Quiet, romantic spot to propose in NYC.
March 17, 2014 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I'd like your help in figuring out a quiet, private and romantic spot to propose to my girlfriend while we're on a 2-day trip in Manhattan.

We've been together for 2.5 years, and the ring is being worked on. In about a month we will be visiting NYC for 3 days/2 nights on our way to another destination, and I'd like to propose while we're in NYC.

We'll be staying near to Herald Square, would prefer a private spot, and I'd like it to be romantic.

I've thought about Central Park, and perhaps a carriage ride just before sunset, so I could pop the question at sunset. The New York Carriage Company over at nycarriages.com seems to have good reviews.

I'm not sure if this would be cliche - should I forget about the ride and just have us take a walk there ourselves? Would it be better during the day, or the night?

What other ideas would you suggest that match these criteria?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Take her to something she likes, or something quirky.

Bookstores? A historical theatre? Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich shop? Afternoon tea at a high end department store? A museum? A subway car? The Highline park?
posted by tilde at 1:21 PM on March 17, 2014

All sorts of places you could go! I enjoy Hudson River Park (if the weather is fair); pretty views of the river, lots of little piers you could walk down to have a private moment.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2014

Best answer: I've thought about Central Park, and perhaps a carriage ride just before sunset, so I could pop the question at sunset.

A carriage ride can be romantic, yes, but for a proposal, I suggest an option that doesn't run the risk of your magic moment getting overshadowed by the sound and smell of a horse taking a dump.
posted by griphus at 1:31 PM on March 17, 2014 [22 favorites]

Best answer: Both "secluded" and "quiet" can be hard to come by in Manhattan proper. Do you plan on the whole bended-knee shebang, or just quietly giving her the ring? Do you want to make a little speech, or surprise her?

These will affect where a good place might be. Also, how much money are you planning on spending? You could always go somewhere in a limo and propose during the ride. Or you can try to find a quiet table at a nice restaurant.

My only New York proposal story is that once while I was walking in Central Park, two cute young people on rollerblades whizzed by, then the guy pulled a little ahead, did an impressive turn-stop-kneel, and proffered a ring to his astonished girlfriend. It was adorable, but not at all private or secluded. She didn't seem to mind.

So, just pick a time and place when it's quiet enough for her to hear you/you aren't blocking the sidewalk, and that will be perfect enough.
posted by emjaybee at 1:32 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is she into 19th century European art? Is gallery 827 at the Met private enough? It's got a pretty romantic painting.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:34 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Because I totally screwed up Husbunny's official proposal, the fountain at Lincoln Center.

He was sick as a dog, and we had already set the date, he gave me the ring for my birthday a few months earlier. So we had reservations at The Russian Tea Room (the place we went on our first date) so having time to kill, I dragged him into Kinkos to look for the perfect paper for our save the date announcements. Three of them. (Never found it.)

Anywhoo, we get to the restaurant and he does the formal proposal. Very nice, but he wanted to do it at Lincoln Center in front of the fountain.

Any proposal is beautiful, so don't bother with the horse drawn carriage. It's just a lot of money for nothing in particular.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:34 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think anywhere can be romantic and memorable, as long as you have a reason for it. My husband proposed on a Chicago architecture cruise; he did it right as we passed what the guide referred to as "the second-ugliest building in Chicago" (the Sun-Times Building) because he knew we would remember that specific detail.

I think it's easier and more fun to remember something like that than it is to say, "Oh, yeah, he proposed at the top of the Empire State Building" unless it has special meaning for one or both of you. Lots of people propose in that sort of way. You're getting ready to write your own story together, so why not start with something that's just for the two of you?

What kind of things does she like? What are some of the things that you love about her and nobody else? What are some things that she has made special for you?

I would consider several options, just in case some of them are not available or the weather is icky. The important thing about a proposal is that it will happen when it needs to happen, but that's not always when everything is perfectly in place ;)

How about a quiet niche in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine? The shoe department at Bloomingdale's after you've let her pick out an amazing pair of shoes you can't get in your hometown (man, I would think that's incredibly romantic)? A back corner of Mood Fabrics, if she's a Project Runway fan? (There are multiple floors and all sorts of little nooks with lovely things to touch and see...)

La Boite en Bois is a lovely little French restaurant on W. 68th near Central Park that would be a good place to either do the deed or eat before or after. Very cozy.
posted by Madamina at 1:37 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would personally not opt for the carriage ride, but maybe just do this on a walk through Central Park. IIRC the carriages are mostly confined to the roadways inside the park, not the quiet, private, and especially beautiful areas.

Personally I would do it on/under/near one of the many beautiful footbridges, or maybe at Bethesda Fountain if it's not crowded on the day you want to do this. But honestly you could enter the park from virtually any entrance and just walk around until you find a pretty spot. You have much more control over it this way as compared to the carriage ride thing.

