With its dramatic skyline, luxury hotels, intimate restaurants and scenic nooks and crannies, the city that never sleeps inspires romance.
It's been more than a decade since I lived in New York City. So, I polled some friends and family who currently live in Manhattan for their take on what honeymooning couples should do while they’re in New York. I also reached into the far corners of my memory and came up with some places I’d love my husband to take me if we ever visit the Big Apple sans kids. Here’s my top 10 list of the city’s romantic hot spots:
Central Park Simply strolling hand in hand through this oasis of green in the center of Manhattan is romantic in itself. But there’s tons more the park has to offer. You could also pack a picnic lunch and dine al fresco on a park bench or on the Great Lawn; rent a rowboat or take a gondola ride from the Loeb Boathouse, or dine at the Boathouse restaurant; ride the old-fashioned carousel; tour the 19th-century Belvedere Castle; take a spin on the ice at the Wollman Rink or don in-line skates to take some laps around the park or join the dancers at the Bandshell.
Under no circumstances should you fall for spending your hard-earned cash a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park. Yes, it sounds wonderfully romantic to snuggle with your sweetie as you tour the park. But think about it: the driver is often fighting traffic, it’s smelly, and the horses, frankly, don’t look like they are having a good time. I think it’s much more romantic to walk the park, enjoying the sights by foot.
The Rainbow Room Sixty-five floors above the city at 30 Rockefeller Plaza you’ll find amazing views through floor-to-ceiling windows, fine dining, and on some weekends, dancing to big-band music. If money is no object, break the bank with a magical evening of dinner and dancing ($200). Sunday brunch is a hefty $80 per person—but includes a yummy complimentary Bellini! More budget-conscious options are a meal at the Rainbow Grill, which serves Northern Italian cuisine (jackets required), or just cocktails at its elegant bar (no jeans).
Phantom of the Opera This dramatic, passionate love story is the longest-running show on Broadway. If you haven’t seen it performed on stage (a movie adaptation was released in 2004) check it out in one of the world’s greatest theatre districts. Last-minute, day-of tickets to Phantom (or many other Broadway or off-Broadway shows) might be available at the Times Square or South Street Seaport TKTS booths.
Union Square Farmers Market A visit to this popular open-air market is not your typical romantic stroll, with throngs of visitors and residents flocking to Union Square in the spring, summer and fall, but it sure is fun. Sample an amazing array of goods—from fresh produce to artisan cheeses, from jams and jellies to just-baked bread. Or pick up some gorgeous flowers to brighten up your hotel room. It’s a fabulous place to people watch.
Empire State Building What is it about this landmark building that’s been featured in dozens of romantic films? (Remember those scenes in When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember?) Something about the world-famous tourist attraction invokes romance. Maybe it’s the stunning views from the 86th-floor observatory? At more than 1,000 feet above the bustling city, you can see for miles.
Chanterelle This award-winning restaurant in Tribeca exudes elegance. On the menu, you’ll find French cuisine with Asian and Mediterranean influences. You may pay a pretty penny to dine here, but for a once-in-a-lifetime, only-in-New-York romantic meal, it just may be worth it.
American Museum of Natural History I’m told that the Hall of Ocean Life—with its ambient blue light—lends itself to an environment that’s made for smooching. Make your way into the shadows underneath the replica of the giant blue whale if you want some extra privacy!
The Carlyle This boutique hotel on Madison Avenue is honeymoon heaven: deliciously private rooms and suites, upscale furnishings and appointments and top-notch service (including a white-gloved elevator operator) set the tone for luxury and romance. Can’t afford a stay here? Visit Café Carlyle, which often hosts live jazz, or Bemelmans Bar.
Rise This bar at the Ritz-Carlton New York in Battery Park has been named “Best Hotel Bar” and “Best Bar with a View.” No wonder, since it’s located on the 14th floor above New York Harbor, with fabulous views of the Statue of Liberty (the signature drink is the “Libertini.”) The expansive terrace is especially inviting in warm-weather months, and it’s a perfect place to watch the sun set.
Brooklyn Bridge Here’s another stunning sunset-viewing spot. Get yourself to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade by dusk to watch the famous Manhattan skyline light up as the sun goes down. Then walk across the pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge to make your way back to Manhattan. What a wonderful, romantic way to end the day.