If you’ve ever watched a rom-com set in New York City, you probably have romantic notions about the top of the Empire State Building, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge. In fact, the Empire State Building even launched a "Happily Ever Empire" proposal package in the fall of 2021. It includes "priority access to the iconic 86th Floor Observatory, where you will take in the sweeping city views before you pop the question, and a complimentary bottle of champagne in a private corner of the iconic outdoor attraction." The package for two people costs $1,000.
While these places are certainly beautiful, iconic, and romantic, there are tons of other less ... shall we say cliché spots around the city that are perfect for lovers. And, many of them are free!
Here are 15 unique spots to propose in New York City.
Up in Fort Tyron Park in Upper Manhattan, you’ll find a place that doesn’t look or feel like you’re in New York City anymore. In fact, it doesn’t even look like you’re in this century anymore. The Cloisters, which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a museum and garden dedicated to Medieval art and artifacts. Though it looks like it was built in the 15th century, it actually only dates back to 1938 but was designed to look like a French Romanesque abbey. Pop the question among the abbey’s beautiful archways and greenery; it will feel almost like you’re in Europe.
Jefferson Market Garden
In the heart of Greenwich Village is one of New York City’s many small gardens. But, Jefferson Market Garden feels special. It’s a tiny oasis in the bustling village overflowing with beautiful floriculture. In the spring it comes alive with tulips and lilacs, roses in June, and gorgeous dinner plate dahlias in the fall, among countless other blossoms. The garden plays host to many weddings, but it’s also a perfect place to propose—check the schedule to see when your sweetheart’s favorite flowers are in bloom. There’s even live music sometimes.
The SeaGlass Carousel opened in Battery Park in 2015 and instantly became a beloved New York City hidden gem. Stepping inside feels like a magical journey of color and light under the sea. Pick a fish and let the music and movement transport you to a whimsical state. We recommend going at night when the lights really shine. Surprise your spouse-to-be with the big question in this fantasy land—and get some great photos too. And outside in Battery Park, enjoy the best view of the Statue of Liberty in the city.
Into the Mad Men vibe? Get dressed up in your chicest attire and head to John F. Kennedy Airport. Yes, you read that right, one of the coolest places to propose in the city is at JFK. It’s the TWA Hotel. Opened in 2019, the hotel is an homage to the golden age of air travel when people got dolled up to fly and martinis were the drink du jour. The red and white hotel has a mod motif and overlooks the airport—it’s like something out of the Jetsons. There are museum exhibits showing the history of Trans World Airlines, a roller rink, and a rooftop pool. Oh, and there's also a '50s-themed cocktail bar inside an airplane. Plus, the best part about being at the airport is that you can take it a step further and surprise your loved one with an impromptu trip right after you pop the question!
There’s a special little gated strip right outside Washington Square Park that will transport you to the cobblestone streets of Europe. It’s called Washington Mews, and it was home to horse stables and farmland back in the day. "Originally designated as private farmland, the street housed horse stables until the early 1900s, when they were converted into open and airy studios for the area's thriving art community (painter Edward Hopper lived here until his death in 1967)," reads NYCGo. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic proposal and photo op. And, if you really love it, you can even live there—for a price. A former carriage house that has been converted to a chic apartment is on the market for nearly $10 million.
There is a similar spot uptown on the Upper West Side called Pomander Walk. It’s a microneighborhood named after a play set in London, and it certainly transports you to England!
Take a ferry over to one of New York City’s most unique little islands. You may know it as the host of the yearly Governors Ball, but when it’s not chock full of music festival-goers, Governors Island is a pretty peaceful place to spend the day—and pop the question. (Or, hey, do it during Gov. Ball if that’s your scene.). The island has grassy rolling hills with views of the Manhattan skyline, public art installations, bike rentals, a lavender field (talk about a proposal photo op!), and a hammock grove where you can lounge with your sweetheart in the sun. It’s open in the winter too for sledding, and there’s a whole winter village with an ice skating rink.
Wave Hill Gardens
Up in the Bronx along the Hudson River is a magical place you might not expect to find: Wave Hill Public Garden. The 28-acre property features a greenhouse and flower garden dotted with bright colors, an herb garden, a wildflower garden, a conservatory housing tropical and desert plants, and more. Then, there’s the perfect proposal spot: a beautiful stone pergola overlooking the river that is picturesque during all seasons. Bring a secret photographer with you and capture a stunning scene here. You can make a whole day of it as the garden hosts art exhibitions and live music, and there's even a café.
