When it comes to romantic things to do in New York City there is no shortage of tourists and residents alike. However, we could all use some help from time to time in planning and in a city like NYC we’ve got plenty of great ideas.
There is hardly a better city in the world for a romantic escape. We should know, we used to live there together!
20 Romantic Things to do in NYC
Stay at the Perfect Hotel
When it comes to New York City hotels it’s easy for the romance to fizzle. The vast majority of hotels are mega hotels with hundreds of tiny rooms. We’ve been in and out of many different hotels in the city and without fail we’re almost always disappointed with room/service to value. However, when it came to The Chatwal Hotel we found the perfect romantic escape in the city.
The Chatwal is a part of the Luxury Collection owned by Starwood Hotels, but it operates totally independent from any other Starwood hotel in the city. It’s a 76 room boutique hotel that is right in the center of Midtown, something of a rarity. It’s high on charm and low on the standardized formula of hotels. When it comes to romance no one wants to feel like a number, but when we stayed at the Chatwal we were surprised to find the staff remembered our names and were quick to help.
Rooms here are glamorous and do an amazing job at blending the elements of classic New York with modern hotel amenities. Stainless steel, wood, leather, and furniture that looks as if it were from the mid 20th-century blends seamlessly with Japanese toilets, hidden televisions, and iPad controlled rooms.
Our suite was massive and it couldn’t have made for a better base to explore Manhattan. Our king size bed was fitted with fine linens, the bathroom luxury bath products, and the seating area had complimentary magazines and a bottle of wine. All of which is just an added bonus to the three bottles of water and chocolates by the mini bar. It was all the details that made it the perfect hotel for some romance in New York.
Try Omakase Sushi
Next, to Japan, New York City has some of the best sushi in the world. When we lived in New York, we made it a regular ritual to explore sushi institutions in New York. These fine dining restaurants serve up a signature style of sushi called Omakase. It is a chef-selected meal in which the head sushi chefs curates the best of what’s available in the markets every day and serves you piece by piece. The experience is intimate and relaxing as you dive into the beautiful intricacies of a dish that can be composed of two ingredients. The fish served in the sushi restaurants is curated from all over the world, and utilizes the New Fulton Fish Market, which is the second largest fish market in the world.
- $$$$ – Sushi Yasuda & Sushi Nakazawa
- $$$ – Kura & Tanoshi Sushi
- $$ – Sugarfish & Sushi on Jones
- $ – Tomoe Sushi & Auyo Sushi
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
There are a few iconic New York landmarks that everyone should experience and Brooklyn Bridge is undeniably one of them. It’s the one landmark you can find both tourist and locals alike enjoying a beautiful day. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the United States, and at 1,595 feet it’s no short distance to cross. Just be warned walking the bridge in bad weather or the winter can be pretty unpleasant! Some of the best weather in New York City comes in the fall and it’s the perfect time to visit New York City t0 walk over the East River. This walk is one of the best things for couples to do in NYC.
Head to the Lincoln Center
The Lincoln Center is definitely one of the most romantic spots in NYC and home to some of the world’s best performers. A night at the Metropolitan Opera House is highly recommended as world-class talent and impressive set pieces are sure to wow. We’ve been to three shows at the Metropolitan Opera enjoying Carmen, Contes D’Hoffman, and The Magic Flute. It’s the perfect opportunity to put on formal wear and enjoy dinner at The Grand Tier before the show.
At the David H. Koch Theater, the New York City Ballet dancers will leave you speechless with their exquisite moves. We loved spending time at the Lincoln Center and in our last six months in New York, we attended two Ballets. If you have not been to the opera please do not write it off. It’s a wonderful chance to get dressed up, have a fantastic meal, and experience a brilliant art that can move and transform you. In my opinion, it’s the best thing to do in NYC at night for couples. Certainly better than a night in the clubs!
