There’s no shortage of date ideas New York City has to offer. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming trying to decide what exactly you’re going to do. But fear not, we’ve put together a list of our favorite date ideas you can do in the city. From free activities like strolling in Central Park to wilder picks like an Erotic Carnival, there’s something here you and your date will love. Whether you’re looking for something romantic or just want to have some fun, we’ve got you covered.
Best date ideas in New York
There is plenty to do and see in New York City. If you want some specific unique date ideas that are more exciting than your standard dinner and a movie, these are our top picks:
1. Take a romantic stroll through Central Park
Central Park is another iconic spot in the city, and what’s more romantic than taking a leisurely stroll through a gigantic garden. It offers plenty of opportunities for couples to get lost in each other’s company while enjoying the natural beauty around you.
2. Enjoy the views from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck
The Empire State Building is wildly over-done, thanks to Hollywood. If you want a similar date experience without the cheese, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck is for you. From this vantage point, you can take in stunning panoramic views of the cityscape and enjoy a romantic evening under the stars.
3. Go for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry
What about a boat ride that’s free? The Staten Island Ferry is one of the most underrated and best date ideas in New York City. It offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, the Financial District, and Ellis Island. Plus the price tag is perfect for a first date if you’re not too sure about the company.
4. See a Broadway show
New York City is home to some of the best theater in the world, and there’s always something new playing on Broadway. You can often find affordable tickets, so it could even make for a budget-friendly evening out.
5. Visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
MoMA has an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. From Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol, there’s plenty for you and your date to see.
6. Have a picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park
The Brooklyn Bridge Park offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, as well as plenty of green space to relax in. What could be more romantic than spending an afternoon enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery?
7. Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
If you’re picnicking in the area anyway, tack on a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge to your date. This iconic New York City icon is a low-key way to enjoy more of the city without spending any extra money. Plus, again with a $0 ticket price, it’s one of the best cheap date ideas out there.
8. Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center
If you’ve got a fall or winter date lined up, skating at the Rockefeller Center is a romantic idea. What could be more special than taking a spin around the rink hand-in-hand with your special someone?
9. Visit the New York Botanical Garden
With over 29 gardens and 250 acres of land, there’s plenty to explore at the New York Botanical Garden. They also host special events throughout the year, so you can always find something new to see.
10. Explore an iconic neighborhood
If you don’t want to plan a date-night itinerary and just want to go with the flow, consider getting lost in one of New York’s many iconic neighborhoods. Each one has its own unique character and vibe, so you’re bound to find something that appeals to you and your date. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know the city better!
11. See the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a classic date night option. As one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, it offers stunning views of Manhattan and the surrounding area. It’s also free to visit.
12. Grab a slice (or two) of pizza
New York is dotted with easy-access pizza joints all over the place, which means you can accomplish this date night anywhere. It’s a fun, casual, and delicious option that won’t break the bank.
13. Visit the Brooklyn Brewery
Everyone does drinks, but not everyone does locally-brewed drinks! If you and your date are beer enthusiasts, the Brooklyn Brewery offers a behind-the-scenes peek into the world of brewing. Plus you get to taste some of their most popular products. But you’ll need to book your tour in advance.
14. Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride
It’s not a Hollywood-level date without something cute and iconic like a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of New York. See the sights and travel like you’re in the 1800s.
15. Visit the Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is home to more than 17,000 creatures from all around the world. From creepy crawlies to the king of the jungle, there’s plenty to do and see while you’re there. If you’re working with a smaller budget, you can simply enjoy a picnic lunch in the zoo’s park-like surroundings.
16. See a show at Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall has been around since 1932, and this historic theater is home to plenty of amazing performances. From Broadway musicals to classic concerts, there’s bound to be something you and your date can enjoy together.
17. Visit the Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History has exhibits on everything from mythical creatures and ancient civilizations, to astronomy and animal biology. You and your date can easily spend the day getting lost in the halls of history together.
18. Go to a baseball game
The New York Yankees and the New York Mets both offer an exciting date activity, which you choose depends on your team preference. Enjoy some classic Americana culture with your date, see some home runs and get yourself a bag of peanuts!
19. Check out Times Square
There’s always something going on in the heart of Manhattan, and you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained at Times Square. Whether you want to catch a Broadway show or simply bask in the sights and sounds of the city, this is the place.
20. Have drinks at the Rainbow Room
The Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room is known for glitz and glamour. Offering stunning views of New York City and an elegant atmosphere perfect for a romantic evening, it makes for a great date night option. However, drinks and food are a little on the pricey side.
21. See a show at the Apollo Theater
The Apollo Theater is another classic venue that’s been around since the 1930s. It’s a legendary space that’s hosted some of the biggest names in music over the years. Check out their event listings and see what’s up next!
