Every best of list for NYC seems to focus exclusively on Manhattan and Brooklyn, but we know there’s more to NYC than just those two boroughs. Similarly, looking up date ideas seems to only return the best restaurants in NYC. While everyone loves a good dinner, there are plenty of romantic things to do in NYC that don’t involve food.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of original date ideas in each borough focusing on three elite categories: daytime activities, spectacular dinner, and keeping the night going. After matching up with a potential date, find out which area is best for both of you and pick one of the three, or if you feel like you’ve met a great match, see if you can do all three!
- Want to meet someone great to try these ideas with? Try our tips for NYC dating
Manhattan: The First Bite of the Big Apple
Oh, Manhattan… To some, this borough pretty much represents all of New York City. And why not? It has the popular tourist destinations, tall skyscrapers, trendy restaurants and bars, and everything you can possibly need. With so much selection, we went ahead and did the hard work for you by narrowing the choices down to these three romantic things to do in NYC that are sure to impress any date and leave them wanting to see more of you in the future.
Fresh Daytime Activity: The Dark Universe Space Show
Okay, so maybe this daytime activity may seem like a bit of a cheat since it is indoors and feels like it takes place in the night sky, but it is definitely something not to be missed. The American Museum of Natural History is a staple of New York City history, and the Hayden Planetarium is just one part of it. It houses the spectacular Dark Universe Space Show narrated by famed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. This must-see presentation will give you and your date much to talk about, and the 25-minute runtime is the perfect length to ensure you have enough time to spend talking and getting to know each other. Make sure to look up the Plus One or SuperSaver ticket options if you are interested in exploring the rest of the museum.
Want some food with your date? Eat at The Modern.
This time at a different museum, The Modern is a two-star Michelin reviewed restaurant inside the Museum of Modern Art, hence the name. It may be a bit on the expensive side, but it is well worth the price (and is a non-tipping restaurant so you won’t need to feel like you need to tip a big amount to impress a date). This has the distinction of being one of the more fancy restaurants in NYC, as it overlooks the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden which serves to enhance the ambience and add to the already delicious three-or four-course meal that is sure to leave both you and your date satisfied.
Keep the Night Going at Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos
If you’re looking to keep the energy high and have a good time singing and laughing into the AM hours, you’ll certainly get your wish at Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos. The performers here are renowned for knowing every song you could possibly think of, so don’t be shy when making a request! Since every crowd is different, no two shows are ever the same, but each time is a guaranteed mix of comedy and music that will create a long-lasting memory to talk about for many dates to come.
Brooklyn: The Rise of the Most Romantic Things to do in NYC?
It’s been said that Brooklyn is the new Manhattan. This trendy borough has been on the rise for several years now and shows no signs of slowing down, with some arguing that it’s an even better place to live and hang out in than Manhattan. We’ll leave the judgment calls to them, but one thing is for sure, there are plenty of fun and romantic dating ideas to choose from. Here are a few we think you’ll really enjoy.
Fresh Daytime Activity: Brooklyn Boulders
Step away from the daily routine and create some endorphins at Brooklyn Boulders. Whether you’re completely new to climbing or an experienced mountaineer, there are different color-coordinated routes to suit every skill level. This is a perfect date spot for those who like to lead a more active lifestyle, and it will provide you with an easy transition into fun and lighthearted conversation once the climb is done and you’re both resting your muscles. They do have a limited capacity in order for the facility to not get too crowded, though, so make sure to reserve a spot before you go.
Want some food with your date? Eat at The River Café
Located under the Brooklyn Bridge, very few restaurants can compare to the fine dining offered by The River Café. The ceiling to floor windows offer a spectacular view of Manhattan, and the décor of the restaurant itself is exquisite, containing an outside garden and live piano playing inside. It’s easy to see why this ranks as one of the best restaurants in NYC, as it will create a gorgeous and memorable date night that you won’t soon forget. Here’s a tip to keep in mind before you go: formal attire is required, so don’t forget to take your suit jacket with you, gentlemen.
Keep the Night Going at Noorman’s Kil
You can sum up Noorman’s Kil with the following words: grilled cheese, whiskey, beer, and backyard. If any of that has grabbed you and your date’s attention, this is the spot to be. It has the feel of a dive bar but the selection of a high-end establishment, and the garden area will make you feel like you’re hanging out in a friend’s backyard. Their menu offers a selection of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches suitable for a meal without creating the feel of a formal dinner, making this spot perfect for a low-key, still getting-to-know-each-other first or second date.
Queens: There’s a Reason it has the Same Name as the Best Chess Piece
While people are arguing about Manhattan versus Brooklyn, those who live in Queens simply shake their heads and smile, secure in the knowledge that theirs is the best borough. By now, it seems like New Yorkers are simply loyal to where they live, but those who live in Queens have some good arguments to back up their claims. The lack of the hipster scene, sprawling urban landscapes, a vibrant art scene, and more affordable living are just a few of the things to count in favor of Queens. The following list of romantic things to do in NYC are just a few more.
Fresh Daytime Activity: LIC Community Boathouse
Free kayaking in the East River. Need we say more? This is a great way to see the city and its amazing skyline from a new perspective, and the sunlight and exercise will vitalize you and your date for many more outings. This activity is entirely run by volunteers on a donation-basis, and they provide you with the life jacket and kayak for 20 minutes. All you need to do is show up! Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before, as the volunteers make sure things are simple, safe, and fun for everyone. It is also possible to request to join a longer trip if 20 minutes is barely enough to whet your kayaking appetite.
