For that New Yorker who doesn’t stop exploring, here are some gifts that might be their speed. (True, this is more or less a wish list for myself, but I thought it would be helpful to others too.)
Free Arts NYC membership: A $35 (minimum) donation to this local educational arts and mentoring nonprofit gets you an entire year of free access to the Bronx Museum, the Dia:Beacon, and the Museum for African Art, plus two-for-one deals at 16 more museums and other benefits. On the donation page, just select “Membership Card is a gift for” and put in the recipient’s name.
Brooklyn Brainery gift certificate: At this crowdsourced educational center, you can take inexpensive classes on practically any subject that people are willing to teach. Course titles have included “Abandoned New York City,” “How to Kill at Karaoke,” “Weird Spices,” “Beekeeping 101,” “Foreign Alphabets,” “Pizza History,” “How to Shop in Chinatown,” and “Fashion Anthropology through Shoes.” Gift certificates start at just $5.
Forgotten New York by Kevin Walsh: Even the most savvy New Yorker will learn something new from this guide book that points out obscure and quirky spots around the five boroughs. As one reviewer quipped, “There are no more nooks nor crannies in NYC left to find hidden gems. Kevin Walsh has found them all.” It’s $14.95 on Amazon.
AMC’s Best Day Hikes Near New York City by Daniel Case: This guide book details 50 day hikes accessible from NYC—many via public transportation. It would be a helpful reference on those weekend days when you just need to take a break from urban life but don’t have time for a full-fledged vacation. I have used the Berkshires book of the same series and would highly recommend it. You can get it for $11.67 on Amazon.
The Diner’s Deck: Packaged like a deck of playing cards, each set of 52 coupons lets you finally try out some of those restaurants you’ve been meaning to go to for years. Every card is a $10 gift certificate that can be used with a $30 purchase anytime during 2012. It’s $29.95 for a restaurant deck or $19.95 for the bar and lounge version. A good deal if you use more than a few of them throughout the year.
Smartbox Adventure Gift Card: Similar to the Diner’s Deck, this is a set of gift certificates for over 60 businesses in the New York area. Activities include horseback riding, rock climbing, biking, paintball, windsurfing, swimming, fencing, paragliding, surfing, skateboarding, and martial arts. It’s $58.65 at Barnes & Noble. Smartbox also sells gift card sets focused on restaurants, spas, B&Bs, and family fun.
Unlimited Ride MetroCard: For someone who doesn’t already get these automatically every month through their job, an unlimited card frees them up to explore the whole city via subway and bus for a whole week ($29) or month ($104) without having to pay. This pass makes for a good gift because the recipient can begin their free period of transport anytime they want, provided they do so before the expiration date—which is usually pretty far into the future.
Zipcar or Mint membership: Car sharing is a practical option for someone who wants to use a car occasionally, since not all of NYC is easily accessible by public transportation. Membership comes with perks like free gas, convenient pick-up spots, hybrid and other low-emissions vehicles, and lower rates than those of typical car rental companies. Mint only offers cars in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, while Zipcar is more widespread. Note that you’ll need access to the person’s driver’s license and other personal info to sign them up.
Any other ideas?