I often get asked for date ideas and it’s actually one of my favorite topics to discuss. I love giving date ideas, especially when I can get specific about locations, venues, and places to try.
The thing is, odds are good that we don’t live in the same city, let alone the same country. The majority of my readership are from the US, but a sizable amount of my readers are from the UK and Canada. I can start listing off great date ideas and venues in New York City ’til the cows come home, but (sadly) many of you do not live here. Instead, I wanted to give you my top date ideas, ones that you can use just about anywhere. Of course, I’ll be sure to include some recommendations for NYC residents or out-of-town visitors. Keep in mind that these are *my* top 3 date ideas. So if you’re wondering why I didn’t include rock-climbing or coffee shop dates, it’s because there not my cup of tea.
1. The classic “drinks” date
Of all the types of dates I’ve been on, “grab a drink” dates are maybe the most common. It’s not that it’s a fool-proof date, or the best kind of date either. It’s probably the most common sort of date because if you are a drinker, you can find a venue that you’ll enjoy. If you and your date are into watching sports, or lounges, or burlesque, or board games, there is probably a venue you could find that you’d love. A drinks date doesn’t have to be just drinks either, you can use it as a jumping off point for another activity. Drinks before dinner. Drinks and then seeing a cool show. And so on and so on. Besides it’s versatility as a date, my favorite part about drinks dates is that they’re really easy to end. End up on a drinks date that sucks? Feel free to leave after your drink, or even in the middle.
Some NYC Recommendations:
Sports bar: Triona’s On Third. In my humble opinion, it’s the best damn sports bar in New York City. Period. I may be biased as I’ve done at least 2 different birthday parties here, but whatever. Tons of TV’s, great bar food, and it’s an actual Irish bar whose proprietors are actually Irish.
Drinks and a show: The Bell House. I could dedicate a whole post to the events that I’ve been to at The Bell House and it would be as long as most of the posts I’ve written. Instead of that, here’s a quick list of the awesome stuff they’ve usually got going on: The best hip hop dance party in Brooklyn (The Rub). Podcast tapings (Ask Me Another, The Moth, etc.). Trivia! Burlesque Shows! Comedy Shows! I seriously could go on.
Cocktails: Pegu Club. I am not a cocktail enthusiast by any means, so this recommendation is less about the cocktails and more about the venue. It’s cool, it’s lit well, and the bouncer and staff have never been terrible. That’s pretty much all you can ask for when it comes to cocktail bars, especially ones that don’t make you wait 2 hrs to get int (looking at you Death and Co. and Please Don’t Tell)
Happy Hour drinks: Sholbred’s. Two for One drinks until 8pm. Free spicy wonton chips. What else do you need? Be warned, it can get pretty crowded, but the bartenders are pretty good with dealing with crowds.
2. A tour date
What’s great about tour dates is that most of the planning is out of your hands, and you just need to tag along and have your (pre-planned) fun. I’m using tour generally because you really can find a tour for just about anything you’re interested in. Distillery tours, brewery tours, walking tours, neighborhood tours, photography tours, tours of museums, etc.
Some NYC Recommendations:
Brewery tours: Not a tour of the brewing process per se, and not even an official tour, I highly recommend the unofficial Long Island City Brewery tour: Make a stop at Transmitter, LIC Beer Project, Big aLICe Brewing, and Rockaway Brewing Company. While you’re out there, either hit up the LIC flea for food, or go to John Brown‘s for the best barbecue in all of NYC. (I highly recommend the burnt ends)
Photo tours: NYC Tours & Photo Safaris. I feel like I’ll undersell how cool these tours and photos are so I’ll just refer you to their Instagram. The Bushwick tour (check the vid) is worth the price for how cool your photos will look, PLUS the tour includes: tacos, chocolate, rum, and mexican pastries.
3. The street festival/food festival date
I actually love food and street festivals. Yes I’m aware that 90% of all street and food festivals have the same vendor-types (Arepas, Fried Oreos, Italian Sausage, etc.) but that other 10% is worth it. What’s great about these dates is that you get to walk, talk, and you’re not tied to a specific venue. If you go to a larger festival you can drop in, maybe get food or drink, and then get away from the crowd with ease.
Some NYC Recommendations:
Food Festival: Smorgasburg. Hands down my favorite food festival, though only because the Sunday festival is walking distance from my apartment. The Saturday festival is cool, I guess, but you’d really have to try hard to convince me to go to North Brooklyn these days. I mean, the food is awesome and all, even the more gimmicky stuff, but I’d be lying if I said that having the festival in Prospect Park isn’t a huge draw for me. Being able to go to a food festival, grab something tasty, then go somewhere way less crowded but still within the best park in NYC make it the best food festival. Don’t try to debate me on this.
Street Festival: Atlantic Antic. This once a year street festival is the oldest and largest street festival in Brooklyn. You really have to plan this one out for a date, but it’s worth it.
Some real quick, honorable mentions:
The walking/park date: Go on a stroll in an especially scenic part of town. This date works well in Battery Park/Battery Park City, especially at night if you visit the South Cove. And of course, there is always The High Line. Walking dates in parks are great because if you plan ahead, you can turn it into a picnic date, which is both cheap and chill. If you’re planning on doing a walking-turned-picnic part date, you really can’t go wrong with any of the larger NYC parks.
Free events (literally anything that is free): If you live somewhere that offers any sort of free cultural event, whether it’s free orchestra concerts in public parks, free concerts that aren’t orchestras, free movies in the park, even art openings (which usually have free wine/beer btw), take advantage.
One thing to remember, above all else, is to go on dates you want to go on. If you don’t like any of my ideas, don’t use any of them. I don’t like coffee dates, but maybe you do. Remember, these are my favorite date ideas, not the BEST date ideas. Do what works for you. Date in a way that makes you happy. If you like my ideas and they help you plan an awesome date, great, if they don’t, no big deal.
Good Luck Out There.
Also published on Medium.