31 Best Things to Do in Central Park: My Favorite Spots as a Local
Are you looking for unique things to do in Central Park? I've listed all my favorite spots, so follow my lead and you’ll have a perfect visit to the park.
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There’s something about New York City that oozes romance during any season.
Okay, so it’s not Paris with its cliche slow pace, romantic lighting, and bridges.
New York is grittier and rarely slows down. To me, the city has its own special brand of enchantment.
It’s that feeling that anything can happen in the city that never sleeps.
If you’re looking for inspiration for a romantic adventure with your special someone, you’re in the right place. These are my top picks of 50 romantic things to do in NYC.
Just don’t forget to leave some room for spontaneity!
How could this not be first on my list? To me, the theater will always be the perfect date night.
Grab a drink at a nearby bar before the show and end your evening with a late supper.
You can stay up all night talking and drinking about that song and her performance.
Local’s Tip: Sardis is a legendary midtown restaurant to grab a bite before your show. It’s where all the Broadway stars have their caricatures drawn.
If you’re dining post-theater, head to Joe Allen. They are open late and decorate with posters of all Broadway’s biggest flops.
Picnicking in Central Park is so underrated. I never understood why more guys didn’t plan dates in the park.
Plan ahead and buy some wine and snacks to enjoy on a blanket (or towel) in Sheep Meadow.
Just check the weather beforehand—it’s way less fun on a cold or rainy day.
New York is famous for its legendary jazz scene. There’s nothing sexier than an indulgent meal, followed by cocktails and jazz in the village.
These are my favorite village jazz joints:
The best thing about New York is you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear talented musicians no matter which venue you pick.
The view from the Brooklyn Bridge screams romance.
I love walking the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset with a coffee in one hand and my special someone holding the other.
Bring a coat or jacket, it gets cold up there.
It’s nice to slow down and recharge together. My favorite places to spa it up are:
Aire Ancient Baths – This is the perfect place for a flirtatious day of spa treatments. The entire spa is covered in candles.
HigherDOSE – Imagine laying together nestled in a private infrared sauna. You both reconnecting while listening to your choice of music.
Well, imagine no longer, because HigherDOSE makes it happen. Trust me, it’s the perfect hour of relaxation.
Perry Street Reflexology – Perry Street is more upscale than the cheaper massage parlors. It’s like relaxing in someone else’s charming living room.
Renew Body Wellness – This place does reflexology and massage for half the price of fancier locations.
Reflexology is one of my favorite ways to relax. When I was in the city I aimed to get a massage here at least once every few months.
Channel your inner Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by ‘sneaking’ into a speakeasy. Half the adventure is trying to find them.
I love having date nights at some of these ‘secret’ bars:
Little Branch – This underground den is one of my favorite date spots in the village. The entrance is an unmarked door on the corner of 7th and Saint Luke’s Place.
You’ll descend into a tiny candlelit room and if you’re lucky they’ll have a jazz band playing.
Try to snag a booth, it’s the perfect makeout spot. Oh, just a heads up, it’s cash only.
Dear Irving – My boyfriend and I had regular date nights here. The cocktails are delicious and the atmosphere is beautiful.
Each room’s decorations are inspired by from different eras.
My favorite room is the 1920’s themed F. Scott Fitzgerald room. It’s got big booths and beautiful beaded curtains for added privacy.
To find the entrance, just look for the townhouse at 55 Irving Place.
Spend the afternoon getting lost in one of the city’s many museums. I always learn more about someone by the art they’re drawn to. Some of my favorites to get lost in are:
The Met – This is my all-time favorite museum to wander around on a date. If you’re visiting during the summer, you must go to the rooftop.
It features an exhibit every summer, and they always have coffee and cocktails for sale. It’s an exceptional place to steal a passionate kiss with a view.
The Cloisters – It’s a hike to get to The Cloisters, but it’s well worth it. This European medieval extension of The Met in Fort Tryon Park is a glorious day trip.
