When planning a date, the pressure is on to do something fun, creative and original. Dinner and a movie doesn’t cut it these days. Below are some unique New York ideas for shaking up the stuffy institution of dating.

 

Nearby

Go Island Hopping

Pack a picnic and head to Governors Island for a romantic afternoon. Take a stroll or bike ride around the island’s perimeter and check out the views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the New York Harbor. Play bocce, catch the Rising Waters: Photographs of Hurricane Sandy exhibit (August 24-Sept 29), presented by The International Center of Photography and the Museum of the City of New York, then spread a blanket across one of the park’s many lawns, while snacking on something you have packed with your sweetheart. Or plan a visit during the Parked: Food Truck Fest on September 5. With so many activities and cool spaces, you can’t go wrong bringing that special someone here.
How to get there: Take the free ferry from the Battery Maritime Building

Get Romantic in Rocapulco

The Rockaways aren’t what they used to be, they are much, much better. With the arrival of the burger joint Rippers, Blue Bottle Coffee and Veggie Island, the boardwalk has earned the apt nickname ‘Rocapulco.’ Rent surfboards at Boarders Surf Shop and hang ten with your honey. Reward yourself with at visit to Rockaway Taco. Have your first date here and you might find yourself telling your grandkids about it one day.
How to get there: Take the A train to the end of the line

Sail Away

If you don’t have a yacht to impress your date, the New York Beach Ferry is the next best thing. Departing holidays and weekends from Pier 11 in Manhattan, the Ferry takes you on a fun ride through New York Harbor where you will find great views of the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano Bridge and Coney Island. You will be let off at Jacob Riis Park, which is right across the street from Fort Tilden. One way tickets are $20—bring your bike (extra $5) and ride home after a day of sunbathing at the beach. Or pick up a couple kayaks ($15/each) at Wheel Fun Rentals at Riis Ferry Landing. Refreshments are available on the ferry, so make sure you treat your date to a cold one while you’re en route.
How to get there: Take the 1 train to the South Ferry stop and walk to Pier 11

Hit a Home Run

An evening at MCU park in Coney Island cheering on the Brooklyn Cyclones as they knock ‘em outta the park promises to be a classic memory. With views of the boardwalk, amusement park, and the Atlantic Ocean, there is no such thing as a bad seat at MCU park. Not to mention the minor league Cyclones are a blast to watch and cheering them on is a true New York experience. And if you’re on a budget, box seats are just $14, so this a great way to see America’s Pastime without the major league costs. At Meaningful Monday games, $3 from every ticket sold will be donated to The Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund.
How to get there:
Take the F Train to the Stillwell Avenue-Coney Island Stop

Dinner in a Movie

Nitehawk Cinema takes dinner and a movie ($11) and combines them into one in the same. Avoid the crowds in Union Square and head over to Williamsburg to catch some of the latest indie-flicks on your list. Be sure to go with an empty stomach because you won’t want to skip their extensive dinner menu. With the tableside food and beverage system, you order your meal by jotting it down on a piece of paper for the server to quietly come by and pick it up. This is a good way to spice up a classic date with a more creative, intimate setting. Coming up in their Signature Series: The Beer Dinner features Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Country Brunchin’ and City Slickers, and for new parents desperately holding on to date night, the Hawks with Babies series will show Fruitvale Station on August 27. Check the site for future flicks and food pairings.
How to get there:
Take the L Train to the Bedford Avenue stop

Farther out

Get Art-venturous

If you know your date is an art lover, skip the MOMA and knock their socks off by taking them to Dia: Beacon. There is much that will impress about this trip from the scenic ride up the Hudson to the diverse collection of modern art ($12 admission). Beacon itself is a town prone to cuteness. Stroll down the main drag and grab a sandwich in the garden at Homespun Foods. If you time it just right, try to head back into town around dusk so you can catch the sunset from the train.
How to get there: Take the Metro North Hudson Line from Grand Central to Beacon

Make a Big Impression

The magnitude of Storm King is so incredible it seems as if aliens landed and left a bunch of sculptures for us to contemplate. This spectacle is sure to win over any date ($12/adults, $8/students). Here you are free to roam the grounds—on two legs or two wheels—and view the mammoth art by Richard Serras, Henry Moores, and more.
How to get there: Coach USA offers a day tour package leaving from Port Authority with direct drop-off at the park. Roundtrip bus transportation and museum admission for adults is $44

Charm Their Pants Off

Fall in love all over again with your date and the town of Rhinebeck, a hidden gem of Dutchess county. The two main streets are lined with shops that are perfect for window shopping (or the spontaneous present) while you stroll, hand in hand. Plan a trip to Terrapin around the Craft Beer Experience on Sunday, September 15, featuring 40 locally brewed beers and 10 course food pairings, or go to Gigi Trattoria, which recently launched Saturday evening “Agriturisomo” event, offering three-course farm-sourced evening feasts now through October. If you feel like you need a break from the intensity of the city, this charming little day getaway will be waiting.
How to get there: Take the Amtrak Empire Service to the Rhinecliff-Kingston Stop

Hands On

Get experimental and bring your date to one of the Culinary Institute of America’s award-winning student restaurants. Choose from a variety of venues, including the American Bounty Restaurant, St. Andrew’s Cafe and for dessert lovers the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. Students at CIA are required to work in every position—including front of the house. A visit to Hyde Park will be a learning experience for everyone involved. Reservations are encouraged.
How to get there: Take Metro North Hudson Line from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie. Hop a taxi to the CIA.

A Sweet Surprise

Go berry picking at Patty’s Berries & Bunches on the North Fork then make a pie. At Fishkill Farms in Dutchess county, you can pick your own strawberries, cherries, peaches and nectarines. Fishkill also operates a fruit and veggie CSA with a pick-up location at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn. Come fall, here’s where to go apple picking without needing the car.
How to get there:  Find a farm and borrow a car.

Photo: joevare