Have you checked off everyone on your gift list yet? If you need some help figuring out what to get those hard-to-please people, we’ve created a holiday gift guide with presents for the intrepid New Yorker. The best part about all of these gifts is that they can be sent instantly, so they’re perfect for the last-minute shopper. From books on the hidden histories of NYC and secret dinners catered by Michelin-star chefs to honorary donations that let your giftee own a piece of the city, check out our picks for 2023!
1. Untapped New York Insiders Membership
Give the curious New Yorker in your life a passport to the city’s secrets with an Untapped New York Insiders membership! Untapped New York Insiders is a members-only club that gives you access to in-person tours and virtual talks/livestreams, access to NYC’s most off-limits places, discounts on public tours, and much more. Insiders also have access to a digital archive of 200+ on-demand virtual events. Check out all of our upcoming Insider experiences here and some highlights below. Select “Gift Membership” here to purchase.
Winter Putterland Mini Golf & More
Times Square’s Forgotten Honky-Tonk History
2. A Piece of New York City Real Estate
New York real estate is beyond pricey, but we’ve found an alternative option! You can purchase a piece of New York City property from the Queens Museum. Though it will be very tiny. Through the Museum’s Adopt-a-Building program, when you make a donation you receive a deed to your place of choice on the world’s largest architectural scale model. Find your gift recipient’s favorite building, a sentimental spot, or where they used to live. This makes for one of the most unique last-minute gifts you can find!
3. Untapped New York Tour Gift Certificate
Give the gift of adventure with an Untapped New York Gift Card. This last-minute holiday gift card will unlock the secrets of landmark New York City sites from Grand Central Terminal to the Brooklyn Bridge. On an expert-led Untapped tour guided by Untapped New York’s licensed New York City guides, you will discover relics of the city’s past, from the remnants of Penn Station to traces of Dutch New Amsterdam in Lower Manhattan. You can see all of our upcoming experiences here and check out some highlights below.
Hydroponic Farm Tour & Tasting
Fifth Ave Gilded Age Mansion Tour
Ellis Island Abandoned Hospital Hard Hat Tour
4. Private Dinner Cooked by Michelin Star Chefs
Resident offers events where guests can attend private dinners in underutilized real estate buildings with Michelin-star chefs – the ultimate gift for discerning New Yorkers who crave a unique and intimate dining experience. No more struggling to snag reservations at popular NYC restaurants! Picture speakeasy-style gatherings where expert chefs, honed in world-class restaurants, take center stage to create unforgettable evenings. Resident is not just a culinary platform; it’s a passport to five-course tasting menus that touch various cuisines, such as Coastal New England, Latin/New American, Modern Korean, Afro-American, and more. Reservations for a Resident dinner are $195 per person and include a five-course tasting with wine pairings. Book a dinner here!
5. Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide (3rd Edition) and Secret New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants (2nd Edition)
Written by Untapped New York co-founders Michelle Young and Augustin Pasquet, Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide features over 125 of the borough’s hidden and bizarre places. This edition features new secret locations and interviews with New York City characters like the artist Tom Fruin (whose iconic water tower graces the cover!). Discover secret museums, go on an urban safari for wild parrots, enter the oldest building in New York City, watch a performance of robots in a church, step inside a grocery store frozen in 1939, and more. You can get an autographed copy directly from Untapped New York or a non-autographed copy on Amazon.
This year, Untapped New York also released a new edition of Secret New York: Hidden Bars and Restaurants by Michelle Young along with journalists Hannah Frishberg and Laura Itzkowitz. This comprehensive guide to the best off-the-beaten-path establishments includes a collection of more than 100 watering holes and eateries throughout NYC with amazing decor, eccentric owners, bizarre food, and more. The hidden bars in NYC included in this guide will please and astonish underground and post-industrial design buffs, refined gourmets, cocktail drinkers, world food lovers, and anyone curious enough to explore the infinite possibilities to have fun in New York
Hidden Bars & Restaurants
6. MOD Pastries
Know someone with a sweet tooth? Gift them a dessert by renowned French Pastry Chef Gregory Doyen! Doyen’s innovative “Multilayered Original Desert,” or MOD, can be purchased from a new shop in SoHo. A MOD is an elegant circular confection that is something of a brownie/cookie hybrid. The flavor options are nearly endless with offerings such as PB&J, Pralinello, Red Velvet, Matcha, Pecan Joy, S’mores, and more.
7. Put Their Name in an NYPL Book
You can honor a loved one on your list and help support the New York Public Library by purchasing a book nameplate. When you make a donation of $35 or more (usually $50 or more so act fast!), your gift recipient’s name will be printed along with a personalized message and put inside a book circulating in The New York Public Library. They’ll be part of New York history and your last-minute holiday gift will be very thoughtful!
8. More Books!
This year, Untapped New York Insiders got to hear from over 20 different authors and artists who put out books about New York City! The books range from coffee table photo books to non-fiction narratives about the hidden chapters of New York City history. Check out a list of some of our favorites below and watch their book talks in our on-demand archive!
- Radicals and Rogues: The Women Who Made New York Modern by Lottie Whalen
- Times Square Remade by Lynne B. Sagalyn
- The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by Maria Smilios
- Tony Sarg: Genius at Play: Adventures in Illustration, Puppetry, and Popular Culture by Lenore D. Miller and Stephanie Haboush Plunkett
- The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever by Prudence Peiffer
- From Factories to Palaces: Architect Charles B.J. Snyder and the New York City Public Schools by Jean Arrington (Author), Cynthia Skeffington LaValle (Editor), Peg Breen (Foreword)
- Twas the Night: The Art and History of the Classic Christmas Poem by Pamela McColl
- Storefront NYC: Photographs of the City’s Independent Shops, Past and Present by James and Karla Murray
- A Vanishing New York: Ruins Across the Empire State by John Lazzaro
- New York Bars at Dawn by Daniel Root
- Remnants, Photographs of the Lower East Side by David Scheinbaum and Janet Russek
- A Falling-Off Place: The Transformation of Lower Manhattan by Barbara Mensch
- An Almanac of New York City for the Year 2024 by Susan Gail Johnson
- The Bronx Nobody Knows by William B. Helmreich
9. A Seat at the Apollo
The Apollo Theater is having a big year in 2024! The historic entertainment venue will celebrate its 90th Anniversary and the venue just opened its first expansion, The Apollo Stages at the Victoria Theater. You can be part of this historic moment by dedicating a signature seat. When you reserve a signature seat, a personalized inscription will be engraved on a ¾” x 3″ plaque and affixed to the back of the seat for 25 years. Your giftee will also recieve a one-year complimentary Apollo membership at the Apollo Patron level ($500 value) and an invitation to The Apollo’s Victoria Theater grand opening celebration and reception.
10. Local Museum Membership
Show support for a local museum by gifting a membership or making a donation in someone’s honor. Museum memberships often come with fun perks such as free admission, access to special events, and gift shop discounts. Many smaller New York City institutions that Untapped New York has had the pleasure of partnering with for some of our Insider Events such as The City Reliquary in Brooklyn, The Dyckman Farmhouse in Manhattan, and the Morris Jumel Mansion, can especially use support. Check out our list of the coolest museums in New York City for some inspiration!
11. Donation to a Local Greenspace
Just like museums, green spaces can always use support. Make sure that your giftee’s favorite local park, garden, or farm sticks around by making a charitable donation in their name. Sites like the Elizabeth Street Garden and the Queens Farm always appreciate donations. You can also help support new green space initiatives like The Brooklyn Greenway by adopting a plant along the bike path!