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New York City, also known as the city that never sleeps, offers endless opportunities for romance and adventure! Let’s be honest. This city is EXPENSIVE, with one of the nation’s highest living costs. In this post, we will go through the best cheap NYC date ideas (that are unique and will impress your date!).
These ideas are creative and perfect for both first dates and long-term couples, or even a friend date. You may be surprised at how many activities you can do for under $50 (for both people!). So get ready to explore one of the most romantic cities in the world without feeling limited by your budget.
Elevate the boring coffee date by going to Meow Parlour instead! This adorable cat cafe lets you play with cats and kittens for one hour while you sip coffee and enjoy delicious macarons. The cats are up for adoption, so it is a great place to find your next furry friend. Reservations are $16 per person, totaling $32 for two, making it an excellent option for a cheap NYC date idea that will impress any animal lovers!
Comedy shows are often considered expensive (and they can be!), but Comedy Cellar has fantastic deals throughout the week! From Monday-Wednesday, tickets can be as little as $10 per person for new comedy routines (which are a blast!), with typical prices being $14 per person. They have a two-food/drink minimum per person, but with $5 beer to $3 food options, it is easy to keep the bill under $50.
Color Me Mine Pottery Painting
Color Me Mine is an adorable pottery painting studio in lower Manhattan and one of my favorite cheap NYC date ideas. Once you arrive, you can choose from several ceramics to paint, including cups, bowls, dishes, and seasonal items. Most of the ceramics are between $15 – $25 each, with the studio fee being $13 each.
However, the studio has multiple promotions that reduce or entirely scrap the studio fee. The promotions include free ladies’ nights on Thursdays, no studio fee if you post to your social media on Saturdays, and a 2-for-1 deal on Tuesdays. These deals make it easy to keep the total under $50 while impressing your date with a creative activity!
Ice Skating and Christmas Market in Bryant Park
New York is considered one of the most magical Christmas cities in the US, and for good reason! During Winter, Bryant Park is a fantastic date spot to enjoy the Winter magic, with free ice skating admissions (bring your own skates!) and a Christmas market with everything from food to art to ornaments! If you don’t have your own skates, rentals start at $15, making ice skating an affordable Winter activity that is also fun. Just reserve your time slot in advance and enjoy the Christmas spirit.
Swinger’s Crazy Golf
Swinger’s Crazy Golf is a cool minigolfing venue located in Midtown. The space is enormous and has the perfect atmosphere for a date! This spot has it all: multiple minigolf courses, food from delicious street food vendors, and incredible drinks. Tickets are $26 per person during peak times and $22 per person during off-peak hours (All day Monday and Tues-Thurs before 5 PM). The drinks can be a little pricy, so take a few shots before you head in and enjoy your night!
Barcade is a fun venue that is exactly what it sounds like: a bar and an arcade combined! There are two locations in the city, one in Midtown and the other in East Village. The drinks are cheap (for Manhattan), with $9 wines and cocktails starting at $12.
Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 4 PM-7 PM, offering $1 off beer and wine. Tokens are $0.25 each, with most games costing one token per play. The games include classics such as Street Fighter and Pac-Man! So grab some coins and drinks and enjoy a fun night with your date!
Watch Turtles Race in a Brooklyn Bar
Turtles all the Way Down is a typical Brooklyn dive bar with a twist! Located in Bed Stuy, this reasonably priced bar hosts turtle races every first Sunday of the month, with the first race starting at 4 PM.
This little twist to a standard night of getting drinks is memorable and fun, giving you and your date a lot to talk about as you watch adorable turtles try to make their way to the finish line!
Now, I won’t go too into detail about museums since it is one of the more common cheap date NYC date ideas, with many options being free or pay-as-you-wish for NYC residents. Instead, I will list the most interesting museums and their best available deals. Please note that almost all require a time slot reservation in advance.
- Museum of Natural History: Pay-as-you-wish for NY, NJ, and CT residents.
- The Met: Pay-as-you-wish for NY residents and NY, NJ, and CT students. I recommend going on Fridays for Date Night at the Met!
- Museum of Modern Art: Free admission for NYC residents on the first Friday of every month after 4 PM.
- The Whitney: Pay-as-you-wish on Fridays from 7 PM -10 PM.
- The Rubin: Free admission on Fridays from 6 PM – 10 PM.
- Brooklyn Museum: $16 per person for general admission and free programming during the first Saturday of each month from 5 PM – 11 PM.
- American Folk Art Museum: Free admission at all times.
- The Frick Collection: Pay-as-you-wish on Thursdays from 4 PM – 6 PM.
- The Guggenheim: Pay-as-you-wish on Saturdays after 6 PM.
Kayak for Free
During the summers, there are multiple free kayaking programs in NYC! Kayaking is a fun and active date idea where you get to enjoy the weather and stunning city views from the water.
The most popular choice is the Downtown Boathouse, located on Pier 26. It does not require a prior reservation! Another good choice is the Manhattan Community Boathouse, located on Pier 96. Advance registration is recommended for this one!
Lunch/Dinner at San Marzano
Want to go on a dinner date that doesn’t feel cheap, won’t break the bank, but is still delicious? Check out San Marzano in East Village! This cute little Italian place lets you choose the shape of your fresh pasta and the sauce for only $14 (a steal in Manhattan). Not only that, but the atmosphere is excellent for a date night. Enjoy an appetizer, two mains, and a dessert for less than $50!
Alligator Lounge is a hidden gem located in Brooklyn near Williamsburg. This hole-in-the-wall bar gives guests free pizza with every drink, with $5 beers and $8 cocktails! They also have fun events, such as trivia every Monday, open mic nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and karaoke on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a beautiful date spot, especially in the Spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom! Enjoy seeing the park covered in white and pink blossoms and admire the multiple gardens of unique plants and flowers. Bring a picnic blanket to sit down and enjoy the romantic atmosphere. Admission is $18 per person, making it a perfect cheap NYC date idea!
This list of cheap NYC date ideas will help you plan your next romantic day with your partner! As a bonus, for a special date night, check out Broadway Roulette! I did not include this in the list because it is $49 – $59 per person, but this is a steal when Broadway tickets usually go for $100s! Choose a date and time and eliminate five shows you do not want to watch. After that, enjoy the surprise show that is chosen for you!