Dates two hours and under
If you love a good cocktail, check out one of the Astor Center’s mixology workshops. Clocking in at just two hours long, the two of you will get schooled on the history and making of the featured beverage, experiment with your own recipes and taste each other’s concoctions. Classes include the Agave Smackdown: Tequila vs. Mezcal, the basics of building your own home bar and gin-cocktail tastings. Just pick your poison! 399 Lafayette St at E 4th St (212-674-7501, astorcenternyc.com). $69–$89.
Creative couples are encouraged to collaborate at this painting class. Bring your own wine and a canvas (or buy a discounted one onsite); the Art Studio NY supplies the paints, guided instruction and space. Two hours later, voila: your very own masterpiece (or at least a very memorable night!). 145 W 96th St between Amsterdam and Columbus Aves, suite 1B (212-932-8484, theartstudiony.com). Mar 14 6:30–8:30pm; per couple $85, maximum of 10 couples.
Whatever your time frame, a spin through the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays can up your culture ante. Sponsored by Target, the museum is open from 5 to 11pm the first Saturday of every month, and you can ogle exhibitions, see live music, take in a film (often with a director Q&A), catch a poetry reading or grab a bite at Saul, the acclaimed onsite restaurant. Kids can come, so bring them if the sitter bails. Line up 30 minutes early for tickets to the events scheduled that evening. 200 Eastern Pkwy at Washington Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org). Free.
Are you both avid bookworms? BookCourt offers free live author readings with Q&As (and sometimes wine!) almost every night of the week, and they typically last an hour—plenty of time to squeeze in a quick bite at one of the area’s many tasty restaurants. Recent readings include those from Adam Sternbergh (Near Enemy), Greer Macallister (The Magician’s Lie) and Karen Bender (Refund: Stories). 163 Court St between Dean and Pacific Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-875-3677, bookcourt.com). Free.
Sometimes, parents need a good, uncensored laugh. A sketch or improv show at UCB Theatre features the best up-and-coming comedians. You might even catch the women of Broad City or some SNL alumni dropping in. There are three or four shows to choose from most nights, and each lasts only an hour and 15 minutes and typically costs between $5 and $10, leaving plenty of money to pay the sitter. 307 W 26th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-366-9176) · UCBEast, 153 E 3rd St between Aves A and B (212-366-9231) · ucbtheatre.com
Got a feel for fromage? A cheese-tasting class at Murray’s Cheese Shop (or, occasionally, City Winery) lasts just 90 minutes, with some costing under 100 bucks per person—others even include booze. Get hands-on with a mozzarella-making class, feel the funk with a stinky cheese class and learn how to pair cheese with desserts or—even better--—with wine, beer or top-notch scotch. 254 Bleecker St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-243-3289, murrayscheese.com). Prices vary.
Dates that come to you
When you both desperately need to chill but are sequestered inside, have sanctuary delivered with an at-home couple’s massage from My Spa 2 Go, complete with aromatherapy and soft music. Into different styles of massage? They also offer Reiki, Thai, Swedish deep-tissue and prenatal massage services. If you want to relax in a more active way, the service also offers yoga, with an instructor to lead you both through a vinyasa sequence or a guided meditation right in the comfort of your own home. Limited service areas (646-241-4477, myspa2go.com). $140–$300.
Spice things up with an in-home, private cooking class from Home Cooking NY. Browse through their many sample menus or class offerings online for ideas (including vegetarian), choose the time, date and menu, and a private-chef instructor will email you with a list of ingredients (even FreshDirect-friendly!) to procure a few days in advance. For $300 (or $825 for three classes) they’ll teach you to create a four-course meal for two (with gourmet options like filet minon with wild mushroom ragù or butternut squash and sage risotto) in approximately 2½ hours—no white tablecloth required. (917-803-6857, homecookingny.com).
Too busy to even think about date night? Avoid the pain of planning altogether and instead unpack a box from Unbox Love or DateLivery, monthly subscription services that assemble and deliver surprise date-night activities to your door (like Birchbox or BarkBox, but for love). Each box comes with the materials you’ll need and detailed instructions, and every delivery is different; you might get a game to play (Farkle, anyone?), a joint art project (mug decorating ) or casino games (a three-game challenge complete with poker chips, dice and cards) to play together, depending on which service you choose. All you have to do is sign up online and let date night come to you. (unboxlove.com, datelivery.com). Monthly subscription prices vary.
Dates with child care
Eataly gives you a whole hour and 15 minutes to relax while your brood cruises around the expansive food market on a guided tour. Kids age 8 to 12 learn Italian words and taste their way through fresh mozzarella, Margherita pizza and gelato at various restaurants, earning stamps in their Eatalian passport along the way. Parents can enjoy up to two cups of espresso or espresso macchiato at the Lavazza café while the kids are adventuring. 200 Fifth Avenue between 23rd and 24th Sts (212-539-0205, eataly.com). Mar 14 10:30–11:45am; $25. Ages 8–12.
Set a relaxing morning date full of stretching, bending and posing (and maybe giggling at your partner trying to do these things). This mindful date experience is made even more tranquil by the fact that two adult classes (namely The Kula Hour, a 65-minute Vinyasa flow sequence class) conveniently overlap with children’s yoga classes (KulaKids), so you can check all stress (and your kid) at the door and leave as a way more chilled out family. Kids will rave about having posed as “starfish” and “warriors”—they won’t even notice you had a little fun without them. 85 North 3rd St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-463-9886, kulayoga.com). Saturdays 9:30–10:35am, Sundays 2:15–3:20pm; $16. Saturday kids’ class ages 3–6, Sunday kids’ class ages 5–10.