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The Morgan Library & Museum
Photograph: Graham Haber

11 hidden romantic spots in NYC

From ornate libraries to intimate speakeasies, these spots will stoke the fire of passion.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
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Dating doesn't always have to be about big romantic gestures. Sometimes love is about the hidden-away moments and stolen kisses. And with Valentine's Day coming, you're probably looking around for unique date ideas, the most romantic restaurants and the best things to do on Valentine's Day in NYC.

We've rounded up some of the most romantic hidden spots in NYC that you can take your date to that'll inspire butterflies right away.

RECOMMENDED: Valentine’s Day in NYC guide

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Battery Park City
  • price 4 of 4

There's nothing quite as romantic as sitting in a tiny restaurant with the object of your affection. Inside Battery Park’s Le District lies this 28-table French tasting-menu restaurant, helmed by Daniel alum Nicolas Abello. Abello puts together a six-course spread that includes dishes like organic-zucchini hand rolls with Crottin de Champcol goat cheese and kiwi chutney, a mille-feuille of roasted beets with 12-month Comté and aged balsamic, and cucumber cups with poached Maine lobster and makrut-lime leaves. Diners can view the cooking action through an open kitchen and enjoy views of the Hudson River through its floor-to-ceiling windows.

  • Things to do
  • Harlem

If you want to dip out of the crowds in the West Village, take them to this hidden urban oasis just off Hudson Street, between Barrow and Christopher Streets. Picturesque, gorgeous and well-maintained, this tucked-away green space will make you feel as if you’re stepping into Narnia. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Central Park is so big that it has multiple spots just out of view from the general public. Its serene meadows, secret paths and long-forgotten landmarks are just waiting to be discovered by you and your loved one. The Whispering Bench in Shakespeare Garden in the Shakespeare Garden, a four-acre expanse planted with flowers and plants mentioned in the playwright’s works, there's a one-of-a-kind curved granite bench. If you sit at one end and whisper, a friend sitting at the other end will be able to hear you, loud and clear. Bank Rock Bay is a bird watchers’ paradise at the north end of the Lake and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary is a short jaunt in the woods to beautiful views. 

 

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Washington Heights
  • price 2 of 4

Between its gorgeous Unicorn Tapestries, the 12th-century Fuentidueña Chapel and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin, the Cloisters has quite the setting for romance. If your love is for the ages, take them here to see the Met’s medieval art and architecture collections and tell them so.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

If you want to wow them with setting, take them to the lesser-known landmarked restaurant and bar inside Grand Central that still sports its wooden, hand-painted ceilings, oversize stone fireplace and leaded-glass windows it's known for. There are three distinct rooms: The Campbell is the main area, while the Palm Court is a sunnier, more platonic antechamber with bordering palm trees, and the Terrace is an outdoor extension hunkered at the base of Grand Central that looks out onto Vanderbilt Avenue. It has a pricey cocktail list—nothing dips below $18—harkens back to classics and adds some modern riffs. The coffee demerara in the java-laced old-fashioned ($18) sweetens heady Suntory Whisky Toki and a mix of Regans’ and Angostura bitters, sans an espresso kick. Conversely, the classic Negroni ($18) is extra bitter, thanks to the dry red vermouth added to Campari and Bombay Sapphire gin.

  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Upper West Side
  • price 1 of 4

There's nothing more romantic than gazing up at the stars together but that's pretty impossible here in the city unless you take them to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. It's not exactly hidden, but probably not the first idea that pops into your mind when it comes to romantic spots in NYC. This planetarium is known for dazzling multimedia presentations such as Worlds Beyond Earth and a series of exhibits and lectures about the cosmos that will dazzle your date.

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  • Bars
  • Chelsea

They'll think they're just getting on the train but you have something up your sleeve with La Noxe, one of Time Out’s coolest bars in the world. Sitting just next to the 28th Street subway station, you'll buzz into the bar and descend a staircase to the sumptuous cocktail lounge that can only accommodate up to 35. Choose from multiple tapas options and mixed drinks like the almost aptly named mezcal-based Secret Garden in the MTA’s finest de facto waiting area. They'll never see it coming. 

  • Things to do
  • Upper West Side

Take them into a completely new atmosphere at the Butterfly Conservatory inside AMNH. In what feels like a makeshift rain forest, a winding path leads you through an enchanted landscape where you’ll marvel at 500 vibrant butterflies fluttering in the air. Plus, you can reconnect with nature while staying nice and cozy in the temperature-controlled exhibition room, set to a balmy 80°F to protect these winged beauties. (It'll certainly give them butterflies of another sort!)

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Lower East Side
  • price 3 of 4

Wander through a graffiti-tagged alleyway and wait on some floral couches to get into this intimate bar tucked inside the second floor of Freemans, the perennial cool-person, gothic-farmhouse restaurant. Its dimly lit bar feels like a formal yet comfortable 18th-century seaside tavern, thanks to the olive-green paneling, seafaring paintings and burning candlesticks. It's certainly off-the-beaten-path and an unforgettable experience both atmosphere- and food-wise.

 

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The Morgan Library & Museum
  • Museums
  • History
  • Murray Hill

The perfect setting for romance awaits at the Morgan Library and Museum, where the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan will take your breath away. Building on the collection Morgan amassed in his lifetime, the museum houses first-rate works on paper, including drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso; three Gutenberg Bibles; a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley; manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck and Wilde; sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart; and an original edition of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that’s displayed every yuletide.

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