Picnic in Central Park
It’s impossible to not love Central Park. The park is an oasis for residents and visitors in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Frederick Law Olmsted was a pioneer in landscape design and played a vital role in conservation in the United States. His style of design changed parks and grounds forever as he chooses to design parks around landscapes that are meant to age with time. He broke the mold of straight paths and manicured garden beds and responsible for what Central Park is to this day.
Central Park stretches between 59th Street and 110th Street making up the center of Fifth Avenue and Central Park West. Just coming to spend a day outside in New York is reason enough to come to Central Park, but there is almost always something on offer. Beach volleyball, paddle boarding, carriage rides, running the loop, Shakespeare, giant water fights, and concerts in the park are all fun ways to spend a day! Of course one of the most romantic things to do in New York City is to have a picnic in one of the many quiets spots within the park.
Catch a Jazz Show
Harlem used to mean scary and dangerous, but lately, Harlem has faced gentrification and new wealth in the metropolis. We used to make our way to 114 street all the time to check our new restaurants and bars. One of our favorite things to do here together was to enjoy a jazz show. Harlem has countless clubs to enjoy a live jazz show at, but one of our favorites is Bill’s Place, a speakeasy that has been around since the days of prohibition in the 1920’s. Make a romantic evening here with dinner, cocktails, and a show. If you don’t feel like traveling all the way uptown there are many venues all over the city.
Enjoy a Show on (or off) Broadway
I know it sounds cliche, but if you are into the arts and want to see some of the best actors and actresses in the world then you will have to see a show on or off Broadway. The TKTS Booth is a great place to last-minute tickets for shows around New York. Don’t expect to catch the most popular shows as they can sell out months in advance.
However, there are other ways to find cheap Broadway tickets, such as discounted tickets for the day of shows at four locations: Times Square, South Street Seaport, Downtown Brooklyn, and the Lincoln Center. I would recommend avoiding the Times Square location as there is usually a long line.
Take a Stroll on the Highline
It’s true that there is not much green space in Manhattan. That’s why in 2009 the High Line was formed on the old New York Central Railroad platform on the west side of Manhattan. The High Line is a one and half a mile long elevated park where you can walk with your loved one and enjoy the wonderful outdoors in New York City. It’s perfect for a romantic date on a nice day. There’s also some great food, a coffee shop, and even a little bar along the walkway making it a great place to come for lunch. From the High Line, we suggest you head to the new Whitney location or check out the Chelsea Market. We love oysters and you can pick up some fresh ones at the Cull & Pistol oyster bar inside the market.
Have a drink at a Speakeasy
During the prohibition days in the United States, a “speakeasy” was the term used for the illicit drinking houses used to serve booze in hiding when it wasn’t allowed. They usually had no signs, hidden doors were small, and were often by invitation only. Nowadays, speakeasies are hip establishments that serve up craft cocktails in an imitate the atmosphere. Speakeasy bars are popular in big cities around the world and New York City may be the epicenter of the craze. If you’re in the mood for a romantic trip back in time with some great cocktails then head to one of New York’s many establishments. Two great ones to check out are Attaboy and Dinner table!
Head to a Rooftop Bar
Sip on cocktails amongst the rooftops and enjoy views of the New York’s skyline. When it’s good weather New York springs to life with al fresco dining, picnics, markets, festivals, and rooftop bars. There is a wide range of rooftop bars in New York all offering their own atmosphere. You don’t need to take our word for the best rooftop bar because Timeout has been to them all and breaks down the best bars for romance or a night out.
We’d suggest you check out Gallow Green and partake in the famed Sleep No More performance. The rooftop bar takes on the atmosphere of an old garden party and actors from the play intermix with guests while in character. It’s a one of a kind romantic experience and something that can only be found in New York City.
Explore The Cloisters
The Cloisters is a museum specializing in Medieval history, located at the top of Manhattan on 190th street in Washington Heights. It’s a great place to enjoy nature along the Hudson if medieval architecture is your thing! Personally, we found the museum to be boring. The dark ages were truly a dark period for art… However, the architecture and surrounding grounds make for an excellent escape from the city. Take a run or bike ride along the west side greenway up the Cloisters.
