I've lived here for a decade, so I've celebrated a lot of birthdays in NYC. Because I love food and wine, and both are essential aspects of my life, my idea of a great birthday usually involves a lot of eating and drinking. But depending on your personality, you might have specific ideas about what your birthday should entail. No worries there, because you have countless options for a birthday celebration in NYC. Are you into fashion, food, or adventure? No matter your taste or what you love to do, you'll find myriad ways to toast a special occasion in our fabulous city. Here are some suggestions tailored to personality types, so you can start planning now for your next birthday soiree.
The Adventurous Birthday Outing
Climbing at Steep Rock Bouldering (on the border of the Upper East Side and East Harlem) is one of the best birthday activities in NYC if you want to get in touch with your adventurous side. Obviously, bouldering in a facility isn't exactly like bouldering in the wilderness, but it's fun and challenging nonetheless. For $25, purchase a day pass, which includes an orientation to show you the ropes before you climb.
If your birthday falls in the spring or fall, consider hiking the Greenbelt in Staten Island. With 2,800 acres of open space, parks, and trails, Greenbelt is the city's largest remaining forest preserve. On your special day, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this vast parkland of meadows, wetlands, and rolling hills. Hike on 35 miles of rugged trails, or if you prefer biking to hiking, cycle on the two-mile perimeter trail.
Image via Dorothy Reilly
Birthday Ideas for the Foodie
Head with your significant other or bestie and feast on one of the tasting menus at Babbo. If you love pasta, you'll adore the $95 pasta tasting that features classic dishes like pappardelle Bolognese and agnoletti Pomodoro. If you prefer a meat course mixed with pasta courses, go for the $99 traditional tasting, in which you can sample duck tortelli as well as hanger steak. Accompany wines for $75 per person with either of the 7-course tasting menus.
If you're not all that fancy but love food, a food truck crawl could be the ideal birthday outing. From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., you'll find a bevy of trucks like Neapolitan Express and Carl's Steaks in Midtown. Check out Roaming Hunger for truck locations and times.
Celebrating with the Creative Type
The Museum of Modern Art is a great birthday party venue in NYC because it offers something for every art enthusiast. Fuel your most creative side in the Collection Galleries, an ongoing exhibition of modern art from 1880 to 1950. You'll observe masterpieces from the greats such as Monet, Matisse, and Gauguin. Also in the museum's permanent repertoire is the Sculpture Collection, which spans from 1960– 1969 and features works from Picasso and Calder, among others. Be sure to take some time to view the temporary exhibits at MoMA as well, as they do not disappoint.
For outdoor art inspiration, hop on the subway for a funky street art tour of Bushwick. See street art (both tagging art and mural art) by some of the most skilled street artists in the world. Purchase tickets at Free Tours by Foot.
Birthday Celebrations for the Quiet Type
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan but don't want to leave the island, pack a picnic and head north on the A train or 1 train and spend the day in Fort Tryon Park. The 66-acre green space provides panoramic views of the Hudson River, New Jersey Palisades, and George Washington Bridge. You won't take any bad pictures here, and you'll relish the quiet.
Bookworms can spend an afternoon in the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library. With its 52-foot-tall ceilings covered in bright skies and cotton-like clouds, this historic room that spans two city blocks remains one of the most iconic locations in the five boroughs to relax, read, and gather your thoughts.
Birthday Places in NYC for the Fashionista
Window shopping on Madison Avenue must be one of the most New York-centric things to do, especially for a fashionista. Shops like Chanel, Barneys, Michael Kors, and Tory Burch provide great style inspiration, and the people-watching is a plus.
After perusing the shops, head downtown to Augustine – Keith McNally's latest venture – where you can eat brunch, lunch, or dinner, and mingle at the bar with a fashion-forward crowd.
A Traveler's NYC Birthday
If you love to travel but find yourself in New York City for your birthday, escape to countless countries around the globe when you ride the 7 train through Queens. Stop in Jackson Heights for fresh, authentic Colombian eats at Brisas Del Valle, and get off at the 69th Street stop for all-you-can-eat Thai food at Jeaw Hon New York.
If you'd rather celebrate in Manhattan, a day in Chinatown is like a day in another world. Take in the local Chinese culture when you stroll through Columbus Park and browse the peaceful Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association. For a grand birthday finale, Nom Wah Tea Parlor fits the bill, serving dim sum and some of the tastiest dumplings in town.