Day One: Uptown
You can’t put a price on love, so mix in some splurges alongside simpler pleasures.
9:30 a.m.: Start with an over-the-top breakfast. At Norma’s, the premier restaurant of Le Parker Meridien Hotel, the prices are steep ($22$24 for pancakes; $100 for the lobster frittata), but for sheer decadence, the shareable fruit-stuffed waffles and French toast à la foie gras can’t be beat.
11 a.m.: Swoon over Central Park. Enter at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue (just across from the Plaza Hotel, where Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones got hitched), then head north past Wollman Rink (featured in the tearjerker Love Story) before catching a ride on the antique carousel. Merge onto the Literary Walk, a path lined with statues of Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, and the like. Up ahead is the Naumburg Bandshell, which played a part in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; to the west (beyond Lilac Walk) is Strawberry Fields, the teardrop-shaped green space adopted by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
1:30 p.m.: Ramble over to the Boathouse Restaurant. There are a few options herean express café, or an outdoor grill in warmer monthsbut the most romantic by far is the lakeside dining room, where lunch is served from noon until 4 p.m. Enjoy the seafood-rich menu while gazing at gondolas on the lake and the surrounding formal gardens.
3 p.m.: Practice your partnering skills on a paddleboat. Pick up a vessel at Central Park Lake's Loeb Boathouse near 74th Street and East Drive ($12 for the first hour; $3 each additional fifteen minutes; $30 cash deposit), then make some waves on the water. Boats must be returned by 5 p.m. Hey, you’ve got places to go.
6:30 p.m.: Toast to the night ahead from on high. After getting gussied up back at the hotel, revel in the view from the 35th floor at MObar, the classy watering hole of the Mandarin Oriental, New York.
8 p.m.: Soak up some serious culture at Lincoln Center. Depending on the season, you can often get last-minute tickets for the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, or the Philharmonic. During intermission, a stroll around the main courtyard will find you as flatteringly lit as the fountains and the spectacular architecture.
10 p.m.: Wind down with some dazzle. Take a taxi down to 42nd Street and Ninth Avenue for a late meal at Chez Josephine, a shrine to American-born Paris sensation Josephine Baker. Run by her adopted son, Jean-Claude Baker, this intimate jewel box is done up in red-velvet walls with twinkling chandeliers.