food & drink · arts & culture · music & nightlife · outdoor activities ·
Published January 24, 2024
The Best Unexpected Date Ideas in NYC
Because life's too short to spend time on boring dates. ❤️🔥
by New York Bucket List
Dating in New York is...something else. In a city of 8 million people, you'd think finding someone to connect with would be pretty straightforward. Whether you're tired of the same reiteration of a first date or you're a couple in need of some fresh date ideas, figuring out the dating scene in NYC can be tricky.
Unfortunately, we don't know the one secret to successful dating (if you do, please share—we're not relationship experts). We are experts on finding the best things to do in New York, though, and there's one thing we know for certain: dating can (and should) be FUN. New York is a city of endless possibilities, so why settle for one more boring date? From exploring some of the city's more unique museums to teeing off in a round of mini golf to learning a new skill together, we created a list of memorable date ideas that are sure to spice up any date night.
20+ Unique Date Ideas in NYC That Aren't Just Going to Dinner
Sample Wine and Chocolate
Not to be obvious, but wine and chocolate are pretty much the most romantic pairing ever, so a date that involves them both is a homerun. MarieBelle in SoHo offers a wine and chocolate tasting experience with two wine flights—each with two red wines and two white wines—paired with passion fruit, lavender, milk chocolate, and salted caramel ganaches, plus complimentary cheese and grapes. The ambiance at MarieBelle is also perfectly on-point for a romantic night out, so you really can't lose.
Where: MarieBelle: 484 Broome St, New York, NY
Visit The Crushed Heartbreak Bar
Take your crush to Crushed, a limited-time pop-up with themed cocktails/mocktails, photo ops, and activities like adding to the Crush List, taking photos on Cloud 9, and getting a tarot card reading to see if you and your new love interest are meant to be. Bonus: a welcome shot is included with your ticket!
Where: The Pool Club at Virgin Hotels New York City: 1227 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY
Ride on the Seaglass Carousel
This whimsical spot makes for a great romantic date. Unlike your standard carousel, the Seaglass Carousel in the Battery is made with 30 fiberglass fish illuminated with color-changing LED lights and even equipped with integrated sound systems and a "water effect" light projection for a truly immersive experience. Go in the evening to catch the sunset over the water, then ride the carousel as it's getting dark to experience it all lit up. The best part? It's only five dollars.
Where: Water St & State St, New York, NY
Book a Private Omakase Experience
Impress your date at this intimate sushi suite inside an unmarked NYC hotel. Sushi Suite 1001 offers the world's first hotel room turned restaurant experience. When you arrive, check in and receive your room key to unlock your unique food experience featuring a 4-seat sushi counter with your very own private chef for a 90-minute, 17-course progressive Omakase.
Pro-Tip: Plan to get there early to enjoy a cocktail or two at the outdoor Terrace Bar.
Where: Hotel 32|32: 32 E 32nd St Suite 1001 Suite 1001, New York, NY
See a Comedy Show at Fotografiska
The couple that laughs together lasts forever...or something like that. In any case, a night of comedy is a great date night option. Head to Fotografiska, where you can tour the unique photography exhibits, then make your way up to the loft for an exclusive stand-up show.
Where: Fotografiska: 281 Park Ave S, New York, NY
Visit The FRIENDS™ Experience
Instead of staying home and bingeing your favorite sitcom reruns on your couch, head to The FRIENDS™ Experience, where you can actually step into your favorite sitcom and cuddle up on one of TV's most iconic couches. With two floors of immersive experiences, it’s the ultimate spot for FRIENDS™ fans. You can hang out at Central Perk, sit at Monica and Rachel’s kitchen table, kick back and relax in Joey and Chandler’s comfy chairs, and so much more. Just make sure you and your date are on the same page about Ross and Rachel's break—that may be a dealbreaker.
Pro-Tip: Book through Bucket Listers for the lowest ticket prices available!
Where: 130 E 23rd St, New York, NY
Capture a Photo of Your Love Aura
Bet you’ve never captured your aura on a Polaroid, but if you’ve been meaning to, you should head to New York’s Magic Jewelry. Magic Jewelry started in 1995 and has three locations in NYC, with two in Chinatown and one in Flushing. All three locations offer aura photographs; however, reservations are required for the Flushing store. Here’s hoping you see lots of pink, which represents love!
Where: 238 Canal St #108, New York, NY
Enjoy an International Wine Pairing Dinner
If you and your date are wine lovers (or even if you're not but want to learn more about it), try this wine and dinner series, where you'll get to indulge in a five-course meal by acclaimed chefs highlighting the cuisines of various countries, and paired with the perfect wine. Each event is led by a keynote speaker who will walk you through the wine and cuisine of Sicily, France, Germany, and more!
Where: City Winery: 25 11th Ave, New York, NY
Sneak Into a Hidden Speakeasy
Next time you’re looking to grab a drink, upgrade the date by entering one of the city's best speakeasies. Raines Law Room offers two options in Manhattan. The Chelsea location has a secret garden, while the one at The William has a garden terrace. If you’re interested in visiting more hidden bars around the city, check out our roundup of the city's best hidden speakeasies.
Raines Law Room Chelsea: 48 W 17 St (parlor indoor, cabins & garden outdoor)
Raines Law Room at The William: 24 E 39th St (parlor indoor & outdoor terrace)
Play Ping Pong at the Standard Biergarten
Under the High Line, you'll find one of Manhattan’s best spots, The Standard Biergarten. The whole place is open air in warmer months, but in winter, it’s all heated. A few ping pong tables are available for you and your date to participate in some flirty competition.
