Joy of joy, wonder of wonders: The object of your affection said yes to a first date! But now comes the tricky part—where to go on that all-important first rendezvous. We've put together the best first-date ideas for New Yorkers, and whatever kind of hangout you're looking for, we've got just the place for you. From romantic things to do to arty movie screenings to honest-to-goodness cool stuff to do at a museum, your perfect date is here. (Some of them are even super-cheap date ideas!) Oh, and if you're feeling less than choosy, head right on over to the 10 best hookup bars in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to date ideas in NYC
Best first-date ideas for New Yorkers
If your date doesn’t love enormous LED-luminescent starfish, then you know it’s a deal-breaker. This kaleidoscopic ocean-inspired experience only costs you five bucks, and it will ensure you’re both in a great mood for a Battery Park picnic afterward. 10am–6pm; $5.
If you’re too nervous to make first-date conversation, just don’t bother! With cushy seats and a stacked menu served to you during the movie, Nitehawk condenses “dinner and a movie” into one seamless event. Niche favorites like In Bruges, Ginger Snaps and Princess Mononoke ensure a game audience and let you gauge your date’s taste.
Sure, a burlesque show may seem forward for your first night out together, but the wildly creative minds of the Wasabassco crew have something for everyone at their kitschy themed nights. With past performances including ’70s Christmas Carol, Lasagna Show and Macbeth and a crew of hilarious (and sexy) male and female dancers, Wasabassco guarantees a riveting show that won’t take itself seriously. You’ll laugh your ass (and maybe some of your nerves) right off.
If you’re both down to party but you worry that your tastes in contemporary music may clash, you’re certain to find common ground to dance on at this night of crowd-loving hits from the last decade. You’ll get to know each other very quickly when you’re belting out every word to Britney Spears’s “Stronger” and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” while getting sweaty on the dance floor.
Opposites attract at this Friday night event—yes, it’s an open bar, but it’s also at the Jewish Museum. Get to know your date while you peruse exhibits, meet other museum-goers and check out stellar performances (past acts have included Josh Gondelman and Jessica Williams).
Escape the anxiety-inducing horrors of dinner reservations, cab rides and theater tickets and head out under the stars in the Hayden Planetarium for a perfect romantic night. While you gaze at the unfolding cosmos during Neil deGrasse Tyson’s marvelous show, sneak a few furtive peeks at each other.
The insane (and insanely talented) performers at this rowdy dueling-piano show at Grand Morsi expect audience members who want to sing, dance and scream for their favorite classics. Get ready to throw caution to the wind and head out for a wild and raucous time.
The Garret East provides you with an excellent opportunity to impress your date. You can bring your own classy records (yeah, you have a record player, natch) and show the crowd how it’s done at this chill hipster-jukebox night. Just leave your Phantom of the Opera OBC vinyl at home, at least for the first round.
Rather than guess at each other’s measurements under clunky coats, strip down and show off your muscles while learning to rely on each other up high on a towering wall. Choose one of the special cider or beer-tasting nights to give yourselves a satisfying reward for your bonding efforts. $28
No need for a movie or a show after dinner here; you’ll have all the spectacle you can handle for one night at this legendary cheese restaurant. Waiters will carve heated, dripping blocks of gooey Swiss raclette cheese onto your full dish of potatoes and arugula salad while you and your date watch in astonishment. Even if you don’t hit it off, you’ll have had a legendary dinner and your Instagram will be in great shape.