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Valentine’s Day Ideas in New York City: Romantic Holiday on a Budget in NYC

Updated on October 26, 2017
Catherine Stolfi profile image

Catherine is an independent research consultant at NASA Langley with degrees in English, Biology, and Environmental Science (M.S.).

Romance in New York City
Romance in New York City | Source
Flamingo Love at the Zoo
Flamingo Love at the Zoo | Source

Those of us that are not able to splurge for that pricey valentine dinner and rare bottle of wine for our loved one should know there are an abundance of things to do this February holiday that won’t break the bank. You’ll save money but still romance that special someone with these affordable and free romantic excursions around New York City and the surrounding boroughs including Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

A great valentine spot is the Queens Botanical Gardens, a short distance away from Manhattan. Enjoy a romantic excursion through the park to view the flowers and fauna with your loved one right at your side. Snowdrop, Witch Hazel and Andromeda are in bloom only in the month of February. The Garden is open from 8am until 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 14th and it’s located at 43rd Avenue and Main Street.

White Castle Romantic Dinner
White Castle Romantic Dinner | Source
Gapstow Bridge in Central Park, NYC
Gapstow Bridge in Central Park, NYC | Source

If you're traveling to New York City, it may be well worth the efforts to visit Central Park where it's beautiful year round. Spot a bench anywhere amongst the natural surroundings of the park and share a special moment with your special valentine. There are ponds and hidden rivers in this hidden park in the middle of this major city. There are many famous bridges throughout the park of New York City that have been the scene of many romantic movie scenes including When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail and the more recent Enchanted. You can then head up to Rockefeller Center, between 49th & 52nd streets and 5th & 7th avenues, and enjoy a walk around the skating rink and promenade. If time allows, hop on the line for some iceskating hand-in-hand. The walk between locations can be just as romantic. You could hear live street jazz and improvising musicians along Broadway and within Washington Circle. The hand-in-hand stroll will be sure to warm anyone in the bitter winter weather.

Why not spend the day under the stars at the Hayden Planetarium? The planetarium shows are not free but are definitely affordable and entry to the museum is by donation only. On Valentine’s Day there is a special event at the American Museum of Natural History called, ‘Romance Under the Stars.’ The fee is steep but includes an open bar, champagne, chocolates and appetizers, as well as string quartet orchestra music to be followed by a romantic planetarium show that includes a view of the night sky and romance stories from the ancient past.

For most people, having a good sense of humor is sexy in a partner. For this reason alone, you need to take your date to one of the many comedy clubs throughout New York City for a night of laughter and good times. Entries to these shows are always affordable while there is usually a drink minimum. A few of the more famous places to see comedy acts are Carolines, the Comedy Cellar, Gotham, and Upright Citizens Brigade.

The Bronx Zoo is open all year round with hours from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the winter months. Stroll along the paths at the zoo to look out for other wild animals. You can also visit the other zoos located in the adjacent boroughs that are also part of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s organization of zoos including in Central Park, Flushing Meadows in Queens and near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. While strolling pass the animal displays, make a romantic moment even more romantic by dropping tidbits on the species in the animal kingdom that mate for life, which includes penguins, swans, gibbons, different bird species and even wolves.

How about ending the night with a free cruise? The Staten Island Ferry is free and runs 24 hours a day and frequently throughout the day. Take in the sights of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, lower Manhattan, Wall Street skyscrapers, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Keep in mind, especially on the water, it is still winter and can be quite breezy so be sure to bundle up and snuggle close to your loved one on the most romantic day of the year.

For something really out of the ordinary and a unique Valentine’s Day experience with that special someone, let White Castle be their host for the romantic night. Forty-five White Castle’s in the New York area are candle lit and adorned with decorations and flowers for couples from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Cravers will be presented with a special menu, steamed burgers included, and side table service. This is the tenth year White Castle is playing host to this reservations-only event while it’s the ninth year for what they call, the “Cupid’s Crave Kit.” The $20 package includes eight cheeseburgers, a sack of fries, two regular soft drinks, a custom candy tin and photo frame, a customizable greeting card, and a special Valentine’s Day coupon book. The to-go kit is also by reservation to be picked up at the host restaurant. Reservations fill up quickly.


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