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Ten Little Cities


1. Blockhouse No. 1
Central Park at 109th St.
This roofless 1812 fort hidden on the park’s rough northwestern edge sits perennially empty atop a massive cliff. Flimsy railings and a steep drop lend a sexy air of danger to the perfect first-kiss spot.

2. Bethesda Terrace
Central Park at 72nd St.
Olmsted and Vaux saw this two-level Italianate plaza as the heart of the park. The covered stairs could easily be the most swoon-worthy 100 feet in the city, a fact not lost on thousands of Hollywood location scouts.

3. VIP Spa Suite, Mandarin Oriental
80 Columbus Ave.
A thousand dollars gets the two of you three hours in a wonderland 35 floors above Manhattan, complete with a stone tub and side-by-side massage beds. For extra frisson, draw up the blinds and watch unlucky non-VIPs scurry far below.

4. Rose Bar
Gramercy Park Hotel, 50 Gramercy Park
An exquisitely dusky, vaguely Spanish-themed room centers on two flashes of red: the year-round fireplace and the scarlet pool table. Curl up on a sofa under a faux Picasso (by Julian Schnabel) or real Warhol.

5. Gramercy Park
E. 20th St.
When you’ve gotten yourself and your date drunk enough, hop the gate for a nouvelle vague–ishly romantic trespass possibly followed by an equally romantic arrest.

6. The Garden of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields
Hudson St.
Two wildly overgrown, tourist-free acres lie beyond a modest gate, feet away from the crowds. That you can easily spend an hour here and not see another human being is, well, a miracle.

7. Doyers Street
Bet. Pell St. and Bowery There are no adorable cupcake bakeries
or antique shops, but unlike any other block in Manhattan, Doyers twists every twenty feet. It’s like being lost in a hutong somewhere in old China.

8. Rosanjin
141 Duane St.
Specializes in kaiseki, a Japanese form of painstakingly sculpted cuisine. You’re guaranteed near-solitude and a procession of edible love letters from the unseen kitchen.

9. Pen-Top Bar & Terrace
The Peninsula Hotel, 700 Fifth Ave.
It’s swanky in an ostentatious, self-congratulatory way, and the martinis are $21. But it’s one of the few places to unerringly deliver that “I’m in New York, dammit!” rush, and you couldn’t get a better view down Fifth Avenue if you were a St. Pat’s pigeon.

10. Gilt
455 Madison Ave.
You’d expect Trumpian excess from a place called Gilt, and you’d be wrong: The opulence here is tempered by taste, and the menu pairs expected luxuries such as foie gras with exotic touches like sour plum and daikon.

11. Spiegeltent
Pier 17, Fulton St.
The best thing to happen to the terminally cheesy South Street Seaport in years. A sexy, cabaret-punk Weimar vibe percolates beneath the vintage circus tent; the burlesque acts it reliably books don’t hurt either.


359 97th St., Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Pick up your date in a jaw-dropping 1961 Jaguar coupe—FilmCars, which normally supplies vintage autos for location shoots, is happy to do private rentals by the hour.

376 9th St., Park Slope, Brooklyn
There’s a kind of Paris bar—compact, dark, and secretive—that Manhattan just can’t get right. Brooklyn does, in Barbès. Even with a Balkan tuba jam wailing away in the back, the wine-red front room remains quiet enough for a clink of two glasses and a whispered toast.

Prospect Park Audubon Center at the Boathouse
Prospect Park nr. Lincoln Rd.
If you’ve read the right books, the very word boathouse has a tinge of bodice-ripping naughtiness. At night, the tiny plaza on the pond becomes the park’s most picturesque makeout spot.

Rockaway Beach
A train to Far Rockaway
The literal end of the line: A blighted, seemingly deserted oceanfront town a universe away from Manhattan gives way to a long beach strip once dubbed the Irish Riviera.


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