Someone in love can make just about anything into a romantic act, but sometimes a good backdrop acts as the perfect third party in taking romance to the next level. For some, getting absorbed into deep conversation is the best way to make the heart go pitter patter. In that case, a walk through Central Park (in snow or sun) could be just what the love doctor ordered.
For others, recreating an iconic romantic movie moment will get the blood pumping to all the right places. Sound more up your alley? Then perhaps snuggling up to your sweetie over a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3, which inspired the name of the 2001 Kate Beckinsale-John Cusack rom-com, Serendipity, is something you’d care to indulge in.
In this list of the top ten most romantic things to do in New York City, we uncover the places, spaces and activities that will have you and your love falling head over heels for each other and for the Big Apple.
A true lesson in urban renewal, the High Line is built on an abandoned railroad line elevated above Manhattan’s westside. Running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to Midtown’s W. 34th Street, the High Line has quickly become a favorite spot for couples. Dotted along the grated overpass are food stalls, restaurant pop-ups and magnificent overlooks. To do it best, go on a Tuesday in the summer and amble along until you find Terroir, a wine bar near 15th Street. Grab a glass of vino at dusk, and then make your way a few blocks south to hook up with the Amateur Astronomers Association stargazers who’ve set up telescopes and offer explanations of what’s going on in the sky.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: It’s romantic, even though that defies logic. Hanging lights and wooden walkways add to the charm.
Maria’s expert tip: On Tuesdays from April through October, join the star-spotters to see constellations through high-powered telescopes.
Read more about The High Line →
Said to be “Manhattan’s only remaining great gateway,” Grand Central Terminal (not “station” as it is often mistakenly called) is a magnificent example of art meeting functionality. The Beaux Arts facade that stretches along 42nd Street features a beautiful clock and crowning statues of Minerva, Mercury and Hercules. Inside the terminal, a vast blue ceiling twinkles with fiber optic lighting depicting the zodiac constellations, while one level below, sixty railroad tracks transport over 500,000 commuters a day. It’s romantic in its beauty, but for fun, you and yours could also reenact any number of scenes where star-crossed lovers reunite, or are forced to say goodbye.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Grand Central Terminal is home to more than a handful of iconic parting shots of star-crossed lovers scurrying to catch their trains.
Andrea’s expert tip: Locate the whispering corners and surprise each other with some sweet nothings.
Read more about Grand Central Terminal →
Every year, millions of New Yorkers and visitors walk down 5th Avenue to peruse the windows of Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Saks, Barneys and countless others that pull out all the stops for their annual displays. While it’s true that you’ll find this activity on nearly every tourist’s to-do list, don’t let that diminish your excitement for this long-running holiday tradition. Along with being a great way to get into the holiday spirit, it can also be immensely romantic. Amp up the romance meter by stopping into the high-end jewelers including Tiffany’s, Cartier, Harry Winston and De Beers to pick up–or simply peep–some sparkly bling for that special someone. Not the holiday season? You can still make your own trek up 5th Ave to peek at the jewelry stores anytime of the year.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Snuggling up against each other as you gaze at the holiday displays is enough to warm you right to the bones.
Andrea’s expert tip: Go during the week when the crowds are lighter.
Read more about Fifth Avenue Window Displays →
Central Park, 800-acres of gorgeous greenery, burst out of the minds of urban visionaries who must have surely had a romantic streak. Joggers, nature seekers and bikers use the park daily, while kids young and old enjoy skating at Wollman Rink, visiting the Central Park Zoo, and riding the Friedsam Memorial Carousel. But it’s lovers everywhere who’ve truly claimed Central Park as their own. Alas, there’s almost nothing as romantic as strolling together through the park’s winding pathways for hours on end. There’s a reason why so many movies feature the park in their love stories–it’s impossible not to be swept off your feet by its radiant charm.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Central Park is a beacon for romance, and the perfect place for a couple to spend some time strolling through the streets.
Maria’s expert tip: Visit Strawberry Fields, and don’t forget to make a wish at Bethesda Fountain.