Spend the day at the MET
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the finest museums in the world. If you’re into art this can be one of the best things to do in NYC with the boyfriend or girlfriend. There are a handful of museums everyone in the world should visit, and the MET easily tops the list. It’s a massive collection of art from all over the globe from various time periods. Just be warned the museum is massive and it would take hours to see it all at once, so be prepared to just see a section. The Met is located on the Upper East Side on the edge of Central Park.
Go to the Bronx Zoo
We’ve stomped around in safari attire for over 100 days in the African bush. So, it’s safe to say we’re not big fans of seeing animals in enclosures or zoos in general. However, we know that not everyone can travel to Africa and some zoos do important work in conservation. The Bronx Zoo is one of the few that is an exceptional example of a zoo. It also happens to be the largest zoo in the United States and it makes for a romantic day together. The zoo does great work with conservation and frequently rescues and rehabilitates endangered species that are found throughout the globe.
New York Botanical Gardens
If you want a romantic anniversary idea in NYC why not consider strolling through a garden? I know that everyone raves about the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, but after spending time in both the New York Botanical Gardens and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens I personally think the New York is better. The New York Botanical Gardens are indeed located in the Bronx, but because of their location, the gardens get much less packed than their neighbors in Brooklyn. The NY Botanical Gardens are the largest in the US and are recognized as one of the greatest historical areas in New York.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of workout studios and gyms in New York. When we lived in NYC we would regularly try different classes around the city. Anything from boot camps, to spin class, to Crossfit classes. Why not take a break from the touristy things in New York and get active with a unique workout class? You can find them at any day and every hour in every neighborhood.
Or you can try your hand together at activities like stand up paddle boarding, bouldering, or trampolean fitness.
Head out to Ellis Island
Do you know your ancestry and where you came from? Enjoy your loved one’s company and take the ferry out to Ellis Island for the day! Ellis Island was the gateway for entry into the United States and it is estimated that over 12 million people came through here between the late 1800’s and 1950’s. Ellis Island is open every day of the year besides Christmas and can be reached via ferry from either the Battery Park or Liberty State Park. I would suggest allocating at least three hours for the trip. Save money doing this with the Explorer Pass!
Enjoy Nature at Wave Hill
I may be biased because we used to live in the Riverdale, but Wave Hill in the Bronx is nothing short of amazing. For a nice, sunny day outside in New York City, we would always escape to Wave Hill where the crowds are low. When Cameron and I were looking for something romantic to do during the day we’d grab some cold brew coffees and head to Wave Hill to enjoy the views over the Hudson River.
People watch at Grand Central Station
If you’re looking for a fun and free romantic thing to do in NYC in the winter look to Grand Central Station. I know people watching may sound boring, but when you people watch at a terminal that 750,000 people visit daily it’s bound to pass the time in a fun way! Not to mention Grand Central is over a century old and quite an impressive sight to see with its 44 tracks. If you’re already visiting Times Square you may as well walk the three avenues over here as well!
Explore the Hudson Valley
Although it is the greatest city on earth that doesn’t mean you should never leave! One of the most romantic things to do in NYC is to explore the surrounding area. The Hudson Valley is a beautiful region of The United States. It’s filled with wonderful B&Bs, apple picking, museums, and farm to table restaurants. It’s also home to the Storm King Art Center, probably one of the coolest outdoor art exhibits in the world.
Plan Your Trip to NYC
We rely on a few trusted websites that help save us money and time when booking hotels, flights, and car rentals. Check out some of our preferred partners below:
- Flights to NYC: Compare airlines, dates, and prices all in one place with Skyscanner.
- Accommodation in NYC: Airbnb can be a great option in New York City. Read more about choosing a good Airbnb here. Here is a coupon for your first stay with Airbnb!
- Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!
- Guide Book: Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend a good guidebook to get you around the city.
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