Most people come to Manhattan to grow careers, chase dreams, find themselves, exploit the latest Instagram food trend… Bad news if you’re looking for a meaningful relationship, but great news if you are looking for a vibrant dating scene. Thousands of singles are just a swipe away with dating apps like Tinder, and there are plenty of options for the perfect date with a sexy stranger.
The Leisurely East Village Lunch
From servers to freelancers, there is an endless stream of New Yorkers with plenty of free time to kill during the weekdays, making lunch a go-to Tinder date. The East Village, historic home to early immigrant cultures and current home to dive bars and a thriving neo-punk scene is an eclectic backdrop to shake up your daytime date. Start with lunch at BBar and Grill, an outdoor enclave patio bistro that feels like a reprieve from the bustling city streets. Post grub, head to the unofficial campus of NYU — Washington Square Park, to chill in the grass or catch a variety of street performers, from acrobats to magicians to full brass bands.
The Post Work Midtown Happy Hour
On the other hand, many Manhattanites are full-blown 9-to-5ers, living for a post-work, perfectly chilled, perfectly priced cocktail. For some midtown magic, head to Hell’s Kitchen spot Reunion Surf Bar. Suits may abound, but the beach inspired décor would make even the highest power Wall Street trader feel at ease; especially with the casual fare and happy hour prices that last from 5:30pm to 8pm Monday through Friday. If you have some time to plan ahead (and you’re under 35), take advantage of all that the Theater District has to offer and score killer seats to a Broadway show with youth theater deals.
Looking for a post-show bite or drink? The Knickerbocker Hotel’s St. Cloud Social Rooftop is so pretty it even makes chaotic, neon Times Square feel romantic.
The Chilled Out West Village Drinks
Swiped a match with a weeknight to spare and a competitive streak? A casual night in the West Village sets the scene. Meet for cocktails at Art Bar, low-key bar with a casual front room and a semi-secret, sultry, beatnik-inspired back room. Start the night over candlelit martinis (they have almost 20 to choose from) and if all goes well, move to the back room for a cozier setting, complete with fireplace. Since you’re in arguably the most romantic neighborhood of New York City, take advantage of the abundant greenery (for New York City, anyway), ambient lighting, beautiful townhouses and cobblestone with a stroll through the seemingly endless winding streets. Find your way to Fat Cat, a subterranean bar that charges a $3 cover to gain entry to something reminiscent of your cool uncle’s basement; filled with pool tables, ping pong tables, shuffleboard and more. This is a fun spot to let loose a little and a great opportunity to amp up your flirting. There is usually a live jazz band playing and a beer and wine bar that serves the Korean adult beverage, Soju (a great way to feel out how adventurous your date is).
The Artsy Lower East Side Excursion
Manhattan’s cutthroat art scenes draw, you guessed it, artists. For an authentic art night, set the tone with the unmarked small-plate Filipino-Thai restaurant, Kuma Inn. Pro tip: call ahead for a reservation in this tiny eatery and be sure to take advantage of the BYOB policy: Beer, Wine and Sake ($5 corkage fee/bottle). From there, hit the gallery-filled streets to window browse avant-garde pieces from experimental up-and-coming artists and try your hand at sneaking into an opening or two, where you can score free wine, if you’re lucky. If the two of you are in a frisky mood, head to a burlesque show at vaudeville-esque theater The Slipper Room or squeeze into one at the smaller, more intimate Nurse Bettie (which happens to be next door to the real deal speakeasy, The Back Room).
The Weekend Save-a-Buck Upper West Side Outing
Craving a day in the sun (and a rest for your wallet)? For the perfect summertime weekend date, head to the suburbs of New York City, aka The Upper West Side. The slower-paced atmosphere and pre-war architecture will win over even the most cynical Manhattan-dweller. While the setting seems super fancy, the ultimate cheap date option awaits: Central Park. Pack a picnic and hit the Great Lawn, Manhattan’s answer to a beach (sunbathers included) Stroll the tree-lined Mall and Literary Walk, browse the thousands of adopted bench plaques and challenge one another to find the most poetic messages, visit the seals at the Central Park Zoo (you don’t even have to pay the entry fee to gaze at them) or explore Belvedere Castle. You can also try your hand for free Shakespeare in the Park tickets through the online lottery or pick a day when the park is screening an outdoor summer movie.
The Lavish Flatiron Flat Out Impresser
So, you’ve done it, you’ve swiped into the 1%. The Big Apple is filled with trust fund babies, entrepreneurs, small business owners, models and moguls. Now, how do you impress your swanky date? Nab a reservation for bespoke cocktails at dimly lit, luxuriously seductive speakeasy Raines Law Room. After a few cocktails, make your way to dinner at the see-and-be seen Mediterranean restaurant, Ilili. End the night by scoring tickets (they’ll cost you) to sultry and secretive parlor room illusionist show, The Magician at The NoMad.