Read more about Central Park →
One of the world’s most famous skyscrapers is easily recognized by its strong, slender ascent into the NY sky. The Empire State Building opened in 1931, and immediately climbed into the hearts of romantics everywhere. After all, what better place to pop the question or stare out across the city hand-in-hand than 102 stories high, with the fabulous Manhattan streets carrying on below you? Mornings are less crowded, yet the views at night can be magical. In fact, if you’re looking to propose, you’d be best served doing it on the 86th floor Thursdays – Saturdays from 10PM – 1AM when the resident saxophonist is putting on a show.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Empire State Building is an iconic symbol of love, and sometimes called “the most romantic building in the world.”
Courtney’s expert tip: You can apply to get married at the Empire State Building on February 14 through their Facebook page.
Read more about Empire State Building →
Romantic movie fanatics will remember this restaurant from the 2001 John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale film, Serendipity. In the movie, the two stars share a dessert that kick starts their love affair and consequently cemented this spot in lover’s minds forever. Due to the popularity of this dessert haven and their now infamous frozen hot chocolate, be prepared to wait before being seated. However, if you’re willing to eat more than just dessert, the restaurant takes reservations for dinner. Looking to pull off a romantic stunt of your own? Serendipity’s “The Golden Opulence Sundae” may be your answer. Covered in 23-karat edible gold leaf, this creamy treat costs $1,000, making it one of the most expensive desserts money can buy.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Lovers can re-create movie magic while simultaneously making memories of their own.
Andrea’s expert tip: If you make dinner reservations, you’ll skip the long queue at the front door.
Read more about Serendipity 3 →
For many, romance equals culture and you’ll find it in droves at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Started in the 1950s, the center serves as the home of the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society and numerous arts festivals throughout the year. It’s a grand gesture to take anyone here, but certain acts are especially romantic. The operatic performances, for example, ooze of romance and pull guests from around the world to take them in. The best thing to do, however, is check the calendar for something that will tickle the fancy of your lucky lady or gent and book well in advance – because this venue is so revered, tickets can go quickly.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: It’s one of the most iconic performance spaces in the world.
Andrea’s expert tip: Skip the box seats – the view is obstructed and they’re teeny tiny.
Read more about Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts →
While it’s not open year-round, this seasonal date night is worth the trek to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights to see a dizzying display of Christmas lights. Each year, the neighborhood comes alive with decorations and displays that can only be described as over-the-top. For optimal viewing, plan on going in mid-December and consider taking a car so you can cozy up while peering out the windows. While the subway gets you close, many of the most impressive displays are a mile or more from the station, and who wants to traipse through the crowded neighborhood by foot when you’re trying to be romantic?. If a car isn’t an option, there’s always the bus. One thing is for sure: it doesn’t matter how you get here, just that you share the experience with someone special.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Christmas lights and holiday cheer are enough to make anyone’s heart go pitter-patter.
Andrea’s expert tip: Take a car, but consider parking it once you get to the neighborhood.
Read more about Dyker Heights Light Show →
Named after a famous author of children’s literature, this piano bar in the Carlyle Hotel offers an upscale reprieve on the Upper East Side. The spot bills itself as a piece of “Old New York,” but the author’s murals from stories like the classic, Madeline, balance out the dark, heavy wood and atmosphere. With the piano jazz playing in the background on a nightly basis, it’s the perfect place to cozy up to that special someone for a nightcap before parting ways…or before heading upstairs. Art lovers will also appreciate that the large-scale murals in the hotel bar are the only surviving Bemelmans’ work that’s still open to the public, a good piece of conversation trivia that’s sure to impress.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: What’s more romantic than a well-made cocktail and a little jazz piano? Almost nothing.
Andrea’s expert tip: Be prepared for a cover, but rest assured that it’s worth it.
Read more about Bemelmans Bar →
Spanning from the South Street Seaport to Brooklyn Heights, the famous Brooklyn Bridge has ushered New Yorkers across the East River since 1883. A must-see for any visitor to the Big Apple, the best way to experience the bridge is to take the 30-plus minute, 3,455-foot expedition and walk it. The view of Manhattan is incredible, suddenly making it easy to understand why decades of poets and painters have been fascinated by it. The great Walt Whitman even described the view from the bridge as the “most effective medicine my soul has yet partaken.” For best results, we’d recommend going in the early morning during the summer months to miss the crowds.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: This is quite possibly one of the most romantic places in the city.
Maria’s expert tip: It’s a must, but think twice before going on a cold and rainy day. The whipping winds can ruin a good time.
Read more about Brooklyn Bridge →