fun. If they need an extra discipline boost, there’s plenty of training classes around the Burroughs but if you’re looking for them to get some extra exercise (and learn new skills), check out agility training courses. The Brooklyn Dog Training Center offers recreational courses, and if your pup gets really good, professional training as well. Either way, before you head out the door, download the Charity Miles app, which logs your movement (walking, running, biking, dancing, whatever). For every mile you move, a donation is made to one of its 42 partnered charities of your choice.


04

The Armchair Ref

04

If you’d rather watch someone else work up a sweat there are tons of sports to cheer - or yell - at around the city. They may be floating about average, but have you seen the Brooklyn Nets’ new court? It’s worth the trip alone. NFL Sunday Funday IRL takes on a whole new level, especially if there’s some friendly rivalry. You can even hire professional tailgate planners to ensure the best pregame in the lot. They handle the set-up, breakdown, catering, drinks, even seating. Or, trade jerseys for Wranglers at the annual Professional Bull Riders competition at the Garden. More than two dozen of the world’s top professional bull riders compete for top billing at what’s become one of the most anticipated championship rounds on the circuit. The Garden and its Hulu Theater also host a slew of boxing matches throughout the year, from amateur to professional, as well as annual NYPD and FDNY smoker matches.

If you want to get involved without too much pressure, there’s axe throwing at Kick Axe Throwing in Brooklyn or other axe-throwing venues around town (it really does qualify as a sport as there are a national federation and leagues around the country) and Premier Indoor Golf which has private golf simulators in Flatiron. Pros are available for private instruction, and you can also sign up to be part of its league. The two-person teams tee off weekly and compete for prizes including equipment, open bars at the venue and more.

05

The Stargazed Lover

The Stargazed Lover

For those with stars in their eyes, don’t let the skyscrapers stand in your way. You can hang the night sky, exactly as it was on any special occasion on your wall. Just provide your special date, location and time (if in the evening), and you’ll receive a beautiful poster of the constellations, stars and moon phases capturing that memory.

Or, head outside with one of the several stargazing clubs around the city. You can attend once, or as many as you want. The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York observes the sky at Lincoln Center every Friday and Saturday evening April through mid-August, as well as a few weekends in September. They post dates, times and other events on their site too. NYC Parks provides a listing of times and locations to scope meteor showers, solstices and regular meet-ups around the city throughout the year, led by park rangers and other NYC astronomy clubs. You can cuddle up under a blanket from Sackcloth and Ashes to stay warm. For every blanket purchased, one is donated to a homeless shelter.

06

The Imbiber

The Imbiber

If your significant other likes to shake things up, as in dry martinis, but you think they need to add new tricks to their repertoire visit the Liquor Lab for more than just the average tasting. Top-notch category specialists lead bi-weekly themed classes that dive deep into the glass. Not only do you learn how to create drinks, but Liquor Lab instructors also cover the recipes’ history and background on the alcohol you’re using. Each class also includes small plate bites completing the theme like Margaritas and tacos, turkey and mashed potatoes for the holidays, and pizza alongside iconic NYC cocktails (veg options are also available). To showcase your new talents, pick up hand-crafted artisanal coasters or glassware at the UNICEF market. Items purchased cover lifesaving supplies for children around the world, like malaria pills, rehydration sachets, and nourishment packets.

If one or both of you have a sweet tooth, sign up for a Tipsy Scoop class where you make alcohol-infused sorbet and ice cream, like Strawberry White Sangria and Tequila Mexican “Hot” Chocolate. The classes are taught by Tipsy Scoop’s founder, and you walk out with two pints of your creations. For everyday sweetness, don’t overlook Sugarfina’s extensive Cocktail Candy menu. Beyond just Champagne gummy bears, there’s gin & tonic cordials (alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions available), Tito’s (chocolate) olives and “cocktail” kits with candies and mixers.

07

The Chow Hound

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For those who need a polite nudge in upping their culinary game or those who just want to round out their culinary skills, Cook Space is a great option. Its in-depth five-week course, the Home Cook Series, covers tools and techniques its teachers learned at culinary school through a variety of global dishes. Its one-off classes, focusing on seasonal ingredients, run the gamut from holiday baking to intricate pasta making, and how to prep a chicken from breaking it down to plating.

