a couple walking in central park during the fall
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best fall date ideas in NYC

Star in your own autumn romcom while leaf peeping, day drinking and cuddling up for a scary movie.

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The leaves in Central Park are changing. You’re wearing a cozy sweater. Your latte is—finally!—pumpkin-spiced. You know what that means? It’s the perfect time to fall in love. When autumn in NYC has you feeling like Harry and/or Sally, we’ve got you covered with the very best fall date ideas. Hold hands while you take in the fall foliage, cuddle up for spooky season and toast to new (or enduring) love with a cocktail. Whether it’s your first date or your 901st date, we’re here to help you make this fall feel even more romantic

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in the fall in NYC

Best fall date ideas in NYC

  • Movies
  • Movies

New York has some of the very best movie theaters, but there’s just something so romantic about watching a movie under the stars. This fall, Rooftop Cinema Club is showing classic horror films including The Shining, The Exorcist, Scream and Rosemary’s Baby on their outdoor screen high above Midtown. Snack on popcorn and your favorite candy while you feel the fall chill run up your spine. (Bonus points if you offer your sweater.)

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

This fall, the Bronx Zoo is open until 10pm for its first-ever Pumpkin Nights, featuring 5,000 glowing pumpkins, an assortment of local food trucks and plenty of photo ops. The theme is (ahem) “what animals do after dark,” although this event is totally family-friendly. Stroll down the jack-o’–lantern walk, have a bite for dinner and find out if their favorite animal is a red flag. 

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  • Things to do
  • Midtown West

What could be more romantic than ice skating on the iconic rink at Rockefeller Center under the stars? Holding hands…sipping cocoa…offering your sweater…it’s like a romcom, starring you. The 2023-2024 ice-skating season starts October 21. This fall, they’ll also be opening private Après Skate Chalets, where you can drink a cocktail with your date while gazing out at all the other couples falling in love. 

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  • Eating

New York’s newest food hall is an epically renovated historical site offering dosas, tacos, pizza, a raw bar, an Asian grocery and everything else you need to feel like you’re on an epic date, eating and drinking around the world. Jean-Georges’ Vengrochtin’s Tin Building at the South Street Seaport includes two stories of bakeries, bars, restaurants and more to browse and linger in. 

6. Sail at sunset aboard the Schooner Adirondack

Celebrating a special occasion or anniversary this autumn? A sunset sail aboard the Schooner Adirondack fits the bill for a romantic evening on the water. The gorgeous 80-foot schooner will take you away from the noise of the city, so you can admire all the stunning fall foliage before the sky turns pitch black. You can even bring your own picnic aboard! The bright city lights will welcome you home after a night of conversing and sipping complimentary champagne with your date.

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  • Things to do

In our humble option, fall’s the best time to take your date on a hike. There’s just something about the crisp air, the changing foliage and the apple cider doughnuts you pack as a romantic surprise to share at the summit. Check out some of our favorite hikes in the New York City area, many of which are easily accessible via train or bus for a day trip.  

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9. Go leaf peeping in the park

Plan a picturesque date enjoying the beautiful autumnal colors on display at one of New York’s prettiest parks. Take a moment to enjoy the great outdoors and peep at all the multicolored leaves in Prospect Park, Central Park and Fort Tryon Park. Want to up the romance factor? Go ahead and pack a picnic for two.

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11. Take a pizza-making class

Combat cold autumn nights by warming up next to a brick pizza oven. At Pizza School (pizzaschool.com), you can sign up for a couple’s pizza-making class with your sweetheart. You’ll learn how to master the perfect crust and sauce, including how to properly place toppings, while getting creative (and a little messy). Note: In-person tickets are $325 for couples, and virtual options are available for an at-home date night.

  • Things to do

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is one of the best things to do in the fall in the New York area. Admire the beauty of your S.O. in the crisp air with nothing but the romantic glow of over 7,000 jack o’lanterns to light their face. Ogling your “honeybear” and all the pretty gourds isn’t the only draw; you can snuggle up with some hot cider or hot chocolate and take advantage of the stargazing opportunities inside the Pumpkin Planetarium.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

No other activity screams, “hold me,” as much as the spooky ghost tours offered in New York during the Halloween season. Take a candlelit stroll through haunted venues such as the Merchant’s House Museum (merchantshouse.org), or explore 'hoods bursting with paranormal activity (i.e. Brooklyn Heights and Astoria) with the folks behind Boroughs of the Dead (boroughsofthedead.com). Your date will be latched onto you so tight, your circulation may suffer—but, like, in a sexy way.

  • Comedy
  • Stand-up
Get tickets to the New York Comedy Festival
Get tickets to the New York Comedy Festival

The best way to entertain a date is to make them laugh, right? One of the biggest fall events in Gotham—the New York Comedy Festival—brings some of the best comedians to popular clubs such as the Beacon Theatre and the Apollo Theater. See stand-up legends including Margaret Cho, Nicole Byer and Dave Attell kill it in the spotlight.

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  • Beer bars
  • Greenpoint

Out of all the beer gardens and beer halls in New York, Spritzenhaus offers a romantic ambience, especially during the colder months (the haunt is craftily decorated with white twinkle lights and pine). Rather than plop your keisters at one of the long, wooden picnic tables, opt for more intimate seating by the bar. You and your date can snack on hearty traditional German processions such as pretzels and brats and sip spiked cider, mulled wine or a stein filled to the brim with suds.

Looking for more fun ideas?

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