Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Days and Nights of Summer

And many more fun, free and affordable things to do in Boston this summer!! 

It is August and summer is almost behind us! Those of us who live in the bean, and those who love to visit, know that Boston summers are bursting with fun things to do! Fortunately for us, there are also lots of FREE and affordable fun things to do! To help you plan your final weeks of summer full of fun and budget- friendly activities, I have compiled a list of a few local happenings going on throughout the month. 


1. Johnny D’s of Davis Square in Somerville has an especially fun Monday night. Hot Dogs are only $1.50 from 6-10 PM, and trivia starts at 8:30, so grab your friends and head on down for a night of inexpensive eats and fun times!

2. If you are a student and are looking to go out to eat, look no further than Fire and Ice in the Back Bay. The all you can eat, self-serve “improvisational grill” is just $9.95 per person! Just make sure you have your student ID.

3. Students get all the good discounts, don’t they? Well never fear, because there are good deals for those of you in the work force too! Monday nights means FREE bowling and billiards at Kings in the Back Bay. It is “Industry Night”, so just bring a business card, or a stub from your hotel to play for free! They have other fun events going on all week, so make sure to check out the whole list.



1. Looking to get a Tuesday Tex-Mex fix? Look no further than Tremont 647, where they offer a $2 Taco Menu every week! In addition to Taco Tuesdays, they offer other events throughout the week, so check out their other events as well.


1. Beginning in July, the Landmarks Orchestra offers FREE concerts at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade beginning at 7:00PM. So pack up a picnic, a blanket, feel the breeze off the Charles River and enjoy the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Brahms. All you have you pay… is your attention.  

2. When the music is ending, the stars will be coming out. To get a better look, head over to Boston University to check out the Coit Observatory. They offer FREE stargazing after 8:30PM on Wednesdays throughout the spring and summer, as long as the skies are clear.

3. Didn’t make it to trivia on Monday? Well McGreevy’s Sports Bar on Boylston Street is there for you, just so long as the Red Sox are out of town. On away nights, McGreevy’s offers FREE trivia from 7:00PM – 9:00pm, and $3 drafts for participants, as well as the chance to win lots of great prizes and giveaways.


1. Normally entrance into the Institute of Contemporary Art runs a person $15 for general admission. Not on Thursday nights! Between 5:00PM and 9:00PM general admission is absolutely free!


1. The end of the work week has arrived! This is the moment to treat yourself to something entertaining, and the movie theatre is a classic location. But there is a reason that American Cinema is a billion dollar industry – movie tickets are expensive! This summer, check out recently released movies for FREE outdoors at the Hatch Shell with Boston’s 28th Annual Free Friday Flicks. There are also giveaways, food samples, and more.

2. The last tip for Friday is not free, but it is a good deal. Havana Club in Central Square offers a $12 deal which includes cover charge, coat check and a salsa lesson! Not bad for a Friday night!

Then of course there are wonderful things to do around Boston that are FREE EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK!

1. Have a picnic in any of our beautiful parks. If you’ve already spent plenty of time in the most famous ones, the Boston Common and the Public Garden, check out some of the other lesser known spots, like the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, which is the park between Haymarket and The North End, or the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. 

2. Head over to the USS Constitution – a floating museum and a retired US Navy Ship. It’s FREE to the public every day during the summer!

3. Instead of paying to get into a museum, check out the Boston Public library, or go into any of the many art galleries along Newbury Street. 

4. Tour of the Sam Adams brew house. FREE or by donation entrance, and free beer samples with a glass to keep!

These are just a few of the wonderful things to do around Boston, and I would love to hear what free things you do on your summer nights! I look forward to hearing from you! Please comment and share your own tips here! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Low Cost Updates to Your Summer Wardrobe

Although we are more than halfway through the summer, there is no time like the present to update your summer wardrobe! With all the fall apparel starting to hit store shelves, you can bet you’ll find great deals on the remaining summer merchandise.

Here are my top ten suggestions for giving your summer wardrobe the boost it needs without straining your budget. At the end of the list, please respond and share your own suggestions - I'd love to hear them!

