Does a date for $100 or less sound too good to be true? Well, prepare to be surprised because we’ve put together a list of affordable dates for every state in New England. Each of these options includes something to do in New England, a place to eat, and a way to wrap up the evening — all for $100 or less. Have a little extra money to spend? Maybe consider staying over. We’ve included one or two options for a romantic overnight. If you’re coming from out of town, we’ve got you covered there as well with reasonably-priced travel suggestions to get you there without breaking the bank. Next
Do this: Start the day off with an afternoon visit to the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center ($13.50 per person). Get cozy as you work your way through the exhibits showcasing the gorgeous local ecosystem surrounding Lake Champlain. Explore one of the world’s oldest coral reefs and get up close with more than 70 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and more. With 100-plus hands-on activities, there are plenty of picture-perfect bonding experiences from tracking down remnants of an old shipwreck to helping the animal care staff hand-feed turtles and fish. Finish off the visit with one of ECHO’s 10 short films, including the popular story of Vermont’s Loch Ness monster, Champ.
1 College St., Burlington, Vt.
Eat here: Walk six minutes down College Street to American Flatbread Burlington Hearth for an early dinner of artisanal, organic flatbreads and hand-crafted beers. They offer a wide selection of brews. Order a half pint for $3 or a full pint for $5. Then go ahead and split one of the generously-sized flatbreads, featuring tasty creations like new Vermont sausage or sun-dried tomato and mushroom.
115 St Paul St., Burlington, Vt.
End the night: Cut through City Hall Park to Main Street (about a three-minute walk) and end the night at Nectar’s Bar and Lounge (pictured). Known as the place where Phish got its start, the relaxed club atmosphere offers live music from reggae to rock, a full bar, and world-famous fries and tots. Kick back together and enjoy one of 23 draft beers or a top-notch selection of whiskey. If you start craving munchies, order a round of fries to share with your choice of gravy ($4.50), cheese ($5), or a variety of other toppings.
188 Main St., Burlington, Vt.
Cost: $58 to $80.50
Getting there: Depending on your budget, travel to Burlington via the Burlington International Airport or Amtrak Station in Essex Junction. Greyhound buses go to the airport and Megabus offers daily service to Burlington from Boston, New York City, and Hartford. Those planning to drive can take the Interstate 89 to Exit 14-W to the town center. Next
Providence, Rhode Island
Do this: The Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art (pictured) is the 20th largest art museum in the United States. It could easily take an entire day to visit all 86,000-plus works from around the world. From ancient Greek and Roman art to 21st-century design, there is something for everyone to admire regardless of taste. Wander through the exhibits and end the visit with a lecture, reading, or screening in one of its auditoriums. If you go on a Sunday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ) or Thursday night ( 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) admission is free. Otherwise, $12 per person.
224 Benefit St., Providence, R.I.
Eat here: Head to Figidini Wood Fire Eatery, just 10 minutes away. The fun and relaxing restaurant cooks all of its dishes using only a wood-fire oven and grill, and its dishes are made from locally-sourced products. Grab two small plates or share a pizza for around $20.
67 Washington St., Providence, R.I.
End the night: Head north to Eddy Street (about a minute) and arrive at the Salon, a casual neighborhood joint with a community bar and underground dance floor. Choose from a selection of draft beers or try the house special: a classic margarita. Enjoy drinks upstairs or head downstairs for a range of entertainment from DJ events to live shows to comedy nights. If you work up an appetite before the night ends, grab a $2 taco or house-made chips with guacamole and salsa for $5.
57 Eddy St., Providence, R.I.
Cost: $40 to $70
Getting there: Buses take just an hour from Boston and three hours from New York City. Downtown is located off of Interstate 95, Exit 22-A. Next
New Haven, Connecticut
Eat here: Kick start the night with a stop at Soul de Cuba Café, a contemporary Cuban family restaurant with traditional sopa de frijoles negros (black bean soup, $5 for a cup, $3 for a bowl) and fricase de pollo (a marinated chicken dish, $15), as well as signature favorites like black bean chili ($5 for a cup, $3 for a bowl) and pollo moderno (chicken lightly fried with mango, guava, pineapple, and black bean salsa, $18). Split an appetizer and order two entrées for around $35.
