Dating in America’s most populous city can be a little intimidating. Whether you’re new to the Big Apple or a life-long resident, here are a few fun date ideas to consider in New York City.
Dating in New York: Walk!
Ditch the car. New York has the most extensive mass transit in the country. Explore the city on foot, by bike, take a cab or ride the subway. Wander through the evening’s chosen borough — The Village is a great place if you love bistros, jazz clubs, and great art — and discover hole-in-the-wall gems you wouldn’t notice just driving through.
Dating in New York: On the Rooftops
New York City has some of the greatest high-rises in the world. Take your date to new heights and dine above the city streets.
When the weather’s lovely, the Met opens its romantic rooftop garden café on Friday and Saturday evenings. It’s a great first-date spot for sipping cocktails while you swoon over the view.
The Bookmarks Lounge is a garden rooftop at the Library Hotel with great views of Midtown Manhattan, while Top of the Strand offers prime views of the Empire State Building. Mé, at La Quinta Manhattan, offers non-insanely-priced drinks and an intimate setting for quiet conversation.
If you want a little activity in your rooftop adventures, check out City Ice Pavillion, Queens’ only rooftop rink.
Dating in New York: The Big Green
With over 28,000 acres of municipal parkland, an outdoor date in New York City should be an obvious one.
Central Park, the world-famous 883-acre park Manhattan is the most visited park in the country and for good reason: Ice rinks, the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the historic Carousel all call it home. Go for a stroll, have a picnic, splurge on a carriage ride, or dust off your rollerblades for a fun, affordable date that celebrates your beautiful city.
Some other green spaces worth visiting: Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, and Washington Square Park in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.
Dating in New York: Cheesy Fun
Dating doesn’t have to be serious. Keep things playful and take your date to the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center, NYC Paintball in Queens for some flirty/competitive laser tag, or Dave & Busters to show off your Dance Dance Revolution skills.
The Whiskey Brooklyn has a fun game room, complete with arcade games, photo booth and Foosball. Cheer on your team — seven screens follow most major league sports — while you challenge your date at Shuffleboard.
Like board games? Common Ground in East Village lets you sip adult beverages while playing childhood favorites. Sip on specialty drink ‘Blueberry Pie’ while staring down your date during an intense round of Connect Four.
Dining can be fun, too. Visit Alice’s Tea Cup and enjoy some whimsy with your food. Share the messy “Alice’s s’mores.” Or have a “scream” at the haunted Jekyll & Hyde restaurant and bar, where your seat will squirm beneath you.
Just because rent ain’t cheap in NYC doesn’t mean that dating has to be financially painful, too. There are plenty of fun free things to do for new and seasoned couples alike.
Free plays and musical performances take to Summerstage in Central Park every summer. Magnet Theater offers free Intro to Improv classes. BAFcaf in Brooklyn hosts free live jazz/world/R&B every weekend. And you’ll find The After Party, a free Broadway-inspired open mike, in the basement of Laurie Beechman Theater in Midtown every Friday.
Dating in New York: Cultured
It’s been called “the cultural capital of the world.” New York City is a world-class contender in art, cuisine, opera, theater, music, museums, fashion, literature, and independent film. There’s no shortage of museums to visit, music to enjoy, or fashion to covet.
Get inspired by modern art at the MoMa — there’s always a new exhibit worth lining up for — or visit the former mansion of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in the Upper East Side to ooh and aah over the Frick Collection, an impressive compilation of paintings and sculptures by some of Europe’s greatest artists.
Dating in New York: Sporty
Keep things casual — and bet-a-beer worthy — by opting for a sporty date. Cheer on the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Rangers, Knicks, or Red Bulls either at the game or at a sports bar.
If you like sports live, but would also rather save your cash, check out some minor hockey. The Brooklyn Aces’ tickets cost a fraction of the Rangers’.
If you would rather be active than watch others, perfect your swing at Chelsea Piers’ heated driving range, hone your competitive Skee-Ball skills at Full Circle Bar (the national home of Brewskee-Ball), or spend the entire evening at Brooklyn Bowl, where you can bowl, dine and dance at a single venue.
Dating in New York: Touristy
Just because you call New York home doesn’t mean that you can’t be a tourist in your own backyard. Channel the romantic ending of Sleepless in Seattle — spoiler alert! — and meet your date at the top of the Empire State Building.
Where haven’t you been? Ice skate at Rockefeller Center, or ride the Wonder Wheel on Coney Island. Be a kid again at FAO Schwartz. Attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (of the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village). Line up for last-minute deals on Broadway. Celebrate your city as visitors do.
Dating in New York: Old-School
Living in the past? Plan a retro date.
New York was considered a center for jazz in the ‘40s, and still remains a hot spot for live jazz every night of the week. Check out tiny jazz joint and wine bar Louis 649 in the East Village, or Cleopatra’s Needle on the Upper West Side.
Take swing dance lessons at Dance Manhattan Studios, then head to Raines Law Room, a modern-day speakeasy.
Cobble Hill’s Clover Club feels like it belongs in the 1920s, with its paneled walls, retro cocktails and jazz standards and ballads serenading patrons every Wednesday evening.
Skip a couple decades and walk into The Astor Room, a ‘40s-themes supper club, complete with live jazz piano and cocktails named for Hollywood legends.
Dating in New York: Movie Night
Want to catch a movie? Your city is the world leader in independent film production; so for a memorable night out, opt for something a little less commercial.
In the spring, the Tribeca Film Festival takes over Lower Manhattan. Catch a screening that includes a Q&A with your favorite director and try to predict which flicks will become award-season darlings later in the year.
The retro Brooklyn Heights Cinema showcases independent, foreign and art-house films. As an added draw, they have a cappuccino bar — and offer their in-house specialty: chocolate coke!
At the Film Forum is New York’s only autonomous nonprofit cinema. The three-screen cinema presents works by emerging filmmakers, foreign art films, American classics, and retrospectives. Here you’ll find films that other theaters wouldn’t take a chance on.
Still enamored with The Artist? Williamsburg’s one-screen Spectacle Theater often screens silent films, accompanied by live music. You’ll find rare films and cult classics here, too.
Learn more about New York Singles!