I would say Boston is also a good trip for a first trip for romantic partners.
There’s enough to keep you busy, there’s romantic cobblestones, and if you design your trip right, you can learn a lot about the values and tastes of a significant new person. A walk along the Freedom Trail, for example, can reveal someone’s politics – how they define freedom and who it is for. A visit to Fenway Park will show you if anyone is the type of person to shout “Yankees suck” for no good reason or roll their eyes while singing.
A trip to Boston can be a window to the soul.
(Not to stress you out or anything.)
If you google the city or, better yet, read the entire Back to Boston section, you’ll know where to go. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to offer my own picks, especially for new partners visiting the city. I write an advice column and I focus on romance, so that’s my focus. Here are five places I would take a significant new person on my vacation.
It also works for longtime relatives who want to get to know each other again.
1. Delux, 100 Chandler Street.
Delux is a South End restaurant that is quite small with a comfort food menu. The food is tasty, but the best part is the restaurant’s walls, which are covered in Elvis albums and tributes. This is where you and a new special someone can ask each other the question: “Which of the Delux trinkets/albums would you take to a desert island?” Lesley Gore or the Kinks? How about a bust of Elvis himself? It’s a good game played over drinks and quesadillas. Then you can walk around the neighborhood and guess how much the brownstones cost. The answer: a lot!
2. Arnold Arboretum, 125 Boston Arborway
The Arboretum — a 281-acre park and botanical research site run by Harvard — isn’t a downtown destination, so perhaps many visitors overlook it. But it is worth finding, and in May there are lilac visits. There are so many lilacs. And international trees! And the birds! Spend a morning in nature, take a walk in the Explorer’s Garden near Bussey Hill (my favorite neighborhood). Then have lunch at Jamaica Plain or Roslindale. A sandwich at Ula Cafe puts you next to the Sam Adams Tap Room, located in the very cool brewery building. Then you learn if your partner is a beer snob.
3. The red line
OK, listen to me. Yes, it is public transport – some would say a means of travel, as opposed to a destination. But the view of the Charles River is sweet, and for pop culture fans, it’s all about the movie. Basically, get on at the Charles/MGH stop. Once you’re halfway across the bridge, play “Good Will Hunting” as you sink into your seat like an emotionally charged Matt Damon. Then get up quickly to enjoy the scenery. It’s a way to find out if a) someone has seen “Good Will Hunting” and b) if they’re playful enough to impersonate Matt Damon in a movie.
4. The Cells, 500 Main Street, Cambridge
One of my favorite places in Cambridge is the public galleries of the Koch Institute at MIT. It’s a collection of biomedical images — art inspired by research. You can go inside during the day (check in before you go; rules change these days), but at night the art of the large round cells is beautiful and sometimes devastating, especially when you read the labels who explain them. A fluorescent disc with graffiti-like lines and dots could, on closer inspection, be the building blocks of a disease. Sometimes I think of coins as Rorschach cards. They are bound to provoke deep conversations about science, health and hope. Eat nearby at Miracle of Science and enjoy the periodic table menu (Hb for burger).
5. Taza Chocolate Factory, 561 Windsor Street, Somerville
This cell journey has taken a lot of thought, so it’s time to eat some feelings. The Taza Chocolate Factory includes samples, and the building is in a part of Somerville that you might not otherwise see. You can walk from Inman Square. You’ll learn a lot about stone ground chocolate and whether a partner thinks chipotle, as a flavor, is great or gross. Finish with dinner at one of the restaurants in Bow Market, an ever-evolving pop-up experience in Somerville that’s home to restaurants, shops, and a great outdoor seating area.
So kisses good night.
Meredith Goldstein writes the Love Letters Column and can be reached at [email protected]