Tours and Books
Here’s a way to share your love of New York with tours you can take from your living room. Do you have a love of the piano? Sign up for the Steinway Factory experience. Are you curious about how the subways came to be? Become a savvy straphanger learning about the city’s transit history. Did you know about New York City’s various evolutions as the Center of Jazz in the US? The diverse virtual tours from the New York Adventure Club explore the special nooks and crannies of NYC. An egift card is your ticket to adventure. This might just be the start of a brand- new love affair.
Brooklyn-based artist John Donohue has created the perfect gift for a foodie, particularly one who’s pining for the pre-pandemic NYC dining experience. Donohue’s signed, limited-edition prints of many of New York’s favorite restaurants are a creative tribute to the city’s dining establishments. They’re also a feel-good gift: you’ll be supporting the city’s badly hurt restaurant industry with your purchase. Fifty percent of print-sale profits go to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. If you’re as obsessed with these illustrations as I am, John’s book, All the Restaurants in New York, will look fabulous on your coffee table, too.
Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Polivy is a compilation of the author’s years of chronicling the small businesses on Manhattan’s side streets. The beautifully photographed book will warm your heart as you read about the entrepreneurs who make up the city’s independent and enduring character. The book is a love letter to the melting pot that is New York, and a vicarious trip through the Big Apple.
Cakes, Cookies, Chocolates and More
Celebrate your love this Valentine’s Day with a gourmet, heart-shaped cake from Manhattan’s Bake Me A Wish! New York. Available in two sizes, the larger ten-inch cake can be customized with the name of your special someone or a very personal romantic message.
In time for Valentine’s Day, Levain Bakery is finally shipping their Two Chip Chocolate Chip cookie, a decadent take on a classic chocolate chip cookie sans nuts and brimming with semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips. You can skip waiting in the bakery line for your fresh treats: these oversized cookies are baked for immediate shipment and are packed in a whimsical blue gift box. If you sweetie drools over Levain’s original Chocolate Chip Walnut or Oatmeal Raisin flavors, you can order those, too.
Indulge your sweet tooth with MarieBelle Chocolates’ artisanal ganache collections. Each ganache is artfully decorated with a Valentine’s Day design that tells a beautiful love story. Special for the holiday, the MarieBelle Valentine Truffle Box is an assortment of European-style truffles in dark chocolate, matcha and Champagne. The packaging, designed by renowned fashion illustrator Izak Zenou, is a Valentine’s Day collectible. Champagne is always better when it’s wrapped in chocolate.
Is your honey sweet, salty or spicy? Bushwick Farm has foodie gifts to sass up your holiday menu for any taste preference. Born in a test kitchen in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bees Knees honey comes in a delightful gift set as do the company’s Trees Knees maples and Weak Knees srirachas. Go for the ultimate buzz with the Threes Knees Spicy Trio for a signature tasting experience.
The coffee, candles and macarons gift box from Long Island City’s Coffee Project New York puts a coffee-centric finishing touch on an at-home romantic meal. Light the coffee-inspired candle, pour a taste of three coffees (or just one if you prefer) and linger over strawberry verbena macarons from Le Petit Paris, a French bakery also in Long Island City. Maybe pour a spot of Cognac for an added kick.
And Now for Something Completely Different
Tired of roses and Champagne? On February 14, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and Open House New York host a virtual Valentine’s Day tour of the city’s largest sewage plant, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, where wastewater from storm drains and toilets and sinks of more than one million New Yorkers is cleaned each day in a complex system, including eight giant stainless steel digester eggs. This tour sells out every year, so you’d better hop online NOW. For 2021 it’s virtual – but, next year, you’ll want to reserve the in-person event as soon as it goes on sale. Seriously.
Times Square Alliance invites couples each year to renew their vows on Valentine’s Day on the iconic red stairs in Duffy Square. This year’s event is a bit different. Only a few couples will be able to participate live due to social distancing requirements, but you can show your love online by registering for a virtual space. It’s still the ultimate NYC way to avow your commitment to each other anew.
For a professional holiday photo memory, free of charge, head to DUMBO on Valentine’s Day weekend. No, it’s not to grab the influencer shot you see all over Instagram with the Manhattan Bridge in the background. A Heart Sculpture, designed and fabricated by Bednark Studios, has been installed on the Empire Stores patio, creating a perfect picture frame. Strike a romantic pose in the middle of the lipstick-red art piece for a photo via the Self Portrait Project, courtesy of the Dumbo Improvement District. From 5-9pm on Saturday and Sunday photos will be projected on the Manhattan Bridge at dimensions of 65 by 40 feet. A link to digital photos will be available on the @dumbobrooklyn Instagram account on February 20. To keep you warm, you’ll also receive commemorative Valentine’s Day hand warmers.