Where to Go on a Date This Summer in NYC

After swiping right, keep the heat going with these summer date ideas.

New York City is opening up again, and so are your options. If you’ve recently been through a COVID breakup (they’re Pfizer, you’re Moderna—you were star-crossed lovers!), if you’re in dire need of some fresh dating ideas post-quarantine, or if you’re just really, really, really ready to make out with strangers again, we’ve rounded up our favorite ways to make dating in NYC as fun as it can possibly be. 

Have a hot dog eating contest for two at Coney Island’s minor league baseball stadium, order one ice cream float with two straws at the Ample Hills’ co-founders new sweet spot, or go full-court romance with a classical music concert lit only by candles. We can’t promise your date will be actually cool, but at least the venue will be!

Take them out to the (affordable) ballgame

Summer-long
Coney Island
Seats for the Yankees might be out of the budget, but a Brooklyn Cyclones ticket leaves you with enough left over to buy a few rounds of beer. This minor league team’s home turf is in the heart of Coney Island, so they’ve got Nathan’s dogs and Brooklyn beers right in the stadium. After the game, ride the tooth-rattling Cyclone the team is named for and then watch the fireworks from the sand (sounds like the perfect chance to lean in for first base).
Cost: Tickets start at $10

Catch a rerun of a Black cinema favorite

June 9 - 20
Multiple Locations
The Tribeca Festival’s Borough to Borough program is bringing free movie screenings to the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn on a 40-foot state-of-the-art LED screen. With a spotlight on Puerto Rican films and a selection of Black cinema faves (Shaft, Dead Presidents, Daughters of the Dust…), you can take your date to the movies without having to brave a crowded theater. Bonus tip: A pre-movie trip to Duane Reade to stock up on candy is always appreciated.
Cost: Free with ticket

Esme
Photo courtesy of Esme

Find love in one of the city's hidden restaurant gardens

Citywide
Multiple Locations
Planning a romantic dinner al fresco? NYC has more outdoor dining options than ever, and we’re here to help you find the one that’s perfect for your date. We’ve rounded up our favorite hidden patios and secret courtyards at bars and restaurants all over the city —they’re just right for flirting, first kisses, long conversations, and even popping the most romantic question of all time: Should we get two desserts and split them?
Cost: Varies

Celebrate the return of SummerStage

Summer-long
Multiple Locations
SummerStage is back in the city’s parks for 2021! With performances from the Sun Ra Arkestra, a South Asian double-feature of Monsoon Wedding and Falu, and a dance showcase, there’s something new for you and your summer love to see all season. To maintain social distancing and safety regulations, even free shows will require a ticket. If you can’t make it—or if the show’s sold out—you can cuddle up on the couch and stream the live performances on SummerStage Anywhere
Cost: Most shows are free; tickets required

Try a trendy new spot in the Rockaways

Summer-long
The Rockaways
A meal at Margie’s, the new restaurant in The Rockaway Hotel, is ideal for those whose Tinder profiles suggest they like long walks on the beach. Order a round of oysters from the raw bar, share a plate of scallops a la plancha, and sip on cocktails like the Shark Bite, with ghost pepper tequila and watermelon, and the Golden Hour Manhattan, with rye and espresso, to get that last-minute-tropical-vacation feeling without leaving the five boroughs.
Cost: Mains start at $18; specialty cocktails start at $14

Pick out your Valentine's Day gift well in advance

Summer-long
American Museum of Natural History
Thinking about proposing? Then you might want to wait to take a stroll through the recently-revamped and reopened Hall of Gems, where over 5,000 sparkly specimens will put that 1.5-carat cushion cut into perspective. Reserve a timed-entry ticket and join the “virtual line” as soon as you get there—spots for the exhibit are first come, first served, and you don’t want to miss your shot to see the 563-carat Star of India sapphire. 
Cost: Timed-entry tickets are $23

Go full rom-com with a candlelit concert

Summer-long
Multiple Locations
Up the romance factor with Candlelight Concerts, an over-the-top, made-for-the-’Gram, rom-com level date. Classical musicians perform by candlelight over dinner at Leuca, on the Mondrian Terrace, or in the Church of the Heavenly Rest—all you have to do is show up for instant Kenny G-in-Kim’s-mansion vibes. If you’re not into Vivaldi or Mozart, they’ll be playing concerts of anime themes, animated movie soundtracks, and Beatles songs. 
Cost: Tickets start at $45

