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DenArt Body Painting Workshop
Photograph: Courtesy Coursehorse

Unique date ideas in NYC

Go beyond dinner and a movie—think motorcycles, body painting or cooking—with these unique date ideas in NYC

Written by
Gerrish Lopez
Shaye Weaver
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

With so many things to do in NYC, from fabulous new restaurants to world-renowned museums to beautiful parks, there’s really no reason to get stuck when you’re looking for ways to impress a date. Grabbing a drink, checking out local attractions or going out for a meal are obvious choices, however, so when things are getting a little more serious and you really need to turn on the charm, make an impression with an activity that's out of the ordinary. It’s time to put on your creative dating cap and check out these unique date ideas in NYC.

Our curated list of cool and quirky things to do with your date includes romantic things to do, indoor activities, outdoor pursuits, cultural options and even some cheap date ideas if you’re on a budget. From an intimate concert to a thrilling city tour to creative pursuits like pottery or body painting, try any of these activities and you’re sure to see sparks fly. Your date will know that for sure you’re no average suitor. With any luck, your next date will be a romantic getaway, so get out there and try something new.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to date ideas in NYC

Unique date ideas in NYC

Helicopter tours might be pricey, but they’ll definitely knock your date’s socks off. Take off after dark to admire an awe-inspiring aerial view of the city lights. You’ll soar over the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge before touching down. Talk about picturesque.

Your body becomes the canvas in this sensual workshop at DenArt, a black light body painting studio in Brooklyn. Use brushes and UV body paint to create glowing designs all over your partner’s face, hands, arms, legs and elsewhere. Though DenArt allows you to go topless, there’s no need to disrobe. Still, it’s probably better to save the body painting date until after you’re comfortable with one another. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Staten Island

A little-known gem situated just across the bay in Staten Island, this regional arts center used to be a home for retired sailors. Today, the 83-acre plot of land boasts several contemporary art galleries and expansive gardens. Stroll through the popular Chinese Scholar’s Garden, complete with a koi pond, flowing waterfalls and eight splendid pavilions.


Head up to Harlem on the first Thursday of every month for an evening of live jazz, wine and hors d’oeuvres in a historic brownstone. The party moves from home to home and features different musicians every time, so each event is really something special. You’ll feel like the classy ladies and gents you really are. 

As if Eataly weren’t already the temple of all things delicious and Italian, you can also learn to cook pasta, pizza and more at the Flatiron location. Bring someone special for a hands-on lesson in Italian cuisine. A resident chef will demonstrate how to prepare dishes and a sommelier will walk you through the accompanying wine pairings.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Flatiron

The team behind SPiN—including co-owner Susan Sarandon—knows that the only thing that more fun than ping pong is tipsy ping pong. This bar combines Olympic-sized tables with a diverse selection of domestic and imported beers. It has all the makings of a guaranteed good time, whether or not you’re any good at the sport.

Get your hands dirty in a BYOB pottery class
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Get your hands dirty in a BYOB pottery class

Instead of one of those ubiquitous paint-and-sip classes, learn how to spin a potter’s wheel in a class at Choplet Ceramic Studio. You can bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer to split with your sweetheart, but this class doesn’t come with the same pressure of a sit-down drinks date. There’s something a little bit romantic about creating something together, too. Remember that sexy pottery scene from Ghost?

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • West Village

Marie’s isn’t just any dive bar. This West Village institution centers around a pianist playing show tunes, and singing along isn’t just encouraged—it’s pretty much required. Don’t even try to request Taylor Swift—this isn’t your average karaoke night. You’ll see aspiring Broadway stars, neighborhood fixtures and people from all walks of life belting out classics like “Memory” and “All That Jazz.”

  • Bars
  • Brooklyn Navy Yard

Meeting for happy hour at your local watering hole is fine for a first date, but overachievers who aren’t content with being just fine might want to opt for a more adventurous drinks date—like sipping craft whiskey straight from the source. For the cost of one trendy cocktail, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at Kings County Distillery, learn how whiskey is made and taste three locally produced spirits. We’ll raise a glass to that.

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