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18 (Non-Cheesy) Romantic Things to Do in New York City

Romantic Things to do in New York City, couple walking in SoHo

New York City, the fast-paced Concrete Jungle, is known for ambitious locals that walk too fast and smile too little. Seldom is the city mistaken for romance, which is a pity, because there’s tons of romantic things to do in NYC. In fact, after living in the city for 10 years, I’m still finding new date night ideas in New York. From Broadway shows and fine dinning to cozy jazz clubs and exciting exhibits, let’s cover everything you need to know.


Romantic Things to Do in New York City

Table of Contents: Romantic NYC Activities

Bemelmans Bar New York City

#18. Grab Drinks at Bemelmans Bar

One of my most unforgettable date nights in New York City was an evening spent at Bemelman’s Bar. Located in the posh Carlyle Hotel, the bar is known for hand-painted murals, celebrity sightings and live piano music.

The aged leather banquettes offer an air of sophistication few bars can emulate well (and not for lack of trying). Peel your eyes away from the handsome murals and let your eyes settle on the bar, watch generous pours of perfectly-executed drinks make their way from one table to the next. The cocktails are excellent, but the dirty martini is where Bemelmans Bar shines, can’t recommend it enough.

P.S. The murals were hand-painted by the famed author and illustrator of the Madeline Books, Ludwig Bemelmans. They were commissioned in the 1940s to depict Central Park in all four seasons.

Website: Bemelmans Bar (no reservations, first come, first served)
Address: 35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021
Featured in: 15+ Best Things to Do on the Upper East Side
Good to know: The bar upholds a smart dress code policy (men are required to wear collared shirts, and casual attire such as shorts and hats are not allowed).


#17. Take a Cooking Class at Pier 57

Remember during the pandemic when everyone was taking up new hobbies (DIY haircuts, anyone?), well, a rainy day in NYC is a perfect excuse to keep learning new skills. My favorite spot for cooking classes is the Platform by the James Bear Foundation at Pier 57.

The James Beard Foundation is like the Oscars of cooking, so it’s a huge deal when a restaurant or chef earns one of these prestigious awards. The Platform at Pier 57 hosts events and classes with award-winning chefs that are so much fun! Sign up (here’s the event’s calendar) to enjoy a meal made by famous chef, or — better yet — take a cooking class instead. This is a great date idea for a rainy day in New York City.


Most romantic things to do in New York City

#16. Spend a Slow Morning in the West Village

The West Village is the most charming neighborhood in New York City, so take advantage of the vibe. 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. I suggest making reservations at Buvette, they have great French cuisine and the most welcoming atmosphere!

Further Reading: 20 Charming Things to Do in the West Village


Romantic things to do in New York City

#15. Catch an Outdoor 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 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.


The MET MUSEUM  IN NEW YORK CITY

#14. Get Lost at the MET

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.

Strolling past world-renowned art is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in New York City. When else will you have the change to discuss your hopes and dreams while staring at van Gogh’s self-portrait. Also, make sure to swing by the museums’ rooftop garden for panoramic views of Central Park.

Website: Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
Helpful Guide: 20 EPIC Things to See at The MET


Best martinis in New York City

#13. Get Cocktails at the Best Bar in the World

Dante 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? Bonus points if you make it to happy hour (runs daily from 3-6pm), nothing better than a financially savvy date!

Website: Dante
Locations:
551 Hudson Street & 79-81 MacDougal Street
Featured in: 15 Boozy NYC Cocktail Bars (Worth The Wait)


Romantic Things to do NYC

#12. Take a Yoga Class in Central Park

You probably already know that Central Park is a masterpiece. There’s a reason Central Park is on everyone’s must-see list when visiting New York City. Spanning more than 840 acres, the park is an architectural feat that few can resist falling in love with.

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.

Feeling a bit less flexible? I got you. Grab a picnic blanket and spread out at Sheep Meadow for a picnic instead. This is a favorite summer pastime for locals because it’s one of the most romantic things to do in NYC!

There are so many iconic spots to see in Central Park, if you’d like some guidance during your first visit I suggest reading 15 ICONIC Things to Do in Central Park (our most popular post!).


