When trying to plan a date in New York City, the high prices of the area can be intimidating and, honestly, sometimes impossible for the average broke college kid. Regardless of whether you’re planning a date for you and your significant other, or you’re trying to impress that cutie you’ve been eyeing in your math class, odds are you don’t always want to settle for a movie — and you don’t have to! NYC is filled with an abundance of date opportunities that not only won’t break the bank, but also will show your date that you’re willing to explore and be creative! Below are 15 cheap and fun date ideas near New York University!
1. Walk the High Line and stop by the Chelsea Market.
The High Line runs from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea, ending on West 34th Street, with several means of access listed on their website. On a nice day, walking the High Line is a perfect nature escape for those who get overwhelmed by the concrete jungle that is Manhattan, without the commotion of many parks (especially Central Park.) Even better: if you start at 34th Street and work your way down, you can end your nature walk by shopping around and grabbing a bite to eat at the Chelsea Market!
2. Give in to your sweet tooth at It’Sugar.
You’ll be able to share quite the sugar rush with your date as you let out your inner child in this candy store. It carries everything from what you’d expect to giant candy and novelty items. There’s even one right in NoHo, if you don’t want to go too far.
3. Indulge in giant cookies at Levain Bakery.
If candy isn’t how you’d like to treat yourself, try cookies instead! They’re famous for their giant chocolate chip cookies, but there are dozens of options for cookies, tarts, scones, and more.
4. Go to the Wasabassco Burlesque show at Bathtub Gin.
If you feel like doing something a little more atypical, check out the Wasabassco Burlesque show at Bathtub Gin in Chelsea! Admission to the show is free on Sunday and Tuesday nights. Or you can join them for brunch and a show on Sundays. Either way, you’ll be in for a surprise to see which of the women ends up in the tub at the end of the show. If Sunday and Tuesday don’t work, check out their other upcoming shows.
5. Immerse yourself in the Museum of Modern Art.
For a more traditional date, without being as cliche as dinner and a movie, spend an evening at the Museum of Modern Art. Admission to the MoMA for full-time students (with ID) is $14, but all visitors get in free from 4:00pm to 8:00pm on Fridays!
6. Go back in time with the Museum of Natural History.
If modern art doesn’t quite peak your interest, try a history museum instead. With countless time periods and geographical locations, the amount of things to be learned at the Museum of Natural History may seem endless, but you’ll have fun doing it! The suggested admission fee for students is $17, although you’re able to pay less if desired.
7. Get ~freaky~ with the Museum of Sex.
Playfulness with provocativeness come together at the Museum of Sex; if you’re looking for a museum date that strays from the norm, here you go! General admission ranges from $17.50 to $20.50 depending on day and time preferred, specifics of which can be found on their ticket page.
8. See a show on campus.
Between Tisch and Skirball, seeing a show on campus is affordable, convenient, and hardly limited. To find a show and get tickets, you simply need to go to Tisch’s box office page (https://tisch.nyu.edu/drama/box-office) or Skirball’s box office (http://nyuskirball.org/events/index).
9. Have a picnic in Washington Square Park.
For a simple and cute gesture, take your date for a picnic in the park! You can set up a blanket in the grass and have lunch in the park, taking in the surroundings. If you want to prolong the date after lunch, have a mini photo shoot! From the arch to the fountain to all the other little treasures in the park, there are plenty of shoot locations.
10. Explore a Halloween or Gothic store.
If you have the slightest obsession with Halloween, odds are you’d love exploring a store such as New York Costumes or Gothic Renaissance. Even if all you do is wander around and look at all the accessories and decor, it’ll feel like you and your date have been transported to a real-life version of Halloweentown!
11. Have a MUD Coffee Brunch.
Everyone in the city seems to love brunch, but my favorite spot by far is Mudspot. It’s just two blocks from Tompkins Square Park. Whether you go for their weekend brunch or you swing by for a bite during the week, the food (and coffee) is guaranteed to be amazing. Prepare in advance, though, there’s usually a little bit of a wait!
12. Get lunch at SoHo Park.
If you want to go on a chill, no pressure lunch date, SoHo Park is a quaint restaurant on the corner of Lafayette and Prince that might fit perfectly. With sidewalk and courtyard seating in addition to their indoor tables, the food and decor create a picturesque SoHo date.
13. Take a walk near the water.
When planning a date with someone who loves the outdoors and water, take advantage of the fact that Manhattan is an island! There are plenty of parks near the water — perfect for walks or as a change in location for the Washington Square Park picnic and photoshoot date idea — like the Hudson River Park and Battery Park.
14. Go to the Central Park Zoo.
Since when are zoos only for children? If you want to have a playful date and let out your inner child, spend an afternoon at the Central Park Zoo! Afterwards, you can get food nearby or just walk around and enjoy Central Park.
15. Try something new at Smorgasburg.
If you’re looking to try a new food, Smorgasburg is a pretty sure bet (seeing as it is the largest open-air food market in America with 100 vendors.) Just prepare yourself to handle the large crowd it attracts. The market is open weekly in Williamsburg and Prospect Park starting the first weekend of April.
Remember: what’s most important is that you and your date have fun and get to know each other, not where you go! This is just a small sample of the endless date opportunities available in New York City. So do whatever you feel comfortable with and enjoy!
Do you have any other date ideas near New York University? Share in the comments below!
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Writer, animal lover, ocean lover, and founding member of the Delta Gamma - Eta Phi chapter.