Best Places to Propose in New York City
In New York City, you don’t need to hire a flash mob to make sure your proposal lands. The city abounds with ultraromantic spots, perfect for nabbing that lifetime commitment. Here are some places that are guaranteed to get you to yes.
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When you see the shimmering waters edged by weeping willows and Japanese cherry trees, you’ll understand why this spot has inspired lovebirds for generations. The green banks along the manmade lake slope gently toward the water, making an ideal setting for a picnic. You can rent a rowboat for two at the neo-Victorian Loeb Boathouse at the east end. (The boathouse's restaurant and bar are closed.)
The only formal gardens in Central Park—one French in style, another Italian, and the last British—are a riot of flowers and blossoming trees come spring (the place looks pretty good in autumn, too—that's when the photo above was shot). In addition to being lovely, the gardens are usually deserted, making this one of the most private scenic places to propose in the city.
If you don’t think museums can be sexy, you haven’t visited the Neue, which does not allow anyone younger than 13 to see its sometimes risqué collection of Austrian and German art from 1890 to 1940. The gallery houses some of Gustav Klimt’s most sensual works (including the famed Woman in Gold) in an opulent 1914 mansion designed by the team of Carrère & Hastings. The elegant, wood-paneled, Viennese-style café on site (pictured) is perfect for canoodling.
This historic confection of a hotel has fueled countless romances. Newlyweds Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald famously frolicked in the fountain out front. And who can forget the poignant final scene in The Way We Were, when Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford say good-bye in front of the hotel? That scene was lovingly re-created on HBO’s Sex and the City. Toast to your own hopefully non-bittersweet romance in the swank Champagne Bar.
Grab a croissant and a coffee and make like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Or just wander through, admiring all the sparkly stuff at this classic jewelry shop. You don’t need to buy anything to enjoy the romantic ambiance.
On a warm summer night, grab your partner and dance with abandon during Midsummer Night Swing, the sexy dance party on Josie Robertson Plaza. Each evening has a different dance theme, from salsa to swing to ballroom. The fountains and floodlights of the plaza are particularly seductive at dusk, so bare your soul then.
A romantic winter rendezvous on the ice-skating rink in the center’s Lower Plaza is clichéd, but just try to resist a whirl around the ice during the holidays, with the spectacular Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree glittering from above. Avoid the biggest crowds by going early or late.
Not only is the Guastavino-tiled ceiling outside the Grand Central Oyster Bar a beauty, but it also creates a rare acoustical phenomenon. Stand facing one of the pillars with your loved one facing the pillar directly opposite and whisper sweet nothings—and your important question. You’ll be able to hear one another, and no one else can listen in.
The former carriage house of Vice President Aaron Burr (Alexander Hamilton’s killer) makes the perfect setting for popping the question. Lit by crystal chandeliers and suffused with historic charm, the restaurant (17 Barrow St.) has a menu as classy as the setting.
Whether you’re on a simple spin around the island or an elegant dinner cruise, seeing Manhattan from the water is a thrill. The reliable Circle Line has the most options, from 2-hour harbor cruises to voyages that show off sparkling city lights after sunset. Bateaux New York, another option, runs dinner cruises in sleek glass boats to the accompaniment of live jazz. Cost-conscious couples can always hop aboard the Staten Island Ferry for great Statue of Liberty views at no cost whatsoever.
The River Café sits on the Brooklyn waterfront practically underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, with magnificent views of downtown Manhattan. Even if you don’t come for dinner, you can sit on the terrace, sip a cocktail, and drink in the views.
Shoo away the costumed characters and drop to your knee in front of the electronic billboard you rented to trumpet your love—and question—20 feet high. You can rent billboard time at a number of buildings in Times Square. You’ll save money by contacting businesses directly instead of going through an intermediary (though those do exist, solely for the purpose of helping people propose in Times Square).
There’s a reason this is the iconic place to pop the question. The views are mesmerizing, the setting historic, and a live saxophonist provides musical accompaniment (evenings Thursdays through Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day). Contact the folks at the skyscraper in advance and they’ll make sure the musician is playing the song you request at the right moment. We recommend going after midnight, when most of the crowds have dispersed.
Onstage proposals during curtain calls have become common over the past several years. Why not surprise your sweetie with a standing ovation? Simply contact the box office of the show in question and ask for the email address of the company manager, who will let you know if your request can be accommodated.
Pictured: Curtain call at a 2013 performance of Twelfth Night at the Belasco Theatre
Courtly love is not dead, especially if you head to this outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which houses a medieval collection in several ancient and spectacular stone buildings (they were shipped over piece by piece from Europe). Head to the inner courtyard garden—a lush, beautiful, and usually very quiet place—for the big moment.
Panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline are ample at waterfront spots such as Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The latter connects to Brooklyn Bridge Park (pictured) near one of the city’s best chocolate shops, Jacques Torres (66 Water St.). What more could you possibly need?
OK, so we’re stretching the definition of romance with this one. But hey, a visit to this repository of early sex films, S&M displays, painted nudes, blowup dolls, and other paraphernalia should at least give you an interesting proposal story to mortify your grandchildren some day.