UPPER WEST SIDE — As the dog days of summer take hold, the pressure mounts to design a date-night that's fresh enough to impress.
Luckily, the season — and the city — burst with creative options to help spice up your connection with a longtime liaison or launch a new fling.
DNAinfo New York scoured Gotham for a few inspiring options. Whether you crave an outing full of new experiences or conversation starters — famous tombstones? abstract art? — here are five dates to book now:
For the Romantic — Stargazing at the High Line
14th Street and 10th Avenue
In the summer, from about 8:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. each Tuesday, members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York set up telescopes and explain the heavens to passersby.
Stargazers experience a sense of awe, said Joe Delfausse, one of the volunteer astronomer guides.
“I’ve had people say to me ‘You’ve changed my life’ or ‘You’ve made my day,’” Delfausse said.
“There are always a couple of teenagers you can’t impress, but most people are really amazed the first time they see Jupiter through a telescope.”
Stargazing is one of the High Line’s most popular events, with many couples stopping by, said Kate Lindquist, the High Line's director of communications.
“It’s memorable, it’s romantic and it’s free,” Lindquist said. “It’s the best kind of date you can have in our fabulous, yet expensive, city.”
Manhattan's bright lights don’t hinder the stargazing, but cloudy skies and thunderstorms do. Be sure to check out the High Line’s twitter feed or the Amateur Astronomers schedule for weather cancellations.
For the Thrifty View-Seeker — Pier I
Riverside Park at 72nd Street
Forget that expensive rooftop bar where you have to shout to be heard. A table along the Hudson River awaits you and your beloved, for free. Pier I restaurant has a food and drink pick-up menu and bathrooms for visitors, but passersby can also sit under the wide umbrellas and lawn furniture and enjoy a view of the setting sun, at no charge.
"It's cheap and it's romantic, with views," said Hannah Corneau, 23, who was lounging with two friends. "Dates can get so expensive...[Pier I] would be a great date night."
It's also a good place to stay cool, said Graham Ken, 25.
"It's easy. You just sit and feel the breeze," he said of the pier, describing it as a picturesque place.
If you're feeling like an amble, walk south along the pretty river pathway and take in the large sculptures that dot Riverside Park — the work of the Art Students League of New York's public art project.
Those feeling a little more flush can end their date by exiting Riverside Park South and heading east towards Columbus Circle to Robert, a restaurant that sits above the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle. As the lights come on at night, couples can perch in the lounge for a drink and look out on Central Park and the whole of the Upper West Side. Drinks will set you back $13 to $15.
For the Hungry — The Lobster Place
75 9th Ave., inside Chelsea Market
If you're looking for an upbeat date to test whether your potential mate is the fussy, uptight sort or if they have the stomach for the long haul (and greenish lobster guts, aka tomalley) head to The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.
Steamed lobsters, served with warm melted butter, are ready to crack at the counters and tables that dot this fish market's perimeter. With choices ranging from $17.95 for a 1 and 1/2-pound lobster to $41.95 for a 3 and 1/2-pound lobster, you're paying a premium for the labor-intensive work of boiling the lobster alive.
"It might be something different — it's a little messy," said Michael Rodd, 31, who was visiting with his wife Cara, 29.
"Maybe for a second date," he suggested as he went back to working on his feast.
Others were put off by The Lobster Place's business and casual decor. "It isn't fancy enough for a date," said Ido Tavor, 29, who was visiting from Israel. But his girlfriend Ella Volkovich, 30, disagreed: "It's not fancy enough for visitors. If we lived here, maybe."
But if you're looking for a memorable experience, then cracking red claws and wearing bibs together could be all you need to create sparks. Remember how endearing the lobster scene in "Annie Hall" was?
For the Adventurous — Trinity Church Cemetery & Mausoleum
770 Riverside Drive between 153rd Street and 155th Street
Visiting the only Manhattan cemetery that’s still taking new residents might not be the most conventional date. But with its many trees and various pastel hydrangeas, the Trinity Church Cemetery feels more like a serene park than a final resting place.
The calm environment is seductive, said Eric K. Washington, a local, independent historian who has been giving tours of the cemetery for 10 years.
“It feels like your own private space, which makes it romantic,” Washington said.
Peppered with graves of historic figures, the cemetery offers one key to a great date: ice-breaking conversation starters. Four former New York City mayors are buried there, including — most famously — Ed Koch. Other notable residents include Clement Clarke Moore, the author of A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night before Christmas), and ornithologist John James Audubon.
Author Ralph Waldo Emerson and actor Jerry Orbach can be found there.
A lesser-known inhabitant who is possibly more appropriate for a lovers' visit is Mercedes de Acosta. De Acosta, a 20th-century American author, is renowned for her many lesbian affairs, most notably with actress Greta Garbo.
The cemetery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and visiting is free. Tours with Eric Washington happen regularly, last about two hours and average $20. News about upcoming tours can be found here.
If you’re looking for a nighttime activity, the Church of the Intercession — the chapel connected to the cemetery — will be hosting a jazz concert in its crypt on Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The Church of the Intercession allows jazz-goers to walk around the cemetery before the performance starts.
For the Arts Maven — Central Park
Want to impress your date with a cultural outing minus the pretention and the cash? Central Park’s informal setting and free performances make this possible.
The Naumburg Bandshell located off 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue will be hosting two classical music concerts. On July 30 at 7:30 p.m., The Knights orchestra will perform pieces by composers ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to Benjamin Britten. On Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m., The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present works by Beethoven, Dvorák and Mozart.
From Aug. 22-26, the park will be showing films for free at 8 p.m. The screen is located in the landscaped zone between the 72nd Street Traverse and the top of Sheep Meadow on 69th Street. This year’s line-up ranges from “Raiders of the Lost Arc” to “West Side Story.” Click here for the schedule.
Free tickets are distributed each performance day (two per person) at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park at noon. Enter the park at 81st Street and Central Park West or 79th Street and Fifth Avenue to reach the box office. Tickets are also distributed by a “virtual lottery” on the day of the show when users create an account on the Public Theater’s website. Tickets are given out in the boroughs on select dates as well.