Post overview: Rundown of the most romantic things to do in New York City, based on firsthand experience from locals.
Make no mistake, New York City was created for dreamers and star-struck lovers — thankfully, the city doesn’t disappoint. Whether you’re a local looking for fun date ideas or a first-time visitor (welcome!) this post has you covered in the romance department.
I have lived in New York City for six years (going on seven) and can confirm there’s no shortage of romantic things to do in NYC, even after all these years. Heck, the epic skyline of the city feels like a third wheel to any successful relationship.
As with most things in life, there’s more than one way to get it right. The same goes for romance. What will make one person’s heart leap of of their chest might feel lukewarm (at best) to someone else. Knowing this, we curated a thoughtful list of a variety of romantic things to do in NYC, to please any palate.
Without further ado, let’s get to planning.
Romantic Things to Do in New York City
#21. Go window shopping in SoHo
Back in the day this area was covered by factories and warehouse, which have since been converted into expensive condos equipped with storefronts at the ground level.
You’ll find quite the mishmash of high-end luxury designers, big department stores and unique boutiques crammed together from one block to the next. Window shopping in this lively neighborhood is a very romantic NYC activity!
The entire shopping area spans 25 blocks, and if size alone is any indication, you can bet you’ll find whatever you’re looking for here. As such, the area is typically crowded with eager shoppers, so you’ll want to avoid visiting during the weekends, if possible.
The best NYC shopping is done by getting lost, so allow yourself to roam from one block to the next aimlessly, just make sure you start with the most impressive shopping street in NYC first, Broadway.
My favorite thing about shopping in SoHo is that there’s never a shortage of great cafes and restaurants to pop into if you need to decompress. I especially enjoy popping into Balthazar Bakery, one of the best bakeries in New York City.
#21. Take a helicopter tour over NYC
Like moths to a flame, millions of people visit NYC every year for a chance to catch a glimpse of the world-famous views of New York City.
And there’s no denying that the best views come from touring the city via helicopter. This exhilarating activity is not for the faint of heart but I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention it on this list. If you’re a romantic looking for unique things to do in NYC, this is the activity for you.
What’ more, some helicopter companies ever offer doors-off tours where you can dangle your feet outside the helicopter, it’s a memorable experience – to say the least!
#20. Rent a scooter and explore a new neighborhood
If you’re uncomfortable with scooters, a City Bike ought to do the trick! Regardless of the mode of transportation, one thing is certain — getting lost is one of the most romantic things to do in New York City. You’re practically guaranteed to find a gem or stumble, observe an interaction or overhear a funny conversation. Some of my favorite memories to date involve being lost with my partner in tow.
If there’s a neighborhood you’ve been itching to explore, this is your invitation to do it!
#19. Grab drinks at Bemelmans Bar
If you have an occasion worth celebrating (as if surviving 2020 wasn’t enough), may I suggest a fancy date night that starts at Bemelman’s Bar?
When it comes to iconic bars in New York City, Bemelmans Bar sits near the top of the list. Found in the classy Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side, this NYC bar is best known for the murals that adorn the walls.
The original murals were done by the famed author and illustrator, Ludwig Bemelmans, for whom the bar is named. They were commissioned in the 1940s and depict Central Park in all four seasons. If the murals look familiar to you you’ve probably spent several moments of your childhood curled up with a Madeline book, arguably Bemelmans’ most popular work.
Peel your eyes away from the wall and you’ll find a pianist serenading patrons while generous pours of perfectly-executed drinks get delivered from one table to the next.
In a lot of ways Bemelmans Bar is exactly what a New York City bar should be, the staff are dressed to impress, the bar is dimly lit and the aged leather banquettes offer an air of sophistication and class. Make reservations for your special someone and surprise them with this unforgettable and romantic date night in New York City.
#18. Spend a slow morning at a cozy cafe in the West Village
The West Village is the most charming neighborhood in New York City, and romantics naturally gravitate here. There’s a plethora of quaint corner cafes where you can grab a great drink (and small bite to eat) while watching the world go by.
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in New York City that even locals enjoy, spending a slow morning at a cafe fits the bill. One of my favorite areas to park for a while is Buvette, they have great french cuisine and the most welcoming atmosphere.
Further Reading: 17+ Charming Things to Do in the West Village
#17. People watch at Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is an iconic NYC park weaved into the fabric of the city’s culture. Located in the heart of the charming Greenwich Village, this is one of the most beautiful parks in New York City.