283 Crown St., New Haven, Conn.
Do this: For history buffs and paranormal aficionados, why not try a guided ghost tour of New Haven (pictured)? Ghosts of New Haven offers “A Haunting in Connecticut,” an outdoor excursion around the downtown area that teaches the local history and architecture through the supernatural. Maybe you will even run into the ghosts of Jimi Hendrix, Eli Whitney, or Geronimo. If you don’t believe in ghosts, at least you will get is a few laughs and historical facts to chat about over drinks. Tickets are $25 per person.
Meeting place: Starbucks 1070 Chapel St., New Haven, Conn
End the night: Walk 10 minutes to Café Nine, a casual and energetic night club and performance venue, for drinks and live music. They call themselves the “musician’s living room,” hosting national, regional, and local groups nightly. The drinks are wonderfully cheap: enjoy bottles for $3, signature drinks for as low as $4, and craft beers for $5.
Cost: $90 to $100
Getting there: Drivers can take the Interstate 91 or Interstate 95. Otherwise, Megabus offers express service from Boston, Hartford, and New York City and Metro North Railroad, Amtrak, and Shore Line East offer train service. Next
Start the night: Stop by David’s Restaurant for happy hour and get $2.75 drafts, $4 cocktails and wine, and $5 martinis. Relax at the bar or grab a table for appetizers. The restaurant’s small plates range from $5 to $8, including crème de brie, fried calamari, and truffle fries.
22 Monument Way, Portland, Maine
Do this: Take in the friendly atmosphere, diverse culture, and hint of ocean in the air by walking down Congress Street. On the first Friday of every month, take part in the First Friday Art Walk, an arts and culture event presented by the city’s local arts agency. Visit the galleries for special exhibits, meet artists, enjoy live performances, grab free munchies and wine, and more. Can’t make it on a First Friday? Galleries throughout the city will still be open. Visit Gleason for 19th-century to contemporary pieces with a Maine twist. Drop by the Bridge Gallery for a variety of works and an open, working studio. The June Fitzpatrick Gallery (pictured) also exhibits contemporary drawings, paintings, and prints by both established and up-and-coming artists.
Congress Street, Portland, Maine
Eat here: Continue walking down Congress Street and end up at Boda’s, a Thai-inspired kitchen and bar with home-style entrées and desserts. Main dishes range from $12 to $ 19 and include kee mao noodles with chicken ($12), yellow curry jay ($12), fried rice with crab ($15), and pork hocks braised with star anise ($14). They also have tapas and a grill bar.
671 Congress St., Portland, Maine
Cost: $46 to $65
If you want to stay: The Greater Portland area has a variety of places for every price range, including the Inn at St. John (as low as $55 per night) and the Portland Harbor Hotel (starting at $131 per night).
Getting there: Concord Coach bus lines and Amtrak offer service throughout New England to the Portland Transportation Center. Drivers take the Interstate 295 Next
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Do this: Take an early evening walk through downtown Portsmouth and drop into the Book and Bar (pictured), a relaxed, no-media-allowed shop and café housed in the Old Custom House. It offers a wide selection of used books and a variety of espresso, craft beers, and small plates. It also hosts live music and readings regularly.
40 Pleasant St., Portsmouth, N.H.
Eat here: It’s never too late for breakfast. Stop by the Friendly Toast on Congress Street for an early dinner of pancakes, French toast, waffles, and omelets ($6-$11.75). If you aren’t in the mood for breakfast, that’s OK. They have a full menu of classic diner staples with a twist, from burgers to Reubens to macaroni and cheese.
113 Congress St., Portsmouth, N.H.
End the night: Continue wandering through the downtown area into one of the pubs for live music and drinks. The Press Room has jazz, blues, and folk music live nightly. They have a wide selection of craft beers and a signature dark and stormy made with Maine root ginger beer. For a more modern club scene, check out the Portsmouth Gas Light Company, a four-story venue with a third-floor night club. Friday nights are “Flashback Fridays” with special guest DJs, old school hip-hop, reggae, and dancehall classics, and sponsored drinks. Happy hour is 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., and guests can snag $3 draft beer and well drinks.
The Press Room, 77 Daniel St., Portsmouth, N.H.
