Fun Date Ideas to Celebrate Valentine's Day in NYC

Name a cockroach after your lovebug (or pest of an ex), naughty dessert shops, ‘Titanic’ in 3D, and more.

Love & Lust Deity Derby at Super Funland
Photo courtesy of Museum of Sex
Photo courtesy of Museum of Sex

As SZA declared, “it’s cuffing season.” That is to say, now is the time to get hot and heavy and fall in love. And along with embracing romantic dates ideal for winter, like ice skating, hitting up the city’s weekly crop of exciting restaurant openings, and keeping an eye on hot new listings from Eventbrite, there are plenty of fun and innovative ways to celebrate the climax of the season, Valentine’s Day.

With the big day fast approaching, we don’t blame you if you’re stressed from all of the pressures to plan the perfect date. That’s why we’ve rounded up plenty of ways to embrace the romance of this holiday in full force, be it with your partner(s), besties, or on your own. From a good, old-fashioned dinner date to an erotic carnival to salacious sweets, here are the best dates ideas in NYC to spark romance this Valentine’s Day.

Sugar Wood
Woody and Kitty waffles from Sugar Wood | Photo courtesy of Sugar Wood

Swap candy hearts for goodies from a new style of bakery: naughty dessert shop

Lower East Side and SoHo
Regardless of relationship status, everyone has a right to partake in sweets during this pseudo candy-industry-created holiday. And to take things up a notch this V-Day, drop by some NYC bakeries forging a new type of category: naughty dessert shops serving sultry baked goods all year long. At Kinky’s Dessert Bar in the Lower East Side, cheekily-designed signature items include the Turn Me On tongue cupcake and Va-JayJay waffles. And at Sugar Wood in SoHo, along with their standard intricate baked goods, they’re featuring a WAP themed cookie set throughout the month of February. One way or another, you’ll be salivating.
Cost: Ranging from $4 for individual desserts to $165 for boxes and cakes

Watch the theatrical 3D re-release of cinema’s greatest love story

Starting Thursday, February 9
Various locations
Nothing says heart-wrenching romance like forbidden love, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s undeniable chemistry, and Celine Dion’s vocal range. Just in time for V-Day, Titanic is being rereleased in theaters in 3D for its 25th anniversary since premiering. The iconic flick is playing in theaters citywide, like iPiC in FiDi; multiple Regal theaters including Union Square, Battery Park, and Astoria; as well as the AMC in Midtown West. Afterwards, put your love to the test and debate with your date on contentious topics like whether or not Jack could have fit on the door or if Rose should have thrown her necklace into the ocean.
Cost: Varies

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches | Photo by Julie Larsen Maher

Through Valentine’s Day, and Saturday, February 11, 6 pm–7:30 pm
The Bronx
Fun fact: cockroaches have been around since the dinosaurs, and they’ll most likely outlast any relationship-related love (or trauma) we have. This V-Day, memorialize your new lovebug (or insect-like ex!) at the Bronx Zoo with their quirky holiday tradition of naming a Madagascar hissing cockroach after a significant other (complete with a digital certificate). Accessorize the momentous occasion with a tote or tumbler from event’s merch collection, before capping the affair with Roach Romance, a special after-hours stroll while sampling sustainably grown chocolate and wine.
Cost: Starting at $15 for the certificate, $120 per couple to Roach Romance

OIJI MI | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Go classic with a nice dinner, or opt for packages with a private chauffeur and jazz performance

Through Valentine’s Day
Various locations
Sometimes, all a V-Day dinner date needs is the basics: delicious food and a romantic atmosphere at the city’s top eateries. But when it comes to special offerings for the holiday this year, our faves are: chef Rodrigo Fernandini’s stellar Peruvian restaurant, Artesano, for a seven-course tasting menu with ceviche and short ribs; the MICHELIN starred Korean spot, OIJI MI, to feast on oysters for two; Smith & Wollensky to dig into Filet Mignon; Aldama in Williamsburg for a Mexican menu with black truffle-infused Vegan Mole; and Lagos Restaurant & Lounge in Times Square for Nigerian offerings and the Love in Lagos package featuring a private chauffeur, jazz performance, and lavish 10-course meal. Just make sure to book a reservation in advance.
Cost: Varies, Lagos packages starting at $296.38

Love & Lust Deity Derby at Super Funland
Love & Lust Deity Derby at Super Funland | Photo courtesy of Museum of Sex

Saturday, February 11 through Valentine’s Day
Arouse your artsy side and get creative juices flowing at the Museum of Sex, where special Love High packages (available for singles or couples) include essential tools like aphrodisiac cocktails, lubrication, and THC or CBD gummies. Bundled in is admission to their titillating galleries as well as access to the new exhibit Super Funland. The four-floor erotic carnival is adorned with a RuPaul fortune teller, an erogenous kaleidoscope, mechanical bull, and more.
Cost: $57 for singles, $114 per couple

The Ritz Carlton New York, NoMad
A Blossoming Love package | Photo courtesy of The Ritz Carlton New York, NoMad

