It may not be the City of Love, but New York City is quite romantic in its own right. Places like Central Park, the Empire State Building, and well-known restaurants and bars are typical romantic go-tos here, and while visiting Bethesda Fountain for people watching or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge are tried-and-true ideas, there’s so much more underneath the surface. In a city that spans 302 square miles, there are tons of dreamy places for a unique date or Valentine’s Day to remember. Here are six of our favorite underrated romantic spots around New York City.
1. Randall’s Island Cherry Blossom Festival
If you can’t make it to Japan for the cherry blossom season, New York has several locations of its own where you can view the bloom. One of the best spots in the city for this is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but its popularity means that during its annual cherry blossom festival, it’ll be packed to the brink. Instead, head to Randall’s Island with your special someone to get all the fun of a cherry blossom festival with flower viewing, paper flower making, face painting, kite flying, balloon fishing, and performances — without massive crowds. Usually, there’s food available but pack your own meal and you can have a lovely picnic under the pink flowers. And when you want time alone, Randall’s Island is large enough that you can have space to yourselves without any interruption.
Where: Randall’s Island. To get there, walk across one of the footbridges or take the M35 bus
2. Deno’s Wonder Wheel, Coney Island
There’s a reason why so many romance movies have scenes involving Ferris wheels! Named one of the most romantic rides in the world, the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island is a surefire way to impress whoever you’re with. It’s spontaneous, fun, and romantic all wrapped into one, giant 150-foot-tall wheel. It was built in 1920 based on engineer Charles Herman’s designs and has been designated a New York City Landmark. The Wonder Wheel also has the added benefit of awe-inspiring views both during the day and at night. So, instead of going to the usual observation decks like Top of the Rock and One World Observatory, hit the Wonder Wheel for a beautiful and unique view of the Manhattan skyline.
Where: 3059 W 12th St, Brooklyn, NY 11224
3. Museum of Sex
You wouldn’t think that a museum dedicated to intercourse would be the epitome of romance, but the Museum of Sex is a surprisingly romantic place that can help ease any intimacy worries between you and your partner. Opened in 2002, the first museum dedicated to sex in the US aims to provide an open dialogue about sex. There are tons of history and information available for visitors to take in by means of its rotating exhibitions, library, and extensive permanent collection of art, photography, clothing, inventions, and historical ephemera. By diving into all things sex-related, you’ll become more knowledgeable and in touch with the facets of human sexuality, which is the museum’s mission to begin with. Daily admission costs $20.50 per person.
Where: 233 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016
4. New York Botanical Garden
Right in the heart of the Bronx is the New York Botanical Garden, arguably one of NYC’s best green spaces. It was established back in 1891 after botanist Nathaniel Britton and Elizabeth Britton visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. Now a National Historic Landmark, the 250-acre garden is the largest city garden in the US. It contains over 50 specialized gardens and collections, greenhouses, and conservatories, housing more than a million plants. The Botanical Gardens’ vast land means that you and your significant other won’t be bothered by crowds and there’s nothing like being solely surrounded by nature to bring you closer together. Ticket prices depend on if you’re visiting on a weekday or weekend, age, and what kind of pass you want. While it’s a bit pricey (the most expensive at $28 for an adult on a weekend), the All-Garden Pass provides access to the grounds, the conservatory, rock garden, native plant garden, galleries, any and all current exhibits, and a tram tour.
Where: 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458
5. The Cloisters
Taking a trip up to the Heights will definitely be worth your while, especially if you visit the Met Cloisters. Located in Fort Tryon Park and overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters are a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Spring and the tail end of winter are the best times to visit for a romantic day out as you’ll see the greenery in the center courtyard coming back to life. The price of admission is $25 for adults, $17 for people ages 65 and over, $12 for students, and free for children under 12. After you’re done marveling at the wonders of medieval Europe, explore and relax in the scenic park, and then head to one of the nearby Hispanic restaurants for some delicious food.
Where: 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040
6. Grand Central’s Whispering Gallery
Grand Central is one of Manhattan’s main transportation hubs, with hundreds of trains and over 700,000 passengers passing through it each day. People mainly pay attention to the terminal’s main concourse, designed as a tunnel vault with gorgeous Beaux Arts architecture, celestial ceiling murals, and large semicircular windows that allow for ample natural light. But off to the side, on a ramp that leads to the lower concourses, is the Whispering Gallery. The archways with Guastavino tile work create an unusual audio effect, allowing a person to stand in one corner and whisper something that can only be heard by someone in the opposite corner. Grand Central is a unique place to take someone special, and heading over to the Whispering Gallery will let you whisper sweet nothings to each other. This allows you both to have a private moment amidst the madness of people creating endless noise.
Where: Right outside of the Oyster Bar inside Grand Central, 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017