fun things to do for your birthday in NYC

29+ Fun Things To Do For Your Birthday In NYC

Dale P. Discover NYC Leave a Comment

By Dale P & Jessie Festa. This guide to the best birthday celebrations in New York City contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Are you looking for fun things to do for your birthday in NYC?

Then you’re in the right place!

Spending your birthday in New York City is a lot of fun, no matter your age. There are so many ways to celebrate and make it a memorable occasion.

Whether you’re looking to splurge and treat yourself or enjoy your special day in a low-key way, there are plenty of fun things to do on your birthday in NYC.

Keep reading our ultimate guide to discover some of the top ideas for a birthday in New York City that will guarantee an amazing day.

Fun Things To Do For Your Birthday In NYC

1. Take a private NYC photo tour

Shameless plug:

When it comes to the best birthday things to do in NYC, you can’t beat our private New York City photo tours!

Part tour, part photoshoot, the experience is led by a licensed sightseeing guide who is also a professional photographer. You’ll leave the experience with treasured memories, interesting stories, and beautiful pictures of your group to keep.

You can choose between our recommended itineraries, or opt to have something custom created.

Visit us on Instagram (@NYCPhotoTour) for examples of our work.

couple celebrating a birthday in NYC on a private photo tour in Times Square
In NYC for your birthday? Celebrate with a private photo tour! Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

2. Book a private New York photoshoot

Are you more interested in the photos than having a tour? Then opt for a private photoshoot for your birthday celebration in NYC!

Compared with the above-mentioned photo tours, the private photoshoots include more photos, looks, and poses, and also come with a pre-shoot call to go over your vision for the session.

Whether you’re looking to capture romance in Central Park, want a fun photoshoot with friends in iconic locations, or are excited to celebrate a milestone birthday on an empowering solo shoot, we can help make it happen.

And as it’s completely customizable, the itinerary will be based on your personal interests.

Visit us on Instagram (@NYCPhotoTour) for examples of our work.

woman celebrating a birthday in New York City with a private photoshoot on the Brooklyn Bridge
Looking for things to do for your birthday in New York City? Opt for a private photoshoot! Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

3. Take in a view from an observation deck

Taking in views of the New York City skyline from an observation deck is one of the most special ways to celebrate your birthday.

The Empire State Building observation deck is a classic choice, with its 86th-floor observation deck offering sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.

For a really unique experience, you can head to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. This observation deck offers three floors of immersive experiences, including a mirrored walk-through art exhibition and all-glass viewing platforms (including the floors!) so you can see Manhattan from over 1,200 feet up.

4. Have a birthday party on a boat

Having a birthday party on a boat is one of the most memorable and unique things to do for a birthday in NYC. There’s nothing like seeing the skyline and famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty as you sail around Manhattan on your special day.

There are a variety of boat tours and boat rentals available to suit every budget, too. For instance, you can book a three-course dinner cruise for yourself and a few friends, or splash out and rent your own private yacht for the evening.

Enjoy some birthday fun on a boat! Photo via Pixabay for Pexels.

5. See an iconic New York view

One of the best free things to do on your birthday in NYC is seeing an iconic NYC view. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to accomplish this.

In fact, many of the best views in NYC are totally free!

Walk or bike across the historic Brooklyn Bridge and take in views of the downtown skyline, or stroll down the High Line — a park built on old elevated train tracks on the West Side of Manhattan.

6. See a Broadway show

One of the most fun things to do in Manhattan for a birthday is going to see a Broadway show. There’s no better time to splurge on tickets to see a new or favorite show than on your birthday.

You can find discount tickets online, and it’s possible to score some good deals, especially for weeknight shows. If there is a specific show you want to see, you might also try entering a Broadway lottery to score free or cheap tickets.

To make things even more special, make it a big night out with dinner reservations at a nice restaurant before the show. There are many memorable and unique restaurants in NYC to choose from, though some of our personal favorites near the Theater District for a birthday dinner include Sardis, Tavola, and Ardesia Wine Bar.

Bonnus: weather can often be unpredictable, so dinner and a Broadway show is also a great option for rainy day activities in NYC.

Broadway Show NYC
Celebrate your birthday with tickets to a Broadway show. Photo by Sudan Ouyang via Unsplash.

7. Have a spa day

If you are looking for where to celebrate a birthday in NYC, another option to consider is having a spa day. This is an indulgent experience that will leave you feeling pampered and refreshed.

One of the best spas in New York is Aire Ancient Baths, located in a converted textile factory in Tribeca. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an ancient Roman bathhouse — but way more chic and luxurious — as you soak in the thermal baths, relax with a massage, or enjoy a Himalayan salt experience.

