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Unforgettable 30th Birthday Ideas in NYC

Everyone loves to mark a milestone birthday in style – and where better to do so than New York City? Here’s how to plan a trip to remember

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Brooklyn Bridge and skyscrapers in the New York Skyline on a sunny day, Manhattan, New York, USA

With its skyline, restaurants and party scene, it’s no surprise you’ve chosen to look for things to do on your 30th birthday in NYC. Nowhere else quite compares. The problem is, there’s almost too much choice – you could probably go there for every birthday and create a different itinerary each time. Whether you want to wander the bohemian, tree-lined streets of the East Village, ride the Staten Island ferry, relax in the vast greenery of Central Park or head to Midtown for famous sights such as Grand Central Station and the Empire State Building, New York never fails to deliver. But for a bucket-list birthday visit with a group of friends, planning ahead – for some of it, at least – is a must. The best venues often need to be booked in advance (eye roll), so we here at Plum Guide have done the hard work (as usual), and given you some crowd-pleasing ideas to help you get organised before kicking off the celebrations, New York style. These are the very best 30th birthday ideas in New York.

  1. Eat at the acclaimed Carbone
  2. Celebrate with a drink at Lavender Lake
  3. Enjoy watching a game of baseball
  4. Book a luxurious Plum Guide home in NYC
  5. Embark on a New York helicopter tour
  6. Catch a memorable Broadway show
  7. Stop in at a comedy club
  8. Relax and refresh with a spa day
  9. Put your skills to the test at an escape room
  10. Treat yourself to a shopping spree

1. Eat at the acclaimed Carbone

A close up of a clear glass at a table in a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York, USA

As you’re planning a milestone birthday jaunt, it goes without saying that choosing good restaurants is all-important. No pressure, then. But in a city of this size, the question is: where on Earth do you start? For that blow-your-socks-off, no-holds-barred dinner on the day itself, you can’t go far wrong with Carbone in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This is fancy, Michelin-starred, Italian-American dining at its very finest – think plush banquettes and black-and-white tiles that take their cue from The Godfather. Tuck into the delicious likes of spicy rigatoni vodka and lobster fra diavolo before you slip into a happy birthday coma. Book well in advance. You've been warned. Other must-visits? Try the excellent French bistro fare at Pastis in the Meatpacking District; Southern US soul food at Red Rooster in Harlem; and heavenly pizza pies at Juliana’s, Brooklyn. You’ll be burning it all off sightseeing, anyway. Maybe.

Pear Tree Gables, Plum Guide home in New York

2 Bedrooms | Sleeps 6 | 2 Bathrooms

Key highlights:

  • Unwind in front of the stylish fireplace
  • Sit outside under the pear tree
  • Cook up a storm in the modern kitchen

2. Celebrate with a drink at Lavender Lake

A close up of a champagne bottle pouring champagne into glasses in New York, USA

When it comes to 30th birthday ideas in NYC, you’re spoiled for choice, you lucky devil. For the glorious marriage of cake and a tipple, don’t miss Butter & Scotch in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which serves birthday cake and S’mores pie alongside creative cocktails. For more of a party, the quirky Lavender Lake next to Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, has a huge outdoor deck (with a fire pit during winter months), perfect for larger groups – or head up to the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo in Williamsburg to take in the 360-degree views of Manhattan from its Mr Purple bar. Alternatively, really push the boat out and celebrity-spot while enjoying a dose of old-school glamour at Bemelmans Bar in The Carlyle hotel on the Upper East Side. If you can’t see any famous faces as you sip on a Passion Royale, you can always admire the 24-karat gold-leaf ceilings.

The Mesmerised Voyager, Plum Guide home in New York

3 Bedrooms | Sleeps 6 | 2 Bathrooms

Key highlights:

  • Rest up in the perfectly curated bedrooms
  • Admire the modern statement pieces throughout the home
  • Enjoy getting an abundance of natural light

3. Enjoy watching a game of baseball

Supporters watching a game of baseball at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, USA

Of course, some iconic tourist spots may feature on your list of 30th birthday ideas in NYC, but for such an occasion you’ll want to do far more than just plod around seeing sights. We should hope… This is a city of high-rises, so why not take advantage and head to a rooftop pool for a real taste of New York glitz? Jimmy at the James in SoHo, Manhattan, is a cocktail lounge with a pool deck that’s made for sipping an icy drink on a warm summer’s afternoon. Note: there’s a dress code, so make sure you bring your most expensive impressive swimming attire. Prefer your activities on dry land? Head to the Bronx for a baseball game at the home of the New York Yankees; don some comfortable footwear and take a historical food tour of Harlem with Taste Harlem; or even have a “grown-up sleepover” at the American Museum of Natural History, complete with a champagne reception (yes, really).