#11. Go Stargazing on the High Line

The High Line opened in 2009 and became an instant success. The elevated promenade stretches 1.5 miles and gets 8 million visitors a year. The elevated tracks this 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 was abandoned and neglected, until Mayor Bloomberg approved a plan to transform the derelict train tracks into a public park.

If you’re into stargazing, partake in the stargazing events hosted every Tuesday at sunset from April through October at the High Line. Read more here. I mean, can you think of a more romantic date night activity than stargazing?

Website: The High Line
Featured Guide: 15 ICONIC New York City Parks (That Locals Love)


Top of the Rock observation deck

#10. Take in the Views from the Top of the Rock

I dare you to show me a more mesmerizing skyline than New York’s. And if you’re looking for the absolute best views of New York City, it’s hard to beat the Top of the Rock NYC Observation Deck. The large glass panels offer unobstructed views the NYC skyline, unlike some of the other observation decks in town.

From the Top of Rock. you’ll see the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building and the One World Trade Center. Sometimes it’s fun to play tourist in your own town. So, if you’re looking for iconic New York City date night ideas, taking in the sweeping views of Manhattan at sunset should fit the bill.

Website: Top of the Rock
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY
Featured in: 18 Jaw-Dropping Views of NYC (For All Budgets)


Most romantic things to do in New York City

#9. Rent a Rowboat 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.

There’s 100 boats available for rent at the Loeb Boathouse on a walk-up basis (first come, first served). At $25 per hour (credit card or Apple Pay only), they’re actually reasonably priced. Interested? Read more here.


Village Vanguard in the Rain NYC

#8. Spend an Evening at a Jazz Club

I’m not big on jazz (sorry!) but even I know better than to pass up an opportunity to plan a fun date night in NYC centered around a historic jazz club! If you’d like to make an occasion feel special, I suggest making reservations at a jazz club for a romantic NYC experience you won’t soon forget.

Helpful Guide: If you’d like some suggestions, here’s a roundup of the 15 best jazz clubs in NYC (based on personal experience).


Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

#7. Walk 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 one suggestion — walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Considering we’ve spent the last 10 years exploring NYC together, I found it quite telling that this activity sticks out to him, but I can’t disagree. I’m a sucker for this iconic NYC experience myself.

The bridge spans 1.1 miles and takes about 30 minutes to cross (at a leisurely pace). I think the views are better when walking towards Manhattan (starting in DUMBO). You’ll see the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower in their full glory, it’s a remarkable experience.

Helpful Guide: 20 Best Things to Do in DUMBO, Brooklyn


Romantic Date Night Ideas in New York City
Couples catching sunset near the Brooklyn Bridge | Romantic Things to Do in New York City

#6. Stroll the Brooklyn Promenade at Sunset

Make your way to Brooklyn Heights and take a lovely stroll along the Brooklyn Promenade at sunset. This promenade offers the best free views of the city, making it a great option for those looking for fun NYC date ideas on a budget.

Walk up Willow Street while admiring the charming streets of Brooklyn Heights, as you slowly make your way to a local bar to warm up with an afternoon drink. I suggest Bohemian Bar, Inga’s Bar or The Long Island Bar.

Bonus Points: When you’re ready to get back to Manhattan, pop on the ferry! Soak in the twinkling lights of the skyline, at $4 per person, this one of the most affordable date night ideas in NYC.

Helpful Guide: 15 Best Things to Do in Brooklyn Heights (Local’s Guide)


Romantic date nights in New York City
Lincoln Center Upper West Side
Catching a performance at the Lincoln Center is one of the most romantic things to do in New York City

#5. Attend a Ballet Performance at the Lincoln Center

Here’s the thing, if you’re visiting NYC during Christmas, you can’t afford to miss the breathtaking Nutcracker 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. This is the place to go to see world-class opera, theater, ballet and jazz. So if you’re looking to impressive someone with an unforgettable date night in New York City, this would be my suggestion.

Website: Lincoln Center
Address: Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY
Featured in: 20 Fun Things to Do on the Upper West Side


#4. Enjoy a Fancy Meal at Gramercy Tavern

Did you know New York City home to 65 Michelin-starred restaurants? That’s a big deal. What better way to take advantage of the world-class cuisine in the Big Apple than by treating your special someone to some fine dining.