1. Visit the outlets

If you are generally drawn to the more expensive fashion brands, it is likely that you can find these brands for less at an outlet store near you. If you can get over the idea that you will be wearing last year's or last season's collections (which most people would never even notice!), this is a perfect opportunity to save some cash. One tidbit that not many people realize is that at most outlet malls, you can go online beforehand and sign up for their "VIP club" (for free) and they will e-mail you coupons and sales whenever they are happening. This way, you are not only saving the amount you normally would save at the outlet, but you might even be able to do so at an additional sale price!

Some local outlet malls worth visiting:
*Wrentham Village Premium Outlets (Massachusetts)
*Kittery Outlets (Maine)
*Freeport Outlets (Maine)
*Settlers' Green Outlets (New Hampshire)

2. Go "shopping" in your own closet

Do you remember what you purchased last year? Before you head to the stores this year, take a few hours to go shopping at home. Pull out EVERYTHING that you could possibly wear during the summer season (yes, even from WAY in the back of the closet!). Chances are, you'll find an item or two that you forgot about. Most likely, you will save money since you won't have to buy as many items as you thought. Some things that went out of style several years ago could be back! Additionally, this is a great chance to make a donation pile for all the clothes you are sure you'd never wear again. Make sure you keep a list of everything you donate and get a receipt for next year's tax purposes.

3. Host a shopping party for you and your friends

Once you have gone through your closet, invite your friends to your very own "shopping party"! As you went through your closet in the previous exercise, you probably came across a handful of items that you are simply tired of wearing. Ask your friends to pull together those same few items that are CLEAN and in good shape from their own closets and come to your house. Figure out a nice way to display all the clothes, serve some wine and cheese, put on some fun music, and you have your own little boutique! Everyone can look through all the clothes and pick out what they want. When there are a few items left over at the end, gather them and bring them to your local donation center. This works well when you and all your friends share similar body types. It will still work if that is not the case if you include items such as purses and accessories in your shopping party.

4. Sign up for the mailing list at your favorite clothing store

Most clothing stores offer a mailing list through which they will notify you of upcoming sales and even send you coupons for a dollar amount or a percentage off the price of your purchase. If there is a store that you love that is a bit out of your ideal clothing budget, this can be a great opportunity for you to save some good money. However, I would caution you against two temptations related to this tip. First, you can sign up for their mailing list, but please avoid signing up for the store credit card! Store credit cards are usually not a very good idea for a few reasons. Having a store credit card does affect your personal credit history, the interest rates are usually horribly high, and in this day and age, an extra credit card in your name is an extra opportunity for an identity thief to take advantage of you! My advice would be to avoid store credit cards at all costs. The immediate savings that they offer you off your purchase at the time is not worth the long-term affects of having the credit card. Secondly, don't use the coupons the store sends to you as an excuse to shop. If you are worried that the coupons will tempt you to buy more than you were originally planning to buy, perhaps you should not sign up for the mailing list in the first place. In this way, you will be saving more money by not having the coupons than by having them!

5. Don't rule out department stores 

Some people feel that it's difficult to find high quality, fashionable clothing items in department stores. While it may sometimes be more difficult to do so, it is certainly not an impossible task. Department stores can be more of a treasure hunt, but the high quality items are there, and there can be great deals to be had. If you make a special point to save your shopping until immediately following the holidays and just as the seasons change, you can really get some great bargains as well!

Specifically, my favorite for women's and menswear is Kohl's and I've been pleasantly surprised at the great selection of menswear at Target. Both generally have reasonable prices and quality year-round, but offer wonderful discounts when they are moving inventory.

6. Listmaking - It's not just for groceries anymore!

All of our moms always taught us to never go food shopping without a list, since without one we will be too tempted to splurge on snacks and items that we don't really need. You may have never considered the fact that the same principal can certainly hold true when shopping for clothing.

In the last few years, fashion icon Tim Gunn (of "Project Runway" fame) created and starred in a short-lived show on Bravo called "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" based on his book of the same name. The show was revolutionary and simple at the same time in that he believed that every woman's closet revolved around 10 essential items (this list translates well to men also, except for the dresses!). If you concentrate on building your wardrobe around these 10 items (and purchase somewhat high-quality versions of these items), you will have far fewer clothes to deal with and you will end up spending less money over time, since these items will not go out of style with the trends, and will mix and match to go well with a variety of options. Copy down the list, check your closet to see which items you have, and then bring it with you when you go shopping for clothes. Don't buy anything that's not on the list. You'll be surprised how effective it is to shop this way! Here are the 10 essential items from Tim Gunn's list:

* Basic Black Dress
*Trench Coat
*Classic Dress Pants
*White Shirt
*Cashmere Sweater
*Day Dress
*Sweat Suit Alternative (Examples include khakis, cords, a cotton dress, etc. - the thought here is that it is easy and possible to feel comfortable without looking sloppy.)

