Bucket Listers

food & drink · arts & culture · music & nightlife · outdoor activities ·

Published February 2, 2023

The Best Unexpected Date Ideas in NYC

Say no to boring dates and explore a new side of the city with someone special. 🌃✨

by New York Bucket List


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 learning a new skill together, there's something everyone will enjoy.

Check out this list of Bucket Listers’ favorite unexpected date ideas in NYC, and get ready to experience the city like never before.

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 ferries operated by Trust for Governors Island and NYC Ferry. NYC Ferry runs seasonally on weekends. Click here for more information on transportation options.
For more information on Governors Island.


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 that’s open to both children and adults at Pier 25. It 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!

Location: Pier 25 at Hudson River Park, 225 West St, New York, NY 10013
For more information on Pier 25 Mini Golf.

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 best hidden speakeasies in NYC

Where: Raines Law Room Chelsea: 48 W 17 St (parlor indoor, cabins & garden outdoor) and Raines Law Room at The William: 24 E 39th St (parlor indoor & outdoor terrace)
For more information on The Raines Law Room.

Take part in flirty 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 their 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 11215
For more information on Royal Palms Shuffleboard.

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 11106
For more information on Socrates Sculpture Park. 

Take a stroll down the High Line

The High Line is known as NYC’s number one date spot, and with good reason! This public park, built on a former elevated freight railway, allows visitors to stroll through Manhattan’s West Side while enjoying the beautiful flora, foliage, and art installations lining the path. Grab coffee or a snack at nearby Chelsea Market and settle in at one of the benches scattered throughout the park to watch the world stroll by. 

14th Street and 10th Avenue (Southwest side)
23rd Street and 10th Avenue (Southeast side)
30th Street and 10th Avenue (Southeast side)
30th Street at Hudson Yards

For more information about the High Line. 

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. 

Where: 848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014
For more information on The Standard Biergarten.


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. Each photo costs $30, but if you want an explanation included, you’ll have to pay another $10. Here’s hoping you see lots of pink, which represents love! 

Location: 238 Canal St #108, New York, NY 10013 (Note: there are two locations in Chinatown and one in Flushing. More information on locations).
For more information on Magic Jewelry.

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 their thirteen whimsical ice cream-themed installations, or take a thrilling glide down Manhattan’s highest indoor slide. 

The best part? Make your childhood dreams come true as you eat as much ice cream as you want. With unlimited ice cream served throughout the visit, there are no limits to your sweet tooth here! 

Where: 558 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
For more information on the Museum of Ice Cream.

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, then comes the best part—you’ll plate and enjoy your creations together! Guests are also invited to BYOB.

Where: 815 6th Ave, New York, NY 10001
For more information on the Asian Dumpling Cooking Class.

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 the meal with a glass of wine from their extensive Italian wine list, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported straight to Italy. 

Where: 182 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10003
For more information on Cacio e Pepe. 

Explore NYC’s catacombs by candlelight

See a side of the city most people never do as you and your date explore the candlelight catacombs underneath one of New York’s historic landmarks. This 90-minute walking tour takes you into private and off-limits areas of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where you and your date can marvel at the Neo-Gothic architecture of this sacred space and learn about famous New Yorkers buried at the church. 

Where: 266 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012
For more information on the Catacombs by Candlelight tour. 

Eat oysters and crack crab outdoors

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 11231
For more information on Brooklyn Crab.

Enjoy Live Jazz on a Sail or Cruise 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
For more information on live jazz cruises around NYC. 


Travel by taste at SOUVLAKI Greek, no passport required. This family-owned restaurant strives to make you feel as though you were dining in Mykonos, playing traditional Greek music and modeling the decor after island tavernas. One bite of their Soloumi or Spanikoptia, and you’ll forget that you’re in Midtown Manhattan.

Where: Multiple locations.
Hours: Hours vary by location.
For more information on SOUVLAKI Greek.

Date Night at The Met

Every Friday and Saturday, from 5:00–9:00 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 head to the Frank Lloyd Wright room, or head to the rooftop to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.

Where: 1000 Fifth Avenue
For more information on Date Night at The Met.


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