Dating and Relationship Advice

Going on a first date is awkward enough without having to worry about spreading a global pandemic. I mean, I’d like to at least learn your favorite color before you get your respiratory droplets all over me. So what’s a pandemic single to do?!

Enter: the socially distanced park date.

Sure, sitting at different tables outside the Starbucks Reserve in the West Village and shouting over traffic is fun, but it’s not exactly ripe for romance. On the other hand, taking in some of the lushest green spaces NYC has to offer? Sparks. Will. Fly.

New York has tons of parks, but not all are created equal when it comes to a socially distanced first date. These, in my Expert New Yorker opinion, are the best.

Central Park

It’s cliché for a reason. Central Park is awesome. You have your heavy-hitter spots like Sheep’s Meadow (the expansive lawn you’ve seen in all the movies), the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace (you know, the place with the arches and pretty tiles?), and the Ramble (the wandering pathways that resemble an actual forest path). There are also more unknown Central Park spots that will wow a date from a distance.

Take the Conservatory Garden, for example. Nestled on the Northeast end of the park at 105th and Fifth Avenue, this formal garden is an oasis within the oasis. It. Is. Gorgeous.  Stunning pergolas with creeping vines, intimate pathways bordered by overflowing flower beds, and majestic seasonal displays of tulips and roses. It’s ideal for a masked get-to-know-you walk and perfect for relaxing six feet apart under the whispering willow trees.

Romantic gardens aren’t your thing? Try a statue hunt. Central Park is home to 29 statues scattered throughout its vast greenness. Take your date on an adventure to find Balto, see if you can spot Alice perched on a toadstool with the White Rabbit, or sit with Hans Christian Anderson as he reads to an ugly duckling.

Prospect Park

Beautiful parks aren’t restricted to Manhattan. Prospect Park in Brooklyn has over 585 acres of natural gorgeousness, which is ripe for a socially distanced date.

Bring a picnic (with two blankets, of course) and sit by the expansive Prospect Park lake to feel like you’re miles away from the city. Take in a bit of history at Grand Army Plaza, the awe-inspiring entrance to the park that was built back in 1866. Toss a frisbee back and forth alongside the hipsters that heavily populate Long Meadow.

If you want to really get away from it all and have some privacy with your date, pay a visit to the Nethermead. Located in the center of the park, this open field is usually less crowded than other popular spaces. On some days, it even has food trucks. #brooklyn

Brooklyn Bridge Park

If you and your date want to enjoy open space but still feel like you’re in the city, Brooklyn Bridge Park is for you. Spliced out of the very edge of Brooklyn, this long and thin park follows the East River from the beginning of Atlantic Avenue to just past the Manhattan Bridge, offering unimpeded city views and the relaxing sound of water lapping on rocks.

Enjoy an active date by biking with your beau up and down the Greenway, a designated bike path that runs from Pier 1 to Pier 6 — just don’t forget your sanitizing wipes for the Citi Bikes. Snap Insta-worthy pics of the bridge and indulge in delicious Ample Hills Creamery ice cream at Fulton Ferry Landing right at the foot of Old Fulton Street. Or, my personal favorite, take in the glittering lights of lower Manhattan from the waterside benches at Pier 1.

Even in a city of 8.3 million people, there is plenty of space for socially distanced first dates.