Great first-date ideas for New Yorkers

Looking for a winning first date? Check out our top ten picks for the perfect, casual spot.

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Joy of joy, wonder of wonders: The object of your affection said yes to a date! But now the tricky part: where to go on that all-important first rendezvous. We've put together our top ten first-date ideas for New Yorkers and we're confident that whatever kind of hangout you're looking for, we've got just the place for you. From romantic strolls to arty movie nights, storytelling events and honest-to-goodness cool stuff to do at a museum, your perfect date is here. Hungry for more but want to go easy on the cash? Check out our cheap date ideas. Oh, and if you're feeling less than choosy, head right on over to the ten best hookup bars in NYC.

  • Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Dan Nguyen/Flickr

    1. Hang on the High Line

    Fact: There is no bad season or time of day to hang on the High Line in the Meatpacking District. Get ice pops to slurp as you stroll in the summer sun, bundle up in winter and guzzle hot chocolates together, or marvel at the twinkling stars any Tuesday evening between April 1 and October 28 for the High Line’s stargazing night. And we don’t need to tell you what happens with the birds and the bees in spring, right? Washington St at Gansevoort St to Tenth Ave at 30th St

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    2. Get romantic (and tipsy) at Attaboy

    The creators of bespoke cocktail establishment Milk & Honey converted the original LES joint into this ace cocktail den. Like the old place, there’s a knock-and-buzz door system, which coolly shows your date you’re in the know. Take a seat at the brushed-steel bar and get creative: Describe the flavors you’d like to taste, and the bar’s magician-mixologists will whip it up for you while you two get cozy to the sounds of some sweet retro jazz. 134 Eldridge St between Broome and Delancey Sts

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    There are few cooler date spots than this most storied venue, which is anything but fusty. Expect to be wowed while you woo at the Hayden Planetarium Space Show; from there, marvel at Teddy Roosevelt’s majestic dioramas, get romanced in the Butterfly Conservatory (check for seasonal openings), and snooze off the excitement with a regular ol’ nature movie in the museum’s cinema. Want more talk time? Go stroll around the park and hop in at the Central Park Zoo. Tell the penguins we sent you. Central Park West, Upper West Side (212-769-5100, amnh.org)

  • Photograph: Charles David

    With 15 Olympic-grade Ping-Pong tables, this sprawling club is one helluva place to grip a paddle—and, fingers crossed, your potential sweetie. Co-owner Susan Sarandon realized the same thing we all did in college: Table tennis and alcohol are a match made in heaven. Sup on the diverse selection of domestic and imported craft brews ($8–$12) as you fool around at the table and show your silly side. Walk-in rates for an hour of table time start at $30 before 6pm on weekdays, and increase in the evening and on weekends. 48 E 23rd St between Madison and Park Aves (212-982-8802, spinyc.com)

  • 5. Share a laugh at the Creek and the Cave’s improv nights

    UCB’s not the only place to laugh your butt off at some of the city’s rising comedic talent. Catch a show at the Long Island City mainstay, then share some tasty Mexican food from their kitchen (get the chicken flautas, goddamn) under the twinkling lights in their backyard in the summer or by the fireplace in the winter. Funny and romantic—who doesn’t look for that in a mate? 10-93 Jackson Ave at 49th Ave, Long Island City, Queens (718-706-8783, thecreekandthecave.com)

  • Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/hobokenvie

    6. Live the New York indie dream at Angelika Film Center

    Meet your bespectacled beau under the arch at Washington Square Park and then amble on over to the Angelika to catch a sweet indie/arty movie. Wanna discuss the finer points of the plot afterward? Take a stroll through Greenwich Village to Le Poisson Rouge—a venue whose motto is “Serving art and alcohol”—and seal the deal with an awkward kiss. 18 W Houston St at Mercer St (212-995-2000, angelikafilmcenter.com)

  • Photograph: Hospitality Holdings/Benjamin Hill

    7. Get fancy at the Campbell Apartment

    Show some class and take your date to the sumptuous Campbell Apartment—the converted salon of 1930s railroad tycoon John W. Campbell. Scotch in hand, you’ll be transported to an era when outsized opulence meant 25-foot ceilings, walls painted with ornate Renaissance-inspired designs and dark wood detailing in every corner. Step outside for a breath of fresh air on the terrace under the port-cochere on Vanderbilt Avenue, and lean in for a kiss, Gatsby-style. Or just drunkenly hightail it to Grand Central’s Shake Shack and Magnolia Bakery. Grand Central Terminal, off the West Balcony, 15 Vanderbilt Ave at 43rd St (212-953-0409)

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Christine Lockerby

    8. Fire up your imagination at the Moth StorySLAM!

    You get to laugh and drink at storytellers’ fantastical tales, and then hang out Brooklyn’s Bell House afterward. Why is this is a fail-safe first-date option? Seeing a show together automatically gives you conversation material for afterward. Various venues, visit themoth.org/events for details

  • 9. Show your smooth side at the Village Vanguard

    An NYC icon for nearly 80 years, the Vanguard is simply the coolest place to hear jazz in NYC—and maybe the world. With its low lights and little tables, this old-school staple is the perfect place to get close to your date. 178 Seventh Ave South at 11th St (212-255-4037, villagevanguard.com)

  • Photograph: Algirdas Sabaliauskas

    10. Get off the beaten track on an Elastic City Walk

    If you're up for an adventurous first date that's off the beaten path (and guaranteed chat fodder for afterward), sign up for an Elastic City walk. The organization offers conceptual, participatory art walks that might have you exploring a neighborhood with your eyes closed or making poems with your body. Check out the site for a full range of walks (some free, some not), and get ready for a first date you won't soon forget. Even if things don't work out between the two of you, you'll never forget the guy or gal you made your first sound poem with. Aww. elastic-city.org

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Dan Nguyen/Flickr

1. Hang on the High Line

Fact: There is no bad season or time of day to hang on the High Line in the Meatpacking District. Get ice pops to slurp as you stroll in the summer sun, bundle up in winter and guzzle hot chocolates together, or marvel at the twinkling stars any Tuesday evening between April 1 and October 28 for the High Line’s stargazing night. And we don’t need to tell you what happens with the birds and the bees in spring, right? Washington St at Gansevoort St to Tenth Ave at 30th St

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