15 Romantic Places to Propose in New York City
These iconic and lesser-known locales are ideal for the perfect proposal in the Big Apple.
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With so many romantic places to choose from within the 843-acre park, the hardest part is deciding which one. Iconic Bow Bridge and Bethesda Fountain are among the most popular, while Belvedere Castle (and the Ramble behind it) are equally swoon-worthy. For something quieter, head to the six-acre Conservatory Garden or the all-white Ladies Pavilion. As a bonus, either location can even host small ceremonies. For more privacy, rent a rowboat from the Loeb Boathouse, then celebrate at the open-air restaurant.
Prospect Park in Brooklyn is ideal if you’re seeking a less touristy version of Central Park. Plus, the park contains its own gorgeous boathouse (pictured), along with boat and bike rentals, a zoo, roller-skating rink and miles of picturesque trails. For the ultimate proposal, consider an hour-long horseback ride along the park’s bridle path, which can be arranged through Kensington Stables.
Empire State Building
As an enduring symbol of love, the Empire State Building has been featured in many rom-com movies. As such, it continues to attract couples (and everyone else) from around the world. To prevent tourist hordes from marring the moment, choose an off-peak time for the occasion — the Empire State actually stays open until 2 a.m. Morning people can take advantage of sunrise tickets, just know that those are limited to 100 people a day. Or time the question Thursday through Sunday night, when a saxophonist plays from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. in the summer, and until midnight the rest of the year.
Gramercy Park Hotel
Gramercy Park Hotel is five stars all the way for those who want to experience a movie version of the city. Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame is behind this celeb hot spot, whose boho-chic rooms and decor emphasize colorful luxe velvet, while priceless artwork (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring) is displayed throughout the hotel. But the real reason to stay here is so you can propose in Gramercy Park (pictured), a private garden that only local residents — and hotel guests — can access with a key. Afterward, grab celebratory drinks at the Rose and Jade Bars with the rest of the in-crowd.
Roosevelt Island Tram
The Roosevelt Island Tram, NYC’s only aerial tram, connects the Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island, a tiny sliver of a neighborhood that’s technically Manhattan. The ride might be less than five minutes, but it’s long enough to pop the question while admiring spectacular 360 skyline views. Once across, stroll around Roosevelt Island, a quaint, largely residential two-mile stretch containing a promenade and minuscule downtown. Depending on your definition of romance, you’ll also find a park and lighthouse on one end, and an abandoned smallpox hospital (featured in the 2002 Spider-Man movie) on the other.
Grand Central Terminal
Train stations are intertwined with romance and adventure, and Grand Central Terminal is no exception. However, since nobody can accuse the station of being romantic during rush hour, pick an off-peak time for expressing your love. Romantic spots include on the double staircase, made from Botticino marble; underneath the historic zodiac ceiling; or in front of the four-sided opal clock. If the station is pretty empty, you can even whisper your intentions to your beloved from the opposite end of the Whispering Gallery. Afterward, celebrate at the newly rehabbed Campbell (formerly Campbell Apartments), a not-so-secret vintage cocktail bar in the station’s southwest corner. Or time your proposal in order to board a Metro North train heading to the romantic Hudson Valley towns of Tarrytown or Cold Spring.
Admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes same-day admission to The Cloisters, which showcases the Met’s medieval collection, but far fewer visitors make the trek to Manhattan’s northern tip for this gem. (It’s best known for housing the Unicorn Tapestries.) Here, proposal options range from The Cloisters’ courtyard garden (pictured), or in the surrounding Fort Tryon Park along the Hudson River. You can’t go wrong with either.
The High Line
This elevated park, which stretches more than a mile along former train tracks, opened to the public in 2009. Since then the High Line has witnessed many happy proposals, thanks in no small part to Hudson River and city skyline views. Crowds can reach Times Square proportions on the weekends, so consider an early morning, late night or mid-week proposal in order to find an empty bench or quiet nook. Afterward, there’s no shortage of bars and restaurants below to celebrate, such as The Park. Reserve a table in the enclosed garden area, where Japanese maple trees and twinkly lights lend an enchanted garden air.
Staten Island Ferry
Few things spell romance like a boat ride that highlights downtown's cityscape. The Staten Island Ferry continuously makes the 25-minute trip between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island, passing the Statue of Liberty in the process. (Those old enough to remember will recall its starring role in the 1988 hit Working Girl.) Luckily, avoiding rush hour isn’t difficult, as the ferry runs 24/7. Plus, you can even buy beer on board. The best part? It doesn’t cost a cent to ride.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Like Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park possesses endless proposal options along its mile-plus waterfront between Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. Favorite proposal spots include Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo, where you can also enjoy sweeping views of Brooklyn Bridge and the lower Manhattan skyline. You’ll find equally stunning views from the promenade in Brooklyn Heights; propose near the recently renovated River Café, tailor-made for celebrating romantic occasions. Whichever you choose, plan to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge before or after the big question. (While the iconic bridge is great for photo shoots, ever-present crowds and cyclists make romantic proposals challenging.)
Coney Island Boardwalk
Spend the day alternating between the beach and amusement park rides on the famed Coney Island Boardwalk, home to Luna Park and the Cyclone roller coaster, the original Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, the New York Aquarium and Steeplechase Pier. Wait for a private moment on the Ferris wheel to propose, or stroll toward the quieter Manhattan Beach end of the boardwalk for that special moment.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Forget you’re in the city at the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a visual wonderland with a lily pool terrace, rose garden and 6,000-square-foot tropical pavilion. Come April, the garden’s impressive Cherry Esplanade is one of the best places in the country to view cherry blossoms, as is the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden (pictured.) Both are also some of the most romantic spots in the city to propose.
Pier A Harbor House
Located in Battery Park along the Hudson River, Pier A Harbor House is a prime spot for admiring the Statue of Liberty. Sit outdoors and also admire the sailboats and sunset while getting cozy over oysters, garlic shrimp and craft cocktails. Pick a quieter night so you can propose along the waterfront railing without having to jockey for a spot. Or head upstairs, where the co-founders behind acclaimed cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit have recently opened the high-end BlackTail. This sexy spot channels a throwback Cuban vibe, from the décor to the menu, along with plenty of candlelit tables to boot.
One if by Land, Two if by Sea
One if by Land, Two if by Sea is the one-time carriage house of former Vice President Aaron Burr; today it continually tops lists as one of the most romantic places to propose in the city. This fact is hard to dispute, as its candlelit atmosphere, fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling arched windows with garden views are the definition of romance. Of course, this picture wouldn’t be complete without a pianist and haunted history. Just don’t be surprised if you’re not the only couple getting engaged here.
Lincoln Center is a must for those who love high culture, and what better than to catch an opera or ballet before proposing? Of course, tickets aren’t required to simply enjoy the 16-acre complex, home to quiet plazas tucked in between buildings. Although, Revson Fountain (pictured) is Lincoln Center’s focal point, and there are even five-minute long choreographed shows throughout the day. But wait until nightfall, when the fountain is lit, for the most romantic moment.