Change it up
Dating can be stressful, overwhelming, even scary. But it can also bring lots and lots of cheer and smiles in your life.
Whether it’s a first date or your 50th, changing things up is always welcome. Here is a roundup of some activities to consider when planning your next night (or day) out.
Brunch at East Coast Grill
This fiery eatery is probably most famous for its sporadic “Hell Night” events; essentially a dinner for masochists and freaks who like to singe their taste buds on hot pastas and other dishes.
Instead, attend this established eatery for brunch, where meals are more affordable, and more fun. The make your own Bloody Mary bar offers tantalizing ingredients, from fresh hot sauce to chili paste. Oh, and, don’t forget to get a taste of the corn bread.
1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-491-6568, www.eastcoastgrill.net
After Hours at the Gardner
Enjoy jazz music, stroll around the museum’s historic courtyard garden, and explore the new wing. Why not pretend that it’s a Gatsbyesque party at your own mansion? And for you thirsty folks, a cash wine bar is available.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, 617-278-5156. For more information, visit the Gardner After Hours site.
Tour Sam Adams Brewery
If you and your honey bunch can’t get enough of the sudsy stuff, hops to it. (We heart beer puns.)
Company founder Jim Koch (right) probably won’t be on hand to give you a tour of the Jamaica Plain facilities, but regardless, you’ll learn about malts, yeasts, and the history of Sam Adams. One of the best parts? You and your date will be able to sample some brews.
Sam Adams Brewery, 30 Germania St., Jamaica Plain, 617-368-5080, www.samueladams.com
Belly dancing at the Middle East
Looking for some fun for cheap? Head to the Middle East for professional belly dance performances every Sunday night. Show off your dancing moves to your date during the open floor time. $5 suggested donation to take part.
The Middle East Corner: 480 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278, www.mideastclub.com
Forget bowling: If your date isn’t a local (or even if he or she hails from Boston), share some laughs at the Flatbread Company, located in the renovated Sacco’s Bowl Haven. It’s a great place to have your old school fun with a side of tasty pizza and craft brews. Most of the original candlepin lanes remain and others were fashioned into a bar and tables.
Flatbread at Sacco’s Bowl Haven: 45 Day St., Somerville. 617-776-0553, www.flatbreadcompany.com
A trip to the Sports Museum
For all you sports lovers, here’s a date just for you. Brush up on your Boston sports history at the TD Garden’s Sports Museum.
Make sure to check the Celtics and Bruins game schedule — if you time it correctly, you’ll have a chance to watch a game and grab a bite with your date at one of the many sports bars around the Garden.
The Sports Museum at TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston
Moonlit stroll, cobblestone streets
Explore Boston’s waterfront with your date free of charge by uploading a walking tour onto your own MP3 player. The hour-long tour starts at the Christopher Columbus Park and continues past Rowes Wharf and Long Wharg along the Boston Harbor (pictured). You won’t be sorry — it’s one of the most romantic walks in Boston.
After your stroll, wander through the cobblestone streets of the North End and stop in to grab a bite of gelatos or cannolis.
A scenic bike ride
Set out on an adventure with your date by renting a ride from Hubway Bikes. Starting up again in early spring, there will be 60 locations throughout Boston. There are a lot of paths to choose from but we suggest the Charles River bike paths for a romantic and scenic route.
Save the games for game night: check out Jamaica Plain’s Milky Way Lounge for game night every Monday. Hungry? Indulge in 50-cent wings from 7 p.m. -9 p.m.
Milky Way Lounge, 284 Amory St., Boston. 617-524-3740.
Do some good
Show your date your soft side by helping out those in need. Volunteer together at The Greater Boston Food Bank and make a difference in your community.
The Greater Boston Food Bank, 70 South Bay Ave., Boston. 617-427-5200, www.gbfb.org
Tacos and beer
Do some hopping, and we’re not just talking about drinking beer. Start with dinner at Lone Star Taco Bar. After a spicy and satisfying meal, indulge in craft beers at Deep Ellum. Your date doesn’t have to hail from the Lone Star State to enjoy tacos or beer.
