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Teddy Wolff

Six great NYC date spots to mix things up

You know these classic romantic NYC destinations, now switch up your routine with these brand-new picks.

Written by
Alyson Penn
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Sure, the most romantic NYC spots will still probably make for excellent date nights. But if you’re looking to mix things up, try one of these lesser-known, up-and-coming destinations instead.

You know: Rainbow Room
Try:  Manhatta
You want to impress your date with those breathtaking skyline views, but the Rainbow Room is too expensive (and now tends to host only private events). Instead, take a smooth elevator ride to the 60th floor. Danny Meyer’s Manhatta has received rave reviews for its expansive city vistas and relatively affordable (at $78) three-course prix-fixe menu, which manages to be refined but not stuffy.
Financial District (manhattarestaurant.com)

You know: Gramercy Tavern
Try: 
The Grill
Ding ding! Two behemoths go head to head: Danny Meyer vs. Major Food. While we adore Meyer, his Gramercy Tavern has been around for 25 years and it’s always nice to try something new. If you want another fine-dining experience that’s grand but not froufrou, head a little farther uptown to the Grill, where you can dig into unparalleled food (we like the signature slab of prime rib) and still be swept up in an atmosphere of sleek sophistication.
Midtown East (thegrillnewyork.com)

You know: One if by Land, Two if by Sea
Try: 
The Waverly Inn
If you’ve called on this candlelit 18th-century hideaway before, you probably associate date night with ghost sightings. So, why not return to the same nabe for a similarly unearthly encounter at the 1844-built Waverly Inn? Grab a drink and commune with spirits beside the crackling fireplace or sit in the skylight-covered backyard garden, one of the loveliest haunts in the city.
West Village (waverlynyc.com)

You know: The Polo Bar
Try: Frenchette
Hip, monied uptowners, meet your downtown match. Both restaurants envelop you in a world of swank elegance but offer crowd-pleasing plates. If you’ve trotted to the equestrian wonderland of the Polo Bar, you and your amour will feel equally at home at the Gallic brasserie Frenchette, which is outfitted in handsome wood paneling, plush booths and warm lighting. Pro tip: Order the chicken dish for two, ideal for a date night.
Tribeca (frenchettenyc.com)

You know: Il Buco 
Try: Don Angie
Italian restaurants conjure up images of Lady and the Tramp spaghetti bowls and bottles of vino that lead to tipsy sweet nothings. The vintage-rustic charm of Il Buco, a Noho standby, can be swapped with the trendy, midcentury allure of this West Village corner spot. The dishes are hearty yet inventive (order Our Lasagna for Two), and the scene hews closer to 2019 than 1920.
West Village (donangie.com)

You know: La Grenouille
Try: RH Rooftop Restaurant
If your vibe is OTT, your first instinct may be to book a table at La Grenouille, the dolled-up French institution that practically invented the wine-and-dine. Instead, go for an updated flair: RH Rooftop boasts slate-gray banquettes instead of red velvet ones, potted trees in place of bridal flower arrangements and, rather than wall-to-wall mirrors, twinkling crystal chandeliers to lend some sparkle to your evening.
Meatpacking District (rh.com)

Looking for a cheap date idea?

  • Sports and fitness
  • Sports & Fitness

If your date can't volley some jokes while gently hitting a plastic ball across the table, well, maybe that's a foul. See if you two hit it off over a game of table tennis at Ping Pod. These 24/7 ping pong pods are popping up all over NYC. Pricing ranges from $15-$50/session depending on demand (be sure to book online in advance).

We recommend trying the Astoria location so that after you've worked up an appetite, you can walk a few blocks to The Freakin Rican for one of the city's best cheap eats: The $4.25 alcapurrias. 

Set you back: $25+

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • The Bronx
  • price 1 of 4

Grab some lunch at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos in the Bronx, a casual lunch counter focusing on all things pork with recipes of Puerto Rican and Dominican provenance. Cuchifritos are the fan-favorite, the standout morcilla (aka blood sausage) in particular — and it's only $2.