7. Get creative and make a totally unique item or two for your wardrobe!

I know you took home economics in junior high school - and I'm sure you were very proud of that bag you made! If you have a sewing machine hanging around the back of your closet, it is really not too difficult to pull it out and make a simple item or two for your summer wardrobe. This may not be a solution for everyone, but if you are feeling creative and you want an item or two that are truly unique, this might be the way to go for you! A great place to visit to come up with ideas and order patterns is www.sewingpatterns.com - they sell all the patterns from all the big names and also many independent pattern makers as well.

Around the city of Boston, fabric stores are sadly few and far between these days. However, it's not hard to find them, if you know where to look. Here are a few worth your while:

*Winmil Fabrics 107 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111
*Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics Somerville and Dorchester
*Sew-Low Discount Fabrics 473 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02141

If you need a refresher course on sewing, check out:

*Stitch House Dorchester 846 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, MA 02125

8. "Vintage" is so hot right now!

Everything old is new again... and the Boston area is full of stores ready to sell you cool vintage items. What a better way to update your wardrobe than with items from your all-time favorite decade? Some stores can be more expensive than others, so you have to know where to go. An easy choice would be a place like Goodwill or your local church thrift shop. However, here are a few fun, creative options worth exploring:

*The Garment District 200 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, 02139 (Kendall Square)
*Poor Little Rich Girl 255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144 (Davis Square)
*Oona's 1210 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Harvard Square) (617) 491-2654

9. Shop the clearance racks at the trendier stores

Hopefully you are still with me and you've found some inspiration in my first eight suggestions! If you still can't bear to give up shopping at your favorite stores, you may be able to find some good deals at those trendy stores by heading right for the back of the store as soon as you walk in the door. Certain stores are well known for having fantastic clearance rack deals since the styles tend to rotate so quickly through these types of stores. If you can bear to wear clothes from "last season" (which can essentially be as recent as a couple of weeks ago!), there are wonderful deals to be had.

My personal favorite clearance racks are Ann Taylor, (which also has sale and clearance sections on their website) H&M, and Urban Outfitters' extensive Bargain Basement in Harvard Square (11 J.F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138) has been recommended to me as well, but there are certainly many stores around with fantastic clearance racks. The key is to ignore the window display all-together and head right for the back of the store. Those great items in the window will be in the back of the store soon enough anyway!

10. Shop online and compare prices before buying

Comparing prices online is more of a general recommendation, and applies to anything you might consider buying, but you may not usually consider doing so with clothes. However, larger stores sell the same clothes through their websites that they sell through their brick-and-mortar stores. Even if you plan to go try the clothes on before you buy them in the stores, shopping online first can help you find the least expensive option for your desired item. Personally, I love the website Froogle.com. This is Google's product comparison website. You can type in the name of what you are looking for and compare the options at various stores and online sources. For example, if you try typing "men's black cashmere sweater" and then sort by price, you'll get 186 results ranging from $10 to $675. It's a great way to get a sense of the types of products available and the price range you should be expecting, and many times, it can help you find great deals!

Please respond to this blog entry and let me know your great ideas for updating your wardrobe less expensively ahead of the upcoming summer months!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Wedding Guests Guide to Surviving the Season

Source: http://www.weddinghairstyleshq.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/summer-wedding-invitations-ideas-3.jpg

Ah, wedding season… happy couples pledging their love, handwritten invitations, chocolate fountains, the chicken dance… and your wallet, wasting away! It seems like all weddings happen at the same time, and as fun and exciting as they are, each summer you can end up paying the equivalent of a couple of mortgage payments on clothes, travel and gifts. You don’t have to break the bank this wedding season! The following tips will help you save a lot of money, while still showing your soon-to-be-married friends and family a lot of love.

