The 10 Best Date Night Ideas in NYC

New York is known as the city that never sleeps. An understandable description, considering all of the exciting things there are to explore. This trait is particularly useful when looking for something special to do on your date night. Whether you are going out with someone for the first time or celebrating your ten-year anniversary, there are many creative ways the two of you can spend time together. Think outside of the box and impress that special someone.

We compiled a few of the most unique, whimsical, and romantic date night ideas for your next outing. If you try any of the suggestions, do not be surprised if that first date blossoms into something long-term. And, if you are already in a relationship, you may walk away with a reignited passion for your sweetheart. No matter the outcome, these ten ideas will create an unforgettable date night.

1. Jazz Things Up

Before we had Hip Hop and rock and roll, there was jazz. This American musical art form has stood the test of time. Like a fine wine, it is flavorful, robust, and tantalizes the soul. There is nothing quite like listening to a live jazz band, musician, or singer to set the right mood for your night out on the town. When it comes to live jazz in Midtown Manhattan, the best place to spend your evening is at the iconic Birdland Jazz Club.

The nightclub was founded in 1949 and quickly became the go-to hot spot for internationally-renowned celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, and Ava Gardner. Birdland showcased the greatest jazz legends in the world, such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie “Bird” Parker. Parker crowned the club “jazz corner of the world” and the venue was then renamed after his legacy. Today, Birdland still lives up to that title.

The state-of-the-art venue offers patrons live performances from the hottest artists in the game right now, seducing your senses with musical genres ranging from Afro-Latin jazz to the big band sound. While enjoying the music, you can sink your teeth into Cajun inspired Southern dishes that are only available at this Midtown Manhattan jazz club.

2. Remix Your Trip to the Movies

A dinner and a movie go together like a hand and glove―It is a combo you can not go wrong with. Although the pairing is very traditional, you can add a twist to the experience. Instead of heading out to a big multiplex movie theater, go to the Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side.

Sure, when you think Lincoln Center, fancy, high-brow events may come to mind. But with the Film Society of Lincoln Center leading the way, you can enjoy a rare movie-going experience with that special someone. The two of you can watch premieres of new movies from a global roster of well-known and emerging directors. Lincoln Center hosts a bevy of in-depth filmmaker talks, major retrospectives, big-screen revivals, documentaries, and more.

The institution also hosts two prestigious festivals; the New York Film Festival and the New Directors/New Films Festival. Do not settle for sticky floors and stale popcorn at the multiplex. “Wow!” your date with a world-class movie-going experience in a plush, refined environment.

3. Liven Up the Conversation

After gazing into each other’s dreamy eyes, ignite conversation as you stroll through Fort Tryon Park. It is New York City’s largest garden, donated to the City by John D. Rockefeller. The Olmsted Brothers designed the park, which boasts over 500 kinds of plants. With eight miles of pathways and 67 acres in Upper Manhattan, there are other activities for you and your date to get into aside from walking and chatting.

Fort Tryon Park features built-in ping pong tables, volleyball courts, and Manhattan’s largest dog run. If you two are dog lovers, bring scruffy with you. The park has a gazebo for dog owners to chill and socialize alongside awesome views of the Hudson River.

4. Get Your Game On

Forget about the sports bar pool tables and skip the bowling alleys. Instead, make a b-line to the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The resort-like atmosphere is ideal when you want a casual, stress-relieving date night. There is no need to stress feeling awkward on your first date. Once you start pushing those discs down the shuffleboard, you will forget about your jitters.

After one hour of playing time, you may find that you guys have worked up an appetite. Get some biscuits and tropical drinks while you are there, or chow down at one or more of their food trucks.

5. Embrace Theatrics

How about a little drama? Are you in the mood for some laughter? Get your fill of live performances from some talented actors and comedians at The Birdland Theater. Though Birdland is well known for being a premier jazz hub, the nightclub has ramped up its entertainment offerings.