Deep Ellum, 477 Cambridge St., Allston, www.deepellum-boston.com
Lone Star Taco Bar, 477 Cambridge St., Allston
Go to Fenway, but make your own way
Sure, you may have been to countless dates at Fenway. This time, make it your own. Grab a burrito before the game at El Pelon, which is just a short walk away from the park. After the game, grab a few pints at Lower Depths, which is close enough to Fenway so you don’t miss the action, but far enough to be away from the usual crowds.
El Pelon, 92 Peterborough St., Boston, www.elpelon.com
Lower Depths,476 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, www.thelowerdepths.com/
Forget the standard stuff: Take your special friend for some delicious sips at the various cocktail bars that are popping up all over town. Backbar has been open for a little more than a year, and hasn’t failed to capture some noteworthy buzz.
The bar, which isn’t the easiest bar to find, may well be one of the coolest. Custom cocktails are made right at the bar for guests to watch. On Mondays, try their signature ramen.
Pictured: The scene at the bar, with bartender Sam Treadway, left.
Backbar, 9 Sanborn Court, Somerville, www.backbarunion.com
Dine to impress
If you want to dress up and hit the new trendy spot in town, venture to the South End. For fresh and local American fare, try BoMa (pictured).
After you wine and dine, rock on with some live music at the Beehive.
BoMa, 1415 Washington St., Boston
Beehive, 541 Tremont St., Boston, www.beehiveboston.com
Fun on the waterfront
There is a lot to do and explore in the very new South Boston waterfront. Take your special someone for a real treat: Rosa Mexicano makes fresh guacamole at your tableside. Tell your waiter how spicy (or not spicy) you want your avocado goodness, and voila, ask and you shall receive.
Also consider Temacal Cantina, which is also in the Seaport area. The restaurant has a breathtaking waterfront view, and if that’s not enough, menus are offered on iPads, which make an excellent talking point on a first date.
Rosa Mexicano, 155 Seaport Blvd., Boston, 617-476-6122
Temazcal Cantina, 250 Northern Ave., www.emazcalcantina.com
ICA First Fridays
This will take some planning, but it’s well worth it. The already fun and a great spot for date night transforms itself on the first Fridays of every month (except January). Check the listings and see which Institute of Contemporary Art event appeals most to you and your date. Pictured from left: Stephanie Wilder of Waltham and Rob Colonna of Boston at the ICA First Fridays: ’80s Night event.
If you don’t want to plan that far in advance, the museum offers free admission on Thursday nights, from 5-9 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, www.icaboston.org
Tour the Harbor Islands
Sometimes you need more than a few hours to really get to know someone. Embark on an adventure to one of the many Harbor Islands when the weather allows it.
Puppet shows? Kite flying? Hiking? The Harbor Islands offer many options to get a break from city life.
For more information, visit the Harbor Islands site.
Act like love birds
Hanging out with penguins? What could be more adorable than that?
Venture to this spot and hang out with seawater creatures at the New England Aquarium.
Check out the exhibits and different features the aquarium has to offer before making the trip.
New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5200, www.neaq.org
Soul food and cinema
Swing by Kendall Square’s Hungry Mother for southern soul food with a classy twist. The menu changes daily but features a variety of hearty selections like cornmeal-crusted catfish and bavette steak. While waiting for your meal, order movie tickets for Kendall Square Cinema and catch a movie after. They show everything from mainstream to art-house to indie to foreign.
233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Cambridge
Kendall Square Cinema
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge
Fondue and brew
For a variety of beers on tap and locally sourced pub fare, check out Grendel’s Den in Cambridge. Split the cheese fondue for two ($25) and share a selection of fresh cheeses white wine & kirsch, French bread for dipping, and your choice of side salad. They also offer a select half-price menu from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every evening and 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Don’t forget to try one of their choice brews or mulled wine.
89 Winthrop St., Cambridge