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40th Birthday Ideas NYC: 8 Grown-up Ways to Celebrate

When it comes to 40th birthday ideas NYC has it all, from private dining and karaoke rooms to learning a new skill.


New York City Skyline

According to cliché, life begins at 40. But the reality is whoever said that should certainly be questioning the choices they’ve made in the four preceding decades. We do appreciate the sentiment, though. Your milestone birthday will likely be very different to your 21st or 30th; with any luck it’ll be bigger, better and more sophisticated. Lest you have to suffer the indignity of a sub-par birthday, we at Plum Guide have done a lot of research, and have come up with some suggestions for memorable and unique ways to celebrate your Big 4-0 in New York City – without a cliché in sight.

New York Taxi

Unique dining experiences

The classic

Tribeca's near 100-year-old Square Diner serves good ol’ classic American diner food during the day. But when the evening rolls around, fashion types book out this long, wood-panelled space with red leather seats and flattering lighting for private parties. If you call up and ask nicely, they’ll lay on unlimited diner sandwiches and waffles, and an open bar.

Sentimental Sepia, Plum Guide home in New York

Dine like Edgar Allen Poe

NoHo Italian restaurant Il Buco has all the character you’d expect from a restaurant that used to be an antiques store and has a 200-year-old wine cellar that supposedly inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. (The latter claim hasn’t been verified, but we like the story nonetheless, and it’s fittingly low-lit and chamber-like down there.) Book the cellar and have it all to yourself or go for a smaller table in the main dining room.

Spa treatments

Sonatina, Plum Guide home in New York

With its exposed brick and candles, this former 1883 Tribeca textile factory looks more like a polished Williamsburg music venue than a spa – until you clock the ancient thermal pools. The experience at Aire Ancient Baths, though, is altogether more restful (though there is the option of bathing in wine). Other indulgences include a Berber-inspired argan ritual, and Himalayan salt wraps and massages.

Tribeca Neighbourhood New York


There are plenty of trashy karaoke rooms to cater for your 40th birthday ideas in NYC (believe us, we’ve looked) but we’ve picked the one at Kāwi in Hudson Yards for being the most dignified setting in which to watch your nearest and dearest to screech and croon, respectively, through the B52’s Love Shack and Michael Bublé’s greatest hits. At Kāwi, a Momofuku spin-off dubbed the best restaurant in the new Hudson Yards development, you can strike the perfect mix of luxury and low-brow, by booking out the 14-seater private dining room for an upscale Korean dinner, then taking full advantage of the A/V karaoke system afterwards.

Stand by Me, Plum Guide home in New York

Learn a skill

Blue Orchid, Plum Guide home in New York

Type-A personalities may want to spend their 40th learning a new skill. Sail Manhattan offers weekend sailing courses in New York Harbour, where you’ll learn the basics of sailing on the open water. It’s also a great way to see the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan’s skyscrapers from a different angle, without all those people getting in your way. Extra points up for grabs for the wittiest boat jokes.

Statue of Liberty, New York

Catch a sports game (in style)

Know your Knicks from your Rangers? Sports fans can celebrate their NYC 40th with a game at Madison Square Garden – and really get into it, with zero input from strangers, in their own private room. Menu options for the suites and lounges include sporting classics like brisket sliders and chicken fingers. As a side note – superfans can even book out the Knicks and Rangers locker rooms (though, if it needs to be said, obviously not on game nights – just for concerts).

The bucket list ticker

When it comes to 40th birthday ideas NYC provides more bucket list experiences per square foot than anywhere else in the world. (Probably, though there’s no way of actually measuring this.) Whether it’s flying a helicopter, hang gliding or learning how to DJ, New York City (and its immediate surrounds) have a lot to offer. Cloud 9 Living has a plethora of definitely-not-every-day bucket list activities to choose from.

Stay in one of the world's best homes

Our 40th birthday ideas NYC list wouldn't be complete without mentioning how to host your very own party. Bring the celebrations to you by renting out one of the most luxurious rental homes in NYC. Plum Guide is the official selection of the world's best stays. – independent home critics personally vet every home for quality, so only the very best rental homes in New York are accepted. You can book with peace of mind – Plum Guide's home critics have poked around in every cupboard, tested the firmness of each mattress and checked the shower water pressure to meet your high standards. There are homes in every well-connected and characterful neighbourhood, from SoHo and Greenpoint – so you can concentrate on finalising your guestlist.

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