WHERE TO HAVE A LOW-KEY ROMANTIC DATE ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE

snowy walk

By Logan Lo

There are hundreds of date spots in Manhattan, but I’ve always enjoyed going out on the Upper West Side.

Of all the potential activities for a date, my favorite by far is a walk in the neighborhood. When I was single, I had several routes that I took with regularity, depending on the person, season, and time, but the promenade on Riverside Park along the Hudson River is hard to beat.

conservatory gardenMy date and I would meet at the 91st Street Garden (“Hey, did you ever see You’ve Got Mail?”) and walk along the side of the Hudson, down to the edge of Pier 1 just south of 71st Street. Along the way, we might stop off for a drink at the 79th Street Boat Basin or play with the dogs at the 72nd Street Dog Run. Depending on the season, we could even watch people kayak on the river. Ultimately we’d end up at the very tip of Pier 1, far from the noise of New York, but only a few blocks away from everything.

Unfortunately, not every day is clear and trying to get someone to meet up with you to take a walk in the dead of winter isn’t going to work. Not that I didn’t try.

Instead we’d head to Dive 75 on West 75th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. It’s not only one of the best bars in the area, it’s one of the best in the city.

Back when I went to Dive, there were always chocolate and candies provided free on every table, but that seems to have gone away, at least the last time I was there. What hasn’t gone away, though, are two things: relatively quiet music and board games.

Those two items alone make this a great date spot. The former is a must because the whole point of a date at the start of a relationship is to get to know the other person; if music is blasting, there’s not going to be a lot of talking.

As for the latter, the reason why board games are great for dates – at least in a bar –goes to the heart of why games are enjoyable in the first place. Friendly competition can bring out the best, or the worst, in people.  In a high-stakes game of Connect Four, you find out pretty quickly if your date knows how to have fun.

dinosaurWhich brings me to my last suggestion for a great date spot that’s quintessentially Upper West Side: The Museum of Natural History. Where else can you ask someone to meet you by a statue of Teddy Roosevelt riding a horse, then walk among the dinosaurs, and explore the entire universe from a theater seat.

Like I said, there are hundreds of places to go on a date in Manhattan. But few of them can beat this ‘hood.

Logan Lo is a blogger living on the Upper West Side (www.loganlo.com) and also the author of a very contemporary book on dating called A Great First Date, which is available February 14, 2014 everywhere ebooks are sold including iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. West Side Rag readers can get a 10% discount if they buy the book for their e-reader here and use the code PY72Z.

Photos by Logan Lo.

COLUMNS, OUTDOORS | 17 comments | permalink
    1. Dan says:

      Note that what you refer to as “Pier 1” is actually “Pier i”. See here: http://piericafe.com/

      • Harriet says:

        I’ve simplified it in my brain. Now I just call it The Pier Cafe. I have known for YEARS that it is actually the Pier i cafe, but my brain insists on thinking Pier 1. Is that a reasonable compromise?

    2. Paris says:

      I certainly would never consider a dive bar or a board game for romantic dates. I think either of those could be fast relationship enders.

      • Logan Lo says:

        Hey Paris – thanks for the comment.

        Well, that actually is a good response – because what’s the point of a first date? To get to know the other person.

        And isn’t that point accomplished pretty quickly when you go to a dive bar and that’s absolutely the last place you want to be?

        On the flip side, I’d hate wasting someone else’s time pretending to be someone/something I’m not – and my time too.

        Win-win, no?

      • Kris says:

        It depends on the chick. A guy took me to MOBar for our first date and I was thoroughly uncomfortable.

        • Logan Lo says:

          Absolutely – every person is different. The person that I would like (and probably would like me back) is someone that’s more Dive 75 and less MOBar. At least in the beginning.

    3. NikFromNYC says:

      Oh, wow, Dive 75 now has real (and even low carb) food till 4AM daily. That makes it a possible replacement of Nick’s for this newly minted jeweler who needs to get out of his studio a lot or suffer brain lock. Maybe it’s too loud though? My main alternative is the quick express train to Little Korea, though Manhattan Diner is so pleasantly upscale that it’s good till 1AM.

      There are tonight thousands of singles on Meetup.com and other event sites, heading out to club parties, none on the UWS, but these types of regular events downtown tend to drain the UWS of singles at night, I ruefully note, so it’s a great place to date, but a social desert for adult singles.

      • Logan Lo says:

        I personally loved Manhattan Diner (the one on 77th) but it closed a few years back in 2011 I think.

        It was a nice counterpoint to Nick’s, which also closed. A shame.

    4. UWS Guy says:

      Really? Those are a very weak.

      91st Garden to boat basin to Pier 1? You realize this was V. Day in February, not mid-summer. Not a very good seasonal suggestion.

      Dive 75 as the one romantic/eating establishment on the UWS? Of all of the potential places on the UWS? Nothing like setting expectations low for future dates. Are you getting paid for this recommendation?

      • Logan Lo says:

        I think the focus here is low-key.

        It sounds like you want to impress a date – which is fine, but not what these spots are about. These spots are places where you actually get to know each other.

        And Dive 75 doesn’t offer any food (AFAIK) so it’s not an eating date place; it’s just bar date place and still the best one in my opinion in the area – but I’ll gladly take others.

    5. WhatsUpDuck says:

      Our first date was at AMNH. Our engagement was on 75th St, with celebratory food from the Cottage (or Empire, I forget). Our entire building saw us off the morning of the wedding, and the staff at the Utopia served a great breakfast the next day.
      Born and raised here, we couldn’t have a more UWS relationship if we tried!

    6. LH says:

      What a nice tribute to romantic Riverside Park!

    7. Good suggestions, even for married couples. Maybe especially for us.

      • Logan Lo says:

        Thanks!

        I think that a date with anyone, including one’s wife or husband, should all aim for the same goal of quality fun time.