The Birdland Theater is an intimate 100-seat room below the main club that does more than showcase jazz shows. It provides the perfect setting for comedy, burlesque, drag, cabaret, and dance. There is also the recurrent “Cast Party: Broadway at Birdland,” featuring Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. The space is well-designed, and the tables are placed just right, so you and yours will always have the best sight-lines no matter where you seat.

But wait, there’s more. The theater has a bar stocked with classic beers, cocktails, and chef-curated wines. The two of you can also feast from a large menu featuring the finest regional Italian cuisine and decadent desserts.

6. Capture a Nostalgic Moment

We know a carriage ride through Central Park is enticing, but how about flipping the script? One of the most endearing things you can do is take a ride on Jane’s Carousel; awakening the child in you. The 100-year-old carousel is located at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in the Empire Fulton Ferry section and is a charmed-filed activity that oozes nostalgia.

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company built the carousel in 1922, where Jane and David Walentas then restored and donated it. Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel designed the carousel, which sits in a stunning glass pavilion. You and your sweetheart can take selfies together next to the painted ponies; imagine all the “Likes” you can get on your social media posts. ― What better way to add a touch of whimsy to your romantic outing.

7. Live Like a King and Queen

Do you like The Game of Thrones? Are you fascinated by Medieval Europe? Combine these interests into a culturally enriching night in NYC by spending some time at The Cloisters Museum, where you and your dragon queen or king are transported into a medieval wonderland filled with 2,000-plus pieces of art, gardens, and architecture.

The monastery turned museum belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met Cloisters, as it often referred to, sits on four acres that overlook the Hudson River. Garden tours take place from May to September and educate you on the historical, architectural, and horticultural details of the space. Museum lecturers can take you on a guided tour of the building, and while admission is $25, the Met has a policy that allows New York residents to pay whatever their heart desires.

8. Take It to the Streets

There are a ton of things to do in NYC when it comes to the arts. You could go to a swanky art gallery, or indulge your artistic side with a more down-to-earth experience checking out Bushwick Collective street art.

Local celebrity and businessman, Joseph Ficalora, founded the Bushwick Collective in 2012, where his parents inspired him to use dynamic street art as a way of beautifying Brooklyn streets. Every year in June the collective hosts a block party featuring street art, graffiti, food trucks, music, and local vendors. This annual art event brings out the best in the community. It is a time when gifted artists from around the globe drop in and paint mind-blowing murals.

A few of the artists include Dasic Fernandez, Case Maclaim, and Damien Mitchell. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize the names. Once you and your boo set your eyes on their art, you two may turn into raving fans.

9. Cruise the River

There is something about enjoying a romantic dinner for two while cruising down the East River. If that sounds appealing, you can add a spin to it by dining at The Water Table in Brooklyn; a rehabilitated vintage Navy Yard Patrol vessel.

This New England Tavern floats along while you consume a seasonal three-course meal. You and your date can enjoy scrumptious dishes, such as corn chowder with apple-smoked ham or lobster risotto. From there, you can take in the breathtaking scenery of the city skyline while sipping on some sparkly or classic cocktail. This is the kind of dining worth saying cheers to.

10. Shop ’til You Drop

Ok, you’ve had dinner. Perhaps you saw a movie. Why not finish the date off with a little shopping. There is no need to navigate your way through an overcrowded mega mall. Instead, cap things off in a more intimate setting, such as the Birdland Gift Shop. You two can cozy-up together as you browse through some cool jazz memorabilia and merchandise.

You guys can get stuff ranging from t-shirts and baseball caps to keychains and shot glasses. There is a variety of merch to tickle your fancy and can provide the two of you with a keepsake that reminds you of the thrilling night you shared.

Plan the Perfect Date Night in New York City

There are so many ways to spend precious time with that special someone. These ideas are a few options that break away from the standard date night in NYC. New York has so much to offer couples that sparks are bound to fly between the two of you. Check out the Birdland calendar, and plan your visit today!

Image: goodluz