When searching for the best places to propose in New York City, one could easily be bewitched by the lure of classic, history-saturated locations from the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty. However, if you crave truly unique NYC proposal ideas, the only way to proceed is by selecting a distinctive and slightly-more-under-the-radar locale. Thankfully, the Big Apple is full of more obscure, romantic restaurants, nature-steeped nooks, and specialty entertainment sites to take a knee that celebrate the city, without feeling like the proposal equivalent of an "I <3 New York" t-shirt.
To help us find where to propose in NYC (and beyond), we called up proposal planner Tatiana Caicedo from Proposal007, Rachael Vanden-Heuvel of Sweet Pea Events, Cristina Verger of Cristina Verger Event Planning & Production LLC, and Sarah Pease of Brilliant Event Planning to reveal their favorite spots.
Botanists and nature aficionados alike will adore Governor's Island for its unadulterated urban vistas and air of repose. "This quiet island is filled with perfect waterfront picnic spots, million-dollar views of Manhattan, and is a protected historical location," Pease recommends.
An urban oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City, Midtown Loft and Terrace offers a beautiful backdrop for a planned proposal. "In the middle of Manhattan, this terrace is just below the Empire State Building and even though you are in the thick of the city, this space creates a private area for an intimate proposal. The photos are stunning and this can be followed up with a romantic dinner at one of the many nearby restaurants," Vanden-Heuvel recommends.
If you wish to include the Statue of Liberty in your proposal without braving the throngs of tourists, try one of Pier A's beautifully revamped restaurants instead; the locale features an enchanting view of the monument along with a mouthwatering menu perfect for toasting to a new engagement. "The newly renovated, yet historical pier has the closest view of Statue of Liberty, along with either casual or fine dining restaurants inside one building," Vanden-Heuvel advises.
Is there anything more enchanting than an old-school carousel ride? Set on the East River in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane's was fashioned in 1922, the "heyday" of American Carousels. Thanks to modern renovations, its forty-eight masterfully carved horses and over 1200 dazzling lights feature as brightly today as they did almost a century ago. For an extra dash of magic, Caicedo recommends involving the operating staff. "You can rent out the whole carousel, then make it look dark and shut down," she explains. "We actually placed a piano in there too. When the couple approached, the person working pretended the carousel was closing, but welcomed the guy to play on the piano 'accidentally leftover from an event.' As soon as he started to play a song he'd created for his girlfriend, the whole place lit up!"
Verger suggests that couples seeking a unique and festive proposal experience head uptown to Red Rooster Harlem. The location, she insists, will suit a "fun and full of energy proposal perhaps followed by jazz downstairs at Ginny's Jazz Club."
If a sailboat is out of the question, Verger recommends lending the proposal a nautical air by renting a row boat from the Central Park Boathouse. The proposal plan also possesses unforeseen advantages for skittish brides-to-be. "She can't escape from here!" Verger quips.
Surprise proposals are arguably best, but sometimes the shock can eclipse the excitement. The trick is to get your unsuspecting partner hyped about something else first—perhaps the most delicious hybrid pastry within city limits? The line for Ansel's famous cronuts [the lovechild of a croissant and a donut] is always long, so by the time people reach the front, their exhilaration is palpable. "We had a couple come at 5 am and wait the whole line," Caicedo recalls. "When they finally got their cronuts, she was already excited about opening the box and then the ring was in there too."
If you prefer the intimacy of a traditional restaurant proposal, look no further than New York landmark La Grenouille. "A gorgeous room for an elegant and very romantic proposal à la Française," Verger says.
If your foodie proclivities are innate to your relationship, why not make sustenance the focal point of your proposal? "[While] walking through the farmers' market on 14th street, looking at fresh flowers, pop the question and the ring," Verger urges.
A movie theater doesn't feel particularly innovative, until you realize this one allows you to roll your own proposal movie trailer before the feature film. "You can even make 'fake tickets' that are actually a marriage invitation,'" says Caicedo.
History and highly romantic vistas unite in The Arsenal at Central Park. "It's not cheap, but the view from this iconic building can't be beat. If you're lucky, you'll also be able to see the sea lions in the zoo directly in front of you!" Pease says.
Creatively celebrate your impending union by selecting a proposal location that unites the heritage and future of New York City simultaneously. "The Big Apple is filled with tons of bars, private dining rooms, and restaurants that previously served as bank vaults. Many even still have the original steel doors and mechanics in place — the perfect place to tell your sweetheart that your love is priceless," Pease proclaims.
If you're in town late October through early January, capitalize on New York City's renowned holiday spirit with a visit to the shops at Bryant Park. The European inspired, open-air market hosts 150 boutiques that feature artisanal gifts from around the world. "Find a ball ornament that opens so you can put a ring inside there," instructs Caicedo, who says Proposal 007 orders theirs on Etsy. "Then just find a market vendor selling ornaments, and get the salesperson in on it. Like, 'Oh! You guys might like this ball over here, and look, you can open it. Give it a go.'"
Pease reminds couples that while tall buildings with viewing points might offer an unparalleled perspective for a proposal, exploring underground is also a unique option. "Forget the skyscrapers and plan ahead...Book a ride on the City Hall Station subway tour and pop the question in this abandoned subway station surrounded by walls of classic tiles and vaulted ceilings," Pease says.
At first consideration, Times Square may seem like an overcrowded tourist trap and a nightmare of a proposal locale. But a touch of personalization can make you feel like the only two people in the world. "Rent a billboard to broadcast a picture and a message," says Caicedo. "As you're walking by, the proposer says, 'Look! What's there?' and she'll be happy to find, Oh, it's us."