5 NYC Date Ideas That Go Beyond Dinner And Drinks

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Well, we made it through January, which means that it’s time to start looking ahead to—nope, not spring weather just yet, though that’s a good guess. For now I’m talking about Valentine’s Day. It’s perhaps an odd topic for me to cover, as I wouldn’t exactly call myself a romantic—at least not in the traditional sense of the word.  I do, however, love doing fun and creative things in the city, and on Valentine’s Day that translates beautifully into fun and creative dates. For those of you who are looking to plan something a little bit outside the box—whether it be with a longtime significant other, a new flame you don’t quite know what to call, or a group of friends—here are five “date” ideas that go beyond your typical dinner and drinks.

Go Wine Tasting

Wine tasting is a perfect date for those of you who, while bored with the usual dinner/drinks combo, can’t imagine leaving the drinks out entirely. And why would you want to do that?  Wine is fabulous.

In all seriousness, wine tasting is a great date because it gives you and your partner something to discuss, which can be key on early dates in particular. It also gives you something to explore together. The picking of the wines alone involves a host of coordinated decisions—Red, white, or sparkling? Same or different selections? Then there is the tasting itself, which provides plenty of potential for “interaction,” or as I like to call it, sharing wine and maybe more.

A lot of places in the city offer wine tasting flights, but my favorite is a little French bar in the West Village called Amelie. It can get very crowded during happy hour, but it’s worth the wait for a spot.  Not only can you make up a flight from any of the wines on the menu (and there are quite a few); the pours are incredibly generous, and, during happy hour, reduced price.

Amelie is located at 22 West 8th Street (between MacDougal and 5th Avenue) in Manhattan.

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Play Board Games At A Bar

I love board games, so I’ll play them in pretty much any setting. On a date though, it’s so much more fun to play at a bar than alone in one of your apartments. The atmosphere makes for a much livelier competition, and you’ll want an audience for that moment when you nail a triple word score in Scrabble and your date realizes just how brilliant you are.

Playing board games in public also makes for great flirtation, or at least that’s been my experience. In fact, I once found myself on a date that didn’t start out as a date and only turned into one after several intense games of Sorry! and Connect Four at Dive 75. We both went home winners that night, as you might have guessed.

Dive 75 is located at 101 West 75th Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam).  Other options in the city include The Uncommons in Greenwich Village (230 Thompson Street), and the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg (where, in addition to games, you can take a free tour—79 North 11th Street).

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Stargaze

When the weather is nice, my favorite place to do this is the High Line, which is at its most beautiful when the sun is setting and all of the buildings around it begin to light up. In the wintertime, however, it’s a little too cold to linger and wait for the stars to come out. This is where Columbia University comes in. Every other Friday during the school year they offer free public lectures and guided stargazing on the rooftop. It’s the perfect combination of romantic and totally geeky if I do say so myself (and I say that as a woman who loves to geek out). And while yes, as you might have guessed, the roof is outside, they also have Q&A and slide shows inside during that part of the evening, so you can rotate between them as you need respite from the cold.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I haven’t attended one of these nights myself yet so can’t vouch for them personally. They are, however, on my New York City bucket list—so I can get back to you when I do. Either way, you can’t dispute that it’s a great original date idea.

For more information on the stargazing lecture series, you can visit the Columbia Astronomy Outreach Calendar here.

Take A Museum Hack Tour

For those of you who have never heard of Museum Hack, it’s a company that does “renegade” tours in museums across the country.  And by renegade, I mean that they go well beyond the traditional facts you tend to hear on museum tours. Not that they present “alternative facts,” mind you—I assure you, they do not.  They just do a really good job of putting the art into context, and making it relatable, in a way that’s fun and quirky. It’s a perfect date for people who love culture but don’t actually know that much about it.

As someone who falls into that category myself, I can tell you that I recently took a Hack tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it was one of the most enjoyable New York experiences I’ve had. Not only did it live up to its quirky appeal (read: we started with a discussion of art that broke the Internet way before Kim Kardashian); it was a really interactive experience (read: I almost won a jousting tournament). It was also a really active one.  We were literally and figuratively on our toes the entire time, covering everything from the Greek and Roman period to Arts of Oceania to the Japanese wing.

I should also mention that, similar to almost every other date on this list, this one involved wine. Be prepared to drink fast though and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For more information on Hack Tours and to buy tickets, you can go to the Museum Hack website.

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Go On A Gallery Crawl

As an art enthusiast, I couldn’t help but include two art-themed dates on this list. But unlike the Hack tour, which is an official, organized event, the art crawl is something you can do entirely on your own, and it involves very little prep work. Essentially, all you need to do is print out a map of Lower East Side art galleries, head over, and start hopping from one gallery to the next. After two or three galleries stop at a bar, get a drink, and talk. Then repeat—as many times as you want.

The Lower East Side is a great place to do a crawl like this because there are so many galleries and bars in the area and they are so close together that you really can figure out your route as you go along. Also, unlike a lot of galleries in the city, most of the ones on the Lower East are open on Sundays. And they are free, so if you’re looking for a fun and inexpensive date, this is a great idea.

You can find a map of Lower East Side galleries on the web here. As for bars in the area, there are so many, but a few I’d recommend are Loreley (7 Rivington Street), Bonnie Vee (17 Stanton Street), and Mother’s Ruin (18 Spring Street).

By: Reagan Daly, follow along with her NYC adventures here!

p.s. in case you missed it, 5 adorable v-day breakfasts you can make in your NYC apartment, and 10 (more) affordable NYC dates!