Valentine’s Day is kind of polarizing in New York City. It’s a real love-it-or-hate-it holiday, with some people viewing it as just another excuse to commercialize love, and others seeing it as an opportunity to show appreciation and affection for a loved one.
But, regardless of whether you’re in favor of the traditional Valentine’s Day, or more of a Galentine’s person, NYC is a great place to be on February 14.
It may not be dubbed the “city of love,” but it is a city with a lot of love to give. If you find yourself in New York City this Valentine’s Day, there are many places you can go and things you can do with your significant other or even with a close friend. So avoid the cheesy and predictable by checking out our suggestions for unique things to do on Valentine’s Day in NYC this year.
What to see and do
Sperone Westwater Gallery – Bowery, Manhattan
Looking for a tasteful, thought-provoking and conversation-driving way to spend Valentine’s Day in NYC with your date? Look no further than the Sperone Westwater Gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The Sperone Westwater is a cultural institution for contemporary art with five floors full of exhibits. It’s been around since 1975 and has gained notoriety within New York’s art scene. Currently representing major contemporary artists like Wim Delvoye, Rochelle Feinstein and Bruce Nauman, the gallery explores all kinds of mediums and messages in its vast exhibition space.
Nauman’s “His Mark” is on exhibition through March 12. This six-channel 3D video installation is sure to turn heads. In this piece, “Nauman transforms from a seemingly simple movement into an ambiguous, increasingly complex visual language both abstract and concrete.” Through this visual language, “‘His Mark’ probes the relationship between perception and reality, evidence and illusion.” Start your date at this picturesque gallery to enjoy New York’s art and culture, and you’ll have plenty to discuss later over a meal or a drink.
Address: 257 Bowery
Super Funland at The Museum of Sex – NoMad, Manhattan
Definitely not for the faint of heart, New York’s Museum of Sex is something else. An immersive exhibit within the museum, Super Funland, is designed for visitors to explore the carnival’s “hidden, decadent history.” There are five interactive attractions within the exhibit, and taking a significant other here is like a classic carnival date with an offbeat twist.
Within the attractions, “physical, visual, and olfactory experiences are utilized to give the audience a breathless rush of endorphins […], challenge their strength and agility, and allow them to compete with and impress friends and lovers, as well as other patrons.”
Address: 233 Fifth Avenue (at 27th Street)
Hayden Planetarium – Upper West Side, Manhattan
Located within the National Museum of Natural History, the Hayden Planetarium will transport you and your date to the stars. The Planetarium features a custom Zeiss Mark IX Star Projector and a Digital Dome Projection System “to display a hyperrealistic view of the planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies, [and] uses a scientifically accurate 3D map of the observable universe based on millions of astronomical observations.”
Considering the amount of light pollution emanating from the city, it’s usually difficult to stargaze in Manhattan. Here you can enjoy stepping away from the hubbub of city life for a few moments of otherworldly romance.
Within the Rose Center for Earth and Space (the square that hosts the planetarium), their space theater is currently showing “Worlds Beyond Earth,” a 25-minute show that takes the audience on a journey through the solar system, from Earth to planets bereft of life at its outer reaches. Enjoy the planetarium and space theater as a part of a date to the National Museum of National History or as a stand-alone stargazing adventure.
Address: 200 Central Park West
The Mercury Lounge – Bowery, Manhattan
The best part of being with the person (or people) you love is sharing laughter with them. So, why not take them on a fun and spontaneous Valentine’s date fueled by laughter? This year, Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge is hosting a comedy show called “The Love List” on Valentine’s Day.
At just US$10 a ticket, this casual outing is the perfect after-dinner activity for ending the night on a light note. And if you’re taking friends, even better! This event hosts comedians Alaina Latona, Dejen Tesfagiorgis, Lola Davis and Stanley Martin. “The Love List” is a love-themed variety show and matchmaking service, so singles are totally welcome (and encouraged) to join in on the fun.
Address: 217 East Houston St.
Eating and drinking
Rucola – Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
Rucola is an Italian restaurant that serves traditional food in a cozy, lumber-lined room. For Valentine’s Day, Rucola has a special 5-course menu. Few people wouldn’t be charmed by Rucola’s housemade pasta, fresh salads and classic dishes, And what’s an Italian restaurant without an enticing wine menu?
If you’re not in the mood for beer or wine, the cocktails that Rucola serves are modest yet delicious – take the hot toddy or the Rucola Negroni, for instance. With a single-page food menu and another page for drinks, Rucola depends on a few solid dishes that are simple but well-crafted. For the couple that enjoys simplicity and dependability, as well as a cozy atmosphere, Rucola stands out.
Address:190 Dean St (corner of Bond St), Brooklyn
Raines Law Room – Chelsea or Murray Hill, Manhattan
Described by The New York Times as one of New York City’s most romantic bars, Raines Law Room is a classy establishment for a swanky night out. Raines is hosting a Valentine’s experience for couples through February 14.
Each reservation is set for two hours and includes a welcome glass of Moët Imperial Champagne plus two craft cocktails per guest. You’ll also have your choice of charcuterie or crudité platter to share. With its intimate tables and mellow, elegant atmosphere, Raines is the ideal Valentine’s Day eating and drinking experience in the city.
Low-key and charming, Book Club is a bar that opens up into a bookstore and seating area. Cluttered with bookshelves, Book Club is where you want to go for intimate conversation and a round or two of drinks.
For a more informal approach to Valentine’s Day, stop in here to browse book titles and sit together for an hour or two. As Book Club is both a bar and a cafe, spending a morning exploring the shelves with a cup of coffee makes for the perfect day date. Or, stop in for a drink before dinner. So, whether you just want an informal drink with your date, or you want to spend the evening enjoying the warmth and the smell of books while talking about anything and everything, Book Club is the perfect adaptable date spot.
Address: 197 E 3rd St.
No matter what you do with the person (or people) you love for the holiday, you’re bound to have a good time enjoying their company. And hey, if you can’t go out on Valentine’s Day, all of these places are still open after February 14 and worth a visit. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the perfect date all year round.
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