There seems to be a gravitational pull on this place because (like most New Yorkers) I can’t help but swing by whenever I’m within a one-mile vicinity.
Best known for the monolithic grand marble arch that sits at the northern entrance of the park and overlooks the central fountain. The Washington Square Arch was built to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration.
Many folks consider this one of the most inviting parks in NYC and come from all over the city to let their hair down and be themselves. The welcoming atmosphere makes Washington Park a great NYC park for people-watching. The energetic mood is contagious and you’ll notice park visitors from all corners of the world.
And indeed, people-watching during a warm summer day is one of the most romantic things to do in NYC!
From suited businesswomen to relaxed college students and nervous tourists, you’ll see it all. The stars of the show tend to be the talented street musicians that give the park an easy-going vibe.
Make an effort to see Washington Park during the spring season. There’s an undeniable cheery buzz in the air as both locals and tourists eagerly flock outdoors after the dreary winter months.
#16. Catch an evening movie at Bryant Park
Bryant Park is perfectly tucked into the shadow of towering office buildings that make up the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Located right behind the breathtaking New York Public Library, it’s not uncommon to find all the chairs and benches full during sunny days.
Clocking in at 9.6-acres, this isn’t the largest park in New York City by any stretch of the imagination, but it often feels the most full.
It’s a hub for the folks that work in the plethora of office buildings that surround the park. The park benches swell with locals during the busy lunch hour most seasons of the year.
My favorite season to visit Bryant Park is summer because of the free movies hosted on the lawn. The entire field is filled with cheery folks on picnic blankets, it’s the epitome of joy. In terms of romantic things to do in New York City, this one is hard to beat.
You’ll also notice library carts full of books, park visitors are encouraged to grab a novel and read under the shady trees at their leisure. There’s a librarian on hand that keeps track of the books to ensure they don’t get swept up, ask them if you’d like to partake in the experience.
#15. Get lost at the MET
Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is often considered the best museum in New York City, and strolling past world-renowned art is one of the most romantic things to do in New York City.
With more than 2 million pieces of art spanning 5,000+ years, the Met is the largest museum in the country and the fifth largest museum in the world. Averaging 6 million visitors per year, it’s also the most visited museum in New York City.
If you only have time to visit one museum in NYC, this is the one. Plus, it’s conveniently located within Central Park, so you don’t have to go far out of your way to visit.
Admittedly, the museum can get overwhelming if you don’t have a game plan. I suggest picking one or two topics you’re interested in and sticking to those. There’s also some notable pieces you absolutely can’t miss, such as:
Must see at the MET: Washington Crossing the Delaware, The Temple of Dendur, Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with a Straw Hat and Monet’s Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies.
Swing by the Cantor Rooftop Garden during your visit for panoramic views of Central Park.
#14. Grab a drink at the best bar in the world
Dante Caffee dates back to 1915. It served as a staple for the community before slowly fading into oblivion before two Australians decided to breathe new life into the historic institution in 2015. The result was striking, within a few years of opening, Dante was named the best bar in the world in 2019 and appeared on the list again in 2020.
And I dare ask, what better way to cap off a romantic day in the New York City than by getting a drink at the best bar in the world?
The menu is well curated with small fare and the drinks are perfectly executed. The hardest part about this experience is getting reservations because this is one of the most romantic things to do in New York City. After visiting Dante for dates in NYC on a handful of occasions, I can confirm that their drinks are some of the best I’ve ever had. The dirty martini is particularly memorable.
Dante now has two locations — Dante West Village and Caffe Dante, the two bars are located a few blocks apart. I haven’t had luck getting into Caffe Dante without a reservation, so I suggest booking in advance. Try to book Friday evening during the spring and summer because they usually have a pleasant live jazz band.
Happy Hour: Both Dante locations have generous happy hour between 3pm and 5pm. Dante West Village offers martinis for $10 and Caffe Dante offers negronis for $10. The price/quality ratio can’t be beat!
Address: 551 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014 & 79-81 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
#13. Sign up for yoga in Central Park
If you’re looking for active date ideas in New York City, sign up for a yoga class in Central Park. Strike a pose and get your stretch on while the epic NYC skyline roots you on.
Classes are 75-minutes long and cost $20 per person (making this is one of the most affordable date ideas in New York City). You need to reserve your time in advance and bring your own mat.
#12. Walk the High Line
The High Line is one of the most unique parks in New York City. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, High Line Park was born from an eye-sore.
The elevated tracks this NYC park was built on were originally used by freight trains delivering cargo to the city. A practice that became moot with the rise in trucking.
