20 Date Ideas in NYC That Aren’t Just Dinner and Drinks
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with defaulting to your local wine bar for date night. (It does have the best croquettes.) But keeping the convo going with your sparkling personality gets exhausting. Time to shake things up in the romance department. From axe throwing to whiskey tasting, here are 20 non-boring date ideas in NYC.
1. Party in a MuseumYou want to check out the new Agnes Martin exhibit, but there’s something a little awkward, date-wise, about all the standing and staring. The Guggenheim’s Art After Dark solves that problem with the addition of a live DJ, booze and limited admission (in other words, a smaller crowd to wade through).
2. Bury the Hatchet
Whatever quibbles you may have with your S.O. will be resolved after an afternoon spent axe throwing at Kick Axe in Gowanus. It sounds scary but it's oddly therapeutic. Afterward, treat yourself to a scoop of butter pecan brittle from Ample Hills—you just got a workout, after all.
3. Go Shuffleboarding
If launching a murder weapon into the air sounds extreme, try something a little less intense. The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club (also in Gowanus) offers frozen cocktails, Florida-inspired decor and private cabanas for hire. Just think of it as excellent practice for when you guys are a retired couple living in the Keys.
4. Give the Usual Dinner and a Movie a Twist
Forget scarfing down your meal so that you can make it to the cinema in time. At Syndicated in Bushwick, you can chow down on delicious food (and fancy cocktails) while enjoying the latest indie flick.
5. Get Your Game OnGet in touch with your competitive side at Uncommons, Manhattan's only board game cafe. It has all the classics, of course, as well as hundreds of games you've never even heard of (a round of Battle Sheep, anyone?). There's also coffee, wine, beer and snacks, in case your game of Monopoly turns into an epic three-hour event.
6. Go Camping
Pitching a tent, swatting mosquitos, going to the bathroom in the bushes...a night spent in the Great Outdoors doesn't exactly say romance. But at Camp, the hunting-lodge themed bar in Brooklyn, you can roast your own s'mores, cozy up to an open fire and even bag a deer on Big Buck Hunter. Think of it as camping minus all the boring stuff.
7. Listen to Your Fave Podcast…Live
Yep, the same series that makes your commute bearable can also make for a pretty great date night. Check out New York Public Radio's roster of live recordings and settle in for an evening of laughter or learning. Either way, you’ll have plenty to talk about on the way home.
8. Take a Cocktail-Making Class
Going out for drinks? Yawn. Learning how to make your own specialty cocktail, on the other hand, is a lot more fun. Liquor Lab in SoHo offers category-specific classes (like 'Whiskey and Wings') with recipe history and preparation, plus ample-yet-not-awkward time to chat and cheers with your date.
9. Check Out the Botanical GardensThis expansive National Historic Landmark has something to offer visitors year-round. Enjoy the pumpkin garden, the orchid show, a seasonal walk, or the holiday train show (pro tip: Go on the adult-only night for some tasty tipples).
10. Go Gallery Hopping
Haven't you heard? Thursdays are the new Fridays. Especially in Chelsea, where many art galleries host open houses every Thursday evening with free snacks and wine. Get the lowdown on the most promising openings and exhibitions here.
11. Have Your Auras Read
Sure, you know your partner's favorite food but do you know what his aura looks like? At Magic Jewelry in Chinatown, not only will someone read your aura (i.e., your energy field) but they'll also take a photo of it for you to keep. Aww, something to show the grandkids one day.
12. Go Bowling
Grab a pair of bowling shoes, keep the pitchers of beer coming and see who can score the most strikes. There are plenty of great lanes around the city, but for date night, we're partial to Lucky Strike in Midtown with its soft lighting and ultra-plush couches.
13. Do Something CheesyNo, not like a carriage ride in Central Park. We mean a class at Murray’s. (If you two first locked eyes over the Brie at a dinner party, you know what we’re talking about.) Make your own mozzarella or learn to pair cheese with wine, beer or whiskey.
14. Put on a Pair of Skates
When temperatures drop, check out one of NYC's many ice skating rinks (grabbing a cup of hot cocoa afterward is optional but highly encouraged). Or go old school and lace up your roller skates for a spin around Pier 2 Roller Rink in Brooklyn Heights, complete with gorgeous cityscape views.
15. Take a Pottery Class
Make like Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost and get your hands dirty while creating some ceramics. Haven't tried your hand at crafting since the days of Play-Doh? Go to a Sip and Spin class at Choplet in Williamsburg where you can BYOB (a glass of Pinot will help those creative juices flow).
16. GO ON A DISTILLERY TOUR
Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard offers afternoon tours where you’ll learn about and taste the excellent whiskey made on-site. Keep the date going at the distillery's adjacent (and adorable) bar, The Gatehouses.
17. Go on a Subway QuestThis one’s more of a daytime activity: Pick a line, ride to the end and explore a neighborhood that’s new to you both. You could end up on a hike in Van Cortlandt Park (pictured) or at a Russian dinner show in Brighton Beach—then do something entirely different the following weekend. (Thank goodness for Google Maps.)
18. Treat yourself to a spa
New York living can be pretty darn stressful. The fix? Decompress at one of the city's many bathhouses that will melt your worries (and worry lines) away. Aire Ancient Baths, the subterranean indoor water spa in the Lower East Side, is tranquil and romantic (it's lit by candlelight). Or for fantastic views, check out Sojo Spa Club in Edgewater (OK, so not technically in NYC, but there's a free shuttle from Midtown).
19. Listen to Some Jazz
Head on down to Special Club, the West Village underground hangout that hosts live jazz, blues and soul Tuesday through Sunday. It also offers a fabulous Japanese-inspired menu and an impressive sake list.
20. Catch a Game
Even if you're not a sports fan, it's hard not to get swept up in the fun while rooting for the home team (especially if food and drinks are involved). Find out about upcoming sporting events here.