We have a theory: winter is the new summer when it comes to falling in love. After all, summer doesn’t have hot drinks and cold nights for cuddling. It might be 10 degrees out and snowing, but once the snow stops, we recommend you take your date outside. Staying inside increases the chance of getting cold and flu symptoms, not to mention cabin fever, so grab a coat, your partner and enjoy one of these fun winter date ideas from hookah in Bay Ridge to ramen in Williamsburg and plenty in between.
In Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
You’ve got the best date right in front of you, provided neither one of you have balance issues (like yours truly). Go ice skating at LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park. Admission plus skate rentals will run you $14 on a weekend and $12 Tuesday through Friday. Then after you do a dozen rounds holding hands, you’re going to be pretty hungry. Share a heaping pile of nachos for $8.50
and wash them down with $4 house margaritas at Lincoln Park Tavern (51 Lincoln Road) [UPDATE: Lincoln Park Tavern has since closed]. Even if you or your date can only skate while holding onto the railing, it’s still great exercise and you’re eventually rewarded with house margaritas.
In Bay Ridge
For starters, you’re in one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn. You’ve got Greeks, Irish, Italians, Norwegians, Poles, Russian, Lebanese, Arabs and Chinese cuisine to choose from. Our pick for a solid ethnic eatery goes to Pashazade (7026 3rd Avenue), a Turkish BYOB restaurant, one of our favorites and the best Mediterranean food in the area. We recommend the babaganush and then baklava for dessert. Then chill out with your date smoking hookah at Blow Hookah Lounge (7314 5th Avenue).
In Fort Greene
We know the snow can put a damper on any plans – unless you want to show off your adventurous side and go sledding in Fort Greene Park. The snow has turned to icky, garbage slush? Take your date to see an art exhibition at BRIC (647 Fulton St) before dinner. Then, go chow down on real Ethiopian food at Bati Kitchen (747 Fulton St). What’s more romantic than using your hands to eat? Learn the basics of Amharic online, then impress your date with your good pronunciation of injera. Okay, so you don’t have to learn Amharic to eat Ethiopian food, it’s just a suggestion.
If you actually live in Bushwick (I’m looking at you RIDGEWOOD PEOPLE), you really have to walk the extra mile to impress your date, so show them you know the hippest places in the hood. First, go to Urban Jungle (118 Knickerbocker Avenue) and buy your date a stylish fur coat. Or at least try them on and pretend you own them. Then, walk around “Jeff Town” with a 35mm roll of film and take selfies in front of art murals curated by Bushwick Collective and get your pictures developed for $12 at the Bushwick Community Darkroom (108 Thames Street). Then get one or two (or three) $5 beer and a shot combos at Boobie Trap (308 Bleeker St) while you look at the photos you developed. Or, uh, look at other things.
If you want to show your date how much you care for cute little furballs, volunteer to walk dogs together at Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition. Just keep in mind that if it’s on a Saturday you have to get in there before noon. After you walk the dog, you will want to warm up with delicious ramen (get a bowl for $11) and hot toddy sake ($9) at Suzume BK (545 Lorimer Street). The wait for a table is worth it. End your night with a choice of limitless entertainment options. At Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Avenue), you can drink and cuddle in the theatre. Or test your date at Arrested Development bingo (or any other pop culture lingo of the night) at Videology (308 Bedford Avenue). If your date thus far has proven to be a funny man or woman, take them to a hilarious (and maybe weird) comedy show at Over the Eight (594 Union Avenue), where you can find laughs every Tuesday and the first Friday of the month.
In Boerum Hill/Gowanus
Become your own Cupid and shoot your date in the heart (not literally!) at Gotham Archery (480 Baltic Street), then go out for Cantonese food at 2 Duck Goose (400 4th Avenue). Tell them you’re going to the Bell House (149 7th St) and you get a 10% discount. Then, actually, go dancing at the Bell House! If learning and early retirement is more your speed, wander into the Morbid Anatomy Museum (424-A 3rd Avenue) for a lesson on all things death before enjoying shuffleboard (game of the almost deceased) or free board games and tropical drinks at Royal Palms Shuffleboard (514 Union Street).
