2014-01-31 / Columnists

Go Parks!

Finding Romance in NYC’s Winter Wonderlands
By Charlotte Hall Wilbur


The Unisphere at twilight, Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo by Daniel Avila. The Unisphere at twilight, Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo by Daniel Avila. During the long, cold winter months following the festive holiday season, it can be hard to come up with fun things to do even in a city as bustling as New York. Yet another night spent eating take-out on the couch watching re-runs of Downton Abbey can quickly become a habit that’s hard to break.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s time to change things up and get outside!

Whether you and your Valentine prefer racing each other around an ice rink followed by a cozy cup of cocoa or a night spent tasting French delicacies and sipping cabernet before a roaring fire, we’ve taken the work out of planning a memorable Valentine’s Day date this year.

Adventure in Queens

For daytime adventure, head to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The Queens Zoo is a hidden gem where you’ll spot the best of American wildlife including bears, bald eagles and cougars. Stick around for the sea lions’ feeding for a little comic relief— just don’t get splashed!


Will you be my Valentine? War Memorial Ice Rink, Clove Lakes Park. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney. Will you be my Valentine? War Memorial Ice Rink, Clove Lakes Park. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney. Warm up at the Queens Museum, a quick walk further into the park. Here, you can make your permanent mark on our New York cityscape by “adopting a building” at the New York City Panorama, a highly accurate replica of the City first built for the World’s Fair in 1964. Why not take the opportunity to commemorate your first date spot and preserve a piece of your own history in this unique — and heartwarming — way?

Once museum fatigue sets in, get your adrenaline up with a visit to the World Ice Arena. Here you can rent skates and challenge your date to a spin around the ice. Nothing gets the heart going like a little light-hearted competition.


On the ice, World Ice Arena at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo by Daniel Avila. On the ice, World Ice Arena at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo by Daniel Avila. When the day’s adventures catch up to you, snuggle up to one another at the rink’s cafe and share a cup of steamy hot cocoa while watching the local talent practice their best moves—it may not be the Winter Olympics, but it sure is a memorable way to spend Valentine’s Day this year!

Romance in Staten Island

Take advantage of all that Staten Island has to offer with a unique Valentine’s Day at Clove Lakes Park.

Start your stroll at the northwest section of the park, and take in the splendor and history of Staten Island’s largest living thing: a tulip tree that is over three centuries old and a hundred feet tall. Imagine all the lovebirds that have stood under this tree before you, going back to the days before the American Revolution. It’s tempting, but don’t carve your initials into this living monument!


Snowy Prospect Park. Photo by Daniel Avila. Snowy Prospect Park. Photo by Daniel Avila. Keep an eye out for the beautiful winter birds as you walk past snow covered meadows and woodlands, winding your way south to the lake for which the park gets its name, and take it as a romantic omen if you spot a red cardinal.

Stop on the stone footbridge and throw a penny over your shoulders for luck in love before heading inside the beautiful Lake Club restaurant, located on a picturesque island in the middle of Clove Lake. If you call ahead, you may nab a reservation for a table by the fireplace.

Sip a delicious cabernet as you share nibbles of escargot and an indulgent surf and turf dinner. If you’re lucky, the pianist may play a love song just for you.


Sailing across the rink at Clove Lakes Park. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney. Sailing across the rink at Clove Lakes Park. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney. These are just two ideas to make your February special. There’s the Boathouse in Central Park, art at Poe Cottage in the Bronx, and for the intrepid, the opportunity to bring your own “snow picnic” to share after a stroll along the scenic pathways of Prospect Park.

For more ideas, go to www.nyc.gov/ parks. Go Park! Go Valentine’s Day!

Charlotte Hall Wilbur is a Revenue Project Manager for NYC Parks.

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