We love bars—maybe too much?—but when it comes to meeting new friends (who, you know, remember you the next day), they’re not the best. And dating apps are like a second job. So how do you connect with cool people in a city where no one even stops to sip their coffee?
Never fear, Arielle (Ari) Tepper is here. In this edition of Ask Ari, our founder helps a newly minted New Yorker get social.
Have a burning planning problem of your own? Ask Ari at AskAri@whatshouldwedo.com. Problem solved.
I just moved to the city and have few friends here. I’m looking for weekend activities that are fun and interesting, and that might also present opportunities to meet new people. —Abel
Welcome to NYC! You won’t regret your move. Though meeting new people can be tough in any city, there are literally millions of opportunities to do so here. A few ways to get started:
Meet one new person every day. This was the goal I set for myself when I was a young whippersnapper trying to break into the world of theater production. I would sit down with anyone who was willing to talk about their personal and/or professional journeys. I found that everyone, whether they were in the theater scene or not, had something to offer. I might be chatting with my barista at Le Pain Quotidien (my favorite place to work and meet people), for example, and he would tell me I should meet his friend who’s trying to get a one-woman show off the ground. So talk with everyone you can—Uber drivers, the vendors at your local farmers’ market, your waiter, the person you see every day on the subway. They may not all become your new best friends, but you never know what connections might come out of those interactions.
Learn a quirky new skill. In NYC, you can pick up the most interesting hobbies. This weekend, for example, my family and I are learning to blow glass! But you can sign up for an intro class to practically anything you can think of: Ax throwing? Yep. Oyster shucking? Of course. Archery? No problem. Sashimi slicing? That, too. We love the Brooklyn Brainery, as well, for its extensive selection of fascinating and offbeat workshops, lectures, and tours (woodland terrarium making, anyone?). Sign up for a class in your neighborhood to meet other people who are also interested in new experiences and you may discover your new passion in the process.
Play dodgeball. Or flag football, basketball, volleyball, softball, and even cornhole and bowling. ZogSports has fun, low-key sports leagues all over the city. One of our editors joined a dodgeball team and had a blast (and yep, she met new friends!). If you work in the nonprofit world, hook up with a sports team through NoPro Sports, which aims to connect people in the field.
Volunteer. Search for a charity or cause that means something to you and find a way to help. I have always been passionate about making the arts accessible to everyone—not just those with a certain amount of money—which is why I got involved with the Public Theater more than 10 years ago. I’m now the chair of the board of trustees there, a volunteer position. I can’t even begin to count the number of people I’ve met over the years and how much my work with them has changed my life. Want to change yours?
- Volunteer at the Bowery Mission to help the city’s homeless and hungry (or join its associate board if you’re ready for an even bigger commitment).
- Sign up for a delivery shift with God’s Love We Deliver.
- Walk a dog with other animal lovers.
- Support LGBTQ youth through the Trevor Project or the Ali Forney Center.
- Join the PYTs: Philanthropic Young Things, a popular volunteer group at the Robin Hood Foundation. Participation requires a $365 annual commitment from budding philanthropists ages 21 to 41, but members are invited to attend a range of social and educational events: dinner one week and then maybe a trip to the Bronx to learn from folks in a job-training program the next. Because doing good and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Best of luck out there—I know you’ll be great!
Do life well,