Romantic New York

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Romantic New York
Although it’s hectic and huge, New York offers quieter corners for you to cozy up with your partner—whether it’s sipping a cocktail on a rooftop bar, strolling through secret gardens, dining by candlelight, or holding hands on an ice rink in winter.
By Megan Eileen McDonough, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Lindsay Davis
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    Romantic City Views
    Climbing the Empire State Building offers great views but there are plenty of other options that don’t require a wait. Spend a few hours at the Met and finish with a cocktail or coffee at the museum's Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar, weather depending. Gaze at the Manhattan skyline or wander through the sculpture garden. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade has a scenic walking path and an even better view of Lady Liberty, South Street Seaport, the East River, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Many hotels have rooftop bars with a view; attire is usually dressy-casual and pre-happy hour is a good time to go.
    Photo by Lindsay Davis
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    Kiss the Day Goodbye with a Perfect Sunset
    High-rise buildings are stunning to look at but they do block out the sun, which means you might want to leave the borough of Manhattan for the best views. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a short subway ride from the Financial District and is a wonderful spot for watching the sun set. Grab some food from the local deli and make a picnic out of it. The view of Manhattan from Long Island City will make you feel like you're starring in a romantic movie of your own. If you're debating whether or not to visit the Bronx during your stay, Wave Hill should tip the balance: You can see the sun setting over the Palisades. From Manhattan, try settling in anywhere along the Hudson River Park, which runs from 59th Street down to Battery Place.
    Photo by Kirsten Alana
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    Quiet Walks and Whispered Secrets
    New York is magical at night, and it's not uncommon to see people walking around at all hours. Since Times Square is so crowded during the day and many tourists go to bed early by New York standards, plan to roam through the area later in the night or early in the morning. It could feel like it’s just you and your partner in the city. During the day, Battery Park City Esplanade has a perfect view on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This waterfront greenway is equipped with walking and biking paths, benches, and public art exhibitions. For an even more secluded setting go uptown to Fort Tryon Park. Inside, visit the Cloisters—a branch of the Met—and make sure to and smell the roses in the Heather Garden, at the other end of the park.
    Photo by Charissa Fay
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    Cozy Up with a Cocktail
    Patrons can choose their mood at Chinatown's secret Apothéke cocktail bar. The bartenders are dressed as apothecaries from 19th-century Paris and the cocktail list is broken down by mood. Choose from their list of aphrodisiacs, stress relievers, painkillers, stimulants, and other “remedies.” If you already know you are in the mood for snuggling, check out the chic outdoor rooftop bar at 230 Fifth. During winter there are heat lamps and blankets to keep you warm; in summer the place is packed to the brim on sunny days. Stop by for a happy hour drink and enjoy the bird's-eye view of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and other New York landmarks. For old-time opulence try the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central.
    Photo by Charissa Fay
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    Candlelit Dinners
    Even for the seasoned New Yorker, the city can feel overwhelming by the end of the day. Take things down a notch with an intimate dinner at one New York’s most romantic restaurants. One if by Land, Two if by Sea is the definition of old-fashioned, enchanting romance. Enjoy your candlelit dinner while listening to live piano and receiving the highest level of service. La Lanterna di Vittorio Caffe is a less expensive option that is just as romantic. Sip wine and munch on Italian light bites by the fireplace or in the lantern-filled garden. Alta Restaurant, another West Village favorite, features a high-ceiling dining room that almost overflows with candles. They focus on small plates with a Mediterranean vibe.
    Photo by Kristen Fortier
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    Photobomb New York with Love
    Romantic selfies are a fun way to remember your trip with your loved one. If you’ve ever wanted to be king and queen of your own castle, you can snap a selfie at Belvedere Castle in Central Park and you will definitely look the part. Street art fanatics will find inspiration throughout the city, and especially in the downtown neighborhoods—some of which can be seen from the High Line. Walk along Houston and when you hit Bowery you’ll know exactly the right place to strike a pose. This is an outdoor exhibition space and the mural changes regularly, which means you might not see that particular piece again. Cozy up and capture the moment!
    Photo by Charissa Fay
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    The Fragrant Gardens of Romance
    The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is hardly a secret but the 52-acre space isn't nearly as crowded as other green spaces in Manhattan. It’s best to visit during the week, and try to arrive when the garden first opens up. The Aquatic House and the Steinhardt Conservatory are not to be missed. Paley Park in Midtown East is a cozy spot to cuddle up with your sweetheart, and the Alice Austen House in Staten Island is reminiscent of a 19th-century romance novel. For a truly hidden garden, at least to most visitors, go to the Secret Garden in East Village on the corner of East 4th Street and Avenue C. It’s a beautiful community garden like something out of a fairy tale. Another good example of these neighborhood gardens is the Creative Little Garden.
    Photo by Joanna P.
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    Elegant and Exotic Couples' Spas
    Don't wait until Valentine's Day for a couples’ massage. New York City is peppered with spas that cater exclusively to pairs, and for the right price you can enjoy this luxury year-round. The Setai Club & Spa Wall Street features couples' massage beds arranged head-to-head so that lovebirds can enjoy a more intimate, relaxing experience. Check out Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca to experience an underground Turkish-inspired hammam with exotic Spanish and Moroccan décor. Body by Brooklyn offers an upscale version of a traditional Russian bathhouse, including couples' aromatherapy massage in a luxurious private spa room.
    Photo by Kirsten Alana
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    Fall In Love with Winter in New York
    One of the most quintessentially romantic New York activities is the Central Park carriage ride, but a more comfortable alternative is to sign up for a Spirit Cruise at sunset and share a sundowner on the water. Winter in New York is not for the faint of heart—December through March can be bitterly cold—but the city takes on a different kind of magic. Get in the holiday spirit, and embrace the opportunity to bundle up and hold hands, by going ice-skating. Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center are the two most popular rinks for tourists, but the Wollman Rink at Central Park has better views. After an hour or so on the ice you can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate as you walk back to the street.
    Photo by Frank Binder/age fotostock
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    Escape the City for a Romantic Retreat
    It's amazing how quickly you can leave New York and enter a completely different environment. The section of Hudson Highlands in Cold Spring in upstate New York (around a seventy-minute train ride via Metro-North) is a fantastic place for hiking. If the weather is warm enough, wade in the Hudson River or simply explore the ruins of an old mansion and dairy farm. Cold Spring is an ideal day trip, but for a weekend jaunt head to the Adirondacks and spend the next two days "glamping." Camp Orenda offers luxury canvas cabins with queen-sized beds, outdoor showers, and wood-burning stoves for cooking. There are Amtrak trains that go from here to the Saratoga Springs and Albany-Rensselaer stations.
    Photo by D Kapoor
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