The fondest memories I share with my ex-boyfriend are ones that were formed at some of Boston’s top date spots–restaurants, museums, and bars.
If I can still cherish these memories — despite the fact that my ex-boyfriend and I are not cool, and that he broke up with me (on Skype) — then these venues must have something going for them.
Here are five places you should go with someone you like.
#5 The New England Aquarium
- The fish. I didn’t even want to go to the aquarium because I figured I thought the fish would bore me, but they didn’t. Have you ever pet a stingray? You need to.
- It takes about three hours to make your way around the whole aquarium. This can be three hours of hand-holding and selfie-taking with penguins if you’re really into each other. Or it can be three hours of learning about jellyfish and your own romantic needs if you don’t hit it off. (I experienced a combination of these two.)
- It’s right next to the North End, so if you do wind up vibe-ing, you can transition into phase two of the date. And Boston.com has already prepared a list of restaurants you should try in the neighborhood. How easy is this?
- $27 to look at sea creatures. Alright.
- It’s on the waterfront, which in itself is a nice area to stroll around in, though not the most accessible by public transit. It has its own eponymous stop right next door on the blue line and it’s also close (enough) to Haymarket on the orange and green lines. Or you can drive, if you can afford to spend an arm and a leg on parking.
#4 Harvard Yard
- This is a great place to meet up for the first time. It’s a reasonably sized park–it won’t take you forever to stroll around its entirety–and there’s loads of places to sit, chat, get to know each other a little better, and make fun of Harvard students.
- The foliage is 💯 year-round. Even when it’s dark and gloomy in the winter, it’s nice to see the Yard covered in snow.
- It’s centrally located. If meandering is your thing, Cambridge Common Park is right across the street and the river is just a jaunt away. There’s also loads of cafés and restaurants nearby, so if you’re hitting it off, you can transition into Date Phase II with ease. Try Crema for high-quality coffee and tea, Boston Tea Stop for the best bubble tea in the Greater Boston area (warnning: they’re cash only), or wander around the COOP, get coffee at their in-house café, and talk about literature, if you’re that kind of person. Oh, and there’s a Shake Shack.
- Harvard Square is New York City filthy. I have no idea why it’s so dirty. I have no idea why nobody’s doing anything about it.
- Going to Cambridge means crossing the river, which is a hassle for some people, I guess. It’s also a good place to hang out for folks who live in Somerville/Cambridge. You have to take the red line, but good news: it’s the side of the line that has one branch and isn’t closed for construction every other weekend. You can also take the 66 to get there if you live in Allston/Brighton and/or hate yourself and want to suffer.
- Parking is a joke. Don’t bother.
#3: Blackbird Doughnuts
- The food. The sweet, sweet, gourmet doughnuts. These aren’t three-days-old stale garbage. They’re pure, delicious doughnut art. Boston’s fancy doughnut game is weak–there aren’t many other notable places besides Union Square Donuts and it’s in the middle of nowhere. Blackbird is the change we want to see in the city.
- You have to get there early. I arrived with my mistake of an ex-boyfriend at about 1 p.m., and they were just about cleared out of doughnuts.
- There’s nowhere to sit and enjoy your food, really. So be prepared to walk around with your works of doughy art. PS–the “park” right next to the store isn’t a park, it’s a courtyard for Section 8 housing, which I learned the hard way.
- The South End is beautiful. It’s like a wider-sweeping, less-dirty Beacon Hill. It’s not easily accessible–your best bet is to walk from Back Bay station on the Orange line. Or you can park at the absurdly expensive metered spots on the street in the area. Honestly, just take an Uber.
- Trendy. The trendiest bar I’ve ever been to. It’s hip in an earnest way, not in a weird, forced way, as is the case with some other bars in town (I mean you, Whisky Saigon.) It might be the exposed brick, or the artsy light installations, or the fact that everyone there looks like low-key steampunk cosplayers from Nashville, but this place will make you feel surreally cool.
- The bartenders. The term “mixologist” is generally pretentious, but when they effortlessly whip up an avant-garde drink you’ve never heard of and pour it over a single, massive cube of ice in a thick glass tumbler, it’s hard to describe them in any other way. I wish they wouldn’t wear suspenders, but I’ll let it slide.
- Not centrally located. By any means.
- Not cheap, either. At all. Be prepared to drop a hundo if you’re in it for a full night. 💰💰💰
- Fort Point is lovely, albeit way out of the way. Consider prefacing the date by doing the HarborWalk and getting an alternate, Hancock- and Pru-less view of the skyline.
- You’d have to walk a decent distance from State (OL) or South Station (RL) to get there. And don’t bother with parking. Again, just take an Uber. Or try Boston’s newest cab service, Fasten. It’s $5 for any ride under 20 minutes. If you live farther than 20 minutes away and are on a budget, you can get $10 off your first 10 rides if you use the code BOSTONTWEET. You’re welcome.
#1: The Institute of Contemporary Art
- A go-to for a first date. Even if you’re not particularly into museums and/or art, the installations here tend to be obscure and modern enough to at least be interesting. No Renoir protestors, either.
- There’s a huge hallway that boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a spectacular view of the harbor. You come across it about halfway through a complete tour of the museum. It’s worth going just to sit on the benches in that hallway and talk to your date and take very Instagram-worthy photos.
- There aren’t many. Some of the art can be really weird and disturbing–I visited once when they were showing “When The Stars Begin To Fall: Imagination and the American South” and it was not lit. Not for a date, at least. I needed a Harvard professor and some art history experts to explain it to me.
- This, too, is in Fort Point, so same deal as above in terms of transportation.
- There’s a bunch of cool restaurants nearby, so if the date goes well, you can pull a Harvard Square-style transition and grab some food. I recommend Gather for more upscale, hip dining, and Flour for affordable comfort food.
- Right next to the ICA, there’s an expansive lawn of lush grass and tables. Best part: they pipe jazz music out of hidden speakers planted in some of the foliage. Walk around there and get a view of the water. It’s arguably better than the museum itself.
In conclusion: I highly recommend you bring someone you like to these places.
I went with someone I now deeply resent, and I still enjoy these memories, so that tells you just how dope these places are.
Did I leave out your favorite date spot in town? Let me know!