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Nitehawk Cinema
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

The best first-date ideas for New Yorkers

Your crush said yes (congrats!), now take a peek at these brilliant and fun first-date ideas to really woo them

By David Goldberg and Annalise Mantz

Joy of joy, wonder of wonders: The object of your affection agreed to go out with you, but now you need first-date ideas. NYC has plenty of options for that all-important first rendezvous. We've put together a list of your best options. From romantic things to do in the city to artistic movie screenings and honest-to-goodness cool stuff to do at museums, your perfect date is here. (Some of them are even super-cheap date ideas!)

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to date ideas in NYC

Best first-date ideas for New Yorkers

Nitehawk Cinema
Photograph: Pedro Feria Pino

Dig into brunch at a Nitehawk movie screening

Movie theaters Independent Williamsburg

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.

Dark Universe Planetarium Space Show
Photograph: Flickr/CC/brendanlynch

See stars at the Dark Universe Space Show

Things to do

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.

Photograph: Flickr/CC/Brendan Lynch

Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos

Break a sweat (and into song) at Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos

Things to do

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.


Show off your vinyl-collector credentials at B.Y.O.V.

Things to do Quirky events

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.

Photograph: Alex Strada

Show your date the ropes while rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders

Sports and fitness Yoga & Pilates Gowanus

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.

Raclette NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Victoria L

Dig into a face-melting dinner at Raclette

Restaurants Sandwich shops East Village

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.

Nintendo World
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Matt Dwen

Have a ball exploring Nintendo World

Shopping Toys and games Midtown West

Any child of the ’90s can attest that the best way to get to know people is over several (dozen) rounds of Mario Kart. So step off the couch and show your date a free night of fun as you play games on the brand-new store’s colossal 15-foot screen, reminisce about your favorite childhood games and bond over favorite Nintendo characters from Link to Princess Peach.

Lincoln Center silent disco
Photograph: Courtesy Kevin Yatarola

Party in headphones at a silent disco

If you’re too intimidated to participate in small talk, strap on a set of headphones and get to know each other on the dance floor, with nobody but the DJ to show you the way. NYC has an endless supply of silent discos—or headphone parties—in museums, clubs and even cemeteries. Check out Lincoln Center Local: Silent Disco, The Guggenheim’s Art After Dark series or Quiet Clubbing to find upcoming events.

Kings County Distillery
Photograph: Courtesy Kings County Distillery

Take the edge off with a tour and tasting at Kings County Distillery

Bars Brooklyn Navy Yard

Don’t be tempted to ease those first-date jitters by tossing back a few shots beforehand. Instead, tour this Brooklyn Navy Yard distillery and tasting room to imbibe some liquid courage with your date. You’ll learn the history and science behind whiskey and get to sample some of their inventive alcohols, like chocolate whiskey, peated bourbon and strawberry-ginger moonshine.

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