Taste local food from all over the world

Saturdays, Summer-long
The Bronx
Not sure what your date likes to eat? Head to the Bronx Night market, where tons of vendors are slinging food and drinks from over twenty countries. A rotating cast of small and micro local businesses—including Hungarican Hotspot, Mysttik Masaala, and C Bao —let you try a little bit of everything. Wander around Fordham Plaza, listen to live performances, and you might even spot a pop-up Pfizer vaccination site. 
Cost: Free to enter with reserved tickets; cost of food and drink varies

"Zoë Tirado: Ghoulfriends" | Snug Harbor Cultural Center

Head to a hidden art show on Staten Island

Through July 25
Staten Island
Zoë Tirado: Ghoulfriends, an exhibition at Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, celebrates the “underground, creative, queer, and diverse” people of NYC’s second favorite island borough. Tirado’s paintings and mixed media pieces are on display in the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, so you can sneak in for a peek while wandering the gorgeous grounds of Snug Harbor. The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden located on the grounds is also particularly romantic, so pack a picnic and be prepared to wow your date after getting to Staten Island for free via the ferry.
Cost: Admission is $5

Take your date to hang poolside

Monday - Friday after 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday after 3 pm
SoHo
The reopened JIMMY is debuting its recently-revamped rooftop pool deck for those who want to dip their toes back into the downtown scene. High on the 18 floor of the ModernHaus SoHo Hotel, you can sip a watermelon frosé (that would be rosé mixed with vodka), or a Red Eye to Rio with cachaça and coffee liqueur. The pool deck is only open to guests in the afternoon, so plan your date for after the sun goes down. 
Cost: Cocktails are $19

Share a float at an old-school soda fountain

Opens summer ‘21
Prospect Heights
Jackie Cuscuna and Brian Smith, the co-founders of scoop shop Ample Hills, are opening the Social, a brand-new sweets venture in Brooklyn. Featuring more than 20+ flavors of ice cream; fresh, warm donuts made in-house; and a soda fountain with homemade syrups, you can sip an ice cream float with your sweetheart just like the olden days. With plans to open in July, keep an eye on their progress and stay updated on upcoming flavors on IG
Cost: Depends how many scoops you ge

Bring your vaccinated date to a live comedy show

Summer-long
Park Slope
If you’ve been missing live comedy—or if you just need a low-key first date idea—Union Hall is back, vaxxed, and ready to make you laugh. With comedy headliners including Yedoye Travis and Sydnee Washington, you can book a pair of tickets and put your shiny new Excelsior Passes to good use. Proof of full vaccination is required for all shows, although seating is still socially distanced. (That just means you’ll have a little more privacy to canoodle in the dark!)
Cost: Tickets start at $15

Show off your good taste at a show for emerging artists

Through August 1
Hudson Yards
Open Call, The Shed’s celebration of emerging artists, is the place to take your artsy date who’s got an eye for what’s up-and-coming. Catch a chamber choral text performance from Nazarath Hassan, a reflection on Black interiority from Ladi’Sasha Jones, a filmed sequence of sonnets from Cindy Tran, and more. For those who prefer to find a way to be romantic without having to leave home, select performances will be available online at the Open Call Livestream
Cost: Free; tickets required

Check out the new park along an unsung waterway

Summer-long
Greenpoint
Not quite ready to date indoors? Take a day trip to Under the K Park, instead, a newly-opened green space beneath the Kosciuszko bridge. You can spend a Sunday afternoon volunteering or just take a leisurely stroll while admiring the views. Enter the park at the "The Arm" at Meeker and Van Dam Avenue, then head down to the waterfront with a greasy, transcendent paper bag full of Peter Pan donuts or a couple of slices from Paulie Gee’s
Cost: Free

Grab a lobster dinner on City Island

Summer-long
The Bronx
City Island, at only one-and-half miles long by a half-mile wide, is the Bronx’s answer to Montauk. Known for its quaint Victorian houses and super-fresh seafood, it makes for a magical, surprising date. Take the 6 train to the end of the line, then hop the Bx29 to City Island (or, you know, spring for a cab...) to grab a romantic dinner at the City Island Lobster House.  
Cost: Entrees start at $30

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Rachel Pelz is a contributor for Thrillist. 
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