How to Make Friends in NYC, According to New Yorkers

The most trusted folks with lots of pals

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We can all collectively agree that making friends as an adult is…tough. Honestly, it was easier making pals on the playground. And when you live in a busy city, it’s even harder to build new relationships. But, my dear reader, you are not alone. We asked the best (and most trusted) folks who have been through the trials and tribulations of building friendships in the five boroughs.

Whether you're looking to add a new hobby to your schedule, find stress-free get-togethers with other introverts or discover fun events (and learn more about the bustling city), we have a list for every type of New Yorker. If you’re a native city dweller or just moved here, here’s how to make friends in NYC.

What Meeting My Internet Friend IRL After 10 Years Taught Me About Adult Friendships

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1. Join Interest-Based Clubs

In the past few years, New York has become a mecca for social clubs that bring people together based on similar interests. Whether you’re looking for a book club or an art workshop, there’s a meet-up centered around those activities. “It may seem nerve-wracking (and somewhat grade schoolesque) but I made so many friends through a kickball club I joined last spring,” says Joel Calfee, former associate editor for News & Entertainment at PureWow. To get you started, search for interest-based clubs on Meetup, Eventbrite or Facebook groups. 

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2. Participate in a Class

Are you down to learning something new? Well, you might find it rewarding to try a class in the city and make new friends in the process. “Take a class! One where there's an opportunity to chat so you can get to know people—improv, theater, ceramics, knitting, writing etc. You'll meet like-minded people you wouldn't have necessarily mingled with before,” says Dara Katz, executive editor at PureWow. You can find free classes at the Brooklyn Brainery and New York Public Library or find something in your local community. 

3. Join a General Meet Up Event

Speaking of meet up events, if you want to meet different people that are not tied to a specific interest group, there are big meet ups always happening around NYC. For starters, you can check out No More Lonely Friends, a group hangout that frequently meets in Central Park and that a fellow PureWow editor tried out last summer. There’s also Gather, a non-profit organization that seeks to create spaces and events for women in their mid-20s. “We basically started the org to fill the gap of adult women not being able to find friendships. When you’re just graduating college or moving to a new city for a job, it’s so hard to find deep, meaningful friendships. What we do is open our homes and host events for women to be joined in community and to have vulnerable and authentic discussions,” explains Kim Caputo, social media strategist at Gallery Media Group. 

4. Immerse Yourself in Your Culture

NYC is home to so many diverse communities with rich culture and histories in every borough. Learn more about your background by finding groups and events dedicated to celebrating your heritage. "I found Cultura Takeover on Instagram and it's a commuity that connects Latinxs together for fun activities (like making your own vision board to visiting a museum together). I'm going to my first event soon and I'm so pumped to be surround by fellow POCs from the area and dabble in learning more cultural things in the city," says Chelsea Candelario, associate editor at PureWow.

5. Attend a Workout Class

Break a sweat and make friends at the same time. Join a Soulcycle class, bust a move in a Zumba class or try your hand at pickleball. There are plenty of classes out there to try out. Go on Classpass, YMCA or search your local neighborhood for an activity you’ve been eyeing lately. A helpful tip: The best time to chat it up is before a class. You can ask someone if they’ve been to this specific class and spark a conversation by asking for tips on how to navigate the session. Or spend time afterward recapping on what you thought about the class and maybe schedule a future sweat sesh with your new workout buddy. 

Another great example is City Girls Who Walk (CGWW), a club that went viral on TikTok for bringing New Yorkers together. This group gives participants the chance to enjoy a lovely stroll by the water, while also connecting with others at the same time. “CGWW is a walking club for girls to make new friends while also getting some steps in! I started CGWW because I was feeling a little lonely and wanted [to find] a way to connect with other girls around the city,” says Brianna Joye, founder of City Girls Who Walk. “Our walks have anywhere between 100 to 700 girls show up so you can always count on leaving with a friend or 10!”

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6. Ask Your Friends

Fact: The best reccos always come from our friends. If you already ask them about all the cool restaurants in the city or a new place to shop in Brooklyn then you might as well ask them to connect you with new people, too. A mutual friend = a possible new bestie. “When we first moved here and my husband didn't know anyone, a friend of ours (who lived in LA) connected him with his cousin who was in a similar industry and living in the city. Now, the two of them hang out all the time,” says Alexia Dellner, executive editor at PureWow. 

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7. Try Speed Dating

OK, our main focus right now is not dating per say, but you’ll find speed dating can be a quick way to make friends in addition to potential partners. Check out SpeedNY Dating, We Met In Real Life or Ambyr for opportunities to meet as many people as you can in under an hour. “If you're dating (and don't see it going anywhere), but are open to being friends, you should try!,” says Destinee Scott, assistant editor of Sales and Deals at PureWow. 

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8. Volunteer in Your Neighborhood

Make a difference in your community and gain some great pals that share similar passions. Check out your local neighborhood for volunteer opportunities or search online based on a cause you're passionate about. You can spend time with the elderly through Encore Community Service, help out a food bank or visit some adorable pups for the day.

9. Use a Friend Finder App

Speaking of dating, there are a ton of dating apps out there, but did you know there are apps that help friends connect in NYC? A popular option is Bumble BFF, where you can match with other people around the world. It’ll also let you filter by location and interests, so you can find your forever friend. There are also other apps like Lex that can connect you with a new set of friends. “I found a TON of community through an app called Lex that brings together queer women, nonbinary people, and other LGBTQ+ identities to find community, friends, love, etc.” says Delia Curtis, assistant editor at PureWow. 

10. Or Download An Events App

There are a bunch of apps dedicated to showing you events and activities happening in the city. From Geneva to The Nudge, these specific apps can point you in the right direction (and give you some neat plans for the weekend). "One of the coolest things that I’ve discovered in the last couple years was a texting service called Nudge that sends you texts of things to do, see and experience in NYC. I’ve been on the app since I moved to NY and it’s led me to try all kinds of fun things. They also have “Nudger” (their affectionate name for the app users) only events where you can meet other app users. Overall, it’s a great experience," says Curtis.

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11. Bring Your Doggo to the Park

Hear us out: The dog park is a great place to meet new people and find other dog parents like yourself. While Max is running around with his new friend, consider starting a convo with the owner. “I was able to find a good friend (and fellow dog mom so we could have puppy playdates) through Bumble BFF when I first moved here,” says Emma Lao, shooter and editor at Gallery Media Group. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to talk about their adorable pup all day?

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12. Hit Up Your Local Bar

If there’s a big sports game happening, skip watching it at home and be with around hardcore fans. There’s nothing like connecting with strangers than when you’re all feeling strongly about a team’s win. “Hit up a random bar to watch the playoffs for your favorite NYC sports team. It doesn't matter if your team wins or loses—you'll still leave with three new drinking buddies who all buy their jerseys and hats from the same Modell's you shop at. The pain of watching the Knicks lose again brings people together for some reason,” says Elton Jones, lead editor at ONE37pm. 

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13. Just Be Yourself

We understand it can be discouraging to find and keep friends in NYC. However, it shouldn’t mean you have to dim your light to make people like you. Regardless of what tips you follow above, always remember to be yourself. Plus, you don’t know where a friendship can lead you if you don’t try. “I think you generally have to be open to feeling uncomfortable or awkward to make new friends, because sure, it feels a little weird to introduce yourself or ask someone to hang out, but in all likelihood, they don't think it's weird at all,” says Katherine Gillen, food editor at PureWow.

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about face matte fluid eye paint review chelsea candelario

Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...