Valentine’s Day Date Ideas for All Kinds of Couples

Need last-minute plans? Consider these date ideas for science nerds, nature enthusiasts, sports fanatics, and even cheapskates.

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Getting bored of the traditional dinner, movie, and dessert combo? We are too. Here are some fresh and exciting spins on date ideas for you and your Valentine.

Sporty Couples:

Never thought bowling could be romantic? Think again. When you combine flirty competition and goofy shoes under the glow of black lights, it becomes the pinnacle of romance for the sports-loving set. Lucky Strike Lanes in Fenway (145 Ipswich St.), Kings in Back Bay (50 Dalton St.), as well as candlepin bowling at Sacco’s Bowl-Haven in Somerville (45 Day St.) each provide an adorable backdrop for a memorable Valentine’s Day. Fuel up for your night of playful competition with Tasty Burger (1301 Boylston St., Boston) for the best burgers and fries-to-onion-ring ratio this side of the Charles River, or the famous flatbread pizzas sold at the Flatbread Company conveniently stationed inside of Sacco’s. We like the aptly named “Jay’s Heart” flatbread pizza.

Nature Enthusiasts:

Perhaps being outside is the last thing you’d like to do in the middle of February in Massachusetts. Understandable, but consider that long-standing promise you’ve probably made to yourself (and your nagging Valentine) for the last five years: to do a lap or two around Boston Common’s Frog Pond. If you’re like us, and always swear to finally ice-skate on the Frog Pond, but then never do, then this is the year to make it happen. With fresh snow flurries on the ground, lights in the trees, and an obligatory post-skate beer at nearby bars like Sweetwater Tavern (3 Boylston Place, Boston) and Intermission Tavern (228 Tremont St., Boston), ice skating in the dead of a Massachusetts winter never looked so appetizing.

Food Lovers:

So the way to your heart is through your stomach, eh? We get it. So does Myers + Chang (1145 Washington St., Boston). The delightful South End eatery, co-owned by Joanne Chang (who also owns Flour Bakery—can she do no wrong?), is a mix of Taiwanese soul food and South Asian street food. Still not sold? They have a “Cheap Date Night” (Monday and Tuesday nights, reservations recommended) special with various themes (“The Pig Out Date”, “The Hot Date”, “The Seaside Date”). At $40 per couple in a place with  million-dollar ambiance and taste, you’d be silly not to catch one of Myers + Chang’s date nights. We’ll be pigging out with our Valentines this year, for sure. To top off your night, walk off those pork belly buns arm in arm with your sweetie down quaint South End cobblestone streets.

Science Nerds at Heart:

Whether you’re an MIT professor or simply someone who was fascinated by your sea monkey colony as a child, we’re happy to tell you that science and romance can go hand in hand. Take your sweetie to a natural light show at BU’s Coit Observatory (725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, call 617-353-2630 beforehand to confirm). Free public open nights take place 8:30-9:30 p.m. every Wednesday. Want some post-stargazing dinner and drinks? Head over to Cambridge’s own Miracle of Science (321 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge), which boasts a charming periodic elements chart displaying many of their menu options. Cute and nerdy.

The Cheapskates (Dates Under $20):

Here’s one for the “Valentine’s Day is just a ploy by Hallmark to make millions and millions of dollars” types. Consider cheap eats at places like Kenmore’s The Lower Depths Tap Room (476 Commonwealth Ave.) for reasonably-priced eats. Two-dollar foot-longs may not be aphrodisiacs, but they will help your wallet stay in check. Also consider booking free museum passes with your local library branch. Places like the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, the Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as museums at Harvard offer free admission on certain nights of the week, as well as allotting free passes to Boston and surrounding city library branches. Stick it to the Valentine’s Day “Man” with a frugal, but not cheapened, romantic night with your sweetheart. Local breweries, such as the Samuel Adams Brewery (30 Germania St., Boston) and Harpoon Brewery (306 Northern Ave., Boston) will also offer free tours and tastings when reserved in advance.

And Finally, the Traditional Dinner-and-a-Movie Combo, with a Twist:

Okay, so you actually do like dinner and a movie. No problems with that. But instead of going to Loews to sit in a packed theater for A Good Day to Die Hard, maybe try the long-forgotten, yet timeless films that are always showing at the Harvard Film Archive (24 Quincy St., Cambridge). After watching a brow-raising foreign film at the Archive, head on over to hip eateries like The Red House (98 Winthrop St., Cambridge) or down a rich cup of L.A. Burdick’s famous dark hot chocolate (52 Brattle St., Cambridge).

For another under-the-radar spin on the commonplace combination of dinner and a movie, the Kendall Square Cinema (1 Kendall Square, Cambridge) offers a well-curated selection of films for movie-buffs and non-film snobs alike. To watch a different kind of love story, consider the Oscar-nominated film Amour, which touches upon love and old age, or The Impossible, which chronicles a family’s trials during and after the 2004 tsunami. To top off this night of cinematic love, eat in at the Kendall Square institutions of The Friendly Toast (1 Hampshire St.) or Area Four (500 Technology Square).