Best Boston date ideas
Perhaps it’s a Boston thing, but many a local will tell you there are few places more romantic than Fenway Park. So, tickets in hand, nix the usual pre-game beer and sports bar scene and instead head to the city’s most exciting eating space, Time Out Market Boston. Then, it’s happily off to Fenway Park, a five-minute walk away. You don’t have to be a baseball fan, or even a sports fan, to appreciate the atmosphere at America’s oldest Major League ballpark.
Riding the Minuteman Bikeway doesn’t have to be a race, but it can be. For an active date idea, bike the 11-mile route from Bedford to Fresh Pond in one go. Or make it a round-trip; on the outbound stretch, stop off for selfies while exploring North Cambridge’s Alewife Brook Reservation, Arlington’s Great Meadows, and Lexington’s Battle Green. Consider adding a wager on the home stretch, turning the return journey into a race. If you're riding one-way to Fresh Pond, finish with dinner at Freepoint Kitchen. Located in the hip Freepoint Hotel, this hidden gem features a beautiful patio with a fire pit and prime star gazing, plus a bar menu bosting bespoke Manhattans and other creative cocktails.
OK, so you have tickets to a must-see movie at the AMC Loews Boston Common. Take movie night to the next level by adding dinner for two at Artisan Bistro, the Ritz-Carlton’s chic-casual restaurant. Have drinks in the elegant, horseshoe-shaped bar in the hotel’s lobby or grab a bite on one of the comfy couches near the fireplace. The AMC is connected to the Ritz-Carlton, so ask the staff to point out the secret door leading into the movie palace.
Pammy’s—which sits on Mass. Ave. between Central and Harvard Squares—is a great place to start an evening of Cantabrigian bohemia. This hip trattoria has a 1920s feel, especially with the amber glow of globe lights. Nosh on handmade pastas and Italian-inspired dishes alongside tasty cocktails. Sit side-by-side at the vintage central communal table, or huddle by the Scandinavian white tile, double-sided fireplace. Dishes are designed to share, or not, and the super sexy desserts are not to be missed. After dinner, stroll to Central Square and check out a band—or a comedy night or belly dancing—at the Middle East.
There’s nothing more romantic than death, just ask Romeo and Juliet. Seriously though, Mount Auburn Cemetery is a worthy date spot. Set on 72 verdant acres, this National Historic Landmark—the final resting place for numerous famous names—is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary (watch out for the wild turkeys in spring; they get a little tetchy while guarding their young). The secluded dell is a quiet spot with a lovely pond, and nearby Washington Tower has inspiring views over the city and beyond. All that walking builds a healthy appetite for a superb dinner at Harvest. Tucked in an alley between Brattle and Mount Auburn Streets, this Harvard Square veteran is one of the top restaurants in the area, and boasts a talented culinary team. Dine at the chic bar, in the main room, or outside on the secluded patio, which has a fireplace.
Never been to the ballet? Don’t like ballet? That’s like saying you don’t like vegetables; both come in all flavors. The Boston Ballet’s performances at the Opera House, which is a sight to see in itself, are diverse: from traditional performances (e.g. Swan Lake) set against fanciful stage sets, to modern, visually monochromatic productions like Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear. As far as vegetables—and other edibles—go, begin the evening at PABU on the second floor of the Millennium Tower. This stylish take on the Japanese izakaya includes a lavish sushi bar. The bar includes banquettes that are possibly the best seats, especially for watching the astute bartenders craft amazing drinks.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is not the biggest of Boston’s museums, and therefore not the most overwhelming, but it is certainly the most romantic museum in the city. That’s largely because the house itself is so charming. The courtyard is decorated in seasonal blooms, offering a central space where nature is the art. There’s space to concentrate on your date whilst also finding inspiration in the high arts. The best night for a date is Thursday, when the museum and its seasonally-driven restaurant, Café G are both open later. Third Thursdays have themed events, with resident and visiting artists in all disciplines.
