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Offbeat date ideas in NYC for people who hate dating

Flowers? Chocolates? Romance?!? Yuck. If you hate the traditional trappings of dating, try one of these fun, casual date ideas.

 (Photograph: Zenith Richards)
Photograph: Zenith Richards

Marie’s Crisis Café

 (Photograph: Donald Yip)
Photograph: Donald Yip

Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

 (Photograph: Lizz Kuehl)
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

The Commodore



We don’t blame you for eschewing traditional date ideas, like candlelit dinners or romantic walks. Who needs the pressure? Instead, invite your crush on one of these casual outings. These date ideas, including zombie-themed laser tag or a tour of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, are quirky, fun, and—most importantly—will let you bond over your shared dislike of all that gooey, romantic stuff. 

RECOMMENDED: More great dates in NYC 2013

Belt show tunes mob-style at Marie’s Crisis Café


If you detest small talk but love sing-alongs, consider a visit to this legendary West Village piano bar. Each night, scores of musical lovers warble along to an ivory-tickler playing Broadway faves. Flag down a server to order a dirt-cheap drink ($7 for a Cosmo), and don’t be surprised if they later show up at the front of the room to solo on “As Long as He Needs Me.” If your date can handle your off-key rendition of all ten parts in “One Day More,” they’re definitely a keeper.

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West Village

Kill the undead and save your love during Zombiefest

Join forces against the shambling hordes in an imaginary apocalyptic wasteland at Indoor Extreme Sports’ Zombiefest. After a round in which teams of five are pitted against one other, you’ll have nine five-minute “missions” inside IES’s laser-tag maze. The goal is to take out as many of the walking dead—eight performers in F/X makeup—as you can before they eat your brains (touch you or grab your flag). Between games, recover your strength in the Asylum Lounge, complete with screens showing classic zombie movies. 718-361-9152, indoorextremesports.com. Fri 9pm–midnight; $36/player plus $5 deposit. Reservations required; sign up at formstack.com/forms/indoorextreme-zombiefest.

Learn about sewage on the Newtown Creek digester-eggs tour

Greenpoint’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is home to eight weirdly beautiful sewage-processing “eggs,” some of Gotham’s more unlikely architectural icons. Once a month, the visitor center offers public tours of the plant, during which you and your partner will learn about the science of wastewater treatment. Afterward, stroll down the surprisingly picturesque Newtown Creek Nature Walk and try to crack each other up with jokes about robot boobs (ah, romance). Feb 14 at 9:30am, 1pm; e-mail events@dep.nyc.gov to make a reservation.

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Prove you’re a cheap date at the Commodore


No need to bust out anything like wine knowledge or even chivalry if you take your squeeze to dinner at this Williamsburg gastrodive. Raise a slushy frozen drink (such as the bar’s namesake beverage, $10) to your boo and order a meal of elevated bar eats that taste like heaven. Start by stuffing your face with the Cadillac Nachos ($10), piled high with jalapeños, pinto beans, tomato, onion, sour cream and salsa, all slathered in queso. Then move on to the fried-chicken plate: three crispy thighs with three biscuits, plus honey butter and sweet-and-spicy vinegar sauce ($11).

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Make it weird before it gets weird at Observatory


This willfully bizarre Gowanus institution is the perfect place to find something unique for you and your date to talk about. Observatory regularly holds lectures and workshops on subjects singular, macabre or both, such as “Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop” with the American Museum of Natural History’s Daisy Tainton (Feb 2, Feb 10 1–4pm; $65) and a discussion of “Death as Muse” with ex-Jawbreaker frontman Blake Schwarzenbach (Feb 7 at 8pm; $5). Stop by on the weekends to check out an exhibition in the space’s gallery—currently a group show about “Resurrection” (Sat, Sun noon–6pm; Feb 2–Mar 16).

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