If you work up an appetite, the food menu offers traditional German fare, like sausages and pretzels, and when you're ready to go, you can take a romantic stroll along the High Line.
Where: 848 Washington St, New York, NY
Explore Sweet Surprises at the Museum of Ice Cream
The Museum of Ice Cream might just be NYC’s sweetest date spot. During your visit, jump hand-in-hand into the world-famous Sprinkle Pool, snap an adorable new Instagram pic together in one of the thirteen whimsical ice cream-themed installations, or take a thrilling glide down Manhattan’s highest indoor slide.
The best part? You can make your childhood dreams come true as you eat as much ice cream as you want. With unlimited ice cream served throughout the visit, you can fully indulge your sweet tooth!
Where: 558 Broadway, New York, NY
Take an Oyster Shucking Class
You don't have to go to Montauk to get fresh oysters. Seamore's in DUMBO brings Montauk to the NYC sidewalks with their oyster shucking and wine pairing classes. You and your date will learn the process of shucking oysters, plus gain tips on tasting and pairing four types of oysters with wines to learn about the various flavors and textures of each.
Where: Seamore's Restaurant: 66 Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY
Learn How to Tattoo
If you've ever wanted to see if you have what it takes to be a tattoo artist, now's your chance. Get your creative juices flowing at this learn-how-to-tattoo experience in Brooklyn. You'll design and plaster your own original tattoo and apply it to synthetic skin or a melon. When you're done, you can kick back and celebrate your accomplishments with a cold beer—and maybe come away with new inspiration for matching tattoos?
Where: FIB Tattoo Bar: 1051 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY
BYOB to an Asian Dumpling Cooking Class
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn the art of preparing the perfect dumplings during this hands-on, interactive cooking class. During this two-hour experience, you and your date will make three kinds of dumplings (steamed spicy pork, steamed shrimp and scallions, and fried vegetable sesame wontons), as well as learn knife skills and techniques on how to fry or steam the dumplings. Once you’ve cooked up a storm, you’ll plate and enjoy your creations together! Guests are also invited to BYOB.
Where: 815 6th Ave, New York, NY
Indulge at Cacio e Pepe
Put a new twist on traditional Italian dinner at Cacio e Pepe, where you can try fresh pasta tossed tableside in their famous giant pecorino cheese wheel for a decadent and Instagram-worthy meal. Round out your dinner with a glass of wine from the extensive Italian wine list, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported straight to Italy.
Where: 182 Second Avenue, New York, NY
Crack Crab and Play Games on an Outdoor Patio
Venture into Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood for fresh seafood at Brooklyn Crab. Seafood, drinks, and games are plentiful. In addition to their standard restaurant space, which includes a roof deck and patio, they also have their own beer garden in the backyard, known as Reed Park. The outdoor beer garden includes mini golf, corn hole, its own food and drink menus and tons of picnic tables.
Where: 24 Reed St, Brooklyn, NY
Enjoy Live Jazz on a Sail Around NYC
Take in the best of Manhattan’s skyline on a romantic live music cruise. There are a few options: you can opt for a night cruise to see the city lit up or choose a harbor sunset cruise. There are also cruises on a 1920s-style yacht or a modern sailboat modeled after a historical one from the 1850s.
Whatever you choose, you’ll be serenaded by the sweet tunes of a live jazz trio. Included in your ticket is one complimentary beer, wine, champagne, or soft drink. Additional beverages are available for purchase.
Where: Chelsea Piers, New York, NY
Attend Date Night at The Met
Every Friday and Saturday, from 5 to 9 PM, it’s date night at The Met. Stroll through halls of statues, ancient relics, and stunning galleries after hours, and enjoy live music, drinks, and an assortment of light fare throughout the museum. For a more intimate setting, pop into the quiet Frank Lloyd Wright room, or head to the rooftop to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Where: 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
Take Part in Some Friendly Competition at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard
Challenge each other to a heated competition at this trendy Brooklyn spot, where you can play Florida-style shuffleboard on giant turquoise courts before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the rotating food trucks. On your way out the door, treat yourself to a scoop (or three!) of Ample Hills ice cream located on the same block.
Where: 514 Union St., Brooklyn, NY
Explore Socrates Sculpture Park
Pack a picnic and head to this unique park on the banks of the East River in Astoria to explore sculptures and art installations from world-renowned artists scattered throughout the grounds. The art here is designed to be a shared experience, so visitors are encouraged to touch and interact with the exhibits—you might even get lucky and meet one of the artists visiting!
On your way back to Manhattan proper, stop by Hallett’s Cove Beach, located just next to the park, to catch the sunset over the city.
Where: 32-01 Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY
Play Mini Golf Along the Hudson River
If you haven’t played a round of miniature golf in a while, here’s your sign to make a date. There’s a course at Pier 25 that sits along the Hudson River, meaning there are epic views to enjoy while you putt-putt. Rentals are just $10 for adults, and no reservations are required. Walk back into the city afterward for a drink or bite to eat. Pro-Tip: City Vineyard is nearby!
Where: Pier 25 at Hudson River Park, 225 West St, New York, NY
Take a Day Trip to Governor’s Island
Governor’s Island is the perfect place to explore with someone special. On the next sunny day, grab your day bag and head to the island to rent bikes, lounge on hammocks, and dine at Island Oyster. The 172-acre island is open to the public year-round every day from 7 AM to 6 PM.
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