10 Date Nights in Boston That Won't Break the Bank

With babysitting running as high as $20 an hour, many parents find that a night out together is about as rare as sleeping in on Sunday mornings. Yet experts agree that quality time with your spouse is essential to a happy marriage and thriving family life. How do you invest in couple time without blowing the kids’ college funds? Here are 10 fun, creative (and cheap!) ideas.


Be Square


If it’s music, film or something literary you seek, Harvard Square in Cambridge has it. Stroll the sidewalks, window shop and listen to the square’s many street musicians – from South American ensembles to folksy singer-songwriters. For film enthusiasts, the Brattle Theatre (40 Brattle St.; 617-876-6838; and Harvard Film Archive (Carpenter Center, 24 Quincy St.; 617-496-6750; offer respite from the multiplex. There are oldies and goodies here – from film noir to Japanese anime. If you enjoy music, check out Club Passim (47 Palmer St.; 617-492-7679;, a Harvard Square institution featuring nationally known folk and acoustic artists. “The retro-hippie vibe makes Passim an experience,” says Emily Newmann, a Cambridge mother of two. “The music is well worth it.”


Find Your Muse


The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) hosts HarborWalk Sounds, free outdoor concerts that feature Berklee College of Music performers on stage at the ICA Plaza Thursdays 6-8:30 p.m., from July through August. Visit the ICA galleries while you’re there – admission is free Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. (100 Northern Ave.; 617-478-3100; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) is free Wednesdays from 4-9:45 p.m. Its Concerts in the Courtyard series attracts well-known artists who perform under the stars. (465 Huntington Ave.; 800-440-6975;


Be Neighborly


Boston is a city of wonderfully eclectic neighborhoods. Surely you haven’t visited them all. Gelato in the North End at Gelateria (272 Hanover St.; 617-720-4243;, a cozy dinner in Jamaica Plain at Ten Tables (597 Centre St.; 617-524-8810; or a glass of Sangiovese on Beacon Hill at Bin 26 (26 Charles St.; 617-723-5939; leave a lasting Beantown impression.


Star Gaze


Turn off the tube, grab a blanket and head outside for a romantic evening of stargazing in your own backyard. Feel like venturing further? The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics hosts free Observatory Nights on the third Thursday of every month, excluding June, July and August. Take in a lecture and learn about the heavens. Parking is free, although seating is limited. (60 Garden St.; 617-495-7461;


Bond with the Boys of Summer


Few experiences will take you back like watching a baseball game at a pub. Try the Cask ’n Flagon (62 Brookline Ave.; 617-536-4840; or Game On (82 Lansdowne St.; 617-351-7001;, both Fenway institutions in the shadow of the Green Monster. See the Red Sox schedule at


Eat Dessert with Two Spoons


Why not dine at home, then slip away for dessert and an aperitif? Try Finale (with decadent offerings in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Natick; 617-423-3184;; L.A. Burdick for unrivaled chocolate in an intimate Euro-style setting (52 Brattle St., Cambridge; 617-491-4340;; or Brookline’s affordable Paris Creperie (278 Harvard St.; 617-232-1770; for a mouth-watering Nutella and whipped cream crepe for less than $10.


Pack a Picnic


Pack a picnic basket and head to the Charles River for a sunset meal. Cambridge boasts many picturesque spots along Memorial Drive. Or stroll the Esplanade, which is the Boston side of the river. Take in the city views and watch the world go by. You’ll find picnic benches that dot the shore and stretches of obliging grass where you can spread your picnic blanket. Outside the city, you can admire art with your wine and cheese at the DeCordova Museum’s Sculpture Park (51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln; 781-259-8355;


Dine at a Discount


For two delicious weeks each summer, more than 200 Boston-area restaurants welcome diners to indulge at prix fixe prices during Dine Out Boston. From March 6-11 and March 13-18, enjoy lunch options at either $15, $20 or $25 per person, and dinner options for $28, $33 or $38 per person at restaurants throughout Greater Boston. Prices are per person, not including beverages, tax or gratuity. Visit for participating restaurants.


Kayak by Moonlight


Ever paddled a canoe by moonlight? Try the Charles River Canoe & Kayak Moonlight Tour in Newton for couples (132 Charles St., Newton; 617-965-5110; Share a lighted canoe and watch  the stars come out. You may even see a blue heron overhead. Cheese and crackers, and beverages and dessert are included in your three-hour guided tour. Reserve in advance.


Go for the View


…then stay for the jazz! Think the Top of the Hub is just for tourists? Think again. This Boston landmark restaurant and lounge offers unparalleled views of the city from high atop the Prudential Tower, plus nightly jazz with no cover charge. Splurge on a meal there or simply enjoy a beverage and quality jazz at the bar. Music from 8 p.m. to midnight (800 Boylston St., 52nd Floor, Boston; 617-536-1775;


Paige Bradley Frost is a freelance writer who lives in Arlington.

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04 Dec 2015

By Paige Bradley Frost