An Eternity With Ellis, Plum Guide home in New York

2 Bedrooms | Sleeps 6 | 1 Bathroom

Key highlights:

  • Gather for meals in the open-plan dining area
  • Cross Brooklyn Bridge, only a 20 minute walk away
  • Explore Manhattan from your perfect location

4. Book a luxurious Plum Guide home in NYC

A view of the living room from above at Window Box, Plum Guide home in New York, USA

The last thing you want is to get to your destination only to be let down by some dodgy accommodation that looks nothing like the ad. (We’ve all been there.) Opt for a unique NYC Plum Guide home when organising your 30th birthday and the only headache you’ll have to worry about will be as a result of too much champagne. As it should be. The descriptions of our homes are honest, so there will be no unpleasant surprises when you check in.

Window Box, Plum Guide home in New York

2 Bedrooms | Sleeps 4 | 1 Bathroom

Key highlights:

  • Take in the views of Manhattan's iconic skyline
  • Admire the quirky decor touches like the typewriter
  • Enjoy the spacious feel of high ceilings and big windows

5. Embark on a New York helicopter tour

A red helicopter flying against a blue sky on a sunny day

What better way to celebrate your special day than by ticking something off the bucket list? Grab a ride over the skies of New York in a helicopter for views that you’ve never experienced before, and finally learn what it feels like to be an important celebrity. You’ll be flying with experienced pilots (reassuringly) and skip the traffic as you spot the famous sights from above. For the memories made and the photos captured, the price is a steal, and when you’ve done it once, don’t be surprised if you fancy another ride. Go on, treat yourself. You’re turning 30 after all, so you need to make this special day an unforgettable one.

6. Catch a memorable Broadway show

Billboards lining the street in the Theatre District at Broadway, New York, USA

For those of you looking for a memorable performance, there’s no better place in the world than Broadway, let alone in New York. The 13 mile stretch of famous road is one of the most renowned places on the planet, and widely considered the heart of American theatre. The productions are known as the best in the world, so if you’re ever going to catch a theatre show, this is the time. And as it’s your birthday, we think you should splash out on the VIP experience. You are, after all, a very important person. Grab your ticket to see Hamilton, Wicked, Moulin Rouge, or any of the other fantastic performances, and leave wondering just how soon you’re able to return.

7. Stop in at a comedy club

A neon sign saying laugh at a comedy club in New York, USA

New York comedy clubs are incredibly popular, and it’s your turn to discover why. Head down to a local club for raw, intimate comedy that will surely leave you in stitches. Choose from the Comic Strip Live, the Gotham Comedy Club, the Comedy Cellar, and countless more brilliant locations for a night of laughter. Maybe skip this one if you’re feeling shy, because audience interaction is everything in these scenarios, but braving the trip certainly won’t be a decision you go on to regret. Besides, if you’re celebrating your 30th birthday, the chances are you won’t be totally sober anyway, so you’ll stroll right in. And you’ll be very, very glad you did.

8. Relax and refresh with a spa day

A woman lying on a bed with hot rocks on her back in a spa

Nothing says ‘birthday celebrations’ like a day of pampering and leisure at a spa. Book a spa day at the casual Mermaid Spa in Seagate, Brooklyn, where your group can enjoy the delights of the Russian steam rooms, dry sauna and Turkish bath. Or head down to the Aire Ancient Baths for a traditional spanish bath experience, with hot, cold, saltwater and multi-jet pools on offer, as well as private red wine baths. We knew that would intrigue you. If you can’t treat yourself to a day of pure relaxation when you’re celebrating the big 3-0, then when can you?

9. Put your skills to the test at an escape room

A red neon sign found in the entrance to escape rooms in USA

Escape rooms are always a fun day out, whether you’re 3 or 30, so find one nearby and put your skills to the test. If there’s a large group of you, compete against each other to discover who the true detectives are, working together in your smaller teams to decipher clues and solve the puzzling problems. Take a trip to The Escape Game New York City or Escape Room Madness, and make it out before you become desperate for food (so within an hour, ideally). Also be sure to grab a picture at the end, both for the memories and for proof that you did in fact crack the codes. Who would believe you otherwise?

10. Treat yourself to a shopping spree

Colourful shirts on a hanger in a shop

Finally, we have a rather obvious point, but one that we couldn’t leave out under any circumstances. It’s time to splash the cash in the Big Apple, buying all sorts of gifts to commemorate the ultimate birthday trip away. Perhaps you could even persuade your friends and family to do the paying - it is your birthday after all. Make your way to Macy’s Herald Square, or browse the department stores in Saks Fifth Avenue. Alternatively, peruse the stalls at Union Square Greenmarket, or find your new favourite outfit at Chelsea Market. You are slightly spoilt for choice in New York, as you may expect, so you’re bound to leave with bags upon bags. Just make sure one of them is a new suitcase…

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