19 Romantic Things To Do In NYC
While NYC’s romantic ambiance spans all seasons, the fall offers countless activities that seem custom-made by Cupid himself.
Couples embarking on their first date or celebrating their 75th anniversary need not look far for things to do in the Big Apple. The setting for classic rom-coms such as Autumn in New York and You’ve Got Mail, the city’s brilliant autumn foliage, seemingly endless street fairs, and temperate climate can put anyone in the mood for love. Here are just a few ideas to fuel the spark of romance.
1. Walk Through Riverside Park
The “concrete jungle” may not call to mind beautiful scenery, but the friendly daisies and other cheerful spring and summer blossoms of NYC’s parks give way to gorgeous multicolored leaves in the fall. Any time of year, a stroll through Riverside Park on the Upper West Side is one of the most romantic things to do in NYC. Plus, it’s the setting of the iconic You’ve Got Mail, which even poses the clearly rhetorical question, “Don’t you just love NYC in the fall?”
2. Take a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride Through Central Park
Couples can do Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks one step better and enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park. Riders on this leisurely, time-tested excursion can take in the scenery and feel just like Cinderella and her Prince in a stagecoach.
3. Stroll the High Line
One of the more recent additions to the landscape, the High Line is a 1.45-mile expanse of railroad track that’s been converted into a park. It’s easy to stop along the way to grab a bite to eat, enjoy the view, or just relax and watch the passersby. Those feeling fanciful can have their palms read and find out if the fortuneteller sees everlasting love in their future.
4. Visit One World Observatory
The One World Observatory in Lower Manhattan makes visitors feel as if they’re on top of the world. They can take in the breathtaking skyline to see the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks, interact with presentations exploring NYC’s history and culture, and learn more about those who built the One World Trade Center, otherwise known as the Freedom Tower. One World Observatory successfully blends technology and romance, especially when topping off the night with cocktails or dinner at ONE Dine.
5. Explore the Whitney Art Museum
From the Museum of Natural History to the Met, NYC has no shortage of museums. But only a few have the ambiance to earn a spot among the most romantic things to do in NYC. The Whitney Museum of Art is off the beaten Midtown path, in the Meatpacking District near Chelsea and Greenwich Village. Connoisseurs can appreciate some of the city’s most stellar displays of contemporary art and then enjoy a pastry and espresso at the rooftop restaurant while admiring the city below.
6. Catch a Show at Lincoln Center
At Lincoln Center, audiences can groove to the tunes of a Wynton Marsalis jazz performance or revel in the musical mastery of the iconic Lincoln Center Orchestra. It’s the perfect atmosphere for a romantic date, especially at night, when the famous Revson Fountain explodes in a dazzling array of colors.
7. Set Sail on a Sunset Cruise
Many companies offer sunset cruises around Manhattan. Guests can relax with dinner and champagne while cruising through NYC Harbor, perhaps pinpointing all the romantic things to do in NYC on their next date.
8. Explore the Met Cloisters
The Met Cloisters, often referred to as “The Cloisters,” is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, it’s much more than a place to stare at the walls. The museum showcases the art and architecture of medieval Europe and opened to the public in 1938.
The building itself is an artistic marvel. The structure incorporates elements of multiple medieval buildings from various places in Europe. As you stroll through the impressive features, you can also ogle the tapestries, stained-glass windows, manuscripts and other relics.
The highlight of your trip might be your walks through the gardens. The Cloisters is located in peaceful Fort Tryon Park. It offers stunning panoramic views of the Hudson River and makes you feel as though you’ve truly escaped the city. It's one of the most romantic things to do in NYC.
9. Picnic at Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO
This excursion has nothing to do with the Disney story. DUMBO is a neighborhood that lies beneath the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in Brooklyn. It features several green spaces, including Brooklyn Bridge and Main Street Parks. You can relax here on open, grassy fields or beachy areas and get an impressive view of NYC.
Most people think of a picnic in Central Park as one of the most romantic things to do in NYC. However, you’ll be able to evade some of the tourists if you head to DUMBO. Plus, you’ll feel like you’re part of the neighborhood vibe. This is a great date for people who live in the area or want to be part of the action without being overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle.
Pack a picnic basket, and take a stroll around the area. If you get tired, roll out a blanket. You can always head to a local restaurant or bar to round out your adventure.
10. Listen to Jazz in Harlem
Harlem has undergone a cultural revolution in recent years. It’s a mecca for music and has plenty of famous nightclubs where you can enjoy some of the best jazz in NYC.
Showman’s Jazz Club is a historic haunt that has witnessed greats such as Duke Ellington and Sara Vaughan. It has a full bar and a nostalgic feel. It’s also down to earth and the perfect place for slow dancing or sipping some cocktails with your love.
Paris Blues is another well-known jazz bar on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The drinks are reasonably priced and there is no cover charge. This is a perfect place to enjoy a lovely musical experience with your date.
11. Smell the Flowers at Brooklyn Botanic Park
You can spend an entire day walking hand-in-hand with someone special at Brooklyn Botanic Park. One of the most breathtaking times to visit the garden is in April, when the cherry trees are blooming. However, the garden is gorgeous at any time of year.
In the fall, the foliage on small shrubs and other plants changes color, producing warm tones that mimic the hues of the falling leaves. You’ll also be enchanted by the maple, dogwood and winterberry plants in autumn.