Want some food with your date? Eat at Majang Dong
This Korean BBQ restaurant is one of the best hidden gems in Queens and most people might walk past it without ever knowing what they missed out on. The sign out front doesn’t contain any English, and it may feel awkward walking in the first time, but if you make your way to the back, you’ll find yourself in a magical Korean BBQ wonderland. Complete with plastic stools and charcoal grills at the table, this restaurant will have you feeling like you’ve been transported to South Korea. This would make a perfect date for those looking to expand their culinary experience with certain menu items such as chicken gizzards, pork belly, and squid.
Keep the Night Going at Terraza 7
Terraza 7 is a jazz lover’s dream come true. Some may describe the décor as kitschy, but after a specialty cocktail or two, it will be hard not to love the various Dia De Los Muertos themed artifacts surrounding every wall. The see-through stage hangs above the bar and—for those willing to pay the cover price—offers an intimate but exciting live show for the people upstairs. Come here if you enjoy live music, tasty cocktails, and a warm, fun-loving atmosphere.
The Bronx: The Tough Guy with a Heart of Gold
While the rest of the boroughs are arguing about which one is the best, The Bronx knows with absolute certainty that it is the toughest. But that doesn’t mean this borough is lacking in romantic things to do in NYC. Home of the Yankees Stadium, people from The Bronx are known to be fiercely loyal to their borough, and they have every right to be. From their green parks to the Bronx Zoo to City Island, there’s no shortage of activities and locations to check out. Try out one of the following options with your date to experience some of the best the Bronx has to offer.
Fresh Daytime Activity: Wave Hill
Wave Hill is perfect for a relaxed afternoon stroll. The breathtaking views of the Hudson River and the expansive gardens provide plenty of things to look at and talk about. There is also a guided tour available for those curious minds that would like to know more about the history behind the place. Explore the various small paths along the periphery of Wave Hill to take in all it has to offer and enjoy a lovely picnic with your date.
Want some food with your date? Eat at Neerob
If you have never experienced Bangladeshi food, it’s possible that Neerob might make it your new favorite cuisine. It may not be one of the most romantic restaurants in NYC, but it more than makes up for that when it comes to taste. Known for biryani, which is a mixed rice dish, Neerob offers a selection of various dishes which include chicken, lamb, and vegetarian options. There does seem to be a bit of a language barrier here, though, so don’t be afraid to go straight up to the counter and point to what you think looks good. This may turn some off from this establishment, but we feel that it serves to enhance the exotic feel of trying something new and exciting. And isn’t that what a date should be all about?
Keep the Night Going at Bronx AleHouse
With a rotating beer selection and delicious bar food, Bronx AleHouse has all you need for a fun date. If you’re both into sports, the multiple TVs will give you a chance to root for or against the same team, and the complimentary popcorn complements the beer perfectly. The attentive and friendly service will have you feeling like a regular in no time, which tends to transfer over into the interaction between you and your date, making this a great place to meet someone new.
Staten Island: Keeping it Real in NYC
Despite being the only borough that isn’t connected to New York City by the subway system (and having the unfortunate nickname “the Forgotten Borough”), Staten Island most definitely is still part of the city, and there are plenty of options to warrant its place on this list of romantic things to do in NYC. Accessible by the free ferry from Manhattan and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn, Staten Island is mostly known for its views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan. The people that live on Staten Island, though, know a thing or two about living well. Whether you live there or are just visiting, you can’t go wrong with the following date ideas.
Fresh Daytime Activity: Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Arts
Get away from the noise and the crowds in NYC by going to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Arts. This museum will make you feel transported to Central Asia with its serene, green environment and Buddhist artifacts. Be aware that there is a trek up a hill to reach the museum, but it can be fun to consider that as part of the Tibetan experience. The museum itself is quite small, but it provides the perfect opportunity to chat with your date and take things slow and relaxed. This is an ideal spot for those interested in Buddhism and meditation, or for anyone that has any curiosity toward Tibetan art and culture.
Want some food with your date? Eat at Bin 5
Bin 5 is touted as being “the best on Staten Island,” and after you’re done with your meal, we expect it will be tough to make any arguments against that claim. With a charming dining room area and a peaceful garden area in the back, along with the friendly and attentive staff, it’s easy to see why it got that distinction in the first place. While not likely to make it onto many lists of the most romantic things to do in NYC, it would be a mistake to overlook this restaurant just because it’s on Staten Island. Their delicious food and tasty cocktails (you won’t want to miss out on their mojitos!) will be sure to satisfy any palate you find yourself sitting across.
Keep the Night Going at Nurnberger Bierhaus
This German restaurant can easily substitute for the previous dining recommendation, as well, with their delicious German offerings. The real draw here, though, is the authentic German ambience and their selection of great German beers on tap. This is a perfect spot for the beer connoisseurs to expand their knowledge and try new things, and maybe get some of those scrumptious pretzels from the bar while you’re at it!
- You’ve tried the most romantic things to do in NYC – now try our list of romantic getaways just outside New York!