Also, if your girlfriend is an animal lover, she may find the carriage ride distasteful -- it's a bit of a hot button issue in NYC animal rights circles.

Other ideas:

Battery park with a nice view of the Statue of Liberty.

Along the Hudson River piers in the West Village.

The Staten Island ferry at some random time of day (late at night might be romantic?) when there aren't a ton of commuters.

While walking over one of the East River bridges (Brooklyn Bridge is likely to be crowded with tourists during the day, personally I'd pick the pedestrian walkway over the Manhattan bridge, or maybe the Queensboro bridge if you're Simon & Garfunkel fans).

Prospect Park would make an equally idyllic proposal spot to Central Park, and should be less crowded in general.
posted by Sara C. at 1:38 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Another thought, but probably not what out of towners would consider quiet, private, and beautiful: I'd love to be proposed to on a late night walk through the streets of basically anywhere below 14th Street. Or maybe along Broadway on the Upper West Side, or Park on the Upper East.

By late night, I'm thinking like 2-4 AM.

Times Square also gets nice and deserted around that time.
posted by Sara C. at 1:40 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A carriage ride will NOT be enjoyable - the carriages are old and not always clean; it's noisy and crowded; the horses smell big-time; AND, you will be inches from your carriage driver... not exactly private. Or romantic, what with the horse potentially pooping right as you propose!

I would rent a rowboat in Central Park instead - it's secluded and romantic and a little bit magical. The waterway opens in April. Here is more info.
posted by rada at 1:40 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have seen two proposals in NYC:

One was at night, at the top of the Empire State Building. It'll be April, and probably windy, and most certainly cold. But memorable.

The other one was on a Central Park rowboat. I love these boats. Season starts in April. It was raining, and cold, and I promised neither of them noticed.

But it all boils down to what she loves. If she loves tall buildings, or big boats, or open water, or a favorite piece of art.
posted by mochapickle at 1:43 PM on March 17, 2014

More ideas (OK future reference, anyone who wants to propose to me should obviously pick New York):

The steps of either the Metropolitan Museum or the main NY Public Library. Not private in the sense of being alone, but definitely privacy within the crowd of people who won't much care what you're doing. And there are times of day these places are more likely to be deserted.

The Washington Square Park arch.

The wee little street in TriBeCa where the Ghostbusters' firehouse is located.

The Boathouse in Riverside Park (also not that private, but there are places around there you can be more alone).
posted by Sara C. at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2014

Best answer: Cliché, yes, but still cute I think: Grab a rowboat down the by Boathouse in Central Park and propose on the water at the Lake, weather-permitting of course. There's a nice little private-ish nook to the right after the bridge. Better than a carriage ride where you are inhaling car exhaust and horse-butt.
posted by greta simone at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2014

A small, nice restaurant or one of the cozier cocktail bars would have the advantage of being relatively quiet and immune to bad weather -- April can be kind of rough in NYC, and I'd hate for your plans to be derailed by wind or rain or an unseasonable blizzard. (Warn your server ahead of time, though -- that way they won't accidentally interrupt at a bad moment.)

(That said: I don't know about your girlfriend's particular personality and preferences, but if I were you? I'd get a really nice hotel room, propose IN THE ROOM, and then go out on the town to celebrate.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Garden at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields; Riverside Park along the Hudson, Lady Mendl's tea salon; the American Museum of Natural History has this exhibit that is like a time-capsule of mid-20th century America and Science and it is always empty-- called the Hall of North American Forests; Metropolitan Museum of Art (if you wander into far corners, you can find beautiful quiet spaces -- the Chinese Garden is often lovely); the Cloisters; Fort Tryon Park & Inwood Park; Shakespeare Garden in Central Park; the Japan Society has beautiful exhibits and a quiet atmosphere; the Frick; I'll try and think of more--if you told us her interests it would be easier to recommend--

Best hole-in-the-wall romantic Italian restaurant: Italianissimo.

Caffe Vivaldi can also be very romantic. Check their calendar for live music in an intimate setting.

Good luck!
posted by whimsicalnymph at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could always whisper in her ear in the main concourse of Grand Central. Which is another place you'd have virtually to yourselves if you chose an odd hour for the moment itself.
posted by Sara C. at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Not a New Yorker, so I don't know how crowded the High Line is (and I imagine it's not quiet), but I think somewhere along there might be a pretty cool spot for a proposal. (Disclaimer, I haven't been there, so I don't know if it's as cool as it seems, or super sketchy or what).
posted by cnc at 1:46 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am seconding Sara's C's whisper gallery at GCC idea.

also, anyone who wants to marry me should contact Sara C for ideas
posted by mochapickle at 1:47 PM on March 17, 2014 [12 favorites]

Nthing the ixnay on the carriage ride. It's actually not that bad, my wife enjoyed our ride and thought it was romantic, but its not really private, the driver is right there, and considering they may be on the chopping block, its something you might not get to do again in the future.