Save on Gifts

Source: http://www.videoweddingguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/bed_bath_beyond.jpg

1. You know that everyone registers for gifts at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but you may not be aware that this store has a lot of opportunities for saving money. If you sign up for their mailing list you will receive coupons for 20% and $5 off your purchases, and these are no ordinary coupons. Even though they have expiration dates listed on them, the store will accept them indefinitely. Keep an envelope and hang on to them all year for big savings during the summer. Other small print you can ignore is the “one coupon per purchase” line. Normally they will accept one coupon per item. They will also accept competitor’s coupons.

Get a head start on savings! Leave a comment below with your most creative and cost-effective wedding gift idea and you could win a $25 gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond.

2. The wedding registry is not just a shopping list. It is an insight into the couple’s styles and desires. It is meant to be a guide for you, not the law. Once you have looked over the registry and gotten an idea of what the bride and groom are looking for, go elsewhere for good deals! Stores like Marshalls and HomeGoods have great things for newlyweds like picture frames, crystal vases and linens at much lower prices than brand name department stores. Using the registry you can find something you know the couple will love, at a much better value.

If you find something just perfect on the registry, try searching for the same exact item elsewhere. If you find a better price for it at a different store or online, buy it at the better price. As a help to the bride and groom, call the store where they are registered. Tell the store that you bought it but the registry is still showing that it has not been purchased, and they will most likely take it down. It requires a little fibbing but the bride and groom will avoid having to deal with returning duplicates after the wedding. (Just make sure it is exactly the same item!)

3. You are only one person, but you are not alone in the financial struggle to survive wedding season. Certainly other friends and family are trying to save money and give the bride and groom something wonderful as they enter into their life together. One way to afford a great gift is to go in as a group. With strength in numbers, you and friends or family can afford something bigger and more expensive, even something that may not be on their gift registry.

4. The best gifts are from the heart… and hands. If you have a special talent or hobby, you may want to consider making a wedding present instead of buying one. A crocheted blanket or a handmade photo album are gifts that mean more to newlyweds than china, and will save you a lot of money.
The gift of your time and skills is invaluable. Another option may be giving the couple a service that you specialize in. If you are a gardener, help them plant a garden at their new home together. If you like to cook, prepare the couple’s first meal together. Whatever you do will show them you care, without breaking the bank.

5. If you follow all of these tips, you will certainly save some money for yourself, but what about giving the gift of savings to the bride and groom? A great gift to give is a new skill that you learn to help prepare for the wedding. Your new skill and the savings you create can be the gift. Take a calligraphy class and help address the invitations. Take a class on flower arranging. Learn how to do the wedding day makeup. You could even have a makeup party with the bride and bridesmaids to learn which blush compliments your skin tone. You will all gain a new skill, spend time together, and save money!

Source: http://www.unjerseybride.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Types-Of-Bouquet(pp_w723_h1245).jpg

If you’re the best man and not interested in the difference between Metallic Mauve and Windsor Rose lip color, there are many other skills you could pick up to help out with the wedding. Take a class on mixing music and offer to DJ the reception. Or become ordained for free online and perform the ceremony! (The Universal Life Church has an ordination application at their website at http://www.themonastery.org/?destination=ordination .) You could also offer to photograph or videotape the wedding if you have those skills. Whatever you do it will be especially valued because of your gift of time and effort. (Just make sure to give your gift to the bride and groom early in the process or they may already have chosen and booked a vendor.)

6. Something old and something new… We tend to focus on the second part of that adage. The newlyweds are moving into a new home and we buy them new gifts for their new life. But weddings are a perfect time to reflect on the past. If you are family of the soon-to-be newlyweds, a family heirloom can be a very meaningful gift, and costs you nothing.

Another possibility could be the presentation of something old as something new. If you find a shoebox full of the groom’s childhood baseball cards, you could put them together as an album. A slideshow of pictures from the couple’s youth is also a free and meaningful gift.

Save on Travel and Planning

Source: http://media-cache-ak1.pinimg.com/192x/8f/43/e4/8f43e48e53d1765775b565e64bf77742.jpg

7. The bride and groom will often reserve a block of rooms in a hotel for their guests at a discount. This can be a great opportunity for savings, but don’t assume it is the least expensive option. Before booking your room, check online for hotels in the area, or even the same hotel. You may be able to find a cheaper room.

