Date Night Win: Picnic on the Charles

by Lisa Lombardi in

It's officially winter, and while other people are gearing up for holiday cheer and cozy fires and pretty snow, I'm filled with dread.

I've long suspected that I am, physiologically, just not built for the cold. I'm someone who gets a chill just from sitting. Inside. While wearing three layers of clothing. Every winter, I waddle around like an overstuffed sausage because the only way I can manage to leave the house is if I've armed myself with an especially thick pair of long johns under my (logically) skinny jeans.

As I type this, I'm rapidly losing feeling in my fingers and my nose is like a half-melted ice cube: cold and drippy. It was 55 and sunny today, people. This doesn't give me much hope for when the actual cold weather arrives.

All this meandering whining is to say: I'm feeling nostalgic for those blazing hot summer days.

Dock along the Charles River

Dock along the Charles River

One of the great things about living in Boston is getting the "Major City" vibe while still being in close proximity to the ocean. Like, hop-on-the-T close. Some days, however, a trip to the beach just isn't in the cards. For those days, I've found the Charles River to be a pretty solid stand-in.

This past summer, on one of the hottest, most humid days of the season, Tim and I packed a picnic and rode our bikes to the docks by the river. We spent the afternoon napping, reading, and watching the boats go by, and it was one of my favorite dates yet.

Fellow Bostonians, keep this in mind for next summer. Use it as your shining beacon of hope to help you get through this hellish period that some people are dumb enough to call "the most wonderful time of the year."

Here's what you do:


FIRST Grab your (1) bike and pack a (2) guilty pleasure book and (3) pair of shades. (I think I was actually reading something way more embarrassing at the time, probably with a pink cover and a picture of a sassy cartoon lady walking a dog.)

THEN Put a couple bottles of your preferred (4) ginger beer in your backpack (mine is the house-brewed Minuteman from Brookline Liquor Mart), along with a (5) lime, and a (6) piece of fresh ginger. If you're not the type to walk around with a knife in your pocket at all times (yes, even at weddings) like my boyfriend is, maybe grab that, too. Fill your dad's old army canteen with whatever (7) rum you have on hand (Kraken is good for this), and you are officially prepared to enjoy some riverside Dark and Stormys — the ideal beverage for watching boats as they both sail majestically and capsize hilariously.

A NOTE Alternatively, you could take the T to the Hynes Convention Center stop, get off, and walk to the Esplanade from there, but why would you want to? Riding your bike beats being crammed into small quarters with a dozen other sweaty people any day.

DON'T FORGET On the way, stop at the Super 88/Hong Kong Supermarket and purchase a couple (8) bahn mi sandwiches at the food court. The lady there is nice and says you're pretty, and the sandwiches are a steal for under $4. 

MY BOYFRIEND SAID IT WAS OKAY If you're feeling brave, cool off with intermittent jumps into the Charles. Yes, it sounds sketchy, but the river was officially cleared for swimming in 2013, when the first public community swim in more than fifty years was held. Technically, you should only swim in it on official, sanctioned days, but sometimes it's just too damn hot to follow the rules.