If I were you, I would find a restaurant with an outdoor seating backyard area which will likely still be closed at night due to the not yet spring like weather (if it is in mid-April, the sooner the better). Throw them a hundred to use the space they're not using anyway, and set up a nice romantic dinner space, and see if you can get some nice, comfy blankets or a outdoor heater.

Private area that you can decorate for your proposal. Of course, if April is 70 degrees plus, you might be SOL, or it might cost even more to reserve the space for an hour, but the carriage ride ain't cheap either.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:47 PM on March 17, 2014

Oh! And if you want to do something secret and fun, go to the area in Grand Central where the entrance to the Oyster Bar is.

It has a domed ceiling.

Have her stand in one corner, then you go stand in the corner opposite, both of y'all facing the corners (not each other).

Say what you want to say. She'll hear you, and be stunned.

Yay, acoustics!

(oh and I see a whole bunch of people beat me to it -- yay whisper gallery!)
posted by whimsicalnymph at 1:48 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I used to live on Jones street where Cafe Vivaldi is located. I do NOT recommend it - the tables are as close as can be so you'll have people practically sitting in your lap as you propose. The music is very hit and miss too... mostly friends of friends it seems.

High Line is VERY crowded.
posted by rada at 1:48 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, if you are willing to venture outside of Manhattan, the view of the skyline at night from the Williamsburg East River Piers is to die for and romantic.
posted by greta simone at 1:49 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

High Line you have the potential problem of people in apartment buildings right next to you being able to see you.

I've always loved the Cloisters; Likely to be relatively tourist-free (as it's all the way in Washington Heights); they have nice gardens and there's a good bit of grounds that you can meander around in, with a nice view of the Palisades. Also, on the off chance that she's a Harry Potter fan, they have the Unicorn Tapestries, AKA, Gryffindor Common Room decorations, there.
posted by damayanti at 1:51 PM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

Similarly to greta simone's Williamsburg Piers suggestion, you could always go with the Brooklyn Heights promenade.
posted by Sara C. at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2014

Also in Brooklyn, the River Café under the Brooklyn Bridge has water/skyline views and you could call and request a window seat special for a proposal, then if the weather is nice, walk back to Manhattan arm-in-arm over the Brooklyn Bridge. Cute!
posted by greta simone at 1:54 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Central Park is great. The horse-drawn carriages, not great.

I would, personally, pick the Bethesda Fountain in the park. That's my favorite place.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:54 PM on March 17, 2014

The Highline is packed when the weather is nice.

Be flexible - if it's a nice day then a rooftop bar in the afternoon might be really wonderful. The idea of just walking through the park and keeping an eye out for a nice spot is good. The Bronx Botanical Gardens are beautiful and provide many opportunities for privacy.

Sometimes on First Saturdays the Brooklyn Art Museum has whole floors that are nearly deserted.
posted by bunderful at 1:55 PM on March 17, 2014

Also, if you're willing to do sunrise, the East River promenade is very, very nice.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:57 PM on March 17, 2014

I've always thought one of the rooms that show different architectural styles at the Met would be nice. They get much less traffic that the rest of the museum and are usually quiet and empty. Under the big whale at the Natural History museum would be fun too, although definitely not private.
posted by MsMolly at 1:59 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ft Tryon park. It's great up there, and it should be fairly private.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 2:04 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was going to say the highline because I love it, but dollars to donuts the whisper gallery would be fabulously romantic and memorable.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:07 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Highline will be packed. I agree you should avoid the carraige ride. If she likes art, choosing a nice spot with seating in the Met or MoMA is an awesome idea.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 2:07 PM on March 17, 2014

This room at the Met has been completely empty every time I've been. Plus it's a twofer - Versailles in New York.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:13 PM on March 17, 2014

Greenacres Park is the most beautiful, magical, secluded, little secret park.
posted by ulfberht at 2:26 PM on March 17, 2014

The Highline is packed when the weather is nice.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:26 PM on March 17, 2014

I'm completely biased toward gardens so I'd like to suggest a trip outside of Manhattan to the Bronx and Wave Hill. In about a month it should be full of beautiful spring bulbs and if you go in the morning or during a weekday (caution they are closed on Mondays) you can easily find a quiet spot to propose.

Hours and directions.

