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Cost-Free Date Night Ideas in New York City

By: Kimberly Lew

The rent is too damn high, and, sadly, so is the cost of most things in this big, beautiful city. We often want to plan dates that will wow and create priceless memories, and we (perhaps wrongly) think that means we have to spend a lot of money. However, living in an area as diverse and vibrant as New York City, there’s lots of things to do with our loved ones without a price tag attached. Here are some of our favorite cost-free date ideas.

Cost-Free Date Night Ideas

The High Line
Gansevoort Street to W 30th Street, Manhattan

The High Line is one of Manhattan’s most unique and magical parks, and walking along this elevated railway will be sure to enchant and inspire romance. Watch the sun set between the buildings from one of their strategically-placed benches or stargaze from one of the lounge chairs set up on the lower end of the park. In general, it’s a great place to find a spot of green to sit on or near and have deep conversation or snuggle as you look out on the city lit up below.

Credit: Jenny C., Yelp
Yoga to the People
Various Locations, Manhattan and Brooklyn

Yoga to the People’s location in the East Village holds Power Vinyasa Flow classes throughout the day, every day. Classes are a $10 suggested donation, but there is no fee required—just remember to bring your own mats, because a rental is $2. There is no registration required, and it is suggested that you just show up 15 minutes early for your class. These sessions give you time stretch and center yourself alongside the one your love. Sunday night classes are also candle-lit, so you can have that added relaxing atmosphere.

Credit: Yoga to the People, Facebook
The Staten Island Ferry
4 Whitehall Street, Manhattan

While the Staten Island Ferry is a vessel that often ushers commuters between downtown Manhattan and Staten Island, it can also be a great cost-free date option. The ferry runs every 15-20 minutes between 3:30-8:00 p.m. on weekdays, and every 30 minutes later at night and on weekends. Even if all you do is ride the ferry over and back, you’ll get a great view of the Statue of Liberty and also get to breathe in some fresh salty sea air. They serve drinks and food inside on the boat, but keep things free by bringing your own snacks, snagging a good seat, and just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons
The Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan

There’s nothing more romantic or heart-healthy than taking a nice walk as a couple, and the Brooklyn Bridge offers the perfect stretch of pathway to stretch your legs. You can marvel at the architecture as you capture the great view of the Manhattan skyline. In general, it offers a great view of the city, especially as night falls, and once you get to the other side, you can either explore DUMBO or Battery Park and continue the scenic views.

Credit: Pedro Lastra, Unsplash
New York Aquarium x Coney Island Boardwalk
602 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn

On Wednesday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. to last entry, it’s pay-what-you-wish entry at the New York Aquarium, meaning that you can have access to all the sea life, including the recently opened new shark exhibit that features a tunnel where you can walk through the tank, for free. Take time staring at the otters and the penguins frolicking in their habitats or catch the free show at the aquatheater. Then, when you’re done, you can stroll along the Coney Island Boardwalk, admiring the twinkling lights of the fairgrounds. Depending on the night, you also might catch some fireworks, perfect for an Instagram post or romantic moment.

Credit: Thomas Loizeau, Unsplash

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MoMA
11 W 53rd Street, Manhattan

Every Friday from 4:00-8:00 p.m. is a UNIQLO Free Friday Night, which means that admission to the museum is gratis. While you may have to stand in a long line to get in, you’ll be rewarded with access to all the museum galleries and exhibitions. Plus, October will bring a reopening of the museum, which will feature new art and performance spaces, as well as present their collection in new ways. It’s a great way to reacquaint yourself with some modern art, even if it’s just taking turns talking about how much you don’t understand it.

Credit: MoMA
Barnes & Noble Union Square
33 E 17th Street, Manhattan

Bookstores across the city hold free events, but with the size of Barnes and Noble Union Square’s event space on the top floor, it’s a good place to catch some of the biggest authors, celebrities, and musicians without spending a dime. Upcoming events include ones with The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, Tegan and Sara, and Z100 host Elvis Duran. The full events calendar can be found here. To be sure, give the store a call ahead of the event, since some of the wristband-required events mean you need to purchase copies of the book or CD to gain access.

Credit: Akshay I., Yelp
Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman Street, Brooklyn

Not only is Brooklyn Bridge Park a beautiful green space with all its different piers and communal areas, but it also hosts a lot of different free activities that can make a great date. You can show up for a fitness class al fresco, rent kayaks from the boathouse in the warmer months, cheer on a soccer game at the field, watch movies in summer, or catch an outdoor concert—all without opening your wallet. For a great nighttime date, the park is currently hosting their 8th annual Photoville, which transforms shipping containers into an immersive photography exhibit at Brooklyn Bridge Plaza.

Credit: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Facebook
Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Boulevard, The Bronx

Bronx Zoo offers free admission on Wednesdays, so it’s a great time to get a peek at the lions, tigers, and bears on display. Make a day of your animal adventure, since you’ll want a lot of time to fully explore the 265 acres of wildlife habitat and and attractions. Most popular exhibits include Tiger Mountain and the Congo Gorilla Forest, but there’s countless other things to see and explore. If you get hungry, they also have picnic tables where you can bring your own snacks or sandwiches, so if you come prepared, you won’t have to spend any money.

Credit: Bronx Zoo, Facebook

See Our Curated Date Ideas This Week