If you prefer more intimate in-home classes, you can book private sessions with the League of Kitchens. I mean, who better to teach you how to whip up a traditional delicious meal than a grandma? Each teacher leads you in cooking a meal based on their family recipes that have been shared for generations. There are cuisines from all over the world, like Bengali, Persian, Japanese, and Argentinian to choose from, and the company also offers classes for up to five people in the teachers’ homes for a real family-style feel. More than just a cooking class, it’s an exchange of cultures, learning and family traditions.

And for those who like to figure it out on their own, gift some meal prep delivery services like Sun Basket or Sakara Life (for more meal subscription ideas, visit our grocery guide). Regardless of how you approach it, first make sure your kitchen is properly prepped. Williams-Sonoma has benefited No Kid Hungry for several years with its rotating spatulas decorated by celebs in and out of the culinary field, like Ina Garten, Jose Andres, Lisa Vanderpump and Zac Posen. If that doesn’t fit your aesthetic, Ten Thousand Villages also has beautiful table and kitchenware to choose from and supports underserved communities and individuals globally.

08

The Bookworm

The Bookworm

If curling up with a book sounds like you and your partner’s dream afternoon, then we’re sure you’ve already pored over the books at The Strand, wandered the aisles of the New York Public Library, and pretended it was year’s past while having a bite at the Algonquin Hotel or White Horse Tavern. But, there’s also a plethora of oft-overlooked niche bookstores (mystery fiction, anyone?) and small hidden gems (there was a community fundraiser to keep this establishment open). You can join a walking tour like the Literary Pub Crawl that has several different options depending on which neighborhood you want to dive into. You could also take a romantic stroll down the Literary Walk (or Poets Walk) in Central Park, aptly named due to all the attire paying homage to poets and writers along the way.

If your creative juices are flowing, consider signing up for one of the city’s bookbinding, letterpress or set and design classes like those at The Center for Book Art (there’s also a couples' wedding invitation course, hint hint) to fill out your bookcase. Or try a creative writing course at Gotham Writers. They offer classes (in-person and online) ranging from poetry to fiction to memoir writing (and everything in between). If you’d rather not tickle the keyboard ivories, but still want to proclaim your bibliophile status, peruse Out of Print’s collection. For every item purchased, the company “donate[s] books and support[s] literacy programs around the world.” Another cool and helpful gift for aspiring writers is a magnetic notebook. Instead of trashing pages or trying to decipher every re-write notation, you can just swap the pages around until your story unfolds the way you imagined.

09

The Artiste

The Artiste

If you appreciate a good performance, or like giving them, head to Sleep No More or Company XIV. Sleep No More feels more like a living museum as you wander the McKittrick Hotel, room to room following actors as they play out their spin on Macbeth. You become part of the play too, so be prepared for some respectful touching and whispering in ears as the play unfolds (actors will gauge your comfort level, or lack thereof). Company XIV revisits fairytales and stories you already know and takes them in a different, neo-baroque direction. A mix of circus, burlesque, over the top props and beautiful costumes bring a new dimension to Alice in Wonderland in its production of Queen of Hearts. There’s also a holiday rendition of The Nutcracker, and its annual sold-out sensual New Year’s performance and party is not one to miss.

On the lighter side, you can enroll in classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade to get over any stage fright and work on your improv and sketch writing. Known for its famous alums, and seriously hilarious weekly ASSSSCAT 3000 performances, you’ll soak up the advice only learned from great success - and disappointment. (P.S. You’ll eventually need to perform for strangers.)

10

The Artist

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What better place for daily inspiration than NYC? We’re hoping some of these experiences can further tap your and your partner’s inner creativity! Petal + Eon flower arranging courses in its super cozy studio. They use flowers perfectly suited for city living - real flowers that don’t require water or sunlight, just minimal maintenance to remain in peak bloom all year. Spruce up your apartment, or surprise your significant other with a bouquet more meaningful than the bodega flowers you maybe didn’t win them over with last time. Another creative use of your hands and mouth is a session at Brooklyn Glass. You can choose among an eight-week immersive workshop, one-day workshops or private classes for primers on glassblowing, flameworking or neon work. Walk away with your own neon sign, or colorful glassware like bowls and shot glasses.

Not to be overlooked is a way to get a bit more comfortable in your skin, and appreciate others, while working on your artistic portfolio. The Plaxall Gallery has free ongoing live nude model drawing sessions, along with complimentary drinks. Set in an intimate gallery, with music pumping, the Gallery sets an easy mood while its teachers help guide you through your work. You’ll need to bring your own supplies, so consider visiting one of the many small art shops around the city, like the family-owned Soho Art Materials and KC Arts, or order online from Blick Art Materials, which invests back into the arts community.

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