In the din and dirt of the city streets, New York City isn't the easiest place to have a romantic moment, but call us hopeless romantics (or saps) because we believe our boroughs are full of romantic opportunities. Whether its a significant other or a Tinder date, we have ways to make them swoon so long as your heart is open to new experiences. If you're past dodgy hookup bars, our list of romantic things to do includes dreamy bars and restaurants, fun adventures and beautiful places that will have you whistling love songs before your date even begins.
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Romantic things to do in NYC
Get gussied up in your fab 1960s duds and head over to the new TWA Hotel at JFK to step into a Mad Men-esque atmosphere. The interior of Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 building exudes 60s chic with 512 guest rooms that offer views of JFK’s runways, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, a rooftop jacuzzi and an observation deck. Over the next few months, bar adjacent to the jacuzzi will be a "Runway Chalet," a 1960s après ski-themed winter hideaway that’s both heated and tented. This unique stay puts a fun spin on a weekend away with your S.O.
Pull a Marvin Gaye and prepare to get it on (or, at least, think about it) at the MoSex, which showcases tastefully erotic and downright outlandish art and artifacts. Peep the latest exhibitions and jump inside a tantalizing bounce house to shake off those date-night jitters. Don't miss Super Funland, the erotic carnival within in the museum. There you'll find a 4-D immersive "Tunnel of Love" ride, an erotic fortune-telling machine (modeled as RuPaul), a kissing booth, and a lit-up climbing structure. Make a pit stop at the gift shop, which is stocked with books, sex toys and aphrodisiac elixirs, and continue the romancing at home.
Dine with your darling in what feels like an Italian farmhouse. The old-world charm of well-worn communal tables, dangling copper cookware and flickering lamps may help explain why this 20-year-old restaurant is still tough to get into on a Saturday night. Seasonal produce shapes the Italian and Iberian-inflected menu of house-made pastas, hearty rissotos, and roasts. Dunk the warm country bread in Umbrian olive oils produced exclusively for Il Buco. You’ll have no trouble finding a wine to match your meal; Il Buco’s list is one of the city’s best, which will be sure to impress your date.
Before you lovebirds get your rocks off, spend a few hours climbing over some boulders first. At this 25,000-square-feet rock-climbing gym, you and bae can take turns playing the role of belayer (or use the auto-belay) to ascend the 22-foot-tall rock wall. Who will fall for whom first?
If you want to tap into the hopeless romanticism of your partner, stop at Café Lalo on the Upper West Side. The café is known for its display cases packed with more than 100 kinds of cookies, brownies, cakes, and pies, but it's also the site of a very important scene in You've Got Mail, the romantic comedy with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Its Art Nouveau posters, exposed-brick walls and French windows also add to the spot's romantic ambiance.
Repairing your semi-rocky relationship may be the only thing that concerns you right now, which means it’s time to bring out the big guns! That’s right, keep your relationship goals strong by treating your S.O. to a kick-ass (slightly pricey) yacht party on the Hudson ($160 per person). The delicious three-course meal, stunning skyline views and busting your sick moves on the dance floor will surely impress.
If you and your beau are into roleplay (not just the kinky kind), travel back in time to roarin’ dance party at this old-fashioned joint. Here’s a brief history lesson: Opened in 1908 as the American Seaman’s Friend Society Sailors Home, the 14-story landmark was a residential hotel when hoteliers Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson, of the Bowery and the Maritime, took it over. If entering the hotel feels like stepping on to a film set, there’s good reason: Inspiration came from various celluloid sources, including Barton Fink’s Hotel Earle for the lobby. The "ballroom," decorated with mismatched chairs, oriental rugs and a fireplace topped with a stuffed ram, evokes an eccentric mansion and is perfect for a night of drinks and discussion.
Get your heart racing a bit with a lofty, three-minute ride to Roosevelt Island (and across the East River) with 360-degree views of the city before heading to the island's tree-lined esplanade. Walk along here for incredible views of the Manhattan skyline and, if you time it right, the sunset.
Take a psychedelic, three-and-a-half-minute trip while sitting inside color-changing, LED fiberglass fish and cruising to Mozart. The SeaGlass Carousel is a kitschy but romantic way to have fun before or after dinner (just make sure you've brought the kind of date who'd be down for a few go-arounds). One ride is $5 and its open daily from 10am to 8pm.
Often lauded as one of the most romantic restaurants in the country, this candle-lit, brick-walled den with floor-to-ceiling windows and a grand dark-wood staircase serves a delightfully modern menu to swooning couples and hosts elegant, traditional weddings. Choose from prix-fixe plates like miso-marinated quail, classic beef Wellington, and ginger-spiced lobster. End your whimsical night with the epitome of romantic sweets: dedcadent, fluffy chocolate soufflé.