You can enjoy the museum and the view of the Hudson from their gardens.
Local’s Tip: Bring a picnic to enjoy in the gardens and spend the day pretending you’ve gone back to a simpler time.
MoMA – Explore some modern art and question what it all means (or in some cases, what the painting is).
Plan to book lunch or dinner at The Modern. It’s a restaurant that’s connected to MoMa. Trust me, modern art and Michelin-starred dining are a perfect pairing.
Grab your date, board a boat, and set sail into the sunset together. You absolutely should splurge and book a trip that includes champagne or jazz.
Imagine how perfect it’ll be as you cuddle up to watch the sun setting over the skyline.
Classic Harbour Line Cruises offers romantic sailing options like:
Let the magic of the ballet transport you into a dreamy haze. Lincoln Center has one of the world’s best ballet companies.
I love going for a glass of wine (or two) before the show. Trust me, it adds to the experience (especially if your date hates the ballet).
If you don’t love ballet but your partner does, this is a wonderful way to get some bonus points!
Alright ladies (sorry gents), if you’ve seen The Notebook, you’ve probably imagined how hot it would be to get rowed around a lake by Ryan Gosling.
A heads up—the rowboats are hard to steer. Do yourselves a favor and book the gondola instead. You can both relax while the other couples struggle to paddle.
Local’s Tip: Spend the afternoon at the Loeb Boathouse with a glass (or bottle) of wine. You can both laugh at people getting stuck in the middle of the pond.
Thanks to Patrick Swayze, pottery classes will forever be sexy.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t get the chance to recreate that infamous moment from Ghost during class.
Here’s hoping your date is as sexy as Swayze was in that movie!
Imagine rubbing sunscreen on your date’s back while lounging on the beach at Coney Island.
Later, you take a dip together in the ocean and grab a bite on the boardwalk.
Then you spend the evening bonding over your fear of roller coasters at Luna Park.
Not sold? Trust me, you’ll have a wonderful time.
Okay, Brooklyn Botanical Garden isn’t exactly a secret. But it’s the closest thing we have to a secret garden in the city.
The park has fantastic paths with some less populated areas to steal a kiss in (so it’s almost like a secret garden).
I’ve said it in another post, and I’ll say it again. Shakespeare in the Park is one of my favorite summer activities.
Plus, it’s a free date night if you can score tickets.
Tickets are available in person the day of each show (go early) and via TodayTix online lottery.
If you want to add to the romance, pack a bottle of wine and picnic to enjoy on The Great Lawn before the show.
If it’s a warm summer night and there’s magic in the air, you need to be at a rooftop bar.
Some of them are so picturesque—with the moonlight hitting the NYC skyline just so—it’ll feel like you’re in a movie scene.
Some of my favorite rooftops are:
Okay, I know it’s touristy but hear me out.
A carriage ride is a charming way to get in some sightseeing while on a date.
Cuddle up to your sweetheart while you pass some of Central Park’s most iconic sights.
It’s straight out of a Woody Allen movie!
I’d plan on going around dusk for the most picturesque lighting.
Do you have champagne wishes and caviar dreams?
Imagine that mix of bubbles and that touch of the sea that runs over your tongue when the caviar pops in your mouth.
Is there anything sexier?
My mouth is watering thinking about how perfect this combo is. Seriously, I would love some caviar and champagne right now.
Trust me, this will be a class you (and your taste buds) will never forget.
Naturally, the Petrossian sells out of this class months in advance.
If I ever get taken camping it sure as hell better be the “glamping” kind.
Call me high maintenance, but roughing it in a tent isn’t exactly my idea of fun.
Enter Governors Island Collective Retreats. You can bond in nature without leaving the necessary luxuries of civilization behind.
They have three different levels of camping (in reality, glamping) on the island. And great news, they all come with complimentary breakfast!
