It’s officially cuffing season. Grab whoever you’ve got, and escape the cold together.

Little Shops

  • Holiday Markets: It’s the holiday season, which means there are a bunch of little expos and markets basically all over the city. Some iconic options include: Bryant Park, Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Grand Bazaar.
  • Pier 17: Very cute little shops, and the food is good down there.
  • The Oculus.
  • Window shopping on 5th Ave: A bunch of stores have their holiday displays up, which are always extravagant and creative. As a bonus, on December 11 and 8, 5th Ave will be closed to cars between 50th and 59th Streets, which is even more conducive to strolling.
  • The Strand: Buy each other books! The one downtown also now has a café!
  • L Train (or any other thrifting spot): Get to know each other’s styles better. Or buy each other surprise outfits.

Little Walks

  • As one wise Bwogger said, there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. So don your warmest coat, feel the bright winter sun on your face, and take all the long park walks you want.
  • Central Park in the snow is especially lovely.
  • Go up to the Bronx Botanical Gardens and see the train show and the light show.
  • Be a tourist and go to the big skyscraper sightseeing things: the Edge, the Summit, the Top of the Rock, etc.
  • Alternatively, go to a busy spot like Rockefeller and people-watch the tourists.
  • Walk around a fancy neighborhood (the UES, Greenwich, Williamsburg, etc.) and admire everyone’s beautifully decorated brownstones. Pretend you’re on house hunters and choosing which house you’re buying to move into.
  • Brave the cold river wind and go to DUMBO – the holiday decorations are very cute, and the view of Manhattan is unbeatable.

Arts & Culture

  • Winter is the perfect time for museums.
    • Art: the Met, MoMA, PSMoMA, The Whitney, The Cloisters, The Frick, Brooklyn Museum, and more! Check out a list of free art around NYC here.
    • History: Tenement Museum, South Street South Port Museum, Museum of the City of New York, Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, and more!
    • Morgan Library
    • Natural History Museum (specifically the gem room)
  • Comedy shows: There are so many cheap or free ones in New York, they’re inside (aka they’re warm), and often have drink minimums. Theskint has an ever-updating list.
  • Jazz clubs: similarly, so many cheap and free ones in New York. A personal favorite is Cellar Dog, which features a number of tabletop games.
  • If you’re into dance: Alvin Ailey’s winter shows. Tickets are $15 for students at the box office.
    • If you want to spend a bit more, the New York City Ballet is showing the Nutcracker, an iconic holiday experience.
  • Met Opera has $25 rush tickets.

Experiences & Activities

  • So much ice skating. All around the city. Bryant Park, Rockefeller, Wollman Rink, Brookfield Place, you name it.
  • If ice skating is too cold, there are also plenty of roller skating rinks!
  • Volunteer! It’s a great time to get on the nice list by working at a nearby soup kitchen, the Columbia Food Pantry, or any of the volunteer organizations around New York. Really good fun free bonding experience where you also give back.
  • Go see a movie! In an actual theater! There are so many small ones in the city that are old and cute.
  • Relatedly, go to the Film Forum and catch a cool indie artsy film. You can get as pretentious as you want with this one.
  • Pottery painting
  • Paint & sip (plenty of places around the city)

Near Campus

  • The farmer’s market happens every Thursday and Sunday. Grab some warm cider and a pastry, walk around and look at produce.
    • Bonus activity: find some ingredients you’re inspired by, and cook dinner together. Easy and cute way to make a chore into date night.
  • So many student arts groups are doing productions right now, and some of them are actually pretty good. Catch a show for less than $10, and support your fellow students!
  • Go to Book Culture! Buy each other books! Bond over your shared (or learn about your differing) interests!
  • Hex & Co is a classic – drinks and an activity built in.
  • Cafés around campus: Hungarian, Café Amrita, and Silver Moon are all great options.

Stay In

  • Make fancy dinner together.
  • Do a wine and cheese night with slightly fancy wine and slightly fancy cheeses.
  • Bake holiday cookies.
  • Build a pillow fort and drink hot chocolate.
  • Do a spa night – massages, skincare, the works.
  • Get a little tree from the Broadway people and decorate it together.
  • Finally, nothing wrong with a bottle of wine and the worst cheesiest Hallmark movie you can find.

And if you really can’t avoid being a Columbia student for one night, at least you can do your study date at the Rose Reading Room in the NYPL.

Wollman rink via Flickr