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The 6 Best Unique Dates In NYC

Sure, you could take your special someone to the new Woody Allen film and argue about whether or not it lived up to the hype over a plate of pad thai, but in a city this magnificent, the romantic possibilities are endless. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite unique dates around town—as always, leave yours in the comments.

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Randall’s Island (Courtesy sissnitz’s flickr)

RANDALL’S ISLAND: When this strip of land in the East River isn’t packed with people attending mud-saturated concertsquirky art fairs and celebrations of giant slabs of meat, outdoorsy types will discover it’s a pretty romantic spot to spend the afternoon, even if you’re not down with a Parks Department strip party. Head over the RFK Bridge on foot or by bike (you’re supposed to walk your bike over the bridge, but it seems that many scoff at that law without incident), or take the new 103rd Street footbridge if you’re coming from Manhattan. Then, you and your special someone can spend a day exploring the salt marsh, freshwater wetlands, gardens, waterfront and other natural landscapes on the island before hitting up the batting cages and trying to outdo each others’ slugging averages.

Randall’s Island can be accessed via the RFK Bridge, the 103rd Street Footbridge, or using public transportation via the M35 bus; see randallsisland.org for details.

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(Gary Burke.‘s flickr)

STATEN ISLAND FERRY AND SURROUNDING AREA: We’ve mentioned time and time again that the Staten Island Ferry goes above and beyond the typical commute when it comes to luuuuuurve—hell, even Bloomberg got cozy on the water with his female friends back in the day. Hop on at Whitehall Terminal for free, buy a couple $4 beers and step onto one of the ferry’s many amorous (and endangered!) outdoor decks, so you and your special lady or gent can get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty and a spectacular Manhattan skyline.

Once you hit land, spend some time on the Island with your date. Split a vodka pizza ($17) at Pier 76, which is jointly operated by the son of Staten Island pizziaolo heavyweight Gerry Pappalardo of Joe & Pat’s. The Italian restaurant is located a short walk from the terminal, and boasts tasty, affordable grub right on the water. Or, if you’re in the mood for something fancy, stroll over to nearby Ruddy and Dean for a 16 ounce New York strip steak. And for a real treat (and if it’s still minor league baseball season) you and your date should check out aStaten Island Yankees game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, also located just a short walk from the ferry terminal; tickets are cheap, and they’ve got fireworks after every game.

The Staten Island Ferry is free, and runs daily from the Whitehall Terminal at 4 South Street in Lower Manhattan. See the schedule at nyc.gov.

THE TRIVIA DATE: There’s no end to NYC bars’ trivia night selection, and if you’d like to flex your Wikipedia-earned knowledge in front of your date, consider swinging by one such night in your neighborhood (the promise of a free pitcher of beer’s nothing to sneer at, either). Manhattan trivia guru Mad Tim hosts weekly Thunderdome nights all over the city, with bars including Finnerty’s in the East Village and Biddy’s Pub on the Upper East Side; prizes are awarded for team name in addition to trivial smarts, which is a plus for the punny.

In Brooklyn, check out Tuesday night trivia at The Charleston in Williamsburg, where winners can procure free shots, bar tabs and pizza, in addition to wackier household items like snuggies and children’s toys, or the slightly-more-difficult Sunday night trivia at Pacific Standard in Park Slope. And if you’re looking to test your noggin and your libido, sex toy emporium Babeland hosts sporadic sex-ed trivia nights, typically on Friday nights at their Lower East Side location, with sexxxy prizes awarded to the brightest minds when it comes to being safe and skilled in the sack.

NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN: The NYBG is one of the biggest botanical gardens in America, boasting 250 acres of gardens, marshes, greenhouses and laboratories fit for a day-long romantic stroll. For a $10 grounds pass, you can take your date on a walk through woodland wonders like the nearly mile-long Azalea Garden, or marvel at the maze-like Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, or meander through the 50-acre forest and stare up at the trees. If you spring for the $20 All Gardens Pass ticket, the two of you can pretend you’re traveling the world together in the climate-controlled Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which features 11 distinct habitats for plants from all over.

When you’re done wandering on foot, take the all-encompassing narrated tram tour, which is covered by the All Gardens Pass ticket. You two can snuggle up on a seat, ride through the gardens and learn about the history and horticulture behind all the beautiful flora and fauna.

The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. Take the Metro-North Harlem local line to Botanical Garden Station or follow the other instructions listed on their website.

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Xi’an Famous Foods Liang Pi (Jamie Feldmar/Gothamist)

THE FLUSHING FOOD MALLS: This date might best suit a pair of bonafide foodies, but even if you’re not a duo hellbent on Instagramming all your meals, these Queens food meccas make for a fun—and if you don’t happen to speak Mandarin or Cantonese, certainly adventurous—day out. Hop on the 7 train and head out to Flushing, where you’ll find heaps of hand-pulled noodles, fluffy dumplings, sweet pastries and some indescribable grub for the eating. If you’re desperate for a guide, we’ve previously rounded up some spots to check out at the Golden Shopping Mall and New World Mall (sadly, the Savor Fusion Mall is no more), though when in doubt, steer yourselves towards the counters with the longest lines, and you won’t be disappointed.

The Golden Shopping Mall is located at 41-28 Main Street and the New World Mall is located at 40-21 Main Street in Flushing, Queens.

GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY: Even if the tantalizing Freudian connection between eros and death doesn’t turn you on, this 478-acre South Brooklyn historical landmark is actually a fairly picturesque and, dare I say, peaceful spot for new lovers to check out together. Sprawling green space, gothic mausoleums and hilltop vistas help make Green-Wood a rural haven comparable to Prospect and Central Parks, save for the throngs of tourists and (living) bodies, of course.

Bring your date on one of the cemetery’s bi-weekly historic trolley tours ($15) outlining the lives of battles fought and New York bigwigs buried on the grounds—permanent residents of Green-Wood include corrupt Tammany Hall politician Boss Tweed, composer Leonard Bernstein and famed educator Horace Greeley—or hold out for their sporadic moonlit walking tours for an added dash of romance. Post-visit, the two of you can swing by the Greenwood Park beer garden in neighboring Park Slope, and ponder the fleeting nature of life over a cold brew.

Green-Wood Cemetery is located at 500-25th Street between Fourth and Fifth Ave in Brooklyn (718-768-7300,green-wood.com).

Contact the author of this article or email tips@gothamist.com with further questions, comments or tips.
By Rebecca Fishbein in  on Jul 31, 2013 12:08 PM
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