Whisk your date up, up, and away! Head into the sky for adventurous city views you both will never forget.
It’s something I’ve always wanted to splurge on doing.
These are some of the most popular helicopter tours to check out!
This super sexy, immersive theater experience makes for the perfect game of cat and mouse.
You’ll spend about three hours in the dark, wearing masks, running around 5 mysterious floors.
You can spend the evening chasing the characters from Sleep No More, or just chase each other.
There are lots of opportunities to sneak away and remove your masks for a quick make-out (assuming you find each other in the crowd).
Go ahead, break the rules a bit, you know you’ll want to.
Local’s Tip: Arrive early and grab a cocktail at The McKittrick Hotel’s rooftop bar, Gallow Green. It’s got a great view of the sunset and delicious cocktails.
Mixing liquor and learning makes for a great time. These are certainly my favorite kind of classes.
At Liquor Lab you’ll learn all about the components needed for that perfect cocktail.
Plus, you’ll learn about the history of what you’re mixing.
After this, you’ll look (and sound) like a pro when mixing drinks for your friends at home. I know my cocktail skills improved!
Settle into your seats and let the music take over your imaginations. The NY Philharmonic is one of the best in the country.
To be totally honest, I thought I’d be bored the first time I got invited to the symphony.
It’s now one of my favorite things to do when there isn’t a new play or musical to see.
Local’s Tip: Plan to have cocktails after at Shalel Lounge down the street.
It’s a candlelit underground lounge with lots of private seating plus a waterfall.
Trust me, it’s a sexy spot.
I’ve always wanted to try glass blowing. At Brooklyn Glass, you can sign up to make sundae bowls, shot glasses, or tumblers.
You’ll learn a new skill and walk away with creative souvenirs. What’s not to love?
Local’s Tip: After class, head to Lucali to put your name down for pizza (they keep a waiting list).
While you’re waiting you can grab a cocktail nearby. The pizza is worth the wait.
I think we can all admit there’s something charming about a night under the stars with a romantic movie playing.
New York offers plenty of opportunities during the summer to catch a film under the stars.
My favorite outdoor option is Rooftop Films. They arrange ticketed film screenings on different rooftops throughout the city.
If you’re looking for a free movie night, most city parks have screenings. Arrive early and bring a blanket to sit on.
You can tell a lot about a person by what song they pick at karaoke. What will your song say about you?
Get your duet picks ready. We always end up singing “Shallow” and “A Whole New World”.
Maru is our go-to karaoke spot for after-dinner drinks and singing. You can rent private rooms by the hour.
Do you (want to) believe in magic?
Throw on some cocktail attire and check out the “Millionaire’s Magician”.
After hearing my nonchalant friends raving about it, I cannot wait to check this out.
During his show called “Chamber Magic”, he’ll ask you to “think a drink.” You’ll believe in magic the second he pours the exact drink out of his magic silver kettle.
Who can forget that dreamy ice skating date between John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale at Wollman Rink in Serendipity?
Every time I see that movie it makes me want to attempt ice skating again (they make it look so effortless).
The truth is, I am not a skilled skater. I’d happily choose hot chocolate on the sidelines any day.
If you’re both skilled in the skating department then plan a skate at one of New York’s iconic rinks. The most popular are:
If you need convincing, just remember how romantic that opera date Richard Gere planned in Pretty Woman was.
Opera is often a mixture of passionate and over the top moments that always leave the audience feeling something.
Oh, and if you want to commit to the Pretty Woman theme, surprise your date with jewelry before the show.
Either way, The Opera House is stunning.
Local’s Tip: You should arrive early and wander around with a glass of champagne. The chandeliers and the two Chagall’s in the entrance are jaw-dropping.
Dinner and a movie are classic date activities that are typically separate.
Nighthawk Cinemas serves you dinner and cocktails while you watch the latest movies. It’s the best of both worlds.
Oh, and don’t expect normal concession food, their offerings are delicious.