Gardens have a big presence on this list, but is there anything more romantic than proposing while surrounded by flowers? And, a plus to the Conservatory Garden is that it’s actually part of Central Park, so it’s free to enter. Located all the way at the top near Harlem is Central Park’s only formal garden with fountains, manicured hedges, and statues. The 6-acre property can be found behind a beautiful iron gate and is composed of three main gardens designed in English, French, and Italian styles. It opened in 1937 and is "named for the glass conservatory that was built at this location in 1899," according to Central Park. It plays host to small weddings but is also a perfect backdrop for a sweet proposal.
You know about the Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, and World Trade Center, but did you know that the highest outdoor skydeck in the Eastern Hemisphere is called Edge. It’s located at Hudson Yards, a new development on the west side of Manhattan. Located 100 stories up and featuring not only glass railings but a glass floor, Edge is probably not for you if you’re scared of heights. But, if you and your honey are cool with floating high above the cityscape, Edge provides an incredible backdrop for a proposal. Think of the photos you’ll get! For daredevils and adventurers, there’s even a package that allows you to scale the side of the building.
If you’re looking for a good New York City photo op, Renwick Triangle is a unique spot in the East Village. As the name implies, it’s a triangular section of street on the corner of Stuyvesant Street and E 10th Street with a gorgeous old stone apartment building as the backdrop. The tree-lined streets around it are peaceful and boast beautiful downtown pre-war architecture. It’s a safe spot to pop the question essentially in the middle of a Manhattan street.
A Beach in Williamsburg
There’s been news floating around about a brand new beach coming to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But, you don’t have to wait because there’s already one there. Follow the cobblestone path at Martha P. Johnson State Park to a sandy stretch along the East River. On nice days and during the sunset, the small beach is filled with families and residents taking in the sights. On weekends the park plays host to the famous outdoor food festival Smorgasburg, so it’s a foodie’s dream location to get proposed to. But, if you’re looking for a more peaceful romantic moment, head over during the week or in the evening when the sky is pink, Manhattan’s lights are flickering on across the water, and the only sound is that of waves lapping against the shore.
One If By Land, Two If By Sea
If your honey is a foodie, take them to Greenwich Village’s One If By Land, Two If By Sea, which is considered one of the most romantic restaurants in NYC. This 1767 carriage house once owned by former Vice President Aaron Burr has been serving up romantic dinners since 1973—long before Hamilton debuted on Broadway. It routinely makes the list of most-romantic restaurants all over the world, and for good reason," writes Time Out New York. And if you don’t believe that, the site claims that "more people are said to have announced their engagement here than any other restaurant in Manhattan." The interior design is classic and elegant with exposed brick on the walls and white tablecloths on the tables. But, the food is the star. Opt for a three-course pre-fixe menu or a seven-course tasting menu featuring foie gras, scallops, sea bass, beef wellington, and chocolate souffle to name a few items. So, if intimate and classic is your style, bring the ring to this restaurant.
The River Café
You can find another romantic restaurant across the river in DUMBO, Brooklyn. The neighborhood itself, with cobblestone streets and an iconic view under the Manhattan Bridge, is a romantic enough spot to ask the big question. But, if you want to wine and dine your loved one before, after, or during the big proposal, take them to The River Café. It’s billed as "the most exclusive fine-dining American restaurant on the water in NYC since 1977." As you walk into this Michelin-starred restaurant, you will pass a garden area with twinkle lights, and inside, you’re greeted by the most stunning unobstructed view of Manhattan and the East River. The elegant eatery has a formal dress code with jackets required for gentlemen, so it will truly feel like a special night. Menu items include seafood, caviar, roasted rabbit, and Wagyu steak tartare.
For a no-frills casual proposal head to the newly-completed 5-acre Domino Park on the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn. Named for the old Domino Sugar factory site on which the park is located, this cool new spot features a promenade, taco joint, grassy lounge area, a water feature, and more. But, the star of the show is the skyline in the distance. Take your sweetheart up to the elevated walkway (built from parts of Domino factory’s original Raw Sugar Warehouse) for a private romantic moment above the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood. It’s beautiful at night with the skyline’s lights in the distance or at "golden hour" when the sun is just low enough to cast a warm glow on everything.
Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof
Over in Greenpoint, Brooklyn there’s a magical little hidden garden high above the streets. The Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof is a community project meant to expand the city’s habitat for wildlife, including butterflies and bees. It’s only open for a brief window of time: Fridays from April 22 to June 24 from 5-8 p.m. But, it’s worth getting there to take in the sunset and propose on one of the most unique rooftops in the city. You can even collect wildflower seeds to take home.