"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other," said French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "but in looking outward together in the same direction." Whether it's an anniversary, wedding, honeymoon, Valentine's Day or just a weekend getaway, New York City is one of the top destinations for blossoming romance.
It should come as no surprise that one of the most romantic restaurants on our list floats! The three-hour World Yacht cruises (Pier 81) feature four-course dinners by some of New York City's most renowned chefs. While you partake in panoramic views of the Hudson River, Manhattan, the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, you'll dine on mixed greens, caviar, roast Long Island Duck, filet mignon, herb-encrusted salmon, roasted chicken with yam potatoes, vegetable ravioli with roasted red peppers in a cream sauce and veal shank. DJs play in the background, adding ambiance and the opportunity for some post-dining dancing to make your night even more special. For $109 a person, you really can't lose on this date.
Upstairs at 21 is an intimate, 21-seat restaurant featuring everything from filet mignon and lamb to bacon-wrapped rabbit and mussels marinara. You may even spot a celebrity or two quietly dining at this new hotspot. Café des Aristes has everything an artist would ever want -- dim lights, French food and vibrant murals. The River Café in Brooklyn offers the perfect view of the water and the Brooklyn Bridge, so it's no wonder this is the place to be during the Independence Day fireworks. The rest of the year, their modern seafood dishes and rare entrees delight the palette. One If By Land, Two If By Sea -- the 2009 Diner's Choice Award Winner -- is often heralded as one of the most romantic places to dine if you're into exposed brick, cozy dim lighting and fancy three-course meals.
The Plaza Hotel on Central Park South is fit for a Greek god with its opulent interior bathed in gold lighting, and Victorian artwork and furniture. The Waldorf-Astoria is another decadent accommodation reminiscent of 1940s Hollywood elegance with chandeliers, white marble and towering columns. The Dream Hotel is a more affordable option, offering surreal ambiance like no other -- mood lighting in every room, Asian-themed art motifs and sleek, modern furniture. The New York Palace in Midtown offers modern penthouses with floor-to-ceiling windows, plush furniture and marble bathrooms. Downtown aficionados frequent the Soho Grand Hotel, which offers a romantic weekend getaway package that includes breakfast in bed, cocktails in the lounge, a champagne toast, chocolate-covered caramels, roses, candles, late checkout, shopping discounts and an optional weekend itinerary.
The Paramount Hotel in Times Square understands your need to simplify life with an all-inclusive package that focuses on romance. This is the perfect option for guys looking to pop the big question or celebrate a special occasion. Guests receive a room, dinner at Alfredo's of Rome restaurant and two tickets to a Broadway show; or a room, 90-minute harbor cruise, Broadway show tickets and Empire State building observatory entrance, starting at $214. Easy add-ons can be made for flower deliveries, personal shoppers, in-room champagne or whatever your heart desires.
Romantic Activities for Spring & Summer
"Let's take a stroll through Central Park," you say, seized by the urge to take a romantic hand-in-hand walk with your sweet. You just might find yourself surrounded by litter, vagabonds and the smell of horse manure, if you're not careful! It's best to do your homework before you visit the Big Apple and determine exactly where in Central Park you'd like to go and how you'll get there. Covering 843 acres can be exhausting if you just ate a delicious meal and didn't wear the right walking shoes. You can see an Alice in Wonderland statue, walk through Strawberry Fields, catch a Philharmonic Orchestra concert, enjoy a picnic, take a horse and carriage ride, visit the zoo, glide in a Venetian gondola boat beneath Bow Bridge or revel in the Belvedere Castle -- if you know where to look.
If your lover is a shopaholic, you may want to take one for the team and take him or her to world famous Fifth Avenue, home to Bloomingdale's, Tiffany's, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, to name a few shopping meccas. The Chelsea Market is a suitable place to find chocolates, a nice bottle of wine from the Chelsea Wine Vault and perhaps even a book or two from Books of Wonder, The Strand or Bauman Rare Books. You might also want to peruse the Diamond District, where -- you guessed it -- there is a whole district full of diamond jewelers.
For uplifting, sentimental views of the city: the top of the Empire State Building, the Southstreet Seaport, a Liberty Helicopters tour, the lighted fountains at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, the Harbor Light Cruise on the Hudson River, the Brooklyn Bridge park, a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, or the Top of the Tower at Beekman Tower Hotel.
Romantic Activities for Fall & Winter
In the winter, nature lovers should visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for a cozy walk amid the aroma of 250,000 lush plants. You'll see delicate orchids, manuka, gladiolus, bonsais, poinsettias and amaryllis, among others. You may want to return during the warm weather to take an outdoor garden stroll for the fragrant roses, wild herbs and lily pool terrace.
Outdoors, the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink can be a pleasant couple's activity as you hold hands and try to keep your balance, all before taking in a piping hot cappuccino. Nearby, you'll also find the Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios and the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's 2 million exhibits never disappoint, with an astounding collection of Egyptian art dating back to 300,000 B.C. and an equally impressive collection of medieval armor, as well as modern masterpieces from Jackson Pollock and Chuck Close. The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum are also world-class destinations to explore while you're in town.
Let's face it: Everyone likes to be pampered. Indulge in the scent of Aveda's rosemary-mint massage lotion as you and your loved one get a couple's massage at the Oasis Day Spa (at the Affinia Dumont Hotel), just four blocks from the Empire State Building. The 60-minute, side-by-side massage and 60-minute, side-by-side facial will run you $400 altogether. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is the ultimate experience for newlyweds or romantic getaways.