Many of New York’s most luxurious five-star hotels also have great spas with day passes available, like the Sisley-Paris Spa at The Carlyle or Peninsula Spa at The Peninsula Hotel.

8. Enjoy Afternoon Tea

If you’re looking for fun things to do in NYC for a birthday, consider going to afternoon tea.

Some of the best places for afternoon tea in New York include:

  • The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel (the perfect birthday splurge)
  • Alice’s Tea Cup (great for children’s birthdays)
  • King’s Carriage House (for a traditional English afternoon tea experience)
  • The Russian Tea Room (an iconic place for afternoon tea)

This is the perfect birthday activity to celebrate your big day.

person celebrating their birthday in NYC with a high tea featuring Champagne and pastries
Enjoy afternoon tea on your birthday in NYC. Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography via Unsplash.

9. Go on a birthday scavenger hunt

If you’re visiting New York for your birthday, a scavenger hunt is a unique way to explore the city. All you need is a smartphone, some comfortable walking shoes, and a sense of adventure.

This epic scavenger hunt takes you on a three-hour quest through Central Park, while this scavenger hunt leads you through Midtown and Times Square as you solve puzzles and answer trivia questions.

Scavenger hunts are the perfect small-group activity, and are great if you’re searching for unique and fun New York birthday ideas that go beyond the typical bar meetup.

10. Have a birthday picnic

One of the most affordable ideas for a birthday in New York City is having a picnic. There are plenty of great NYC picnic spots to choose from, too.

Sheep Meadow in Central Park is one of the best places to have a picnic, or you can head out to Coney Island in Brooklyn and savor an al fresco meal on the beach.

Another great spot for a picnic is Gantry State Plaza, where you can take in views of the Manhattan skyline from Queens.

Possibly the best kept secret is Picnic Point on Governors Island, which is a quick 5-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan and, in the summer months, Brooklyn. You can rent a budget-friendly grill for the day for $26, and will enjoy epic views of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty.

If you don’t want to prep and set up a picnic yourself, you can hire a company like Perfect Picnic to create the ultimate NYC picnic experience for you.

woman enjoying an NYC birthday picnic with cheese, bread, olives, and wine
Enjoy a picnic in Central Park for your birthday. Photo by Mathilde Langevin via Unsplash.

11. Test your skills at an escape room

Are you looking for unique birthday ideas in NYC that are fun for a group? If so, consider going to an escape room!

Escape rooms have become popular activities because of the puzzle-solving aspect that forces your group to work against the clock to “escape” a locked room setting by solving a series of clues.

Escape the Room NYC in Midtown Manhattan is one of the best escape rooms in the city, with multiple themed escape room games to choose from.

Want beautiful photos taken of you on your birthday? Book a Private Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or get a styled, custom shoot that tells your unique story through an NYC Influencer Shoot or Professional New York City Shoot. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

12. Go on a food tour

A fun birthday activity for foodies in NYC is going on a food tour. New York has some of the best food in the world thanks to its diversity and being a “melting pot” of different cultures.

This Lower East Side food tour dives deep into the multicultural influence on food in NYC, while this Greenwich Village food tour focuses on Italian food. For those with a sweet tooth, this New York City donut tour is sure to be an incredible experience.

chocolate cupcakes on an NYC birthday food tour
Foodies will love exploring NYC on a food tour. Photo by Taylor Heery via Unsplash.

13. Enjoy a New York Harbor sunset cruise

See the sunset over the Manhattan skyline and toast to your birthday on a New York Harbor sunset cruise.

This excursion takes you on a yacht cruise around Manhattan and includes one glass of Champagne or other beverage to enjoy.

It’s one of the top Manhattan skyline tours, as you’ll take in famous NYC landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and One World Trade on this sunset cruise in New York Harbor.

14. Visit a museum

Going to a museum might not be the first thing that comes to mind when trying to decide what to do in NYC for your birthday, but it can actually be tons of fun!

New York has many unique museums — like the Met Cloisters located in the far northern reaches of Manhattan. While visiting, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a European monastery.

The Neue Galerie on the Upper East Side is an interesting place to learn about Austrian and German art and design, and the museum’s restaurant Café Sabarsky is one of the best places for a special birthday brunch.

For some educational entertainment, head to Spyscape — a museum focused on spy tactics and the history of covert operations. Each room includes games and interactive elements, and when you leave the museum you’ll be given a secret agent profile based on your responses!

visiting the Met Cloisters is one of the most fun things to do for your birthday in NYC
The Met Cloisters is a unique NYC museum to visit on your birthday. Photo by Artem XCX via Unsplash.

