5 NYC First Date Ideas That Aren’t Getting Drinks

Remember that scene in the Sex and the City movie when Carrie asks Jennifer Hudson why she moved to New York and she dead-ass said, “to fall in love”? Yeah…lol. Look, I moved here two years ago (for a job) and I’ve learned that in order to fall in love, you have to go on a first date. I miss college, a place where I could meet my boyfriend at a fraternity party while fully blacked out and not have to worry about it. Needless to say, we met, made out, ate leftover Chipotle in my dorm room and then dated for two years. Those were the f*cking days. Post-grad dating in New York is nothing like that, for a number of reasons (like the epidemic of guys who will ghost you after meeting your family but then watch all your Insta stories), but also because you will have to slog through lots of first dates.

So all of this made me think about why I hate first dates so much and I landed on the following: meeting up with a person, whether you have previously met or not, at a loud bar at 8pm on a Tuesday sucks. It just does. Unless you work until 8pm, in which case, I’m so sorry, no sound-minded person wants to put on makeup and a cute outfit and sip cocktails at the time you’re usually clicking “watch next episode” on Netflix. So then I thought: why don’t we just not do the whole “let’s get drinks” thing for a first date, and let me just say, I’ve never been happier. So if you’re interested in something other than screaming over each other over $14 cocktails, read on for NYC date options that are not at a bar. 

1. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain

Ok, I know this sounds aggressive, but maybe not! I’m a messy, disgusting eater, so I figure the guy who may end up dating me would probably like to find out if he can stand the sight of me deep-throating a cheeseburger sooner rather than later. I’m just looking out. Anyway, this Cobble Hill spot is too f*cking cute to pass up. Seriously, I am made of ice and even I loved it, but more importantly, Blake Lively loves it. Okay, so if you are unclear as to what this place actually is, allow me to enlighten you. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain is an old-school diner in an authentic pharmacy circa the 1920s. According to the website, the exterior was ugly af, so the current owners redid it so that it matched the adorable interiors, which haven’t been touched (except for necessary changes, like electric and plumbing) since the pharmacy opened. This place serves classics like banana splits, corndogs, etc.

Since no one reading this was on the dating scene back in the days when the youths actually went on dates to places like this, you won’t be able to appreciate it from a nostalgic perspective, but you will be able to obsess over it from an aesthetic perspective. If you’re going to go here, don’t pretend you’re too cool to be there and order something stupid. Live it the f*ck up and get a root beer float with two straws and chase it with a big-ass order of fries. If there is no second date after going here, he ain’t worth sh*t. Next!

2. Kick Axe

I don’t know about y’all, but I love a good pun. You know what else I love? Winding up and hurling a three-pound axe across a room. Just fun girly things! Full disclosure, if you don’t have a sense of humor, this place isn’t for you. Unlike bowling (ew) or shooting (gag), no one is actually good at throwing an axe. But that’s why it’s so fun. This place is also really cool because, unlike your childhood bowling alley, there is an aesthetic here. If you’ve ever been to one of those wineries in Redhook, it kind of looks like that, except there’s a giant area blocked off for guests to catapult axes through the air with the greatest of ease. Book a reservation and eat/drink first and throw axes after. And if the date goes poorly, you already have a weapon in hand! (Kidding. Am I? …Yeah okay.)

3. Comedy Cellar

This is my favorite place in the world, which is saying a lot considering I’ve been to the Amsterdam Cheese Museum twice. Seriously, if I could get married at Comedy Cellar, I would. *Googles if Comedy Cellar does weddings* Look, this is truly a perfect place to go on a first date because you’ll know immediately if he/she has a sense of humor or is the type of asshole who heckles comedians. These are the only qualities you need to know about a person! You’ll also find out if he/she can hang pretty quickly because if you’re going to Comedy Cellar in a group of two, you will most likely be seated in the front row, which is essentially on the stage and there’s nothing better than Amy Schumer asking how you and your date met. You will get called out and if your date can roll with it, he/she’s a keeper! Comedy Cellar, or any comedy club for that matter, is also amazing because you don’t really have to talk. In fact, don’t talk! The comedians will yell at you and that’s embarrassing. I know what you’re thinking: but if we don’t talk, how will we get to know one another? Look, you don’t learn anything of substance on a first date, okay? You learn what kind of food they don’t like, how many siblings they have and, if you’re lucky, how over their ex they are. So Comedy Cellar is a good and realistic alternative to the classic, “what’s your favorite color?” kind of questions on a “let’s get drinks” first date. There’s also a bar next door where you can get drinks after, so chill.

4. The Belfry

Most bars have a trivia night and, in my opinion, you will find out everything you need to know about a person based on how they perform at trivia.The Belfry is a cool of-the-moment bar, but on Tuesdays, they have a flamin’ hot game of trivia! Of course, they have delicious discounted specials that change every week, so if you like cheap bar food that’s usually expensive while you realize you know absolutely nothing about World War I, the Belfry is for you. If you’re wondering why this place is different/better than other bars who do trivia, I’ll tell you. Those other places are horrifying sports bars that have inexplicably sticky floors and toilet paper everywhere. Like your college bar, only worse because you’re not in college anymore. The Belfry is actually a really cool bar and somewhere you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be if you ran into someone you know there any other night of the week. It’s chic, it’s delicious, and it’s actually pretty expensive, but 100% worth it. 

5. Escape The Room

I’d have to say that I lost my innocence after seeing Brie Larson slay in Room. This movie freaked me out so much that I am truly shocked people are willing to pay money to get locked in a room with other people, relying on clues to get themselves out. However, I did an escape room once and it was f*cking fun. There were moments when I thought, “Yep, this is how I’m going to die,” but there were also moments when I realized that maybe I wouldn’t be the first to go if the Hunger Games were real! Escape rooms are a great first date because if you’re smart (hello), you get to show off how clever you are, which is such a turn-on, right? If you are both dumb and can’t figure out how to escape, they will let you out, and you can laugh about it after. After that, you can celebrate not dying with a drink or seven! And if your date sucks, you can take the escape room literally and run away after.

Images: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash; escapetheroomusa, belfrynyc, comedycellarusa, kickaxethrowing, brooklynfarmacy / Instagram