You can reach it via Metro North which leaves from Grand Central and travels up the Hudson River (one of the more beautiful train rides, make sure to get a river side seat on the west side of the train). At the Riverdale train stop there's a van which will take you up to the gardens.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:14 PM on March 17, 2014

It may be a little bit out of your way, but I'd consider the Cloisters branch of the Metropolitan Museum.

(on preview, damayanti beat me to it)
posted by marsha56 at 3:48 PM on March 17, 2014

The West Side Community Garden is a charming little community garden, that's open daily during daylight hours. They are known for their fantastic tulips which will be blooming in April (they have a Tulip Festival during that time). If your gf likes tulips, that could be a winner.

Other Central Park locales... the top of the Belvedere Castle. It's open 10am-5pm daily, and you can climb up two levels, for lovely views. Crowds will depend on the weather, and if it's a weekend.

Alternately, just below the castle, there is the Turtle Pond. If you walk around the Delcourte Theater, there is a little dock that is sort of hidden from view, that goes out onto the lake. From there you have an amazing view of the castle.

Finally, there are several little gazebos scattered around The Lake (where they have the rowboats), which I've always thought were romantic.
posted by kimdog at 3:49 PM on March 17, 2014

One more! The Central Park Conservatory Garden is really magical. There are a number of beautiful little places there, and it's a bit off the beaten path because it's in the north east quadrant of the park, which gets less tourist traffic. Does she like The Secret Garden?
posted by kimdog at 3:54 PM on March 17, 2014

Two people have mentioned The Cloisters, but here's something more specific:

There's a winding, walled path leading up to the museum proper, that goes alongside the river. There are one or two places that overlook the river, toward the far shore, which is covered with trees. It's beautiful, and quiet, and the weather should be nice. The view is expansive, and you have the river moving silently along from forest toward the downtown area.

If you go there, and the weather turns out to be bad, there are two lovely options:

1) There's an open-air garden inside the main structure, with a covered walkway surrounding it. Most photos I found online showed this garden.

2) There's an interior atrium-type place that feels open (but totally inside the building) with very nice views and, I think, a fountain.
posted by amtho at 3:55 PM on March 17, 2014

Please don't propose in a hotel room. When you're in one of the best cities in the world, being proposed to in a hotel room would be careless and, frankly, such a downer! Consider a place that will last and you could come back to and reminisce. The museum, a garden, the bridge, a quiet restaurant are all great suggestions.
posted by gardenbex at 4:06 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

If the weather's nice, how about one of the sitting areas off Sutton Place, just south of the 59th St. Bridge on the East Side -- nice views of the bridge and Roosevelt Island...
posted by AJaffe at 4:34 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! An outdoor proposal would be lovely, but if the weather doesn't cooperate: Herald Square is very near the Morgan Library & Museum. Plenty of stunningly pretty, private nooks in the place, an exhibit on The Little Prince ("The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart”) will run through April, and there are a couple of dining options on premises.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:08 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

One more! If you are here near the end of April, you could also go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and propose amongst the rows of full bloom cherry trees. It's so beautiful.
posted by greta simone at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2014

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Ok follow-up time!

Before we left on the trip I decided that Central Park would be the location, so I looked at a few potential spots - the bridge, the fountain, one of the gazebos, the boathouse.

New Yorkers might remember that 2 weeks ago the weather was really great, but started off a little chilly in the morning. We left our apartment with jackets on, and the ring was secure in my jacket pocket. However, as the day got warmer, I was really nervous about taking the coat off because I didn't want to risk it falling out. So until 4pm or so I had my coat on sweating, but it was worth it.

Anyway, Central Park was packed with people, which was good in a way, but somewhat dismaying. We entered from on the east side, and passed the boathouse (too many people and public), the fountain (too many people), the gazebos (already occupied), the Bow Bridge (way too public). After standing there for a while sweating and wondering what to do, I noticed that a little north of the bow bridge it seemed to rise up a bit and less people were there.

I suggested that we took a walk up there, and I was happy to see that it was much less crowded and seemed to be frequented mostly by birdwatchers and a few people strolling by. There was a nice little wooden bench there, and I felt that was the perfect moment, so we spoke for a while and I did it.

She was really happy and didn't really suspect anything, but did wonder why I had my jacket on all day in the heat. It was really perfect.

After that we headed to Bacaro for dinner where I had made reservations and had told them it would be a special occasion, and we got seated in a nice little alcove in the basement, and the food and service was great.

I also seriously considered the Highline, the Cloisters, or one of the museums, but this worked well, especially with the nice weather that day. We also visited the whispering columns at GCC, which very cool - it was hard to figure out where the voice was coming from.

I'd like to thank everyone for all of the suggestions. It went really well and all of the answers here really helped me with ideas and figuring out what the options were and what would work for us.

posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:24 AM on September 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

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