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Published February 2, 2023

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.

19 Unique Date Ideas That Aren't Just Going to Dinner

Sip Wine at a Rooftop Vineyard

Everyone loves enjoying a glass of wine on a rooftop (and NYC is full of great rooftops), but did you know there's actually an entire rooftop vineyard right here in the city? Rooftop Reds at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is the city's only vineyard, and it offers incredible views of Manhattan—in other words, it's the perfect setting for a romantic night out.

The venue also hosts movie nights during the summer, so you can enjoy your wine while the sun sets and follow it up with a show.

Where: 63 Flushing Ave Building 275, Brooklyn, NY
More information.


Rooftop Reds, Building 275, 63 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Rooftop Reds Reservations
Starting at $20

Book now


Go to a Dueling Piano Bar

Have you ever been to a dueling piano bar? It's a surefire way to have a blast with your date (and get a sense of their taste in music). Sing along at Green Fig in Times Square as three of NY's finest musicians and vocalists take you through the catalogs of your favorite artists. Featuring music by Queen, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and more, it's sure to be a riot. Plus, they have games and varying themed nights!

Where: Green Fig: 570 Tenth Avenue, W 42nd St At, New York, NY
More information.


YOTEL New York Times Square, W 42nd St, NY, 10036, USA
Dueling Pianos at the Green Fig
Starting at $20

Book now


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.

How to get there: Governor’s Island is accessible by ferry. Find transportation options here.
More information.


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
More information.


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
More information.


The FRIENDS™ Experience: The One in New York City, The Friends Experience, 130 E 23rd St, NY, 10010, USA
The FRIENDS Experience: The One in New York
Starting at $35

Book now



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
More information.


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)
More information.


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
More information.


See Mindblowing Magic

When you hear "magic show," you might think of the magician your parents hired for your seventh birthday party, but this experience is far from it. For starters, it begins in a bar in the East Village. You’ll grab a free drink and enjoy close-up magic, then sneak through a curtain into the secret back room for seriously unbelievable illusions.

Every show is new, featuring performers who have been seen on Penn and Teller Fool Us, America’s Got Talent, and Masters of Illusion. You and your date will be talking about it long after the night is over.

Where: Revision Lounge: 219 Avenue B, New York, NY
More information.


ReVision Lounge and Gallery, 219 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009, United States
An Evening of Magic at Revision Lounge
Starting at $49

Book now


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
More information.


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
More information.


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
More information.


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
More information.


558 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA
Museum of Ice Cream After Dark: Sips & Scoops
Starting at $36

Book now




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
More information.


1051 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226, USA
Learn How To Tattoo
Starting at $45

Book now



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
More information.


Multiple locations
Asian Dumplings Class - NYC
Starting at $56

Book now


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
More information.


Crack Crab and Play Games at 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
More information.


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
More information.


Classic Harbor Line, New York, NY, USA
Live Jazz on a Cruise Around NYC
Starting at $94

Book now


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
More information.


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