Celebrate the best of Polish food culture on your date and visit Northside Bakery (190 Nassau Avenue) on Manhattan Avenue. Split a meal that comes with 4 pierogies, 5 potatoes, and 2 salad fixings for under $15. For drinks, get cozy at The Diamond (43 Franklin Street), where you can drink craft beer, play shuffleboard and sit in the backyard gondola while you pretend to be on ski trip. Wow your date with your impeccable geographic knowledge of Brooklyn by taking him to the Greenpoint waterfront. This one has way better views than Williamsburg and it’s less crowded. If the tide’s out – which it most likely will be in the winter – you can sit on rocks by the water and make out.
In Park Slope
Start your sweet date with a sweet Nutella dessert at Nuteria (82 Fifth Avenue), which may change its name soon, so be on the look out and use it to test your date’s punny sense of humor as you come up with a list of potential names for the shop of “Nutelloriety.” Celebrate a belated Hot Toddy Day at High Dive (243 5th Avenue), or alternatively, warm up with apple cider whiskey and popcorn at Commonwealth (497 5th Avenue). If it’s going well enough, see if you can’t get some friends to meet you and play some indoor bocce ball at Union Hall (702 Union Street).
In Prospect Heights/Crown Heights
There’s a triumverate of fun date ideas in close proximity, so you’re definitely in the right neighborhood for the winter.
Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg has moved indoors for the winter at Berg’n (1000 Dean St), [UPDATE: The Flea has moved to Industry City for 2016]. Wait, you say you’re too Brokelyn for $200 and up vintage gear? Go to the Brooklyn Museum‘s (200 Eastern Parkway) First Saturday (more like FREE Saturdays!) and get lost in the museum while taking in the live entertainment. Not a Saturday? Wander the millions of books at the Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza). You come up with a research question and investigate a topic together. Just make sure yo save your appetite for Silver Rice (638 Park Pl). In the winter, there is never more than one couple inside the tiny square space in the evening. It’s like they know to clear it out when you and your date walk in.
In Brooklyn Heights
It’s too cold to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Besides, you’ve got a better way to impress your date. You might want to start walking the Promenade where you can banter about the view-blocking Pierhouse and what will become of Brooklyn next, before taking a selfie in front of the Adam Yauch Park sign. If your date isn’t interested in talking political issues, then just go with taking in the view. End the evening by going to the unbeatable free karaoke night at Montero’s (73 Atlantic Ave) if it’s Thursday, Friday or Saturday, where you can serenade your date with almost any song you can think of.
In Red Hook
Red Hook is a little off the beaten track and can be a bit hard to get to, but it’s always worth it once you’re there. If you’re dating a Brooklyn artist or someone who appreciates art that’s, again, off the beaten track, look to no other neighborhood. Take the Water Taxi from DUMBO to Red Hook as long as the East River hasn’t frozen. Take a walk around Ikea to check out the latest graffiti hidden in plain view. If legal art is more your thing or you can’t control yourself around “No Trespassing” signs, there are some great (legal) art galleries in Red Hook to see. As for food, go to the Fairway Market for a huge variety of deliciousness. Then walk to Sunny’s Bar (253 Conover St) for some bluegrass, which they host every Saturday at 10pm, and $3 PBRs.
For lunch, take your date out for delicious kimchi at Cafe 232 (232 Taaffe Pl) for the $9 lunch special that includes your choice of Korean dish with rice and salad. Then warm up with hot buttered rum at Black Swan (1048 Bedford Ave). Get your nightcaps at Glorietta Baldy (502 Franklin Ave), a bar down the street with low light, great craft beer and pinball for flirty competition. Alternatively, for a sober date, the seasonal hot apple cider at Dough (448 Lafayette Ave) is THE BEST DAMN DRINK ON THIS EARTH.
Follow Julia for more pro-winter, pro-love propaganda at @mint_ju_lips