“Sightseeing” in NYC During COVID & Super Last Minute Gift Ideas for Travelers (For September 2020)

So I meant to get this post out much sooner, but alas, energy and motivation are in short supply during this pandemic. Fortunately, I buy my gifts well in advance of Christmas, so I’m not still struggling with gifts. However, I know some folks are still looking for ideas for last-minute gifts. While these gift ideas are New York City themed and represent a way to “see” the city without traveling, these ideas are also applicable to many other popular cities and places.

NYC Puzzle

1) Puzzles.

Gifting a puzzle of one of NYC’s famous landscapes is a great present for kids and adults. Puzzles with a lot of pieces (i.e. 750 or 1000 pieces) will take hours, if not days, to complete, and they can be framed and displayed after completion. Why get a physical puzzle instead of a digital puzzle? A physical puzzle will be easier on the eyes after hours on Zoom. You can get puzzles of specific sights or general travel-inspired puzzles.


2) LEGOs.

Can’t get to the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty? Build it yourself! Having purchased Lego sets for my younger cousins, I have been pleasantly surprised by the elaborate options available for younger kids, as well as teens and adults. Besides the Lego Empire State Building and Lego Statue of Liberty, you can also find sights like the Lego U.S. White House, Lego Eiffel Tower, Lego Big Ben, and many more.

NYC Music

3) Music.

Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” is one of the city’s most iconic sounds. Countless musicians have their rendition of this song, from big-name celebrities to local subway performers. If you visit NYC, it’s very likely you’ll hear some version of this song while you’re here, especially if you take the subway. If you need a gift for a globetrotter who also loves records, consider gifting them a Sinatra record, and possibly a record player too if they don’t have one.

Tickets for Virtual Travel

The final two sightseeing gift ideas have two parts. Additionally, they can double as a gift and a date night or family night. Start by creating a ticket, a coupon or, an invitation for 4) a virtual night on Broadway or 5) a virtual NYC event.

Currently, several Broadway plays are streaming on platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Here is a link to a detailed article that tells you exactly where you can find what. Name the play and create some anticipation with the ticket/coupon/invitation you gift on Christmas. Then go ahead and really set the mood when screening the play. Get dressed up. Light some candles and enjoy a romantic dinner before or after the screening. Or, make it an NYC New Year’s Eve celebration and follow up the screening with some champagne (or non-alcoholic sparkling cider) and watching the ball drop in Times Square. Enjoy a night on the town without ever leaving home!

As for virtual events, there are so many! I took a virtual cooking class with a French chef earlier this year, and I enjoyed it. As far as virtual travel goes, I think virtual cooking is a good option, and someone you know may enjoy being gifted one of these experiences. Similar to the night out on Broadway, for the virtual cooking class (or other events), you’d gift a ticket/coupon/invitation on Christmas with details of the event. Then the day of the class, you and your family can learn a new dish and pair it with an NYC movie or playlist. I’ve taken several classes at Brooklyn Brainery over the years, both in-person and online, and would recommend checking out their class listings. But also feel free to Google NYC virtual cooking classes and find other vendors. Or, if you’re interested in virtual cooking classes from other locations, both Expedia and Airbnb have classes from all over the world.

Any of these ideas would make an excellent last-minute Christmas gift if you haven’t gotten something for that travel lover in your life. But these ideas would also work any other time of year. If you think about it, Valentine’s Day is basically around the corner and these date night ideas would be particularly great for then too.

You can find most of these items online on Amazon. You can also find them at stores like Target and Walmart. Don’t forget to earn some savings and airline rewards when you shop. For example, both JetBlue and United airlines allow loyalty program members to earn points for shopping through referral links. And cashback programs like Ibotta* will give you anywhere from 2% to 20% cashback on your purchases. Both of these options can be combined with any cashback or rewards you’re earning with your debit or credit card.

Enjoy the holidays!

*I sometimes use referral or affiliate links. When you click these links, I may get a small commission. It won’t cost you anything, but it helps me run this site. I only promote products and services that I think are great because I’ve tried them for myself.

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