7 Low-Key Winter Date Ideas (aka Not a Carriage Ride in Central Park)

Between gift-shopping, entertaining family, planning meals, eating meals and exercising off said meals, finding time for your love life during the holidays is no small feat. And to top it off, the season tends to conjure up images of carriage rides, ice-skating hand in hand and similarly corny fare. If you’re looking to take the sentimentality down a notch, these dates should be just the ticket.

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Stroll Through a Holiday Market

It’s date night, but you’re way behind on your holiday shopping. No problem: Head to one of the city’s seasonal markets—like those in Union Square, Bryant Park or Columbus Circle—where you can snack on everything from doner kebabs to cake in a jar and pick up a few family gifts while you’re at it.

Take a Distillery Tour

Early dates are always easier with a bit of structure. Kings County Distillery, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, eases that “now what?” anxiety with its afternoon tours (offered Tuesday through Sunday), 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. 

Latke Festival

Hit Up a Museum (with Snacks)

Museum dates are great in theory but can sometimes feel a little stodgy. A food fest at a museum, on the other hand, sounds just right. The ninth annual Latke Festival (December 18), takes over the Brooklyn Museum with dozens of creative takes on the humble potato pancake. All proceeds go to the Silvia Center, which teaches children and their families about healthy eating.

Tiny’s and the Bar Upstairs/Facebook

Lean into the Winter Vibes…or Don’t

If it’s still too soon for an upstate getaway together, test the waters (without the stress of a three-hour car ride) at one of the city’s many bars with fireplaces. Alternately, you can renounce the season altogether—all it takes is some tropical decor and a few mai tais.

William Volcov/Latinontent/Getty Images

Test Your Commitment with the Polar Bear Plunge

Nothing says romance like a mid-winter dip in the Atlantic…OK, maybe not, but it is a good way to find out if that Bumble match is serious. The annual event happens every New Year’s Day: Immediately cure any lingering New Year’s hangover and celebrate post-plunge at the Coney Island Brewery. Plus, the suggested $25 donation goes to local charities like the New York Aquarium.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Bond Over Cute Pups

Maybe you aren’t ready to say the L-word to one another but feel very comfortable expressing that feeling for dogs. You’ll find plenty to swoon over at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (February 12 and 13). Go to the main event or the more casual meet-and-greet on Monday and Tuesday during the day, where you’ll have the opportunity to pet many of the adorable contestants.

James Devaney/GC Images

Catch a Game (Indoors)

Spend an evening or afternoon in Downtown Brooklyn cheering for the home team—whether it’s the Nets or the Islanders—at the Barclays Center. It's a high-energy, low-pressure date where you also get to eat nachos and there’s potential for a Beyoncé sighting—what’s not to like?

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