You also may want to wait to reserve your room: the best deals may be available closer to the wedding date. This is a riskier option, but if rooms haven’t filled up the hotel may run a sale to entice travelers to stay with them. Be careful with this tip! If you wait too long you may have a hard time finding a room to stay in at all, or you may even find that room prices have gone up.

8. Weddings are always expensive for guests, but sometimes they are simply too expensive. Even if you are frugal with gift giving and party planning, it still costs a lot, especially if you are traveling. If you’ve already bought two blenders and four dresses this summer, and your freshman year roommate invites you to her wedding on the other side of the country, it may be time to say, “I love you… but no thanks”. This may be hard to consider: you want to spare no expense on your friends’ and families’ special days. But if it is simply out of your price range, they will understand. Be sure to send them a heartfelt note conveying your well wishes and the fact that you will be with them in spirit.

Another time you may have to say “no thanks” is if you are invited to be part of the wedding party. This level of involvement requires so many more expenses: the dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the hair, the shower and bachelorette party (or the suit, the cufflinks and a bachelor party and four rounds of drinks). If you can make it to the wedding, but can’t afford to be in the wedding party, you can be involved in other ways. Be honest with the bride and groom. Tell them you would love to celebrate with them, but you don’t want your own tight finances to hold back the rest of the bridal party. When you say “Thanks, but no thanks,” ask the couple how else you can help them on their special day. Maybe you won’t be one of six ladies in pink this time, but you can still help out with the guest book, or setting up for the reception. There are so many things going on to plan a wedding. If you chose to take a smaller, less expensive role, you will still be a huge help to the bride and groom and show them you care.

9. Sometimes, you cannot say no (and you don’t want to!). There are still plenty of ways to plan great bridal party activities at a fraction of the cost of traditional plans. Goodbye Vegas, hello good old fashioned girl’s nights in. Plan a slumber party with a Sex and the City marathon and homemade cosmos. Men can go camping or just find less expensive bars. Spending time with friends is what it’s all about, not spending money with friends. Personalizing the event and focusing on what’s important, friendship, will make a more memorable (and economical) party.

10. One area where you can save a lot of money is clothing. If you are not the one in white (and even if you are) you do not need to be spending an arm and a leg to look good. For ladies, a simple, inexpensive black dress can go a long way. If you are worried about wearing the same dress multiple times, make it new by dressing it up. Different jewelry, shoes, wraps and accessories can make your little black dress into as many different little black dresses as you need. Another option that is good advice for any time of the year is shopping in your friend’s closets. If you all have a few weddings to go to this summer, and everyone owns one great dress, take turns!

If you are a man looking for a good suit that will last you at least one year, check out local department stores. You don’t need to get into a Hugo Boss to look like a sharp wedding guest. For example, Target has very nice black suits for under $100. No one will be able to tell that it’s from Target and you will have done your wallet a favor.

Source: http://www.brianmullinsphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/brumley_pahl_wedding-0654(pp_w700_h465).jpg

One of the reasons why weddings are so expensive is because of the “spare no expense” mentality that surrounds them. We let our emotions drive our wallets and we end up broke by the end of the season. These tips are intended to provide some creative alternatives that will allow you, as a guest, to make the wedding day special and valuable, without depleting your savings. We recognize that some of these tips may seem controversial because they are a violation of modern wedding etiquette. But remember that etiquette is always about giving the best of yourself and having grace, it’s not about how much you spend. These tips will allow you to save money and show the happy couple you care.

Please respond and let us know your own tips for surviving the wedding season. We would love to hear them!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Save Money on a Couple's Retreat This Summer - "Stay-cation" in Boston!

As the cost of living continues to rise, the extra funding for an extravagant couples getaway continues to decline. For couples just starting out on their own, any income not going to paying bills and buying everyday necessities is going towards saving for larger purchases like a house or car. For those of us who love taking summer vacations with our special someone, having no money to spare for a week away together is a depressing thought…
However, there is no need to worry! Here in Boston, we live in a world-class city, and in all of our travels, we have really taken that fact for granted. It doesn't matter if you and your partner are “two-peas-in-a-pod” or if you’re in a more “opposites-attract” kind of relationship, the city of Boston offers something for each of you to enjoy doing, and you just might find that you’ll enjoy them even more together!

