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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New York street from above

With its skyline, restaurants and party scene, it’s no surprise you’ve picked NYC to celebrate a 30th birthday. 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’ve given you some crowd-pleasing ideas to help you get organised before kicking off the celebrations, New York style.

Grand Central Station New York Manhattan Commuters

The restaurants

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.

The bar

For toasting a 30th birthday on your NYC trip, 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.

Experiences

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. For the cooler months, book a spa day at the more casual Mermaid Spa in Seagate, Brooklyn, where your group can enjoy the delights of the Russian steam rooms, dry sauna and Turkish bath. 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).

Yankee Stadium Crowds new york bronx flags

Where to stay

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.

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