15. Go roller skating or ice skating

If you’re wondering what to do for your birthday in NYC, why not go roller skating or ice skating, depending on the season? Rent a pair of skates or bring your own and have some fun skating the night away.

For outdoor skating, DiscOasis is a seasonal roller skating rink that opens in Central Park’s Wollman Rink — which offers ice skating in the winter. This is one of the top places to ice skate during winter in NYC, along with Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park.

There is also Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco in Brooklyn, which hosts a wide variety of fun themed and retro events. They also offer special birthday party packages if you decide to celebrate with them.

If you’d prefer to be indoors, Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers is an ice skating rink that can be reserved for birthday parties and private events.

16. Take a cooking class

For a really unique birthday experience in NYC, try a cooking class. For seasoned cooks and novices alike, this is a fun activity that will allow you to improve your culinary skills with guidance from an expert chef.

This Italian dinner cooking class will allow you to prepare your own delicious dinner from scratch, including making your own homemade pasta and tiramisu for dessert.

For something really unique, you can also learn culinary skills from talented New Yorkers in their apartments through EatWith.

person making pizza during a cooking class
A cooking class can be a fun way to celebrate a birthday in NYC. Photo via ROMAN ODINTSOV for Pexels.

17. See a comedy show in Greenwich village

One of the most fun places to go for your birthday in NYC is a comedy club. You can laugh the night away at one of NYC’s best comedy clubs, several of which are located in Greenwich Village.

Comedy Cellar and Village Underground are two of the most famous comedy clubs in New York, with shows from famous comedians and budding stand-up artists alike.

Want beautiful photos taken of you on your birthday? Book a Private Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or get a styled, custom shoot that tells your unique story through an NYC Influencer Shoot or Professional New York City Shoot. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

18. Go to a drag brunch

One of the best ideas for an adult birthday party in NYC is a drag brunch. Dress up in all your best sparkles, feather, and glitter, and prepare for an entertaining afternoon.

The LIPS Broadway Brunch is one of the most popular drag brunches in NYC for musical fans, though Lucky Cheng’s Drag Cabaret is also a fun choice. Then there is The Standard Grill, a classic New York steakhouse with an unconventional edge.

a group of friends cheersing with drinks during a birthday party in NYC
Celebrate your birthday at a drag brunch. Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash.

19. Play laser tag

If you’re looking for fun places in NYC for birthdays, try laser tag. This is an exciting activity for children’s birthdays — and for adults who are kids at heart!

Area53 in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn is one of the best places to go for laser tag. They also have paintball, rock climbing walls, and private party rooms available.

20. Rent rowboats in Central Park

Central Park is one of the best birthday places in NYC, and one birthday idea is renting rowboats from the Loeb Boathouse.

When the weather is nice, you can paddle your way around The Lake, one of the park’s most scenic areas.

To really enhance your special day, book a dinner reservation for afterward at Tavern on the Green, an iconic restaurant located in Central Park. It’s an amazing experience, for sure!

people rowing boats in Central Park
Renting rowboats in Central Park is a fun and memorable birthday activity. Photo by Megan Bucknall via Unsplash.

21. Listen to live music

There’s no shortage of live music bars and venues in New York, making it one of the best NYC birthday ideas for music lovers.

On any given night, dozens of concerts are happening around the city, from major venues like Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall to smaller clubs and venues.

For a really memorable experience, check out one of New York’s famous jazz clubs, like Smalls Jazz Club or Blue Note Jazz Club.

Another idea:

Go live music hopping in the Lower East Side! There are a number of indie concert venues within a short walk from one another, like:

  • Pianos
  • Rockwood Music Hall
  • Arlene’s Grocery
  • Bowery Electric

22. Take a helicopter tour

If you’re wondering how to celebrate your birthday in NYC in style, why not take a private helicopter tour?

You’ll get a breathtaking bird’s-eye view over the city and will see iconic landmarks and New York attractions like Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building from above.

A helicopter ride is one of the most unforgettable things to do on your birthday in NYC that will allow you to see the city from an entirely new perspective.

A helicopter tour is one of the best ways to celebrate a birthday in NYC. Photo via Florian Wehde for Unsplash.

23. Treat yourself to some shopping

New York is one of the best shopping destinations on earth, making it the perfect place to splurge for a birthday shopping spree.

For high-end shopping, you can make your way down Fifth Avenue and visit famous stores like Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, and Bloomingdale’s.

