If you want to travel fast, they say, travel alone. But if you want to go far? Travel together. While experiencing the city solo can be fun, some things are better with company. This holiday season, when family and friends come to town, check out these activities that are particularly good for groups. By Jessica Allen.
My Cooking Party
My Cooking Party hosts interactive cooking lessons and culinary battles in a huge loft in Hell’s Kitchen (or at another location of your choice). Most events at this recreational cooking school begin with schmoozing over hors d’oeuvres. In the “Battle of the Bites,” your group gets divided, assigned a professional chef, and tasked with preparing an appetizer from scratch, with everyone eventually eating everyone else’s food as part of a three-course meal. The result is “a 1/2 cup of Learning, a 1/2 cup of Party, and a full glass of Memories.”
We Love Bingo
Perhaps the ultimate group activity, Bingo is nostalgic, competitive, easy to play, and just plain fun. The pair behind We Love Bingo—comedian Murray Hill (at right) and entertainer Linda Simpson (at left)—hosts at least two events each week. On Monday nights they run games at Hotel Chantelle from 7:30 to 10, while on Saturdays they’re usually at (le) poisson rouge from 7:30 to 9:30. Admission is free, and each Bingo card costs a few dollars. There’s alcohol for those who wish to partake, cash prizes, and lots and lots of patter.
This BYOB art studio supplies everything beginners need to make a lovely work of art, including paint, canvas, aprons, easels, instructions, glasses, and corkscrews or bottle openers. You bring yourself, an open mind, and beverage of your choice. An actual art teacher is on hand to help, and often the image has been pre-drawn on the canvas—all you have to do is choose the colors and paint within the lines. Or not. Your call, as the Painting Lounge is a judgement-free zone. You get to take home whatever you make.
Anyone who’s spent a few minutes at this Greenwich Village cheese shop (or the various outposts around the city) knows that patience reigns. The sales staff will spend hours with you, helping select the perfect cheese for your event or palate, no matter how crowded the store gets. This solicitous atmosphere extends to its educational programs. Murray’s offers all kinds of classes, from mozzarella making to “Harmony of Wine and Cheese,” which pairs wines from New Zealand and Chile with their cheese soul mates, to “Cheese 101,” which offers an overview of seven major varieties.
Live In Theater
A young woman is found murdered in a drug-infested apartment on the Lower East Side in 1975—and it’s up to you to figure out whodunnit. Drama Desk-nominated Live In Theater puts on interactive murder mysteries, based on real events from New York’s past. The police chief gives you an overview of the case, then deputizes everyone to act as detectives. You head out into the mean streets to find and interview suspects, who may or may not be telling the truth, but who at least dress, speak, and act as if they know something about the case. You and your group have to ask the right questions and suss out the murderer and the motive.
At Chelsea Piers, you and your group can hit golf balls, lift weights, wrestle, play pool, and do a multitude of other sports. Yawn. Ratchet up the fun factor by sponsoring your very own Mini-Olympics. Games include tug-o-war, dodgeball, table tennis, pedestal jousting, sand volleyball, and an obstacle course, complete with agility drills and a sack race. Some events require strategy, while others force everyone to cooperate and work toward a common goal. You’ll work up a sweat and bond together.