For ages, the railroad track was abandoned and neglected, a blight on the neighborhood. That is until Mayor Bloomberg approved a plan to transform the derelict train tracks into a park for the people.
The High Line opened in 2009 and became an instant success.The elevated promenade stretches 1.5 miles (from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street) and receives an average of 8 million visitors annually. It didn’t take long for folks to realize this as one of the most unique romantic things to do in New York City.
As a local, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoy visiting the High Line regardless of how many times I’ve seen it. This NYC park swells with giddy tourists, so the people-watching opportunities are endless.
Make sure to check out the Chelsea Market as well, it’s chock-full of interesting shops and great restaurants.
P.S. If you’re into stargazing (talk about romantic!) partake in the stargazing events hosted every Tuesday from April to October. Read more here.
#11. Catch an epic sunset view from Top of the Rock
I dare you to show me a more mesmerizing skyline than New York City’s. And if you’re looking for the absolute best view of New York City, it’s hard to beat the Top of the Rock NYC Observation Deck, especially at sunset.
Visitors can access three separate indoor/outdoor observation decks on the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors. The subsequent panoramic views from this iconic building makes this one of the most popular observation decks in NYC. As such, you can expect crowds practically every hour of the day.
But trust me when I tell you the crowds are worth it. The large glass panels offer unobstructed views the NYC skyline, unlike some of the other observation decks in NYC that use fencing — an inexcusable offense!
From Top of Rock you will see the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building and the One World Trade Center.
P.S. Make sure to check the interactive Beam Walk during your visit. It simulates what it would feel like to balance on a beam 69-floors about the street while the building was being constructed (whew- I’m sweating just typing that!).
Further Reading: 18 Jaw-Dropping Views of NYC (For All Budgets)
#10. Rent a row boat in Central Park
We can’t discuss the most romantic things to do in New York City without mentioning Central Park.
The Lake in Central Park is as romantic as you can imagine. Rent a rowboat and serenade your special someone amidst the spring blooms or fall leaves while admiring the dramatic New York skyline. Does it get any better than this? I don’t think so.
The Lake is a man-made body of water that covers 20-acres and marks the very heart of Central Park. Thankfully there’s plenty of vistas and ample shoreline to take in the views.
So grab a rowboat and jump right in! There’s 100 boats available for rent at the Loeb Boathouse and at $20 per hour (cash only), they’re actually reasonably priced. Interested? Read more here.
There’s also an option to rent a guided Gondola tour, if you’d prefer not to break a sweat. Tours are $50 per half hour and need to be reserved in advance.
Further Reading: 15 ICONIC Things to Do in Central Park
#9. Spend an evening at a Jazz club
I can’t admit to being a big jazz fan, but even still, I never pass up an opportunity to plan a fun NYC date night as a jazz club. Thankfully, NYC has a lot of great jazz clubs to choose from, but the music scene in the West Village is hard to beat.
Chances are high that you’ll come across talented street performers playing jazz while you walk the neighborhood, but if you’d like to make the occasion special, I suggest making reservations at a jazz club for a romantic NYC experience you won’t soon forget.
The West Village is home to a handful of knock-out spots, but the most notable are Village Vanguard and Blue Note Jazz Club.
Village Vanguard is an intimate West Village jazz club that has been serenading New Yorkers since 1935, with legendary performers like Miles Davis. Likewise, Blue Note Jazz Club is a cultural institution and considered one of the best jazz clubs in the world. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either option, but one thing remains true – this is the most iconic date night in NYC.
#8. Walk (or bike) across the Brooklyn Bridge
When I asked my husband for advice curating this list of romantic things to do in New York City, he chimed in with strolling across the Brooklyn Bridge. Considering we’ve spent the last six years exploring NYC together, I found it quite telling that this activity sticks out so clearly in his mind.
As such, allow me share that strolling the Brooklyn Bridge is indeed one of the most romantic things to do in NYC, especially as sunset when the city changes color.
P.S. The Brooklyn Bridge is older than London’s famous Tower Bridge by 11 years (and other thought-provoking NYC facts you probably don’t know).
#7. Stroll the Brooklyn Promenade at sunset
Stroll down Brooklyn Promenade for the best views of the famous NYC skyline. Brooklyn Promenade is especially beautiful in the evening, so bookmark this place for a romantic evening in New York City — it has the potential to turn the most arduous platonic relationship into something more.