One of my go-to spots for fine dining is Gramercy Tavern. This iconic NYC restaurant dates back to 1994 and is known for its commitment to seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The restaurants has earned nine James Beard Awards, including “Outstanding Restaurant” and “Outstanding Chef in America.” All this to say, it’s hard to go wrong with a fancy meal here for a fun date night in NYC.

If you’re looking to splurge, opt for the 5-course tasting menu. I did this for my 30th birthday and was very impressed! Feeling more casual? Enjoy a meal in the Tavern instead, Gramercy Tavern makes some of the best burgers in NYC!

Website: Gramercy Tavern
Address: 42 E 20th St, New York, NY


Exterior of the Belasco Theater, best shows on Broadway, Good Night Oscar

#3. Catch a Broadway Show

Yes, Broadway Shows are expensive, but the experience is unforgettable and so romantic. 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? Imagine scoring affordable tickets to see a show, it’s be an incredible date night!

Helpful Guide: 10 Brilliant Broadway Shows in New York City (For All Interests)


Greenpoint Things to Do NYC Bar Blondeau

#2. Grab Drinks at a Rooftop Bar

I’m not the mushy type, but even I’ll admit that there’s something magical about rooftop bars. Watching the stunning skyline light up for the night while sipping a delicious cocktail and making small talk with a new date, it’s a great feeling!

So, whether it’s a first date or you’re hitting you 30 year anniversary, why not invite your special someone to linger at a rooftop bar with you for the evening? There’s SO many great rooftop bars to choose from, but one of my go-to spots is Bar Blondeau in Greenpoint.

Helpful Guide: 12 Memorable Rooftop Bars in Brooklyn


best brunch SoHO

#1. Enjoy a Cozy Brunch at Balthazar

Balthazar oozes with charm and coziness and exudes a romantic vibe that makes it perfect for a brunch date. 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 have a way of transporting everyone to Paris. 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. Isn’t that what vacation is for?

Website: Balthazar
Address:
80 Spring St, New York, NY
Featured in: 20 Best Restaurants in SoHo


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.

  1. Enjoy a cozy french-inspired brunch at Balthazar
  2. Grab drinks at a rooftop bar
  3. Catch a Broadway Show
  4. Enjoy a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant
  5. Have a picnic in Central Park
  6. Watch a ballet performance at Lincoln Center
  7. Stroll the Brooklyn Promenade at sunset
  8. Walk (or bike) across the Brooklyn Bridge
  9. Spend an evening at a Jazz club
  10. Rent a row boat in Central Park
  11. Catch an epic sunset view from Top of the Rock
  12. Walk the High Line
  13. Sign up for yoga in Central Park
  14. Grab a drink at the best bar in the world
  15. Get lost at the MET
  16. Catch an evening movie at Bryant Park
  17. Spend a slow morning at a cozy cafe in the West Village
  18. Grab drinks at Bemelmans Bar

Map of Date Ideas in NYC


NYC First Date (FAQ)

(FAQ)
What is a good first date in NYC?

For an iconic NYC first date, swing by a farmers market and make your way to Central Park for a picnic at Sheep Meadow. There’s a great farmers market on the Upper West Side (near the American Museum of Natural History) that takes place every Sunday, that’d be my recommendation!

Is New York good for couples?

Absolutely! There’s no shortage of romantic things to do in NYC (as this list illustrates). But the magic of living in Big Apple is the spontaneous and serendipitous moments that lead to memorable and romantic evenings in NYC. You’ll never have a reason to be bored while living in NYC as a couple.


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Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, we love to hear from you!

Cheers!

Diego

Saturday 23rd of December 2023

Thank you for this!!! Been looking for some things to do with my gal and this really was perfect :) Will keep you posted how it goes.

Antonina

Sunday 24th of December 2023

So glad to hear the list was helpful for you, Deigo!

Jessie

Friday 22nd of December 2023

This is great! I wish I had known about Bar Blondeau last time I was with my boo in Brookyln. We tried to get into Westlight but the line was crazy and they stopped taking walk-ins. This would have been a great alternative... next time!

Antonina

Saturday 23rd of December 2023

Hey Jessie, Bar Blondeau is great, love that spot and think you'll enjoy it too. Westlight is popular for a reason (it's a top-notch rooftop bar), but the wait is so obnoxious, no reason to spend a romantic evening waiting in line. Cheers!