Most of the food is themed on the film playing. So, cuddle up and enjoy some delicious food and a great flick.
Play, drink and explore at VR World, a virtual reality studio in Manhattan.
I’ll admit I was skeptical about this concept but it ended up being a blast.
They have jet pack simulators, tours of Notre Dame, and you can walk a plank that’s 480 feet off the ground.
You’re sure to laugh a lot as you both lose yourselves (and if you’re like me, freak out) in the VR universe.
Imagine walking through a cemetery and into a candlelit catacomb from the 1850s. You hear the sounds of Bach in the distance played by a string quartet.
The Angel’s Share will give you the most unique and mysterious night you’ll ever spend in a cemetery.
You’ll enjoy a whiskey tasting and sunset walk through the cemetery before the show. Then when the evening has ended you’ll exit back through the cemetery by torchlight.
I’ve been wanting to attend one of these concerts for years. It’s at the top of my date night list for the next time I’m in the city.
The couple that laughs together stays together.
Head to a comedy show for a night of laughs (and pray the comic doesn’t single you out of the crowd).
My favorite date night comedy spot is The Stand. We used to do date night there all the time. They consistently have great comics and their cocktails are delicious.
The High Line is most romantic at sunset during the summer. People are always getting engaged and sometimes even married here.
I love planning to stroll in the direction of a good restaurant or happy hour.
Just make sure to get in a quality hand-holding session before the walk ends.
Everyone likes music, there’s something so primal about it. That’s why it’s the perfect thing to connect over on a date.
Based on your budget the city offers lots of musical options for a night out on the town.
I’ve included a list of venues that should have something for all tastes and price points.
Who knew that you can go ziplining at the Bronx Zoo?
I was certainly surprised when I heard a friend went on a ziplining date there.
We ended up going back and doing the high ropes course and ziplining as a double date.
Your relationship will reach new heights as you soar over the Bronx River.
I rolled my eyes when I heard a poetry slam was the plan for the evening.
I’ll be the first to admit—you’ll either love or hate this depending on the quality of work.
I ended up having a good time the first time we went. I couldn’t believe how interesting and cool a poetry reading could be.
Raise your hand if you want more massages in your life (raises hand).
I love de-stressing with at least one massage a week and always welcome more.
The Love Institute teaches couples all about the science of touch. You’ll walk away more relaxed with a deeper connection.
Plus, your partner will no longer be able to use the “I don’t know how to” excuse to get out of giving you a massage.
It’s a win, win!
Step on board and enjoy some wine and seafood while the sun sets.
Grand Banks is a boat anchored at Pier 25. Arrive early to score the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the Hudson.
Just make sure your partner has sea legs, the boat does rock a lot (it’s in the water after all).
Local’s Tip: Ladies, don’t wear heels or wedges. This is a boat, it’s always moving.
Also, the ladder down to the bathroom is steep and dangerous in heels.
Picture it, there’s candlelight, killer music, intimate seating, and indulgent food. It’s the recipe for a perfect date night.
The Beatrice Inn is one of my favorite spots for a mixture of elegance and fun. You’ll see ducks and fish on fire throughout the dining room.
Oh, and the cocktails and wine selection are just as smoking (literally they have been known to light drinks on fire).
Local’s Tip: Order the Bone Marrow Creme Brulee for dessert. I know it sounds weird to some people (and yes, it’s served in a bone) but trust me, it’s delicious.
My mouth is watering thinking about it!
If you aren’t feeling a chophouse for your special night out, here are some of my other favorite date night restaurants:
The best nights in New York are rarely those that are meticulously planned. New York is full of surprises and spontaneous romances.
After dating in the city for years, I can tell you there’s a reason why it’s the main setting of almost every Rom-Com made. The city will always surprise you. It certainly has surprised me.
My advice to you is this: Make a rough plan then let the night happen. You never know what heart-stopping moment might be just around the corner.
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