Q: Grandma’s birthday is coming up and I’m fresh out of ideas. She doesn’t need another set of oven mitts.
A: Assuming she doesn’t have a heart condition, consider skydiving lessons. Because of its distinctive mix of natural and man-made landscapes, the New York City area has some of the best “drop zones” on the planet. Grandma can try the accelerated-free-fall (AFF) program and leap out solo like former President George Bush did to celebrate his 72nd birthday. Or do a tandem jump harnessed to an instructor, who does all the work while she relaxes and enjoys an exhilarating 60-second free fall and then five to seven minutes of serene, earthward floating beneath a colorful nylon canopy. Is it dangerous? Perhaps, but then so is driving on the L.I.E.
At the world-famous Skydive the Ranch (914-255-4033; $185 for the first tandem), 80 miles north of Manhattan at Gardiner Airport, she can take in views of the Hudson River Valley and Shawangunk Mountains.
In northern New Jersey, Skydive Sussex, based at the Sussex Airport (1-800-sky-dive; $195 for the first tandem), offers a Manhattan view. It’s about an hour from the George Washington Bridge.
On a clear day, jumpers at Skydive Long Island (631-878-jump; $225 for tandems) at Spadaro Airport, an hour and a half from the midtown tunnel, can see from the Twin Towers to Montauk Point.