To keep things interesting, I have created a list of some of the great, under-appreciated spots in Boston that you should visit for the first time, or visit again! I've organized them into 10 can't-miss "day" trips. This list is chock-full of ideas. You may find that each "day" trip contains more than you would be able to accomplish in one day, so you might have to choose the attraction(s) that appeal most to you and your partner. Be sure to visit the websites for each of the suggestions for more information. I have tried to choose cost-effective suggestions so that your week off won't break the bank. All you need is your T pass and loved one for a wonderful couple’s "Stay-cation" week in Boston!
1. Day Trip #1: Fine Arts and Culture
If you live here, you have probably spent time at the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall at some point, but there are MANY other ways to explore arts and culture in Boston. Stop by two or three of these lesser known spots for a very enriching day! I would suggest an art museum or two in the morning and afternoon and a performance in the evening. You could even head over to Newbury Street to have lunch at the Trident Booksellers & Cafe (food and drink/bookstore). Be sure to click below and visit the various websites ahead of time for hours, special show and exhibit info.
* Take in some art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
* Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art on the waterfront 
* Get tickets to a show at or take a tour of the recently restored Boston Opera House 
* See a show at Emerson College's Cutler Majestic Theater... 
* ... or at Harvard's American Repertory Theater 
* ... or at Boston University's Huntington Theater 
* ... or at the exciting Boston Center for the Arts 
* Watch some Shakespeare on the Common presented by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company 
* Catch some amazing music at the Berklee Performance Center 
* Support music of the 20th century through the Boston Modern Orchestra Project 
2. Day Trip #2: Sports Appreciation
The Boston teams have provided fans with excitement and anticipation through each season, and continue to be the center of the sports universe (at least for us Bostonians), whether they’re winning or losing. Between the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and Revolution, Boston has a team to support through every season of the year. When thinking about what to see in Boston, sports appreciation is at the top of the list! While watching a major sports game together might be out of your price range, there are countless ways to appreciate sports in this city. Check out a few of these options:
* Take a tour of historic Fenway Park and check out the famous Citgo Sign 
* Visit the Sports Museum (in the TD Banknorth Garden) 
* Attend a game at Boston College, Boston University, or Northeastern (some are easier to get tickets to than others!)
* Visit the site at Northeastern that was once Huntington Avenue Grounds (original Red Sox home) 
* Stop by the historic Boston Braves Field (Now BU's Nickerson Field) 
* Catch a horse race at Suffolk Downs
* Visit Harvard Stadium 
I would suggest lunch/dinner at Game On, The Fours, Cask 'n Flagon, or Boston Beer Works for the full Boston sports experience!
3. Day Trip #3: City of Learning
Above all else, when people think about Boston, they think of the rich academic culture that our city embodies. Boston has more colleges per square mile than any other city in the world. Naturally, we are a city that is overflowing with learning opportunities. Why not spend some time appreciating those opportunities? Whether you and your partner met at one of the many area colleges, or you’re new to the area, here are some wonderful ways you can spend the day learning in Boston. Break for lunch at the Boston Public Library’s Courtyard Restaurant or Maproom Cafe!
* Visit the historic and beautiful Boston Public Library 
* Stop by the Boston Athenaeum
* Take a free walking tour of Harvard University or MIT
* Spend an afternoon in one of many used book stores in Boston or Cambridge
* Take a class at the Boston Center for Adult Education 
* Learn about how beer is made! Take a tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery 
* Visit the Mary Baker Eddy Library and its famous Mapparium 
After your intense day of learning, you'll need to kick back - stop by the Thirsty Scholar Pub for some dinner and a drink and give your brains a break!
4. Day Trip #4: History
It can easily be argued that there is really no city in the United States that is more historically significant than Boston. The city wears this identity well while still looking toward the future, mixing centuries-old beautiful buildings with modern towering skyscrapers. If you (and/or your partner) work downtown, unless you walk slowly and read the signs you pass each day (and who does that around here?) you may not realize the significance of the buildings around you. I'm sure that if you grew up around here, you have walked the Freedom Trail once or twice, but there may be more obscure historical landmarks that you have never even noticed! Take a day for the two of you to walk around a little more slowly, visit some of these interesting landmarks, and look up once in a while! While you are at it, stop by Boston's oldest restaurant, the Union Oyster House, and enjoy a delicious seafood dinner for two!
