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Picnic in NYC park
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20 ways to meet new people in NYC

Find someone to pal around with our guide of how to meet new people in NYC featuring classes and meet-ups

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
Written by
Time Out New York contributors

There are 8 million people and dozens of dating apps to keep you glued to your phone, but it can still be tricky to make friends IRL.

We’re here to help—here’s how to meet new people in NYC, with 20 activities that are all so much better than sitting at home and swiping on Bumble BFF. Whether you want to meet singles, find someone else who will join you to take the coolest classes in NYC or just escape your obnoxious roommate, you’ll find something on this list. Netflix can wait!

RECOMMENDED: The 10 friends you make in New York City

How to meet new people in NYC

  • Things to do
  • Cultural centers
  • Prospect Heights

Brooklyn Brainery
Since it opened in 2010, the Brainery has acted as a hub for folks who want to sate their curiosity about food, history, or any number of quirky topics. Small class sizes make it easy to chat with other attendees, and more hands-on workshops encourage interaction among participants. This winter, the Brainery will open a new classroom in Prospect Heights that will also function as a coworking space, further helping nerdy types meet and mingle.

  • Things to do
  • Cultural centers
  • Lower East Side

Young Philanthropists at the Bowery Mission
This initiative from the venerable shelter brings together professionals in their twenties and thirties looking to make a difference in downtown Manhattan. Think of it as networking, only way more productive and valuable. In addition to throwing an annual summer fund-raiser, the Young Philanthropists organize projects and events to assist homeless people and at-risk youth, such as coat drives. The group’s latest effort is serving meals to the homeless community at the Bowery Mission in the East Village. To join in, email

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Gowanus

Secret Science Club
If your current pals don’t share your interest in the nuances of astrophysics, join up with the devotees of the Secret Science Club. Organizers Margaret Mittelbach, Dorian Devins and Michael Crewdson created a free monthly lecture series for scientists to discuss dinosaurs, neuroscience, black holes and other scholarly topics with upwards of 300 attendees. After each event’s Q&A session, there’s plenty of time for socializing with your fellow nerds.

Get sporty with an LGBTQ crowd
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Get sporty with an LGBTQ crowd

Big Apple Recreational Sports

You know that old movie cliché of gay and lesbian characters being harassed in the locker room? Well, nobody has to worry about that with the Big Apple Sports leagues which are comprised of team members who all either identify as LGBTQ or as allies. Cut loose over kickball, dodgeball or bowling with like-minded folks in a friendly and accepting environment.

Sing your heart out together
Photograph: Ross Rubin

7. Sing your heart out together

Gotham Rock Choir
Whether you’re a former chorus nerd or you harbor a secret desire to be on The Voice, it’s time to serenade something other than your conditioner bottle. While the Gotham Rock Choir’s high-profile performances have included singing the national anthem at Madison Square Garden, founder Mark Cannistraro keeps the environment fun and low-pressure. Members from all vocal sections (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) can often be found socializing before and after weekly Tuesday rehearsals.

Kick it for a good cause

8. Kick it for a good cause

Play for FC Give
Soccer and service go hand in hand with this nonprofit, which encourages players from all over the city to meet for competitive-yet-friendly games of pickup footy. Proceeds fund youth soccer equipment in underprivileged communities here and around the world.

Discuss your favorite witches and wizards
Photograph: Ken Parry and Chris Tibaldi

9. Discuss your favorite witches and wizards

The Group That Shall Not Be Named
Happily debate the finer points of casting a Patronus with the fellow Hogwarts wannabes in this organization, which is not only one of the city’s largest Harry Potter meet-ups but has also been going for over a decade. The New York chapter regularly sponsors events such as discussion groups, trivia nights and viewing parties; members also mingle at wizard-rock shows like the annual Yule Ball at Christmas time and Quidditch tournaments held by other fan groups.

  • Shopping
  • Arts, crafts & hobbies
  • Carroll Gardens

Brooklyn General Store
Owner Catherine Clark launched knitting and crafting tutorials at her petite craft shop in late 2003, after noticing that informal groups would gather on Friday nights to crochet and converse. Now, the shop offers all sorts of workshops for those who want to sew, knit, crochet, quilt and even paint! Make the most of your time by sharing your experiences (or lack thereof) with others who’ve always wanted to create a DIY gift but never managed to move beyond construction-paper greeting cards.