You can also shop the trendy boutiques and stores of SoHo and Nolita, hunt for bargains in Chinatown, or visit flea markets like the Brooklyn Flea and Artists & Fleas.

No matter what you’re looking for, New York is a shopaholic’s paradise. So if you’re in NYC for your birthday, treat yourself.

24. Sing your heart out at karaoke

One of the most fun things to do in NYC for your birthday is belting out your favorite tunes at karaoke.

Manhattan’s Koreatown neighborhood isn’t just home to mouthwatering Korean food, but also great karaoke bars.

Space, MK Karaoke, and Anytime Karaoke are just a few of the best karaoke bars that offer private rooms for you and your friends to have a birthday karaoke bash.

woman singing karaoke during a birthday in New York City
Grab some friends and head to a karaoke bar for your birthday. Photo by Brandi Alexandra via Unsplash.

25. Try axe throwing at Kick Axe

Axe throwing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you ponder how to celebrate a birthday in NYC; however, it’s a lot of fun and will definitely give your guests something to talk about for years to come.

Kick Axe in Brooklyn is a top spot to book this type of party, and you can pair it with open bar. They have great food too, like flatbreads, sliders, and guacamole.

26. Have your NYC birthday party at a unique bar

When it comes to fun places to go for your birthday in NYC, a bar is a great option. That being said, there are myriad watering holes to choose from, and not all are created equal.

Barcade is one fun option that blends carefully sourced craft beers with retro video games.

Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball is also a bar with arcade games, though it’s more about cheap beers and pinball.

You can also visit Hex & Co or The Uncommons, both of which are board game bars.

Or you might opt for a speakeasy experience at a hidden cocktail bar like Please Don’t Tell, Keys and Heels, or UES.

You can’t go wrong with hosting your next birthday bash at any of these places!

NYC is home to many arcade bars that make for a fun birthday outing. Photo via cottonbro studio for Pexels.

27. Play petanque at Industry City

One of the most fun things to do for your birthday in NYC is play games with your closest friends. And at Industry City — a vibrant complex of locally-made food, drinks, goods, and art on the Brooklyn waterfront — you can play pétanque at Carreau Club.

The game originated in the South of France, and involves throwing steel balls toward a target.

Carreau Club offers special food and beverage packages for parties, too. The open bar package usually makes sense if your group plans to imbibe.

28. Host a boozy brunch

One of the best birthday activities in NYC for adults is going for a boozy brunch. There are tons of great restaurants in NYC that offer bottomless brunches.

Some of the best restaurants for boozy brunch in NYC include:

  • Siena Cafe in the Upper East Side — which is a personal favorite for their affordability and generous pours
  • The Crooked Knife in Greenwich Village
  • Poco in East Village
  • Miss Lily’s 7A Cafe in East Village
  • 230 Fifth in Midtown
boozy brunch birthday in NYC
Hosting a boozy brunch is one of the top things to do for your birthday in NYC. Photo via cottonbro studio for Pexels.

29. Play shuffleboard at Royal Palms

Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club is the perfect place to celebrate a birthday in New York City.

Sip frozen drinks in a tropical space while challenging your closest friends to a game of shuffleboard at this Brooklyn based hot spot.

You can also book a Cabana Party for your birthday — which guarantees time on the court and includes special pricing for food and drinks, and a cabana! They also feature some of the best food trucks in the city.

Want beautiful photos taken of you on your birthday? Book a Private Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or get a styled, custom shoot that tells your unique story through an NYC Influencer Shoot or Professional New York City Shoot. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

Fun Tours For Celebrating A Birthday In New York City

Booking a guided tour can be a super fun way to celebrate your birthday in New York while learning something new. A few top picks include:

Private NYC Photo Journeys Photo Tour

Secrets of Central Park

NYC Salsa & Latin Dancing Experience

Cupcake Walking Tour in NYC

NYC Lower East Side Culture & Food Tastings Tour

High Line Park & Greenwich Village Food Tour

Click here for a full list of NYC tours!

Amazing Hotels For A Special Birthday In NYC

Now that we’ve chatted about some of the best ways to celebrate your birthday in NYC, let’s go over where to stay.

Of course, choosing the perfect hotel is also an important part of the birthday planning. Some of our top picks for unforgettable local hotels with special onsite experiences and beautiful spaces include NoMo SoHo, the Williamsburg Hotel, and The Ludlow.

Click here for a full list of New York City hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays? 

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays. It is set to SoHo, but you can easily change it to your specific NYC neighborhood.

What would you add to this list of fun things to do for your birthday in NYC?

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