Portsmouth Gas Light Company, 64 Market St., Portsmouth, N.H.
Cost: $35 to $60
Getting there: Take the Amtrak Downeaster, or C&J, Wildcat Transit, or COAST buses. Drivers can take Interstate 95. Next
Eat here: Warm up a cold winter day with hot-pot (pictured) at Shabu Zen in Chinatown. Order your choice of raw meat or fish ($11 to $19, including assorted veggies, dessert, choice of broth, and choice of udon noodle, Vermicelli, or steamed rice), and help each other boil as you dine. Order the surf and turf platter for $17 and get more than enough food for two.
16 Tyler St., Boston
Do this: Take the Orange Line to Haymarket or walk to the North End’s Improv Asylum for their main show, a delightful mix of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and “Saturday Night Live.” The actors work with the audience to create a hilarious one-of-a-kind experience. Other shows are offered throughout the week. Check out the schedule for showtimes and tickets.
216 Hanover St., Boston
End the night: On a clear night, nothing beats a casual stroll through the charming streets in the North End. Walk a few minutes to Salem Street and pay a visit to Bova’s Bakery, a family-owned shop open 24 hours a day. Grab a couple of cannolis or a slice of cheesecake to share.
134 Salem St., Boston
Cost: $60 to $75
If you want to stay: Try the Harborside Inn starting at $129 per night or the Boston Marriott Copley starting at $145 per night.
Getting there: Trains and buses come hourly to Boston’s North and South Stations. Logan Airport is just a short bus ride away. Drivers can take Interstate 95 or alternatively park at the end of the Green D Line (Riverside) for just $6 a day or at another commuter station and take in the train. Next
Do this: Take in the picturesque scenery with a late afternoon walk through Hubbard Park, one of Montpelier’s designated nature communities. Visit The Tower (pictured), built in 1915, and climb the stairs to an overhead view of the Green Mountain State. The base of the tower is lined with fruit and nut trees, so, even in the colder months, local wildlife stays close.
Eat here: Relax with an early dinner at Salt Café, a small restaurant that serves strictly local meats and produce. With the menu changing every three weeks, guests never know exactly what will be served. Selections combine fresh ingredients from Vermont farms with themes inspired by history, towns or cities, and even works of literature. Past menus have incorporated Alice in Wonderland and foods once grown and served by Thomas Jefferson. Share a small plate ($7-$12), choose an entrée ($18-$26), and finish off with a decadent dessert ($6-$7).
207 Barre St., Montpelier, Vt.
End the night: With appetites satisfied, cozy up in a local theater for a small-town production with world-class charm. The Lost Nation Theater houses a resident company performing comedies, drama, musicals, and more. Snag a seat at the City Hall Arts Center to see one of their shows for around $30 per person. The Montpelier Theater Guild also performs periodically at Union Elementary School. Show times and schedules vary.
Lost Nation Theater 39 Main St., Montpelier, Vt.
Union Elementary School Montpelier, Vt.
Cost: $50 to $95
Getting there: Amtrak’s Vermonter, Greyhound, and Dartmouth Coach all have service to Montpelier. Next
Manchester, New Hampshire
Do this: Explore the Amoskeag Millyard on Bedford Street, a mile-long stretch of massive brick buildings along the Merrimack River that used to house the largest manufacturing company in Manchester. Today, the heart of the city houses art studios, retail and dining spaces, and more. Mill No. 3 is home to the Millyard Museum (pictured), an eclectic exhibition of artifacts showcasing mill-town life of the locals from the Paleo-Indians to today. Walk through and explore art, photographs, and videos in the permanent exhibit, Woven in Time, or check out one of the special exhibitions.
200 Bedford St., Manchester, N.H.
Eat here: Take a 10-minute walk to Firefly American Bistro and Bar for classic and elegant American cuisine with a healthy, local flair. Share a generously-sized appetizer, from crab cakes with arugula and sun-dried tomato aioli ($11.95) to “go-go bread,” a fun take on warm garlic bread served with gorgonzola fondue ($7.95 for two, $9.95 for additional). The eatery offers a variety of fresh dishes from soups to salads to pasta. For a great deal, check out the “classics” portion of the menu, hearty fare for slightly cheaper prices. Choose from dishes like fish and chips ($15.95), the Firefly burger ($10.95), or grilled steak tips ($18.95)
22 Concord St., Manchester, N.H.
End the night: Walk five minutes down to Market Street to the Strange Brew Tavern. Take in the laid-back pub scene and order from the 100 draft beers. They offer daily specials on drinks, including $2.50 Harpoons and select bottles every night. If you’re in the mood for pub food, they have a small menu with hearty selections, from fried pickle chips to baked onion dip, perfect for curbing late-night snack cravings.