Then, head a few subway stops uptown to the Bronx Museum of the Arts where you can see more than 1,000 works of art and imrpess your date with just how cultured you are. The Bronx Museum of the Arts is always free to visit. 

Set you back: $15

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Chelsea

Stroll The High Line with your sweetie, a place of respite among the concrete jungle. While this spot is most popular during the warm months, its fun to visit any time of year. 

Don't miss the rotating works of sculpture and art by different artists every season. Also keep an eye out for free star gazing nights and lively cultural happenings like Latin dance nights. The best part, however, has to be the people watching: Grab a seat on the stairs over looking busy Tenth Avenue and see locals and visitors from all walks of life milling their way about the city.

Set you back: FREE

  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Williamsburg

If you and your sweetheart are major beer enthusiasts, Brooklyn Brewery hosts an intimate tour (no more than 30 souls), where you can geek out and get an exclusive look around the joint. The informative guide not only gives you an in-depth history lesson about the brewery, but a beer tasting along the way.

And you won’t walk away empty-handed either: all participants leave with a complimentary souvenir glass, so you’ll have a little something to remember the date by (besides the hangover.)

Sets you back: $48+ (tours start at $24/person)

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  • Movie theaters
  • Independent
  • East Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

This overrated date night comes in handy, especially when the cost is dirt cheap. Unlike other movie theaters, Syndicated lets you wine and dine while you watch a classic flick. Get this: movie tickets are just $9 apiece. And since the movie is so affordable, you can schmooze your date by splurging on some gourmet popcorn from the concession stand.

Sets you back: $18+

Dessert and nerdery

It’s been scientifically proven that nothing in the known universe is more romantic than pie. At Gowanus go-to Four & Twenty Blackbirds, two slices of shop faves like salted apple caramel or grapefruit custard will cost about $12. (Arrive early in the evening, as they tend to sell out.)

Then, fill your head with, you know, actual scientifically proven knowledge at the Bell House for a free dance party or a show like Secret Science Club. Tip: Bring someone geeky to this, lest you seem…like a total geek.

Sets you back: $12

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Park Slope

No matter how tight your budget, you can still get loose on the dance floor at Park Slope's Union Hall. Free dance parties go down most Saturday nights, featuring DJs spinning old-school hip-hop crowd pleasers and heavy-hitters at midnight. Check out the drink specials and definitely split a basket of fries ($7) or wings ($13)—served until midnight —before you hit the dance floor.

Sets you back: $20

Graphic Love Stories

Nerd is the new cool and nothing says nerdtastic like a good comic book. Geeky sweethearts, make your way to Williamsburg's quaint comic book store, Desert IslandDiscover each other's favorites or grab a copy of Smoke Signal, the shop's free anthology.

Sets you back: FREE

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Cans o’ beer and lush gardens

Enjoy the city’s cheapest booze cruise and panoramic views of lower Manhattan aboard the Staten Island Ferry, where domestic cans are in the $5 range.

Once ashore in Staten Island, take an eight-minute bus ride and tour the grand estates and lovely waterfront grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, originally established as a retirement estate for sailors in 1801. Tickets cost $5/person.

Sets you back: $30

Nature and history in the Bronx

Seeing an outdoorsy guy or gal but don’t have the gas money to drive upstate? Fortunately, there’s ample natural beauty to explore in Van Cortlandt Park. The secluded banks of Van Cortlandt Lake (in the southwest region) are begging for a quiet but passionate make-out session.

Post-smooching, stop by the Van Cortlandt House Museum ($5/person), just west of the lake. Its 1740s stone edifice hosted George Washington twice in the midst of the Revolutionary War, and the current interior features re-creations of furnishings favored by the abode’s namesake, the rich merchant and mayor Jacobus Van Cortlandt.

Sets you back: $10

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