Dating in NYC can be genuinely special. The city is home to such a diverse range of singles from all walks of life, as well as tons of great places to go on a date. But, this vast choice of people and places often means that choosing from the best date ideas in NYC can feel a bit daunting at first.
If you’ve matched with a cutie and you’re not sure if you should take them out for a nice coffee at Kinship, a perfect bagel at Tompkins Square, or maybe even a cocktail, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve put together a list of some of the best date ideas in NYC to get you inspired!
The Best Date Ideas in NYC: 20 Top Suggestions to Get You Started
1. Meet clandestinely for a secret agent date
For a romantic date idea in NYC that works excellently for a longer-term relationship, try inviting your boo on a secret agent date. What’s a secret agent date? Well, it’s whatever you want it to be, but here’s how to make it “secret.”
Tell your date to dress to the nines (think James Bond vibes) and give them coordinate points to meet you. Then, once you’ve met up, take them on a fun evening of activities. It could be something as simple as martinis and Thai food on a rooftop, or as daring as an escape room. If you’re really feeling the spy theme, take them to SPYSCAPE, a museum/spy training ground in Midtown West.
2. Have an old-fashioned at The Penrose
Matched with someone that lives on the Upper East Side? Looking to take them somewhere casual but cool? Going for a drink at The Penrose is a top choice! This is a great first date idea in NYC because The Penrose is usually loud enough to fill any potential awkward silences if you’re not sure what to say to break the ice.
It’s also nice enough to impress your date without being so expensive that you feel silly if it doesn’t work out. They also have decent food options in case the date goes well and you want to sit down for longer and nosh. Just be sure to get there early (or make a reservation), because this place gets busy.
3. Take a cute vegan to Dirt Candy
The NYC vegan dating scene is finally catching up to LA’s, but you still have to know the best spots. When it comes to the best date ideas in NYC, there’s no better way to impress that cute vegan you’ve connected with than by making a reservation at Dirt Candy.
The Lower East Side restaurant is cute, cool, and vegetable-focused. Plus, it’s one of few vegetarian restaurants that are upscale enough to feel like a nice date.
4. Play at the Pepsi-Cola sing park across the river
Whether you’re living in the suburbs or want an excuse to get out of the city, the Pepsi-Cola sign and surrounding park in Long Island City is a unique date idea in NYC. Pack a picnic, enjoy a long walk through a new part of town, or, snap some cute selfies in front of the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign.
5. Have a late-night feast at Lil Frankie’s
If your bae works nights and doesn’t get off until late, this old-school Italian joint is one of the best date night restaurants in NYC. Located by the Bowery, the vibes at Lil Frankie’s gives off serious Venice and Rome vibes. And you can enjoy this Italian atmosphere until late too because the restaurant doesn’t close until 2 AM.
6. Go on an Italian food tour
Sometimes, one Italian meal (or just one date) isn’t enough. As far as unique date ideas in NYC go, a DIY Italian food tour is a pretty fun one. Start with breakfast or lunch in midtown, then take a nice meandering walk to Little Italy, stopping into bars and bakeries for drinks and pastries on the way.
When you get to Little Italy, choose any restaurant that you both like the look of. Top tip: End the meal with some cannoli to really get that sweet taste of Italy!
7. Have a dreamy day at the New York Botanical Garden
While the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) can be sloughed off as a tourist destination, it’s actually a really romantic date idea in NYC.
NYBG is ideal if you both want an escape from the busy city and there’re tons of hidden corners to hide away from tourists – try their 50-acre forest, for example. Plus, if you both just can’t wait for the next season of Bridgerton, there’s no better place than this. It’ll give you serious Daphne and Simon vibes!
8. Cheers to the skyline at Panorama Room
Despite its often rough-round-the-edges appearance, NYC can be a pretty romantic place. And nothing’s more romantic than the city’s skyline.
To experience one of the best date spots in NYC, take your date to the Panorama Room on Roosevelt Island. Perched on the 18th floor of the Graduate Hotel on Roosevelt Island, this rooftop bar offers stunning 360-degree views of New York’s spectacular skyline.
9. Go sailing at sunset
Some of the best date ideas in NYC require you think outside the box a bit, especially if you’re on a budget. Going sailing might sound like something way outside your price range, but you don’t have to own a boat to take your date on one. Manhattan by Sail offers a romantic sunset cruise for just $75 per person. You can also check out their New York Wine Tasting Cruises, for a boozier boating date.
