New York City Proposal Guide: Best Free Public Places

New York is the biggest city in America (and the greatest city in the world), so you might feel overwhelmed when trying to decide where to propose in the Big Apple. This article is part of our series on places to propose in New York City. This time, we’re exploring free activities around the New York City area. If you don’t feel like splurging on an over-the-top proposal, these free options provide great locations to pop the question.

Central Park

Strawberry Fields proposal
Photo: New York Travel

Central Park features 843 acres of park, paths, and nature in the middle of the busiest city in the country. World famous Central Park is typically quite busy, but there are usually quiet places around the park to propose if you’re looking for an intimate location. Our favorite locations in Central Park feature romantic backdrops for photos:

  • Strawberry Fields: for those who want the John Lennon kind of “Love”. This area serves as a memorial to former Beatle John Lennon and features an “Imagine” mosaic on the ground, which creates a perfect proposal photo opportunity.
  • Bethesda Fountain: for the traditionalist who doesn’t mind having other people around, the Bethesda Fountain is one of the more popular locations within the park. The fountain features the Angel of the Waters, an eight foot angel bearing a lily in her left hand, a symbol of purity.
  • Belvedere Castle: for the old school romantic — named for the Italian meaning “beautiful view,” this is a proposal location fit for a queen. Why not propose to her in front of a castle?

New York City Public Library

New York Public Library Proposal
Image: Pennance Photography

This Midtown landmark makes the perfect day time activity whether you’re a tourist or a local. Equal parts museum, art gallery and library, you’ll fall in love with the architecture, decor and — of course — the books. Guarded by world-famous marble lions Patience and Fortitude, this iconic building houses thousands of books and a circulating children’s library, including the real Winnie-the-Pooh. Find some of your favorite books and wander around this beautiful space. She won’t be expecting you to get down on one knee on the front of the steps after roaming the library all day.

The Highline

The Highline New York City Proposal
Image: Flytographer

This abandoned freight railway has been transformed into the coolest elevated park you’ve ever seen. The Highline runs from 15th to 34th streets on the city’s west side and offers unobstructed river and city views and features lush landscaping and artwork. This makes for an unforgettable proposal location!

Staten Island Ferry

Image: Conde Nast Traveler
Image: Conde Nast Traveler

Nothing is more New York than a ride on the ferry. Though the Staten Island Ferry is typically for commuters, it’s free and is sometimes referred to as the single greatest free attraction on the Eastern Seaboard. Get down on one knee as you pass the Statue of Liberty with the New York City skyline in the background for an unforgettable proposal that will make your partner feel like the queen/king of the world.

Brooklyn Bridge

Propose on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
Image: How He Asked

The Brooklyn Bridge is known for being one of the oldest and most picturesque bridges in the United States. The bridge offers a mile-long walk that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan, and it also offers stunning views of the city. Suggest spending the day in Brooklyn, and go for a stroll across the bridge. If you’d rather propose on land, nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park overlooks the entire bridge and Manhattan.

Governors Island

View of Manhattan from Governors Island
Image: Tod Seelie/Gothamist

Governors Island is open from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September. Travel seven minutes by ferry from Lower Manhattan to Governors Island; thirty acres of island parkland that include an art-studded Liggett Terrace; a Hammock Grove (with 50 hammocks); a 2.2 mile trail around the island, and a GIANT SLIDE.

Picture the best afternoon ever: first, suggest a picnic! Get an early start and pick up some things for a picnic (or plan to get food at one of the many vendors on the island), hop on the 11am ferry, and set up your picnic at the perfect spot overlooking Manhattan. Once you’ve settled in, get down on one knee and pull out her Ritani engagement ring. For help planning your surprise Governors Island picnic, try a proposal planning service like Proposal007 or The Heart Bandits.

Pro Tip: Ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn are free Saturdays and Sundays before 11:30am.

Art Gallery Proposal

Yayoi Kusama in New York City
Image: Robert McKeever/Time Out New York

New York is known for many things, one of them being world-class art. There are an abundance of art galleries in New York City; the most concentrated spot for a gallery crawl is in the Chelsea area. Check or Time Out New York for listings by area. Spend the day art gallery hopping and when you both find a piece of art that speaks to you, get down on one knee with a Ritani engagement ring. Though galleries are usually free, you might have to take home the piece you proposed in front of.

Scavenger Hunt

Empire State Building in NYC

If you’re a New York City dweller, opt for a scavenger hunt featuring places that have been meaningful in your relationship like the place you met, the place you had your first date, your favorite coffee shop, or a place you two regularly go to.
If you’re just visiting the city, you could create a scavenger hunt based on famous landmarks that you know from popular culture:

  • Macy’s on 34th Street (from The Miracle on 34th Street)
  • Dean & Deluca (from Felicity)
  • New York Public Library (from Ghostbusters)
  • The steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (from Gossip Girl)
  • Magnolia bakery, Manolo Blahnik, Loeb Boathouse in Central Park (from Sex and the City)
  • Katz’s Deli (from When Harry Met Sally)
  • Empire State Building (from Sleepless in Seattle)
  • Plaza Hotel (from Home Alone 2)
  • Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

As a company from New York City, we’re happy to help you find the engagement ring of her dreams at one of our New York City jewelers.