* Learn about the lives of a well-to-do family in historic Boston at the Gibson House Museum 
* Visit the headquarters of Historic New England at the Otis House Museum 
* Pay your respects to our forefathers and foremothers at Granary Burying Ground and King's Chapel Burying Ground 
* Take a walk along the Boston Women's Heritage Trail 
* Tour the historically and architecturally significant Trinity Church 
5. Day Trip #5: Island Hopping
It is a little-known fact that Boston has an amazing National Park right off the coast of the city. If you and your significant other are looking for an island getaway without paying for airfare or a cruise to get there, the Boston Harbor Islands are where you want to be! The park is comprised of 34 small islands (11 of which are open to the public) just minutes away by boat. The islands vary as far as what you can do on each of them, so use this list as a guide to get you started. The National Park Service recommends picking no more than two islands to visit in one day, so take a look and choose one or two that look interesting to the two of you. Concession stands are available at Georges and Spectacle Islands, but why not bring a picnic lunch for your visit to the islands! It's the perfect excuse for a romantic picnic on the beach!
* Camp overnight on Grape, Bumpkin or Lovells Island - Permits are required 
* Visit Lovells Island for the day for trails that pass by dunes and woods, picnic areas, an unsupervised swimming beach, and the remains of Fort Standish
* Visit and explore Deer Island and learn about its fascinating history
* Visit popular Georges Island, the transportation hub for the system of islands, its open fields, paved walkways and gravel beach - be sure to tour historic Fort Warren while you are there
* Check out Little Brewster, home of Boston Light, the country's oldest continuously running light house
* Experience a wide range of natural beauty and check out historic Fort Andrews at Peddocks Island 
* Visit Spectacle Island, which features a marina, visitor center, cafe, a life-guarded swimming beach, and five miles of walking trails that lead to the crest of a 157 foot-high hill, offering panoramic views of the harbor and the city
* Take a tour and enjoy nature at Thompson Island, which is a particularly good choice if you have a large group (like a company or school), but is still fun for the two of you
* Picnic, fish and enjoy walking trails at Webb Memorial State Park 
* Enjoy Hingham Bay, rocky beaches, ledges, cliffs, patches of salt marsh and an area of freshwater marsh at Worlds End Reservation 
6. Day Trip #6: Beach Bum
If the only great vacation you can imagine is one in which you and your significant other are laying on a beach for at least a day, there are many great options for the two of you around here! You might assume that you have to drive down to the Cape or up to the North Shore for great beach experiences, and if so, you will be pleasantly surprised by the following recommendations. There are several great options easily reachable in or very near the city by subway or bus. A day at the beach requires beach food, in my opinion, and so I suggest a stop at Sullivan's at Castle Island or Kelly's Roast Beef in Revere. I've also suggested a few options that are outside the city, but easily accessible from the commuter rail, if you really want to get away from the city for the day.
* Take the Blue Line to America's First Public Beach, Revere Beach
* Throw on your swim suit and take advantage of The Boston Harborwalk 
* Take the Red Line to JFK and visit Carson Beach, L and M Street Beaches, Pleasure Bay and Castle Island, which are all connected
* Take the Commuter Rail north to Ipswich Station, then board the Ipswich-Essex Explorer Shuttle to Crane Beach
* Take the Commuter Rail north to Manchester-by-the-Sea and walk a short way to Singing Beach 
* Take the Amtrak Downeaster to Old Orchard Beach in Maine 
7. Day Trip #7: Appreciation of Unusual Things
If you and your partner are a couple that enjoys exploring the unique and unusual aspects of a vacation destination, you have plenty of opportunities to appreciate the quirky - right here in Boston! As you are exploring a few of the following unusual spots in Boston, a couple of well loved, but certainly unique, Boston restaurants worth your time during this day would be Fire & Ice Improvisational Grill for a fun, interactive experience and the Beehive, for some great food, atmosphere and live jazz.
* Visit America's oldest car collection at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum 