The Odyssey departs from lovely Rowes Wharf for dinner cruises around Boston Harbor. The cruises feature a three-course dinner and music, usually a singer and guitarist playing a low-key set of rock and pop standards. After dinner, a DJ takes over so you can embarrass yourself on the dance floor. Harbor viewing on the outdoor deck is a must-do both before and after dinner. On weekday evenings, the Starlight Dinner Cruise is a shorter trip than the weekend three-hour cruise. Either way, you can expect stunning views of Boston’s skyline and landmarks.
When it comes time to refresh and renew the wardrobe, Newbury Street continues to offer the best and most beautiful parade of stores in Boston. Stop in at Tea Forte, the Concord-based tea merchant, which turns your daily tea fix into a romantic ritual. For apparel, try some his and hers preppy glam at Ted Baker. Start at Arlington and shop all the way down to Hereford, and then head to Sonsie for drinks or dinner. This Back Bay mainstay has a beautiful low-lit dining room that exudes a bistro feel. Table 12 is known as the engagement table; here couples often take things to the next level by popping the question.
Boston is "America's Walking City," so head to the Seaport to stroll the scenic Harbor Walk. Work your way over to Fort Point Channel and do the return stroll along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which pairs manicured nature with notable art installations. Follow those urban explorations with a journey through the intriguing world of wine. Housed on the second floor of the Boston Harbor Hotel, Meritage is a wine-focused restaurant with equally adventurous dishes. Try the nine-course tasting menu with wine pairings, and enjoy the beautiful views over Rowes Wharf to the harbor.
For a special occasion when even the best date ideas won’t cut it, splurge on The Spa at Mandarin Oriental’s couples suite. It’s the size of most inner-city apartments, with an opulent, marble-clad bathroom that includes double vanities, a massive soaking tub, and a large sauna. The separate, Asian-inspired treatment room is equally spacious and has natural light. The experience includes a personalized time ritual or signature spa treatment. After the spa, head to the hotel’s Bar Boulud for a splendid dinner; cozy up in a cherry red banquette, or grab seats in the bar overlooking bustling Boylston Street.
Head to A4cade for a night off from being an adult and eating healthy. Escape into game land at this vintage game arcade, then rest your digits while enjoying cocktails and creative comfort food. The team behind Area Four pizza operates this speakeasy arcade is filled with classic arcade games (Galaga, Ms. Pacman) and favorites like skeeball and foosball. It’s amazing how a few cocktails makes games more addictive and competitive.
For a mid-week date to remember, the Coit Observatory at Boston University offers free public viewings most Wednesday nights throughout the year—cloud cover permitting. The hour-long viewing parties with professional astronomers last about an hour. Then, you are ready for a night of drinks and dinner down the street in Kenmore Square. Start with a perfectly-made cocktail at The Hawthorne, then move next door to Eastern Standard. This longstanding American brasserie offers a varied menu sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
The Prudential Center’s 52nd floor restaurant and lounge whisks lovers up, up and away above the street hustle. With window walls on three sides, this classy American restaurant and lounge offers romantic views over Boston. Inside, stylish decor and giant orange chandelier shades create a warm glow. It’s not just superb drinks and dinner on offer: excellent jazz musicians play in the lounge every night. Ask for table 18 in the dining room; it’s a cozy corner table. Whether the sky is bright blue, grey with clouds, or pitch black and twinkling with city night-lights, there’s never a bad view.
Show off your culinary cred by hosting a date at Boston's coolest gourmet destination, Time Out Market Boston. And to get the ultimate foodie experience, seek out the outpost of Somerville's ticketed destination restaurant Tasting Counter, where chef Peter Ungár creates thoughtfully-prepared plates. The French-trained Ungár's “0% carbon, 50% local, 100% natural” ethos is applied to meticulously handcrafted dishes such as smoked bluefish pâté, shrimp risotto and duck leg confit. Nearly everything is made in house—butter, breads, preserves, ferments and condiments—leaving diners asking: When was the last time you had fine dining fare in a communal environment? Try to time your visit for a weekend night, when live DJs keep the atmosphere pumping.