New York City can be pretty romantic. Classic rom-com “Where Harry Met Sally” takes place in the city, and so does the beloved HBO favorite “Sex and the City.” In NYC, there are so many events and places to take your significant other, from museums to restaurants to coffee shops to the top of the Empire State Building; anywhere can be romantic if you plan your date right. But we’re not here to talk about those kinds of dates.
We’re here to talk about friend dates. As fun as New York is for lovers, it can be even better for friends. After all, who’s really your better half, if not your best friend? So if you’re looking to get cultured while also spending some quality time with a friend or two, we’ve got some perfect friend dates for you in NYC. There is no better pleasure than checking out a new place with the people you love, no romantic partner required.
Museums and art galleries
New York is full to the brim with interesting museums and temporary exhibitions. If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple, then you have to visit at least a couple. Even a day trip should be complete with a bit of museum exploration.
With friends, you can really get into what you’re seeing, discussing the displays and, yes, even making fun of some of them. No need to hold hands and coo at fancy art – no, these museums are for learning new things and interacting with fun exhibits.
NY Transit Museum – Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
After jumping on the subway a few times, it’s natural to get curious about New York’s transit history and structure. While this museum may not sound like the most amusing thing at first, it certainly delivers once you give it a go.
Currently, there are exhibitions on sketches that notable artists have made of subway riders over the years – “a selection of historic way-finding and platform etiquette signage” and “the evolution of the subway and the major issues and events that influenced the development of the largest transportation network in North America” – and other peculiar goings-on of this unique transit system. Many of these exhibits are interactive, and the museum is located within a former subway station.
Offering exhibits and film screenings, the Museum of Moving Image is the ideal museum visit for movie and TV lovers of all kinds. The exhibits on display here aim to show the processes and mechanisms by which films, digital media and television are produced, promoted and presented. Visitors can immerse themselves in the creativity required to make these developments by getting an inside look into these processes.
“Behind the Screen” is the biggest ongoing exhibit at the MoMI. It includes artifacts like costumes, film equipment, set design models and licensed merchandise from your favorite movies. Additionally, this exhibit uses computer-based interactive experiences, audiovisual material and commissioned artwork. Right now, the MoMI is also featuring a temporary exhibition on deepfakes, which are essentially videos that distort or simulate actual events and another on the animation story behind “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Not up for a museum trip, but want to catch a good film? The MoMI features a calendar of film screenings, including movies like “Welcome to Chechnya,” “Boogie Nights” and “Muppet Treasure Island.”
Address: 36-01 35 Ave, Astoria
National Museum of Mathematics – NoMad, Manhattan
If you’re getting trauma flashbacks to high school calculus, then we apologize. The National Museum of Mathematics, though, isn’t in the business of torturing its visitors. Instead, this institution aims to highlight “the role of mathematics in illuminating the patterns and structures all around us.”
Great for all ages, MoMath is more about seeing how our everyday lives are organized and improved by math. Very interactive, you can “roll over the unusually shaped acorns and have a smooth ride due to their constant diameter,” in one exhibit, “enjoy a kinetic showcase” in another and “see breaking news from the world of mathematics,” too. Something of an educational playground, you’ll be surprised how reluctant you are to part from this museum at the end of the day.
Address: 11 East 26th Street
Not every experience has to be about learning something new or walking around a museum exhibit. Sometimes, you just want to have a fun time. There’s plenty of fun to have in NYC. Savor quality time with your friends while letting go and knocking yourself out with these experiences.
Spyscape – Midtown, Manhattan
Spyscape’s tagline is “discover your inner superhero,” which is pretty much guaranteed here. “An immersive interactive adventure into your superpowers,” Spyscape is designed to let you live out every spy movie you’ve ever seen, as well as your childhood fantasies of espionage.
Breaking codes and dodging lasers? Uh, yes, please. Being tasked with high-stakes missions and trying out sci-fi-like gadgets? That’s what’s in store for visitors to Spyscape. A former Head of Training at MI6 helped develop parts of this exhibit, so you’re in for the real deal.
Address: 928 8th Ave.
Elsewhere – Bushwick, Brooklyn
Looking toward “radical nights for better days?” Elsewhere is the place to be. A multiroom music venue, nightclub and arts space, this three-story event space is nightlife as you’ve never experienced it before.
Elsewhere espouses “the joy of radical music, for all and forever,” with a focus on “underground and unbound music, presented with love.” Although it opened recently in 2017, Elsewhere has already made a name in Brooklyn. So make sure to experience the three different floors with your best pals.
Address: 599 Johnson Ave., Bushwick, Brooklyn
Food and drink
When you’re tired and hungry from a day of running around the city, you’ll want to enjoy a moment of respite with something to eat and drink or two. But a romantic candlelit dinner isn’t exactly the vibe when you’re with the besties. So instead, check out these neighborhood favorites that are both super chill and have as much personality as you and your friends do.
The Johnson’s – Bushwick, Brooklyn
Definitely a place for the lads, The Johnson’s is a Bushwick staple. Very divey, very retro and (most importantly) very cheap, you’ll find yourself losing hours here if you’re not careful.
Reminiscent of a basement hangout, The Johnson’s is complete with a claw machine and playable pinball for when you want to challenge your friends to a few games. Also known for their Frozen Painkillers and classic bar food, this is bound to become your new favorite joint.
Address: 369 Troutman St., Brooklyn
Brooklyn Perk – Flatbush, Brooklyn
Looking for more of a “daytime” drink to keep you and your pals going? Check out the Brooklyn Perk. With fun flavors you can add to your latte or tea, like banana, peanut butter and lavender, everyone can get something that perfectly suits their tastes.
In the mood for a little snack? Brooklyn Perk just introduced their lemon matcha loaf. They also host events like candle-making workshops if you have a friend group of crafters.
Address: 605 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn
The Upstairs at 66 – FiDi, Manhattan
Route 66 Smokehouse is known for its barbecue, but go upstairs, and you’ll find the coolest game room ever. After ordering some Carolina Pulled Pork, Buffalo Cauliflower or Texas Brisket Sandwich, get ready for an intense round of Jenga or Ping-Pong. The list of games they have available is extensive, so you might have to keep coming back (though it’s not quite a chore).
Address: 79 Pearl Street
Although you’ll want to have a plan when in the city with your friends, there’s really no way to do it wrong, after all, every experience is made all the better with your pals! Especially the unexpected ones.
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