Romance may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about New York City, but it is there. You just need to know where to find it. There are plenty of activities and sights in NYC that are ideal for couples. You will create memories that will last a lifetime.
Based on my experience living in Manhattan for 13 years, I thought I would share my recommendations for the most romantic things to do in New York City.
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Romantic Things to Do in NYC for Couples
New York City is the perfect place for a romantic trip or even honeymoon. It’s not the place to just sit around and relax though. I have plenty of ideas of things for couples to do in NYC.
*Don’t forget to grab our printable travel checklist here to help plan your trip.
#1 Explore Central Park
It’s hard to beat Central Park when it comes to romantic experiences. The natural beauty inside the park you will feel miles away from the intensity of NYC. If you are tight on time, it’s still worthwhile to go for a short stroll inside the park. Ideally though, you could spend a full day taking in all that the park has to offer.
Here are a few ideas on how to spend a romantic day in Central Park:
Rent one of the row boats and explore the lake (one of my favorite spots in Central Park) just like you have seen in the movies. It’s a good workout for the person doing the rowing, but not difficult at all. Alternatively, you could watch all the boats while you enjoy a delicious lunch on the patio at the Boathouse Café.
Go biking in Central Park. You will be able to see more of the park then if you explore on foot. There is a six-mile loop that will take you around the park, but I encourage you to also venture off the main road and enjoy some of the hidden gems at the northern end of Central Park.
Enjoy a picnic. It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a day in NYC when the weather is pleasant. There are plenty of picturesque spots around Central Park where you can put down a blanket and enjoy a romantic picnic with your honey.
Depending on the timing of your trip to NYC, you might be able to go to some of the free summer events in Central Park with your partner. You can choose from Shakespeare in the Park, Philharmonic in the Park, or Opera in the Park. It will be an evening that you won’t soon forget.
If you visit during the winter, it’s fun to go ice-skating in Central Park. There are actually two rinks to choose from – Wollman, at the southern end, and Lasker, at the northern end. From the Wollman Rink, there are some spectacular views of the Midtown skyline.
Don’t be persuaded to take a horse-drawn carriage ride. While it may look romantic, it’s an overpriced short tour of a tiny piece of the park. Many NYers have called for the practice to end because horses have died. You can read more about the issues here.
#2 Enjoy Drinks with a View
In NYC, you can enjoy a view of the skyline along with your cocktails. Time it right and you can also catch the sunset. While it may be nicer to go to a rooftop bar in the summer, it’s a year around activity as many have indoor space too.
You have plenty of rooftop bars to choose from in NYC. Some of the most romantic roof top bars are Azul on the Rooftop, Bookmarks Lounge, Castell Rooftop Lounge, and Mad 46. These are typically not as crowded as more popular options like 230 Fifth. Although in the winter, the igloo-like tents at 230 Fifth make it more cozy.
#3 Take a Helicopter Ride
While you can admire the NYC skyline from an observation deck or rooftop bar, that can’t compare to taking a helicopter ride over the city. You can get aerial views of the Statue of Liberty too. The experience will be worth the splurge.
In NYC there are many different helicopter tour options, ranging from 16-33 minutes long. Try to time it for golden hour, just before sunset, when you can get the best photos, or at night to see the bright lights of the Big Apple.
If you are feeling brave enough, you can try a doors-off helicopter ride. You will get unobstructed views of some of NYC’s most iconic spots while the wind blows through your hair.
#4 Have a Romantic Dinner for Two
Going out for dinner is a popular date night activity, but in NYC you can take it to another level. If you are open to splurging you can eat at what many say is the most romantic restaurant in the world, One if By Land, Two if By Sea. You can enjoy fine American cuisine at candlelit tables inside a historic carriage house that was built in 1767.
It’s also possible to find a nice restaurant without spending a lot of money. Some more affordable but still charming options for a romantic dinner out include Buvette, Socarrat Paella Bar, Supper, and Balzem. You could also do Korean barbeque with a view at Gaonnuri in Koreatown.
It’s best to make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment. You can either call your restaurant of choice or use OpenTable to book many restaurants online.
After dinner, you could go dancing, see a show, or just grab a drink. It’s just the beginning of your romantic evening in NYC.
#5 Go on a Boat Cruise
A boat tour gives you a different perspective on New York City. You can see the skyscrapers from the water, travel under some of the iconic bridges, and circle the Statue of Liberty. There are many different types of boat rides to choose from, some are definitely more romantic than others.
