You're young. You're in New York. You're single and you're ready to mingle. You've tried using the Interwebs as Cupid, but it just isn't working and you've decided to fire your computer as a matchmaker and venture into the real world to find love (or the love of the moment).
What now? Well, you could travel to the usual single haunts: bars, clubs, a friend's lame Brooklyn house party. OR you could do something unexpected, something unorthodox, something wildly unpredictable and check out these surprising places where you can snag a date in NYC.
The Apple Store
There are a few Apple Stores in New York City, but I recommend two in particular: the one near Lincoln Center, located on Broadway and 67th street, and the one down in Soho at Prince Street between Greene and Mercer. There are myriad reasons why I say the Apple stores (and these two in particular) are great date haunts, but I can boil them down to three:
The guys and gals who work there are super cute, super smart, and are clearly employed.
Nothing creates bonding more than battling a phone that just. Keeps. Freezing.
I've been hit on/flirted with (I think... I'm not exactly the most perceptive) in these stores, and it was not a skeevy experience -- it was actually adorable.
Any bookstore, but particularly The Strand near Union Square and the Barnes and Noble on 18th and Fifth Avenue
Piled high with books stacked in shelves that graze the ceilings, yellowing discount books, new indie hits, mainstream paperbacks and most of all single, hot, young people who all have a love of reading and cheap books, this is a great place to mix and mingle without the awkwardness of speed dating or the noise of a dive bar. In particular, go to the sections less traveled, towards the back of the first floor -- well, really, any of the sections that aren't near the entrance or the touristy merchandise. There are less crowds and you'll be more likely to strike up a conversation with the handsome young architect who has lovely hazel eyes and a passion for Frank Gehry.
Barnes and Noble on 18th and Fifth
Touted as the world's largest bookstore, you can literally get lost in this place. Featuring various sections, it's an eclectic mix of tourists, locals, students, and those who either just need to kill time or are on their lunch break. I have a fond memory of being picked up by a young French sightseer in this store. Nothing romantic ended up happening, but I did manage to make a friend who's home city is Paris, and we still keep in touch and grab a drink whenever he comes to New York, or I go to Paris.
If you're a geek then you probably already know this store as a bastion of comic-buying, figurine stalking, and other nerdchandise purchasing. But let me tell you, geeks are both a) in vogue and b) unexpectedly attractive, and this is a great place to socialize with them. Hey, if someone has that much passion about Doctor Who, think of how much passion they can apply to... other areas.
The Union Square Greenmarket
What can be better than buying delicious veggies, fruits, and pastries whilst chatting up the cute stand worker, or the hottie that reaches for that gorgeous red tomato at the same time you do? Talk about a meet cute.
Granted, on nice days this market can get incredibly crowded, but more people equals more of a chance for a connection. If pushing marketers aren't your thing though, go on an off hour -- either super early, or later, when the crowds die down.
A Dog Park. Any Dog Park.
There are enormous amounts of single people who own man's best friend, but are forced to congregate in these fenced off areas of gravel, dirt, or cement in order to exercise their pooch. If you're a dog lover and own a dog (or have a friend or family member who has one), I guarantee you a conversation with a perfectly sane, cute, and most likely available stranger in one of these parks. I can especially recommend the dog park later at night near the American Natural History Museum as a great place to meet single guys with big, sporty, friendly dogs, and the Carl Schurz small dog park as an excellent place to find lovely available ladies who like to cuddle tiny furballs. Another place? In the summer, Central Park before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. allows dogs off leash, so once the weather gets warmer, wander around large grassy areas late at night, and I guarantee you you'll find people who are both animal lovers and single.
An Improv Show
What's more social than watching funny people do funny things onstage, while consuming alcohol? (OK, granted, sometimes the shows aren't particularly funny, but the booze helps with that). Most improv shows are less than $10 (yay cheap!) and they attract many creative, social, young people. Improv is also inherently participatory, so don't be surprised if you somehow find yourself dragged onstage -- and then connecting with the actor who pulled you up in front of the bright lights after the show at the bar...
Great Improv theaters in this city include: UCB (go to the new East Village space, it's less touristy and crowded than the founding theater), The Magnet, The PIT, and Gotham City Improv. They're all in or around Chelsea/the Village, so grabbing a drink with that blond-haired cutie you sat next to during the show is easy.
Also a possibility -- take a class at the theater! All of the theaters listed above offer improv, sketch and comedy classes. It's a fantastic way to hook up with fun, single people of all walks of life, and nothing breaks the ice better than having to do a scene where you're a priest, they're a sea captain, and you're both trying to save Earth from a Martian invasion. No, I didn't meet my other half doing that particular scene... but we did connect doing improv and sketch comedy.
Artists and Fleas (Williamsburg Flea Market)
Yes, I know this is in the middle of hipsterville, but just because someone's a hipster doesn't mean they're not a good person. At the very least, this flea market is great for meeting creative types, grabbing a snack and just strolling around browsing through funky jewelry and indie fashion. In the winter and spring, you can also avoid the skinny jeans crowd by checking out the Chelsea Pop Up one. In any case, nothing brings people together more than shopping, whether it's exclaiming over the great '40s dress you just found, bargaining with a vendor about the price of a necklace, or kvetching with that sexy stranger about how your friend is way too obsessed with cowboy boots.
Follow Lisa Bernier on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pilrimkim