10 Great Dates

In the mood …

Let’s help you set the mood for a fabulous date: Good food, sweet music, a romantic setting and … zip lines?

That last one--the outdoor adventure sport that suspends you from a pulley and a cable, letting you descend from a great height at a great speed--may be a bit much for breaking the ice. Or maybe not. Whatever your taste, we’ll take advantage of the novel and unique characteristics of 10 cities in the United States and help you plan the best date night, ever. Take a look at some of these ideas. They're not just ice-breaking; they're groundbreaking, too.
Boston: At Wit's End in the North End

Who says Easterners are uptight? Escape the academic grind that drives this college town with a night of juvenile (yet still very mature, we’re assured) wit at the Improv Asylum, an ever-changing sketch and improv comedy show in the heart of Boston’s North End.

Shows start at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (tickets $10), with additional performances Fridays and Saturdays. It sets the stage perfectly, so to speak, for a romantic dinner in one of the neighborhood’s elegant restaurants before the gut-splitting begins.

Follow the show with a late-night walk along the centuries-old cobblestone streets. Grab a nightcap sweet at Modern Pastry or Mike’s Pastry (both open late weekends), and walk up to the Rose Kennedy Greenway for some late-night people-watching and a clear view of the city skyline.
Washington, D.C.: A Dandy Cruise

Some dates call for a completely different point of view … or maybe just a different venue.

Without much effort, anyone in the Washington, D.C., metro area can get down to a pier for a cruise along the Potomac. To splurge on the all-inclusive, consider an $88, three-hour dinner-and-dance cruise aboard Nina’s Dandy.

Or grab a picnic dinner and take a 90-minute ride with D.C. Cruises, for $36, which offers a bar but lets you bring the food.

Either way, you’ll be in for majestic views of the Washington and Lincoln monuments lit against the night sky--with the moon rising overhead, if you’re lucky.

Wherever you’re located, don’t forget that ‘date’ doesn’t have to mean ‘sit.’

In Philadelphia, walking amid the bustle of the ever-vibrant Old City is fun but it's simply been done before. Try this to shout, “I’m new and interesting”: Drive 40 minutes northwest to Spring Mountain for a zipline ride.

The brave can try Saturday night’s 2 1/2-hour Heart of Darkness tour ($99 with a hike; $89 without), which offers a series of zip line, bridge and rope challenges by helmet light. Or try the Easy Rider for $25, an hour tour that still offers three zip lines and one Burma bridge.

Relax at the Spring Mountain Tiki Bar afterward for a drink and a grill-your-own dinner. At least you’ll get the blood pumping and meet some new friends around the barbecue.

Dallas is a modern American city - big on driving, strip malls and chain restaurants. So why not spoil your date with classic, old-world romance? Try out one of the highest-rated French restaurants in the city--St. Martin’s Wine Bistro.

Make a reservation and dress up, because this bistro is the real deal: white linens, candlelight, a soft chandelier, even a nightly piano player. But you needn’t spend a fortune. St. Martin's offers monthly specials. Earlier this summer they offered a three-course dinner for two and a bottle of wine for only $70.

And, because the restaurant is in the heart of Lower Greenville, one of the trendiest and most walkable neighborhoods in Dallas, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy after dinner.
Phoenix: Tracking the Stars (Over Your Head)

After a day stuck in air conditioning, why not refresh yourselves with an outdoor date?

If the stars don’t align for a ball game or night at the races, try learning the constellations at a Saturday-night stargazing event. Or bring the fold-out chairs to one of the city’s remaining drive-in movie theaters. Nobody hassles you about bringing your own food and drink to these films, and double-features can be had for $13.

Better yet, for free classic cinema, head over to Biltmore Fashion Park, central’s upscale mall. On Friday nights in spring and autumn, the Biltmore runs classic favorites (think Hitchcock, James Bond and plenty of guy-friendly romances) on the interior lawn.

The mall’s restaurants offer dine-in and take-out specials on movie nights, or you’re welcome to bring a picnic. The best part: dogs are welcome. Films start at 7:30 p.m., but show up early to save a spot.
Portland, Ore.

If you’ve lived in Portland, Ore., for any length of time, you’re familiar with McMenamins, the brew pub that’s a brew pub and so much more. Here are some of their new offerings:

At Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, in Hillsboro, you can eat in an old brewery then walk across the farmstead to see live music in Imbrie Hall or theater in the barn.

Edgefield, 20 minutes east of Portland, offers a 75-acre spread with eight bars, two golf courses, outdoor dining and concerts, a brew pub, winery, distillery, theater, TV-free hotel, spa and more. In fact, if you haven’t planned an intricate date night, just drive on out and fake it.

Have you actually stayed overnight in the classroom hotel rooms at the Kennedy School, where you can also dine during a movie at the theater pub and wander the various pubs set up in the schoolhouse?

Or check the lectures, films and performances being offered at the Portland theater-pubs, where drinking during the show is encouraged.

Tourists may swarm Millennium Park during the day, photographing their reflection in “the bean” (Cloud Gate) again and again, but if ever there was a grand public space made for the locals it would be the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (pictured), a stunning outdoor concert hall designed by Frank Gehry that houses music events daily during summertime.

Events continue into September, at least. Grab a seat - there are 4,000 in the hall--or picnic on the Great Lawn, which accommodates an additional 7,000. No tickets are sold, and alcohol and food is permitted.

In winter months, the park still makes for a picturesque view of Chicago Harbor and Lake Michigan. The park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink offers free evening skating and $10 skate rentals from November through March.

Because the park is all downtown, your choice of Chicago restaurants awaits right across the street.
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake has been loosening up in recent years. Not only do you need to be a member of a social club to order a scotch, but you can even get quite rowdy.

In the last decade, two dueling piano bars have hit this quiet Rockies’ city, and on weekends they often sell out. The set-up: two piano players face each other and take requests from the crowd. People can pay $1 to stop or to revive selections, making for a sometimes raucous battle of the bands.

“It’s really good for dates, because people get involved. It’s really high energy,” says Scott Alexander, owner of The Tavernacle Social Club. “It’s almost like going to a movie, where there’s enough going on where you’re distracted. Or, if you’re having a good first date, you can move off to the edge and work on your date.”

It’s a $5 cover at the Tavernacle, which serves drinks but not food. The wait staff will bring you a menu from the pizza joint next door, though, and even put in and pick up your order for you. Or, you’re welcome to bring in your own food (but not drinks).
Minneapolis: Strolling on the River

We know that Minnesotans love to be outdoors even when it’s cold. So where better to take a date than St. Anthony Main for dining, art and a stroll along the river?

Named after the St. Anthony Falls, the only natural-water falls on the Mississippi River, St. Anthony Main is a complex of 19th-century factory buildings retrofitted with pubs, restaurants, theaters and art events. Easy parking is nearby.

If you miss summer’s riverfront concert series, then be sure to check out Oktoberfest events in mid-September. After imbibing, take your date on a stroll across the giant river’s historic Stone Arch Bridge.


A date is often all about the view. So even if you’ve lived in a city for 20 years, remember to ask that important question: Where can I offer my date a reminder of the beauty that’s in our own backyard?

In Miami, romantic old hands recommend the Red Fish Grill, an elegant seafood restaurant perched right at the tip of The Hammocks, an unincorporated suburb. Reserve a table on the outdoor pavilion, just steps from the sand, or dine inside with views of palms and the Atlantic.

You may blow your night’s budget on the cuisine. But the after-show is free as a walk through Matheson Hammock Park is all but mandatory.

Of course, if you’re really up to impress, take a boat and head to the park’s marina.