22. Visit the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening, especially if you and your date are bibliophiles or architecture enthusiasts. The library also hosts events, often free, that might be of interest.
23. Go to Coney Island
Who doesn’t love a little theme park action on a date? There’s something about Coney Island that makes people happy — perhaps it’s the bright lights or the sound of waves crashing against the shore. Ride a merry-go-round, grab a bite to eat, take a walk on the beach, and get some shopping done.
24. Visit Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913, and its 100 years of history makes for one of the best date ideas New York has to offer. Its Beaux-Arts architecture is breathtaking, and there are a number of restaurants, cafés and shops that you can eat and wander through.
25. Shop at Macy’s
Macy’s is a great date activity for couples that enjoy shopping. It has everything you need from clothes and accessories to cosmetics, and they often have killer sales and discounts. If exploring shops is one of your favorite pass-times, this is a great place to do it.
26. Visit Ellis Island
Located in the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, Ellis Island was once the nation’s busiest immigration station. More than 12 million immigrants made their way through Ellis Island in the 60-year span between 1982 and 1954, on their way to becoming American citizens. Today it offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into America’s past.
27. Visit the United Nations Headquarters
It seems like you can take a tour everywhere in New York City, and the United Nations Headquarters is no exception. Luckily, it’s a fascinating building with a rich mission that offers amazing views of New York City.
28. See a show at Lincoln Center
Looking for a cultured and sophisticated date night in New York City? Seeing a show at Lincoln Center is the perfect option. With world-renowned performers and venues, you’ll be sure to have a memorable evening. There’s always something to see here, and some of their events are even free — budget-friendly date planning welcome!
29. Shop at Bloomingdale’s
Bloomingdale’s is a higher-end store than Macy’s so price tags are a little higher and deals are a bit rarer. However, if you’re a shopping couple, it can still offer a great date night activity — even if you’re only planning on window shopping.
30. Explore Little Greece
You can find “Little Greece” in the New York neighborhood of Astoria, and it’s a delicious place to take a date. This vibrant place is home to some of the best Greek food in the city. Here there’s plenty of culture to soak up and enjoy.
31. Visit Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is another iconic New York music venue. Over the years, it’s been home to some of the world’s most famous performers. Even if you’re not into classical music, there’s something special about sitting in the audience. It’s a great opportunity to experience the historic atmosphere of a landmark building.
32. Find a Trivia Night
Itching to show off your intellectual prowess? New York has a ton pubs that host regular trivia nights — they even have a full trivia league. It’s a great intellectual date activity that lets you bond with your partner and maybe even win a few prizes!
33. Check out the Museum of Ice Cream
We all love ice cream, enough that it has its own museum. The Museum of Ice Cream offers interactive exhibits that let you explore its history. You can also play in the sprinkle pool and enjoy unlimited ice cream.
34. Visit the New York Aquarium
New York’s water zoo offers a look into what happens under the surface. Visitors can see sharks, octopus, and jellyfish uniquely. The New York Aquarium is a great date activity that lets you see underwater creatures. You can even book a memorable experience like a meet-and-greet.
35. Tour the Museum of Interesting Things
If you’re looking for a unique and interesting date, then you should check out the Museum of Interesting Things. It’s home to all sorts of oddities and curiosities. The catch is, it’s not always in the same place, so you need to keep up-to-date on their Facebook page.
36. Take a Graffiti Lesson
Graffiti isn’t just for delinquent teens looking for a ticket, it’s a legitimate art from that’s been around for centuries. You can have a blast with your date and learn about creating great street art by taking a graffiti lesson or workshop. But you’ll probably want to keep your newly acquired skills to legal places, like a canvas!
37. Go dancing
Dancing is a great way to let loose and have fun, and it gives you an opportunity to get close to your date. Whether you want to hit up Avant Gardner for some electronic music or visit Club Cache for salsa, there’s a dance venue for everyone.
38. Take a sunset jazz cruise
Set the mood with live music and enjoy the gorgeous views of the New York City skyline with a sunset jazz cruise. Classic Harbor Line has a few date-worthy itineraries, but their 90-minute sunset cruise is a fan favorite.
39. Attend an erotic carnival
This NSFW date idea isn’t really a first meeting adventure, unless you know your date is open to these types of experiences. The Museum of Sex holds Super Funland a wild, sexy carnival perfect for adults that love learning and enjoying life. It’s by-far one of the most unique date ideas you can find in the city.
Ready to plan your perfect New York date?
New York is an amazing city with seemingly never-ending possibilities. Whether you’re looking for something fun and trendy or want a more classic-style date, there’s bound to be the perfect activity out there for you. Can’t decide what to do? Write down your favorites on a piece of paper, mix them into a bowl and let fate take you on your next adventure.