Anybody can do dinner and a movie—but how about impressing that extraordinary someone in your life with an extraordinary date? With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, planning a special romantic outing—whether it's an evening or a weekend—is a sure way to make you a hero, and New York State provides a breathtaking array of activities that will help you break the ice on a new romance or warm up a lifelong partnership.
Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.
Not a Last Resort
You don't even have to leave your room (or at least the grounds) of unique resorts including Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa on Long Island; the wilderness Adirondack Loj; the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown; the Inn at Erlowest along Lake George; Belhurst Castle in the Finger Lakes; Singer Castle on one of the Thousand Islands; the historic Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley; and the themed rooms of the Roxbury Hotel in the Catskills.
Take in the romance of historic homes, from Long Island's Gold Coast mansions like Oheka Castle, and the Vanderbilt Mansion & Museum; to Hudson Valley estates like Olana and the Vanderbilt Mansion; to Rochester's Eastman House; to Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House and Graycliff Estate in and around Buffalo.
Catch a Show
Share an armrest watching some fantastic shows throughout the state. Check out a Broadway show in New York City for a world-class theater experience, or explore the music scene in the Capital Region, including popular and tribute bands at the Palace, Jazz and African music at Proctors, dance performances EMPAC, and classical performances at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. In the Hudson Valley, listen to some classical music at the Richard Fischer Center for the Performing Arts. Further west, take in top-notch comedy and Broadway shows at Rochester's Auditorium Theater and performance art at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.
Walk hand-in-hand among the masters at art museums including the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City; DIA Beacon and Center for Contemporary Art in the Hudson Valley; the Albany Institute of History & Art; Frederick Remington Museum of Western Art in the Thousand Islands; Fenimore Art Museum (opens April 1st) and Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Central New York; and Burchfield Penny Art Center in Greater Niagara.
Fall in Love with a View
Photo by Julienne Schaer
Have your breath taken away by inspirational views from observation decks like the Empire State Building, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, and Top of the Rock, or over waterways from the Brooklyn Bridge and the Walkway Over the Hudson. You can also take in stunning vistas of the natural world from inside the aptly named Cloudsplitter Gondola at Whiteface Mountain, or next to the frozen mist of Niagara Falls. Don’t forget to grab a hot chocolate or coffee to keep you and your partner warm as you check out these magnificent views.
An Underground Date
Take your relationship underground—15 stories to be exact—into the northeast's largest show cave, Howe Caverns, where the temperature is 52 degrees year round. Lantern tours on weekend evenings inspire additional snuggling. While you’re 156 feet under, put your minds together to break out of “The Cave,” Howe Caverns high-tech immersive escape room!
Get your heart pumping and adrenaline flowing at the Greek Peak Outdoor Adventure Center, snowmobiling in the Tug Hill Plateau, or joining a bobsled ride at Mount Van Hoven in Lake Placid.
Exchange Eskimo kisses on a real dogsled ride on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid. Just steps away, whoosh down onto the lake from a wooden toboggan run (which opens in February, weather dependent).
Dazzle your partner with a visit inside the world's largest kaleidoscope at Emerson Resort, where you can stay in one of the property's many luxurious rooms, indulge in a spa treatment, or dine at one of its several restaurants. If you're inspired to take home your own kaleidoscope, the gift shop has some that are slightly more portable.
Have Some Class
Learn something new together, like making your own glasswork at the Corning Museum of Glass, and getting an introduction to ceramics at the Wellsville Creative Arts Center in Western New York. There are plenty of options if you want to learn to cook or bake, including at the New York Wine & Culinary Center, Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, or Culinary Institute of America.
Tropics Close to Home
Get tropical close to home at botanical gardens. The temperature is balmy year round in the conservatories of the New York Botanical Gardens, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, now offering Gardens After Dark: Enchanted Winter Escape. At some locations, the beauty goes wild, with tropical birds and reptiles at the Joseph L Popp Conservatory in Oneonta (opening in Spring), and the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden at the Strong Museum in Rochester.
Romance on the Wild Side
Get in touch with your animal side at aquariums like the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, and the Long Island Aquarium which is set to host ChocoVino on February 10th, a five-course dinner plus a chocolate and wine tasting all next to aquatic displays. Book a Penguin Encounter at the Aquarium of Niagara, or spend time at the Bronx Zoo and Utica Zoo with critters in outdoor habitats and warm indoor environments
Best Way to the Heart is Through the Stomach
Have a culinary adventure visiting the farm and eating in the Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant (advance reservations required); sampling ice wines on the Niagara Wine Trail or in the Finger Lakes, tasting craft beers at Brewery Ommegang, Ellicottville Brewing Company, and Saranac Brewery.
Love on Ice
Grab your skates and put your love on ice, gliding and twirling at rinks including Rockefeller Center (pictured) and Bryant Park in New York City, Harborfront Park on Long Island, Bear Mountain Ice Rink in the Hudson Valley, Clinton Square Ice Rink in Syracuse, the Empire State Plaza Ice Rink in Albany, and the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Lake Placid. Canalside in Buffalo has ice bikes for rent and heated geometric igloos that are sure to keep you warm, light up your night and create the perfect photo on Instagram!
Cold weather makes for great snuggling after downhill skiing at more than 50 ski resorts—more than any other state. For experts there is the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies at Whiteface, and for beginners many slopes offer inclusive packages with lessons and equipment rental. Snowboarding and adventure park thrills too! Don't forget to après-ski!
Winter Walk in the Woods
Take a walk through a winter wonderland at spots like the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area and Sam's Point Preserve in the Catskills, Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Albany, Minna Anthony Common Nature Center in the Thousand Islands, Landis Arboretum in the Capital Region, and Tifft Nature Preserve and Audubon Nature Center and Sanctuary in Chautauqua-Allegheny. Some have snowshoeing available, or even cross-country skiing.
One of the Best Winter Carnivals in the World
Eat, drink, and join the fun at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, whose ice castle helped make it National Geographic Traveler's second-best winter carnival in the world. Participate in cross-country skiing, ultimate frisbee, volleyball tournaments, and a spectacular fireworks display. This year’s theme is "Roman around Carnival."
Don't forget to post photos of your New York adventures on Instagram and Twitter with #iSpyNY and tag us on Facebook!