How to Have a Romantic Valentine’s Day in Boston This Year

It's a weird year, but you can still keep the romance alive.

winter walk boston

Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Valentine’s Day inches ever closer and love is in the air. Chocolates and flowers line the aisles of every grocery store and corner store. But this year is a bit different than in the past. With many restaurants closed for the season and couples worried about exposure to the virus, the usual panic of what to do for the romantic holiday has been exacerbated. So here are some ideas to get that same annual mushy romantic moment—with safety in mind.

1. Stroll through Mt. Auburn Cemetery

Founded almost two centuries ago, the cemetery was created as a tranquil and aesthetic place where families could pay respects to loved ones within an inviting nature setting. There, famous names like Amy Lowell, Robert Creeley, and Benjamin Waterhouse lie beneath the grounds, surrounded by waves of manicured lawns and stone towers. In fact, winter is when the cemetery’s landscape truly shines, with the paths that wind throughout the grounds looking onto an array of conifers. Enjoy a leisurely walk or free self-guided tour through their app.

580 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, 617-547-7105,

2. Share a “Sweetheart Dinner” at Harvest

The outdoor-dining season has lasted a bit longer than in years past, thanks to the pandemic, which means there are plenty of spots for dinners beneath the stars. Harvest in Cambridge boasts a cozy outdoor dining space complete with string lights, overhead heaters, and a gas fireplace. Between Faroe Island salmon with brown butter spaghetti squash, cider glazed bacon lardons, and three different options of cheese plates, the romantic tastes are bound to make your mouth water. Share a warm date cake with toffee sauce and cranberry buttermilk sorbet to close out the night on a high note. Or order their “At Home Sweetheart Dinner for Two” for a candlelit table at home, since the menu is filled with fun flavors like the lobster and shrimp ravioli with braised mustard green in a tarragon lobster sauce.

44 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-868-2255,

3. Drive down Old King’s Highway

It’s the scenic route to one of Massachusetts’ most famous vacation spots, but you don’t have to wait until summer to enjoy it. Long drives are the perfect activity for couples that love to explore and just be in each other’s company. A drive down the Old King’s Highway (otherwise known as Route 6) is lined with wide open skies, sandy beaches, and very little traffic this time of year. What else could you ask for? Turn on your favorite playlist and hit the road.

4. Head to the drive-in

Childhood summer memories usually consist of piling all your friends into a car and heading to the drive-in. Or cuddling up with friends and some snacks and blankets to keep warm in a friend’s pickup truck. So why not relive those days with your partner?

The Mendon Drive-In has kept this season going well past its usual Labor Day closure. The cinema has announced that it will be open this Valentine’s Day for all the sweethearts looking for something fun to do. Open that sun roof for a movie night under the stars with your significant other, perfect to forget all the stress of the pandemic. Tickets go for $27 a car, with movies announced the week before. Go to their Facebook group to vote for your favorite.

35 Milford St., Mendon, 508-473-4958,

5. Walk the tree line of Commonwealth Ave.

A sky full of stars—or Christmas lights—makes the perfect romantic stroll for the dead of winter. Though Comm. Ave. travels throughout Boston to Newton, the last few miles toward the Boston Public Gardens harbors one of the prettiest winter tree lines in the city. From the edge of the Boston Gardens to the end of Newbury Street, the traditionally leafy foliage is replaced with angelic string lights for a glowing walkway for miles, with additional lighting displays continuing through the Common.

6. Try an Outdoor Escape Room

Looking for something new to try with your partner, to spice things up and work together? Trapology Boston is now hosting outdoor escape rooms. With three different packages and the help of augmented reality, this outdoor escape room has all the cool problem-solving puzzles of an indoor escape room but on a bigger square footage, traveling through the Boston Common and Public Gardens. The last group heads out at 3 p.m., to finish before sundown, or you can opt for their virtual package until 7:40 p.m.

177 Tremont St., Boston, 857-285-2085,

7. Take a trip down the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway

More beaches. More beautiful skies. The Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is just what it sounds like—the most beautiful trail to your favorite North Shore beaches. Traveling along the coast from the city to Newburyport is only about a 45-minute drive on a Sunday in February, but it’s filled with gorgeous views, the smell of the ocean, and plenty of time with your partner to just relax and watch the day roll by over the tide. Stop and watch the water or roam the beach. Just don’t go in unless you’re reenacting a scene from The Vow. The water is freezing!

8. Stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

This pick is a very different kind of “staycation.” Rather than staying at home in the same bed with the same food and routine, stay in a hotel for the night and spoil yourself in your room. For Valentine’s Day at the Mandarin Oriental, their newly renovated suites are decked out with holiday décor, a bottle of Champagne, a dozen roses, and a three course in-room dinner for two. And they offer early check-in and late check-out, so you can relax in their sheets and get comfy just a little bit longer.

776 Boylston St., Boston, 617-535-8888,

9. Dine at The Dial

This Americana restaurant touts not only great food but style. The restaurant’s green and pink swanky aesthetic carries onto a patio with table heaters that resemble European arc floor lamps, one over every patio table. The entire menu is available on Valentine’s Day, but chef Justin Urso also crafted a list of exclusive specials for the weekend, including a Singaporean lobster curry in a coconut lemongrass broth with bean sprouts, baby bok choy, and macadamia nuts and a 24 oz. rib eye with truffled pomme puree and baby vegetables for two.

907 Main St., Cambridge, 617-349-2967,

10. Roam the Esplanade

A moonlit walk along the water is a scene plucked from nearly every Nicholas Sparks movie, so why not try it out for yourself. Living in Boston, the presence of the Charles River is a constant background, and sometimes it’s easy to forget how majestic it is. How it’s one of the only places in the city where you can see the whole sky when laying down on the docks at night. How quiet everything in the world seems, even when you’re so close to the hustle of Mass General. The Esplanade is the perfect place to roam around with your partner, tracing a line over the Charles and the various bridges between Boston and Cambridge.