#6. Watch a ballet performance at Lincoln Center
Here’s the thing, if you’re visiting NYC during Christmas, you can’t afford to miss the breathtaking Nutcracker ballet performance at the Lincoln Center. Here’s the other thing, if you’re not visiting during Christmas, you’ll still have an opportunity to participate in this romantic NYC activity.
Founded in 1950, the Lincoln Center is home to the Metropolitan Opera House, New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet, Julliard School of Music, the Chamber Music Society and the Film Society.
In other words, the Lincoln Center is the cultural capital not only of the Upper West Side, but of NYC as a whole. The venue sits on 16-acres and consists of five concert/theater buildings, a library, band shell and two outdoor plazas.
This is the place to go to see world-class opera, theater, ballet and jazz and thankfully there’s never a shortage of exciting events to attend. So if you’re looking to impressive someone with an unforgettable date night in New York City, this would be the place to do it.
#5. Have a picnic in Central Park
You probably already know that Central Park is a masterpiece. The park is world-famous for good reason and there’s a reason it’s on everyone’s must-see list when visiting New York City. Spanning more than 840 healthy acres, Central Park is an architectural feat that few can resist falling in love with.
It’s also one of the first man-made parks in the country– designed using a new concept for the time called landscape architecture. There’s so many iconic spots to see in Central Park, I suggest spending an entire day exploring this incredible NYC park or visiting several times.
If you’d like some guidance during your first visit to Central Park, I suggest reading 15 ICONIC Things to Do in Central Park, a super helpful post that highlights the top attractions in the park.
If you’d like to feel like a true NYC local, grab a picnic blanket and spread out at Sheep Meadow during the warm spring and summer months, it’s one of the most romantic things to do in NYC!
#4. Enjoy a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant
Did you know New York City has the 5th highest concentration of Michelin-starred Restaurants in the world? It’s a big deal! What better way to take advantage of the world-class cuisine in the Big Apple than by treating yourself to a Michelin-starred meal?
If you have something big to celebrate (the prices are steep and the wait-lists are oftentimes long) then I highly recommend this romantic activity in New York City.
#3. Catch a Broadway Show
It would be inexcusable not to mention Broadway on this list of the most romantic things to do in New York City!
Yes, Broadway Shows are expensive, but the experience is unforgettable and so romantic. I would suggest budgeting at least one show during your visit to New York City.
Something I wish I knew earlier was that certain Broadway Shows have a lottery system where you can apply to win free tickets in advance. Seems like a long shot, but one of my coworkers won two tickets to Hamilton!
Maybe you can get lucky too. Another way to save money on tickets is to purchase “solo” tickets if you’re okay not sitting next to your friends. I did this last time and paid $99 for a $200 seat.
#2. Grab drinks at a rooftop bar
New York City’s skyline is famous all over the world, why not linger at a rooftop bar with your special someone while soaking in the breathtaking views of the City That Never Sleeps? There’s so many great rooftop bars to choose from, but my personal favorite (for epic views) is Castell Rooftop Lounge.
#1. Enjoy a cozy french-inspired brunch at Balthazar
Balthazar oozes with charm and coziness and exudes a romantic vibe that is hard to describe in words. Whenever someone plans to visit me in NYC, the first I do it make reservations at Balthazar because the place never fails to impress.
The decor and tantalizing smells will transport you to Paris, the City of Love. The food always hits the spot and the curated wine list only adds to the romance. If you’re looking for a romantic thing to do in New York City, make brunch at Balthazar a priority.
I suggest lingering for a while, don’t rush the meal (or experience). Settle in and whisper sweet little nothings until your cheeks get sore from smiling.
Most Romantic Things to Do in New York City (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the most romantic things to do in New York City.
- Enjoy a cozy french-inspired brunch at Balthazar
- Grab drinks at a rooftop bar
- Catch a Broadway Show
- Enjoy a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant
- Have a picnic in Central Park
- Watch a ballet performance at Lincoln Center
- Stroll the Brooklyn Promenade at sunset
- Walk (or bike) across the Brooklyn Bridge
- Spend an evening at a Jazz club
- Rent a row boat in Central Park
- Catch an epic sunset view from Top of the Rock
- Walk the High Line
- Sign up for yoga in Central Park
- Grab a drink at the best bar in the world
- Get lost at the MET
- Catch an evening movie at Bryant Park
- People watch at Washington Square Park
- Spend a slow morning at a cozy cafe in the West Village
- Grab drinks at Bemelmans Bar
- Rent a scooter and explore a new neighborhood
- Take a helicopter tour over NYC
- Go window shopping in SoHo
Map of romantic activities in NYC
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