10. Have an upscale movie night at Nitehawk Cinema
We all know that Netflix syndrome is a big part of modern, millennial dating. But, c’mon. Netflix and chill is so 2020. Post-pandemic, we want to leave our apartments, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy a good film! Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg offers a great date experience, with a full menu and bar in the theater.
Enjoy some Oscar-winning romance movies or check out the newest indie releases as you feast on charcuterie and sip on bubbly. This is much, much classier than cuddling with a laptop on the couch.
11. Take them to a secret bar in Koreatown
Osamil Upstairs in Koreatown is a speakeasy that feels more like a very wealthy person’s library, which naturally makes it a great date spot.
12. Or pretend you’re taking them to Five Guys
Speaking of speakeasies, another fun secret spot is The Garret in the West Village. To get to this small cocktail bar, you have to enter through the Five Guys downstairs. The plus side is that if you get the munchies after too many cocktails, you can quickly snag some fries on your way out.
13. Impress them with an updated NYC classic
Some people like hole-in-the-wall burger spots, and others like vegan cafes. If you’re looking for cute date ideas in NYC that offer classic luxury, make a reservation at Cipriani Downtown. This upscale Soho restaurant is a trendier version of their classic uptown location but still boasts their famous Italian fare and cocktails.
12. Explore not-so-cheap thrills by scaling a building
If you’re going on a date with someone who enjoys an adrenaline rush, up the ante by inviting them to scale a 1,200-foot skyscraper with you. City Climb allows you to scale Edge in Hudson Yards. Just maybe wait until after that part of the date to grab a drink, yeah?
13. Bowling with some brews
If you prefer an activity date rather than a classic drink or dinner date, head to Brooklyn Bowl for bowling, booze, and Blue Ribbon fried chicken if y’all work up an appetite.
14. Stare lovingly into each other’s eyes over Venetian-style cuttlefish
Impress your date with your trendiness by taking them to the Italian-inspired restaurant in Greenwich Village: Saint Theo’s. Unlike Little Italy, the menu is less traditional but chicer. People also love the vibe here, which includes offbeat music, bright green décor, and menu items that come with great cocktails.
15. Learn to cook together
If pricey entrees and soggy takeout aren’t your things, there’s always the option of cooking together in a more formal setting than your studio apartment. There are tons of great cooking classes for couples, in every burrow, where you can learn to make anything from cupcakes to dumplings.
16. Bare your inhibitions at the Museum of Sex
For obvious reasons, you probably don’t want to use this as a first date idea in NYC. But, if you find yourself in a just-sex relationship, or you’re dating someone who’s super in touch with their sensual side, then the Museum of Sex is a super fun date idea in NYC. Their exhibits are always changing, from bounce houses to an erotic carnival.
17. Play shuffleboard and dream of growing old together
If bowling isn’t your thing, you can always head deeper into Brooklyn and play shuffleboard at The Royal Palms in Gowanus. This kitschy bar-meets-playground is Florida-themed, which means there are umbrellas in the drinks served by Hawaiian-shirt-wearing waiters. It’s just all-around good vibes.
18. Make mixology happen at Raine’s Law Room
Instead of a cooking class, how about a drinking class? Or, a drink-making class, that is. Raine’s Law Room in Midtown offers a 90-minute cocktail-making class every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
19. Have a spa day (and a boat trip)
One of New York’s nicest spas is situated outside the city, in Edgewater, New Jersey. SoJo Spa Club, a re-imagined Korean bathhouse with a rooftop pool that overlooks the city skyline, is definitely up there with the best date spots in NYC.
They offer accommodation if you want to stay the night, and you can take a ferry over from Manhattan that takes you straight to Edgewater.
20. Take a helicopter ride over the city
This is a more expensive date than a quick coffee, but it’s certainly a unique date idea in NYC. And for the price of a nice dinner, you get 15 minutes in the air! They are quite a few helicopter city tour companies (such as Liberty) that’ll take you and your date around the city, offering a never-seen-before view of landmarks, the skyline, and all the bright lights. You’ll want to book this one in advance.
Save This List For Later…You’ll Be Glad You Did!
Quality dates are a big part of creating good relationships. And, in The City That Never Sleeps, there are so many possibilities when it comes to taking your bae somewhere special!
Save this list of some of the best date ideas in NYC to your bookmarks for easy access. Then, the next time you ask yourself, “Where should I go on a date in New York?”, you’ll have 20 top ideas ready to go. Trust us, you won’t regret it!