Saturday, February 11 through Valentine’s Day
If there’s ever a good time to cosplay as a rich person, V-Day is it. Just beware: this one is not for the faint of heart. Live lavishly for a night at The Ritz Carlton New York, NoMad, where they’re offering their first ever V-Day package titled A Blossoming Love. Along with an overnight stay in a room offering breathtaking city views and decked out with an assembly of 1,000 roses, there’s also a custom spa treatment. Finish off the evening with reserved seating at the Ritz’s swanky bar Nubeluz for a nightcap before falling asleep against a picturesque skyline knowing its back to frozen chicken nuggets for the rest of the year.
Cost: Starting at $30,000 per night for The Ritz-Carlton Suite and $8,000 per night for The Liberty Suite. To reserve, email or call 212-404-8400

Photo courtesy of Emmett’s

Keep it cheesy with a heart-shaped pizza

Through Valentine’s Day
Various Locations
In a city known for its iconic slice joints, this time of year, a heart-shaped pizza is basically a V-Day rite of passage. To get down with this perfectly casual but effortlessly romantic NYC dinner, head over to the family-owned and operated Ivana’s Pizzeria in Bronx Little Italy; Chicago-style pizzerias Emmett’s in the South Village and Emmett’s on Grove in the West Village; or Eataly in FiDi.
Cost: Starting at $20 per pie

Apotheke bar
Apotheke bar | Photo by Art Gray

Sunday, February 12, 3 pm5 pm
Instead of diving straight into vodka sodas at a dive, start the evening with a bit of sophistication and hands-on experience at the speakeasy-style bar Apotheke. At an interactive mixology class specifically tailored to V-Day—think romantic ingredients like champagne, strawberries, and rosé paired with the bar’s own APO Libido Bitters—shake up four cocktails on your own while taking in the beauty of the opulent botanical-forward craft cocktail destination on the legendary alley of Doyers Street. Getting tipsy together is way more fun when you’ve worked for it, and the great news is you can jump right into vodka sodas afterwards.
Cost: $193.30 per ticket

Lazy Sundaes.
Lazy Sundaes | Photo courtesy of Canal Street Market

If an intimate, sit-down dinner isn’t your kind of thing, we get it. Skip the prolonged eye contact and take the pressure off by perusing Canal Street Market. The food hall and retail market features a range of cuisines from a burgeoning number of AAPI vendors, with hand rolls at Matsunori; tacos at Filipino-inspired taqueria Mucho Sarap; and Thai dish Khao Man Gai at Betong. Finish the food tour with special V-Day-only desserts like heart-shaped bonbons in flavors like mocha latte, Yakult, and ube from Daniel Corpuz Chocolatier; or shareable bingsoo sundaes in flavors like Red Velvet Latte and Dark Chocolate Raspberry from Lazy Sundaes.
Cost: Varies

Monday, February 13 and Valentine’s Day, 6 pm–7 pm
Red Hook
Raaka Chocolate Factory, which is 100% vegan and only uses single origin cacao, is hosting a hand-dipped chocolate class for couples, where guests will learn to temper their own chocolate and use it to douse truffles and beloved Oishii Omakase strawberries while sipping on a complimentary glass of wine. Take home the batch of goods and how it’s used afterwards is totally up to you.
Cost: $65 per ticket

Purgatory bar | Photo by Jenna Stebbins

Get your heartbeat racing on the dance floor of this inclusive party

Valentine’s Day, 7 pm–10pm
To get out of the house this time of year without sacrificing morale, stay warm by dancing all night long at the two-story Bushwick space Purgatory, known for its inclusive queer environment, electric indie shows, and drag performances. The spot is hosting “Gay Yearning: A Queer Valentine's Day Dance and Social” on V-Day. While there, take a break from the dance floor and get a glimpse into the future of your relationship status at a tarot reading, done by astrologer Marisol Vibración. Whether you’re with your honey or flying solo to meet your future spouse, expect to dance it out.
Cost: Starting at $18.07 per ticket

Valentine’s Day, 8 pm
It may be a new year, but some of us already need a break from reality. So, escape the current chaos and head back to the ‘80s with the ultimate indie rock band. Performance hub The Bell House is back with their Valentines Day with The Smiths event, featuring The Smiths Tribute NYC band. Revisit your emo phase with your loved one and jam out to a guy who acts and sounds just like Morrissey. You won’t have to dream about somebody loving you because they’ll be right by your side, swaying to the music all night long.
Cost: $30.57 per ticket

Treatment Room at THE WELL
Treatment Room at THE WELL | Photo by Grant Legan

Union Square
Forgo all the V-Day hubbub this year and head straight to a spa for some TLC. THE WELL in Union Square offers a range of massages designed to soothe sore muscles and release tension as well as couple’s foot rubs that dig into pressure points. You and your partner will enter such a blissful state, it may be your most memorable V-Day yet. After your treatments, hit up THE WELL’s Kitchen & Table for their organic, seasonally-driven menu featuring nourishing plates like their Wild Alaskan Salmon and Cauliflower Fried Rice bowl. Book your massages here.
Cost: Starting at $200 per solo massage, and $60 per solo foot rub

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Kelsey Allen is an editorial assistant at Thrillist.