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  • Nic F. Anderson

Five NYC Date Ideas | $5 and Below

Times are hard and unless you are from an affluent family or just got lucky, a lot of us don’t have the ability to drop a week’s worth of a paycheck on a date… especially when you pay rent in New York City or are disproportionately paid less than your white, cisgender, straight, able-bodied, neurotypical, etc. (or all of the above!) counterparts.

Please note, all of the following date ideas all require MTA fare if you are unable to get to the destination without public transportation !


Go to any library in NYC and rent each other’s favorite books. This method is a great way to quickly gauge someone’s interests and mindset. If they choose a weird or disturbing book, well, there’s your opportunity to say “thanks, but no thanks” and carry on with your lives. If you like the book they chose, then it’s a great segue to date number two.

This one does have a caveat… you need a library card to check out a book. In order to get an NYC library card, please see the NYPL's website.


Any book store will do but Bluestockings Cooperative Bookstore (Manhattan) is a personal favorite - it’s also very queer. This cute gem has books, notebooks and knick knacks in varying price ranges. It could be a cute gesture to buy your date a pronoun pin or show them one or more of your favorite queer authors.


Okay, this may be an obvious one but hear us out because sometimes an overrated date idea is often overlooked! Here are our reasons why Central Park was included on our list:

  1. It's free.

  2. It's truly a beautiful place.

  3. There’s something about being in Central Park during sunset that feels romantic.

  4. You can have a picnic there.

  5. It's a great place to show off your botanical knowledge.

  6. It’s a great place to sit and people watch. A personal favorite of the editor-in-chief's is to come up with scenarios of passersby with another person. They said it's a fun way to see someone’s creativity and kindness - or lack thereof - in action.


Another obvious date idea but with the pandemic, many small businesses are still suffering and would love your business.

A personal favorite of Queer on the Street is Caffeine Underground, located on the corner of Central and Putnam in Bushwick, this tiny gem has affordable coffee, food and comfy seats.

If there wasn't already enough to love about this place, it's a hub for a lot of community events, supports local mutual aid efforts and artists. An additional date idea: There’s a lot to look at inside so besides getting to know each other, a game of “I Spy” could also be on the menu.

If you're into coffee AND games, another favorite is SQUARREL CAFE in Downtown Brooklyn. This quaint place has what seems like an endless supply of board games. For $5, you and yours can play games!


If you eat dairy and like pizza, this is another overrated but 99 Cent pizza joints are always a consistent, reliable and cheap option. Grab a slice or two and find a place to sit while getting to know each other.

There's also the option of a bodega, deli or corner store. All three of them are different - IYKYK. Buy your date something to eat. Food is one of many paths to the heart.

Editor’s note: At the time of writing this, it is cold outside; however, some tough people are out there in this world. Spring is around the corner, too. That's what we tell ourselves at least.

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