* Learn history from an unusual perspective on a New England Ghost Tour
* Appreciate some art that's too bad to be ignored! Visit the Museum of Bad Art 
* Explore invention, ideas and innovation (including holograms!) at the MIT Museum 
* Visit the Harvard Bridge and count how many Smoots long it is!
* Take a Duck Tour (come on... you know you want to!) 
* Visit the spots where your favorite movies were filmed on one of the Boston Movie Tours 
* Discover the secrets of Boston through an Urban Interactive sight-seeing adventure 
* Find out what is so special about the Scarlett O'Hara House 
8. Day Trip #8: Nature
If you and your partner are stuck in Boston, but prefer a more serene, natural vacation, there are many options for you, even within the city limits! There are many opportunities in the city that will allow the two of you to spend time appreciating the nature surrounding you, and they may even bring you closer together as a couple! I recommend exploring some of the following locations.
* Take a ride on the Swan Boats while visiting the Boston Public Garden
* Hang out with the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo in the heart of Franklin Park 
* Visit Arnold Arboretum, the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world's leading centers for the study of plants
* Spend some time at the Harvard Museum of Natural History (especially great if your "nature" themed day turns out to be a rainy one!) 
* Go for a peaceful and quiet run in the Fens nature trails
* Find a Boston area State Park near you for everything from hiking to mountain biking
* See "Day Trip #5" (Above) for info about the Boston Harbor Islands - spend a while at one!
9. Day Trip #9: On the Water
We are so lucky to be living right on the water here in Boston. As I mentioned above, this opens up many possibilities as far as enjoying wonderful beach days with your significant other, as well as visiting the Boston Harbor Islands right off the coast. However, a huge benefit to having so much water nearby is the opportunity to get out on it for the day. Whether you are accomplished sailors or have never stepped foot in a boat, there are options here for the two of you. Read through this list and choose an adventure or two just for you and your special someone! During the day or evening, if you're both hungry, stop by Tia's on the Waterfront for a bite, a drink and a chance to enjoy the view of the water!
* Contact Community Boating, Inc. to find out how you can learn to sail - Use your vacation day to get started on the Charles River
* For a relatively inexpensive chance to spend time in a boat on the water, take an Inner Harbor Ferry or Commuter Boat or the Rowes Wharf Water Taxi 
* Take a sunset or sightseeing cruise through the Charles Riverboat Company 
* Take a Boston Lighthouse Tour and experience first-hand the oldest lighthouse site in the U.S. 
* Join in on a sail aboard the 125' Schooner Liberty Clipper 
* Enjoy a view of the city skyline from the Charles River by taking a Skyline or Sunset Kayak Tour with your significant other
* If you can't bear to actually get out on the water, you can enjoy WBZ's Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell - enjoy the breeze of the Charles from safely ashore, and watch a movie under the stars!
10. Day Trip #10: Festivals
Summer in Boston always reminds me of all the neighborhood parties and celebrations in the city. Every weekend throughout the summer, there is at least one festival somewhere in the city that is an excuse to enjoy Boston and its cultural diversity. A day at any of these festivals would be worth building into your "stay-cation" week schedule. I don't need to recommend a restaurant for you, since the mark of a great festival is the amazing food it serves. Enjoy!
* Choose a weekend this summer and stop by the North End for the North End Italian & Religious Festivals 
* Stop by Government Center on August 10 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. for the Boston Urban Music Festival (previously known as the Peace Hip Hop Festival)
* Spend August 11 in Chinatown for the August Moon Festival 
* Head to Dorchester on August 18 and 22-24 for the Caribbean Carnival Festival & Parade 
* Show off and add to your ink from August 30 – September 2 at the Boston Tattoo Convention 
* Check out the Boston Film Festival in September (dates TBA)
It doesn't matter if you're a couple that prefer a sports bar to a museum, an island getaway to a historic tour of the city, or if you're interested in a multitude of these areas -now you know that you don't have to leave Boston to have a great couples vacation! I hope that the two of you enjoy all these suggestions and that they inspire you to rediscover our great city in these difficult economic times! These are also great suggestions for you if you are visiting Boston from out of town. If you are stuck in another city, and these suggestions sound fun to you, look for similar ideas near your home. I bet you will be surprised by what you will find!