Couples will especially enjoy a dinner cruise or sunset sail. If you want something that gets your adrenaline flowing, try an intense speed boat ride. Alternatively, you could rent a kayak and paddle on the Hudson.
#6 Catch a Broadway Show
New York City has some of the best live theater in the world and there are so many different shows to see. Sometimes you may even be able to catch one of your favorite celebrities performing. Even if you opt for a musical comedy, it’s still a romantic night out on the town.
Theater can be expensive, but there are ways to save money on Broadway tickets. Alternatively, you might also enjoy a show at one of the Off-Broadway or Off Off-Broadway theaters for less.
#7 Go Ice Skating
It’s fun to go skating with your love and hold hands as you go around the ice. During the winter in New York City, there are many outdoor ice rinks that have a special atmosphere. Alternatively, Chelsea Piers has an indoor ice-skating rink that is open year round.
Personally, I think Central Park is a magical spot for ice skating. Bryant Park is a popular option because it’s free to skate (you just have to pay to rent skates if you don’t have your own). You could try the roof top ice rink at the William Vale in Brooklyn which has great views of Manhattan. If you are after a romantic experience, it’s best to avoid the Rockefeller Center Rink unless you go at off-hours as it can get very crowded.
#8 Check out the Art Galleries
While many of the top museums in NYC (ie. the Met and MOMA) can be quite crowded, you can also enjoy some lovely artwork at art galleries. Inside these galleries, you can find all types of art from all around the world. You can do your own art gallery crawl and admire the art at your own pace.
Some of the best galleries to check out are:
- Gagosian Gallery – This huge space (20,000-square-foot) on 24th Street in Chelsea has been home to work from top artists like Richard Serra and Andy Warhol.
- Gladstone Gallery – If you like modern, bold works (i.e. Anish Kapoor) check out this gallery with two locations in Chelsea and one of the Upper East Side.
- CLEARING – This Brooklyn gallery focuses on contemporary art from young emerging artists around the world. There is also an Upper East Side location.
#9 Go to the Beach
A walk on the beach is one of those stereotypical things to do as a couple, but it’s not something you think of doing in NYC. When you think of beaches in NYC, the first one that probably comes to mind is Coney Island, which is too crowded during the summer to be romantic. You don’t have to go to an exotic island for a nice sandy beach, there are a few inside the city limits.
You will want to check out some of the lesser-known NYC beaches like Wolf’s Pond Beach on Staten Island or the People’s Beach at Jacob Riis Park in Queens. If you want to escape the city for a romantic beach day trip, it’s easy to get to Sandy Hook in New Jersey or Long Beach in Long Island without a car.
#10 Do a Wine Tasting
You don’t have to visit a vineyard to do a wine tasting. New York City has plenty of wine bars where you can try a selection of wines. There are a even few places that make their own wine including this winery in Brooklyn!
For a wine tasting in a romantic setting, you can try:
- Amelie – Go for happy hour, when $12 gets you three half glasses of any of the wines on the menu.
- City Vineyard – It’s a restaurant and wine bar off the Hudson River running path in Tribeca with a huge roof deck.
- The Ten Bells – They feature mostly French wines with Spanish tapas.
If you do want to visit a vineyard, you could do a day trip to either Long Island or the Hudson Valley. It’s not possible to do an excursion like this using public transportation, so it’s best to do a tour.
#11 Walk along the High Line
The High Line is not your typical park where you might take kids to play. It’s a public park on the west side of Manhattan that was built on an elevated railway line. You can walk though the rustic gardens, view interesting pieces of art, experience a street performance, and try some delicious food while taking in some unique views of the city.
It runs from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street, so the walk is 1.45 miles. It’s best to make this a leisurely stroll, stop and take breaks at some of the benches, and make the most of this time that special someone.
The High Line is definitely one of the best things to do in NYC especially in the spring and it is free to visit.
#12 Have an Outdoor Movie Night
While you can go to a movie pretty much anywhere, the outdoor movies during the summer in NYC are special. There are different many different venues and themes to choose from depending on your preferences and date availability. My personal favorite spot is Bryant Park.
They typically show classic movies and the skyscrapers on 6th Avenue make a nice back drop. Pack your blanket and picnic and be sure to get there early to claim your spot. Then you and your date can relax and enjoy each other’s company until the movie starts.
