Photo: Lanna Apisukh
Look out, Paris and Rome—New York City is coming to claim the City of Love title. Romantic vistas, and rom-com-worthy activities are all on the table for a night out. Whether you think of Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday or an opportune time to demonstrate your love, it’s a reasonable excuse to take yourself, friends or your partner on a winter-friendly, only-in-NYC date.
We asked staff members to play Cupid and design themed dates for Valentine’s Day (February 14) or the weekend leading up to it—or, really, for whenever the mood strikes. They also reflected on their own NYC dating experiences. Read on for romantic inspiration.
Courtesy, Aire Ancient Baths New York
The Date: Get centered at in Tribeca, with thermal baths modeled on Roman, Greek and Ottoman traditions. This urban oasis offers couples massages and other rituals on Valentine’s Day. Or try the in Greenpoint: sensory deprivation tanks where you simply float and experience the joy of, well, nothing. For dinner, reserve a table at , which specializes in Roman-style cuisine. (See the Roman connection? It’s a theme.) Indulge in the Valentine’s Day set menu that includes choices like oysters (you know what they say), house-made taglionini and cannoli for dessert.
My best Valentine’s Day in NYC: My friend and I went to a now-closed Italian restaurant in the East Village where the bill came out to $30 (total) for pasta and a bottle of wine.
Dating in NYC…was the subject of a great column in the fictional New York Star. —Laney Boggs*
Ample Hills. Photo: Molly Flores
The Date: After exploring , which in winter is plenty scenic and, naturally, less crowded, head to Prospect Heights’ Vanderbilt Avenue. Bookstores, especially small, neighborhood ones, are very romantic. We’ve all seen You’ve Got Mail, right? (I haven’t, but I’m guessing you have.) Scan the shelves at for great used finds; maybe you’ll spot a volume of romantic poems that you can read over drinks and dinner. Have those a few doors down at , home to a heated outdoor space and plenty of shareable skewers. Finish more or less across the street at with a scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor (no wrong answers, but PB Wins the Cup and King of Mangoes are righter than most). So what if it’s winter? At least your treat won’t melt.
My best Valentine’s Day in NYC: Don’t recall. Though as far as regular dates go, maybe either a long night of drinks at East Houston Street’s or a double date that involved moonlight bowling at a now-defunct bowling alley in Staten Island, followed by a 2am-ish meal at the .
Dating in NYC…is something that probably still happens. I mean, I’ve seen people out together. —Lloyd Dobler
New-York Historical Society. Photo: Jon Wallen
The Date: Did you know that Frederick Douglass celebrated his birthday on February 14? He chose that for himself, and there is some historical information confirming that he was in fact born in February. In the years after his death, some cities began to celebrate the date as Douglass Day. Show your love for this abolitionist by spending some time learning about his legacy at the and the . In between, stop by for amazing hot chocolate (it is Valentine’s Day, after all).
My best Valentine’s Day in NYC: exploring a number of hot chocolate bars on a cold snowy day.
Dating in New York…is not for the faint of heart. —Tai Frasier
Baked. Photo: Julienne Schaer
The Date: Get yourself to (note: the dedicated ferry is on hold until spring), in Red Hook, and try to not get in a fight on the way or while there about what furniture to buy. Bonus points: make a not-so-subtle analogy comparing your partner to an ottoman and see how they react. After the inevitable battle—IKEA can in couples—head over to to drink your feelings; tours end with a tasting flight. Decide to give another chance to the person you came with and go to to get a sweet treat as a peace offering. Enjoy it at home while watching 30 Rock reruns. —Criss Chros
Courtesy, Angelika Film Center
The Date: Set the mood with something suitably entertaining at the on Houston Street, one of indie cinema’s most beloved theaters. (Currently showing are such relationship-centered vehicles as Joel Coen’s Tragedy of Macbeth, Pedro Almódovar’s Parallel Mothers and Joachim Trier’s Palme d’Or–nominated The Worst Person in the World.) Afterward, take the edge off any unintended subtext with dinner at the West Village location of , an Italian charmer known for attracting its share of cinema giants and serving a killer tonnarelli cacio e pepe. Finish the evening with a nightcap at the atop the Meatpacking District’s Standard Hotel, whose glamorous decor and glittery views ought to make you feel like your evening was art-directed by a Hollywood veteran.
My best Valentine’s Day in NYC: It involved two dinners at the West Village's now-defunct Blue Ribbon Bakery sandwiching a Film Forum screening of Fat City, the tale of a bottomed-out boxer (Stacey Keach) and his about-to-bottom-out protégé (Jeff Bridges).** What can I say? I’m a romantic.
Dating in NYC…is inevitably memorable. —Lane Meyer
Staten Island Ferry. Photo, Malcolm Brown
The Date: Grab a beer and a hot dog at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal and then board the . Once in Staten Island, have dinner at , aka Nonnas of the World, where each night a different grandmother specializing in a particular regional cuisine is the designated cook. If you can’t get a table here, try or as a backup. If your date is a fan of The Sopranos, buy tickets to St. George Theatre, where brings together cast members on February 12 at 8pm. Afterward, discuss your shared love for Michael Imperioli over a nightcap at . —Frances “Baby” Houseman
*Any similarities between our staff members and the rom-com characters they have chosen as pseudonyms is purely coincidental.
**May not have occurred on Valentine’s Day, but probably should have.