88 Market St., Manchester, N.H.
Cost: $60 to $75
Getting there: Drivers take Interstate 93 to Interstate 293, then take Exit 5. Concord Coach Lines and Amtrak also have local service. Next
Newport, Rhode Island
Do this: While some people come to Newport to see the many acres of mansions, the tickets can get a little pricey. See the mansions without spending a dime by exploring the infamous Cliff Walk (pictured) on the eastern shore. Start off at Memorial Boulevard and walk past the Breakers, the stunning Vanderbilt estate. The walk is fairly easy and runs about 3.5 miles, but there are exits along the trail. Make sure to check trail and weather conditions before hiking.
Memorial Boulevard, Newport, R.I.
Eat here: Drive five minutes or take the 67 yellow line bus (five-minute walk and then 15 minute bus ride) to the Corner Café, an interesting blend of traditional American, Irish, and Portuguese fare with healthy and fresh recipes. Dinner specials are posted on Facebook weekly and range from blackened salmon steak ($17.95) to chicken curry with rice and roasted red peppers ($16.95). Their wood-grilled pizzas are always available and come with an interesting selection of toppings, from blueberry thrill ($13.95 for a large, $8.95 for a small, includes smoked ham, caramelized onions, fresh blueberries, Swiss and smoked gouda cheese) to calypso ($13.95 for a large, $8.95 for a small, includes chicken, caramelized apples, gorgonzola, cheddar, and shredded coconut). Split a large pizza for the best deal.
110 Broadway, Newport, R.I.
End the night: Walk five minutes to the Jane Pickens Theater, a 95-year-old theater housed in a 180-year-old Episcopal Church. It’s the only movie house downtown and shows a mix of first-run movies, documentaries, and classics as well hosting special theme events. Ticket prices vary but average around $10 for adults.
49 Touro St., Newport, R.I.
Cost: $35 to $65
Getting there: A car to get around is highly recommended. Drivers can use Interstate 95 and Interstate 195 as well as Routes 4 and 138. Amtrak trains come from Boston and New York City to Providence and Kingston and the RIPTA 64 bus connects Kingston to Newport. Next
Do this: Visit Salisbury Park and see the Bancroft Tower on Prospect Hill (pictured). Built in 1912, the castle has spiral staircases, fireplace chambers, stone benches and was intended to be used for picnics and gatherings. Climb to the summit or the lookout tower and see the city from every angle.
Eat here: Dine at BABA on Park Avenue, a trendy restaurant with a modern take on Japanese cuisine. They have a variety of sushi, sashimi, maki, tori tori, salads and soups, and other favorites like tempura. Rolls range from $5 to $16, whether you are in the mood for spicy tuna, salmon, or shrimp. Choose from starters like edamame, shumai, or $3 miso soup. For those who prefer bigger portions, they offer a few select entrée specials including ginger chicken ($19) and crispy grilled salmon ($24).
309 Park Ave., Worcester
End the night: Stop by Sweet Bakery and Bar and visit the dessert bar for custom cocktails and treats. They use local ingredients, seasonal fruits, and artisan chocolates in all of their creations. The full bar stocks a wide range of wines, liquors, and beers on tap. Split a dessert ($9-$10) whether you are in the mood for chocolate truffle cake, warm apple tart, or a hot chocolate sundae.
72 Shrewsbury St., Worcester
Cost: $50 to $75
Getting there: You will definitely need a car in Worcester unless you prefer to depend on local buses. If you’re coming from out of town, Peter Pan buses, Amtrak, and the commuter rail all travel from Boston on a regular basis. Drivers can take Interstate 90, Interstate 395, or Interstate 495 to Interstate 290 running through Worcester. Back to the beginning
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