If you want some seclusion, get lost in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, which reveals gems such as a waterfall, stone lanterns and wooden bridges as you meander along the winding paths. It’s the largest Japanese-inspired garden in the country.
Take a free guided tour, or wander around the gardens on your own. You’ll find something different with every trip. This is a must-do for romantic things to do in NYC summer, when the sun shines brightly and everything is in bloom.
12. Stargaze at Hayden Planetarium
Looking at the stars with a loved one is one of the most romantic things to do in NYC. But the weather doesn’t always cooperate, and the city lights can impair your view. The night sky is always perfectly accessible at Hayden Planetarium, though.
The Star Theater is located within the American Museum of Natural History. It features impressive images of outer space. The shows are curated in collaboration with some of the world’s best scientists. You’ll learn a great deal and share in an incredible experience. Once you’re done gazing at the stars, you can stroll through the streets of NYC, gazing into one another’s eyes.
13. Ride to the Top of the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is the focal point of many romantic movie scenes. It’s also one of the most romantic things to do in NYC winter. On a cool, crisp day, make your way to the observatory on the 102nd floor. It’s indoors, which means that you won’t catch a chill. This is a beautiful place to make that proposal that you’ve been waiting for.
When the weather is nice, you can view the city from the outdoor observatory on the 86th floor. Make your way over there in the afternoon. You can wrap your arms around your date as you watch the sunset and glimpse the lights shimmering over the city. If you prefer to be alone, however, visit between 8 and 11 a.m.
14. Fly on a Helicopter
If visiting the observatories at the top of the Freedom Tower and Empire State Building doesn’t bring you to new heights, you can book a helicopter tour of NYC. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the city’s famous landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the George Washington Bridge and Yankee Stadium.
This is one of the most romantic ways to get your bearings in NYC and see all five boroughs in less than 30 minutes. The sights are unforgettable. You’ll cherish this extraordinary romantic experience forever.
15. Visit the Catacombs by Candlelight
St. Patrick’s Cathedral seems out of place in its NYC location. It’s nestled between modern skyscrapers and historic buildings, looming over the sidewalk with an intricate façade and impressive spires. You can visit the cathedral for a spiritual experience or mass any time.
Tours are held every day except for Sunday. They are not available during mass times.
One of the best ways to experience the cathedral is by touring the catacombs by candlelight. The tour, organized by Tommy’s New York, takes you off the beaten path. You’ll descend below the basilica to view some of the only catacombs that still exist in the U.S. Your tour guide will share spooky stories about the cathedral’s secrets.
16. Visit the Animals
If you’re a lively couple with a fondness for furry friends, consider spending time together at the Bronx Zoo. You can get a little wild while exploring the many exhibits, rides and animals.
Plan your trip around some of the feedings. The sea otters and penguins will make you smile.
Visiting the Bronx Zoo is also one of the most romantic things to do in NYC winter. During the holidays, the zoo lights up with bright designs, animated sculptures and lanterns. Roaming carolers will serenade you, and you can take a ride on the holiday train through Astor Court.
JungleWorld is also a popular winter attraction. The indoor rainforest habitat is always warm and humid. You can enjoy the Bronx Zoo any time of year to view a wide variety of wildlife in a natural environment. One of the missions of the zoo is to rescue and rehabilitate endangered animals from around the world.
17. Meditate Together
The Mahayana Buddhist Temple is located at the base of the Manhattan Bridge. The temple is home to the largest Buddha statue in the city. It’s worth making the trip just to view the 16-foot figure.
You must dress appropriately to enter the temple. Knees and shoulders should be covered. Because the temple is privately owned, you won’t glimpse any monks there. However, you can take some time to be present with your partner and send out a little gratitude for your love.
18. Break a Sweat
Energetic couples might want to try out one of the many unique workout facilities in NYC. You can experiment with everything from naked yoga to high-intensity interval painting.
If those options sound too bizarre, put on your roller skates and do some aerobics. You can also try aerial silks or indoor rock climbing.
Sometimes, you just want to get outdoors, though. Head to the Rockaways for surfing lessons. That’s one off the most romantic things to do in NYC summer.
19. Whisper Sweet Nothings at Grand Central Station
There’s something so romantic about trains pulling in and out of a historic station. There are so many stories to be told. Visiting Grand Central Station is one of the most romantic things to do in NYC even if you’re not hopping on a rail car.
It’s free, and it’s indoors. It’s the ideal spot for a rainy day. You can do a little shopping or grab a snack while you’re visiting.
Before you leave, don’t forget to spend time in the whispering gallery. In the area where the walkways intersect on the lower floors of the terminal, the acoustics hold a secret. Because the domed arches are structurally perfect, they carry sound from corner to corner.
Stand on one side, and place your partner at the other. Play a quiet game of operator, or tell them how much you enjoy spending time with them.
Can’t Help Falling in Love
From sunsets to city lights, NYC provides the perfect backdrop for romance. Cocktails, long walks, luxurious dinners, and music all make for a night that rivals the iconic rom-coms that grace the silver screen. It’s nearly impossible for visitors not to feel something while gazing across the horizon or down at the vibrant city from 100 stories up. Is it love?
Tourists and natives alike can plan their next date around one or more of these romantic things to do in NYC — and they may just find themselves falling in love, not just with their date, but also with NYC.
(Updated November 10th, 2019)