Challenge your competitive side
Photograph: Mike Chin

11. Challenge your competitive side

New York Urban Professionals Athletic League
Volleyball and basketball lovers find common ground with serious year-round games and a chance to bond (meaning drink) with fellow sports enthusiasts after each match. Individual players in both sports are welcome to attend open scrimmages and form a team with other free agents. In addition to the three-month season of men’s, women’s or coed league play, participants can attend open-play games to perfect skills and expand social circles. 

Support the performing arts while feeling fancy
Photograph: Patrick McMullan Photography

14. Support the performing arts while feeling fancy

Patrons of Lincoln Center
Performing arts buffs unite for discussions, community outreach programs, sneak previews of shows and exclusive opportunities to meet performers. Annual galas provide an excuse to dust off your formal wear, get schmancy and sip bubbly with other supporters of the arts.

  • Comedy
  • Astoria

Board Game Meet up at Q.E.D. Astoria
There are quite a few board game meetups across the city but Astoria’s own Q.E.D., which hosts comedy, storytelling, poetry and more, has a fun group once a month on Sunday! You’ll not only play new and classic games, from Carcassonne and Catan to Unmatched and Wingspan, but you’ll have fun interacting, teaming up with and competing against other local players. Q.E.D. also has a lot of other fun meetups you can check out here.

Explore the city with the IRL New York Social Network
Photograph: David Cervini

16. Explore the city with the IRL New York Social Network

New York Social Network
When media professional Dave Cervini first moved to Manhattan, he encountered a common problem: he had no idea how to meet people. His desire for pals to explore the city with led him to start the New York Social Network in 2004. The group hosts a wide array of events almost nightly, from bowling, movies and bar trivia nights to scavenger hunts at museums, history tours and more. Gatherings are generally intimate, with 12 to 30 people in their twenties through forties.

Get sweaty with new besties at Volo
Photograph: Denis Gostev

17. Get sweaty with new besties at Volo

This popular league, formerly known as New York City Social Sports Club, introduces active types under 40 to each other via several sports each season. Join with friends or as a free agent and be placed in a team. Offerings include flag football, softball, skeeball and cornhole, and win or lose you’re invited to go out after and celebrate with a few well-earned drinks. Who knows—at the bar you might just redeem yourself with a dance-off.

Watch out for wild bears while hiking with friendly bears
Photograph: Shutterstock

18. Watch out for wild bears while hiking with friendly bears

Gay Men’s Hiking Group
Strap on your best outdoor walking boots and head for the great outdoors with the Gay Men’s Hiking Group. This woodsy gang of dudes in their 40s and older take day trips using New Jersey rail and the Metro North to nearby mountains, forests and nature trails. Recent trips have included a historic jaunt along the Croton Aqueduct Trail from Yonkers to Tarrytown and a vigorous, challenging hike along the Appalachian Trail to Cat Rock and Nuclear Lake.

Become a hero in a young person’s life at the Super Hero Supply Store’s 826NYC
Photograph: 826NYC

19. Become a hero in a young person’s life at the Super Hero Supply Store’s 826NYC

Behind Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, a whimsical shop for imaginative crime-fighting enthusiasts, you’ll find the New York chapter of this Dave Eggers–founded youth writing center. Run by both staff and volunteers, 826 is always on the lookout for new recruits; sign up to teach a workshop, assist kids with their homework, or help out in the store or with administrative duties. Fill out an application on the center’s website and you’ll be invited to an orientation, to determine where your skills can be best utilized.

Join other young professionals in helping New York’s elderly
Photograph: Shutterstock

20. Join other young professionals in helping New York’s elderly

There are thousands of retired New Yorkers still living in their apartments in the city, despite not having the same resources or energy to maintain their lifestyles and thousands of other elderly New Yorkers who regularly feel lonely or overwhelmed, but for over three decades DOROT has looked to help them. Join the non-profit’s Young Professionals Group in helping these older folks through special fundraising events and direct volunteer opportunities like delivering meals to the elderly.

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