#13 Enjoy Live Music
If you and your partner, love music, you have come to the right place. New York City has many venues where you can see live music from various genres. While there are several huge arenas for big concerts, for a romantic night out, try one of these intimate venues:
- The Flatiron Room – They have live jazz Tuesday through Sunday evenings.
- Rockwood Music Hall – See up and coming artists of all genres from around the world seven nights a week on three different stages.
- Winnie’s Jazz Bar – An intimate space for live jazz inside the Refinery Hotel that is open from Monday to Saturday.
#14 See a Performance at Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center is a cultural mecca. It could be fun to get all-dressed up for your date at Lincoln Center, but it’s not required. You could see the opera, a ballet, a performance from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and more. Be sure to allow some time to appreciate the beautiful fountain in the courtyard all lit up at night. It’s one of the most romantic spots in NYC.
During the Mid-Summer Night Swing Festival, there are live music performances outside where you can join in and dance. There are also nightly dance lessons.
If you want to see a performance at Lincoln Center but have a tight budget, you may be able to get discounted tickets here.
#15 Go to a Speakeasy
If you want a more intimate evening head to one of NYC’s speakeasies. A speakeasy is a hidden bar. The concept dates back to Prohibition. Since alcohol was illegal, these bars popped up as a secret place to imbibe. Now they are more a symbol of being in the know.
Some of my favorite speakeasies in NYC are Angel’s Share, Dear Irving, the Garrett, and Raines Law Room. You could also take this tour which will take you to several speakeasies where you will get reserved seating and won’t have to wait in any lines.
#16 Take a Photo Tour
It’s always nice to have photographs of the two of you, but it’s not so easy to get quality ones. You can only take so many selfies and it’s hard to find a random stranger to take a photo. That’s where a photo tour comes in handy. You get a skilled photographer that knows the best photo spots in NYC.
Since it’s a private tour, you can tailor the itinerary to your interests. It will be a fun time and you will have the photos as a souvenir of your romantic trip.
**If you use the code TTTNYC, you can get $10 off any tour with NYC Photo Journeys.
#17 Have a Spa Day
Sometimes it’s just nice to relax together and a trip to the spa is the best way to do that. In NYC, there are many spas that offer packages for couples. Some even have relaxation areas with hot tubs, pools, saunas, steam rooms, and more. Check out the offerings at the Great Jones Spa, the Couples Spa, and Premier 57.
#18 Check out the Views from an Observation Deck
You may think that it’s not worth going to an observation deck when you can just go to a rooftop bar, but you do get a better view the higher you get. Especially, if you are visiting NYC for the first time, you should go to at least one observation deck.
The top of the Empire State Building has played an important role in several romantic movies like Sleepless in Seattle, so that could be a good way to end your night. Personally, I think the views are best from Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center because it gives you the best perspective on Central Park. You could also go to One World Observatory or the newest option, The Edge.
Note that some NYC tourist passes do include observation decks.
#19 Go Salsa Dancing
New York City has some of the best Latin dancers anywhere. Salsa dancing is seductive whether you are on the dance floor or just watching. You don’t have to know what you are doing, just have fun with it. Some of the best spots for salsa dancing in NYC are Iguana, SOB’s, and Gonzalez y Gonzalez, where they offer lessons on Thursday nights.
#20 Take a Chocolate Tour
There is something very indulgent and satisfying about good chocolate. Tasting some local artisan chocolates sounds like a marvelous way to spend and afternoon with your partner.
On this bus tour, you get to visit some of Brooklyn’s most delicious chocolate shops like The Chocolate Room, Jacque Torres Chocolates, Lilac Chocolates, and Raaka Chocolate to sample treats. You will also learn about the history of chocolate and how it’s made. There is also a stop to get a slice of Margherita pizza. Then the tour finishes in DUMBO where you get take some photos.
Where to Stay for a Romantic Trip to New York
It’s important to find the right place to stay during your time in New York City. The most important factor to consider is the location because it’s easy to waste a lot of time commuting. The best area to stay in is going to depend on what you plan on doing during your time in the city.
After that, you will need to think about your budget as NYC accommodation comes in a wide range of prices. Don’t forget most Airbnbs are illegal in Manhattan so that’s not a viable alternative.
Have you done anything romantic in NYC? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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Last Updated on March 24, 2021