Give a Heart Emoji to the Best Date Ideas in DC

Beyond Valentine’s Day, Washington DC offers plenty of super romantic activities.

Best Date Ideas in Washington DC
Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea at The St. Regis DC | Photo courtesy of The St. Regis DC
Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea at The St. Regis DC | Photo courtesy of The St. Regis DC

Whether it’s the holiday you love, or the day you love to hate, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. And there's no shortage of ways to make it a day to look forward to—and remember—in DC.

From romantic, luxurious dinners to self-care rituals and tea parties to trips out of town or staycations in the city to entirely free late-night trips to museums, here are our favorite DC date ideas for both Valentine’s Day and all year-round. And for even more, consider the All-Time Greatest Things to Do in DC and fun booze-free activities.

Best Date Ideas in Washington DC
Photo credit: Jeff Mauritzen, photo courtesy of RdV Vineyards

Drinking Date Ideas in DC

Romantic Dinners for Two

Various Locations, Prices vary
It’s a tried-and-true classic that never fails: The romantic dinner for two. Georgetown’s cobblestoned streets always provide a timeless backdrop and we love the neighborhood’s Chez Billy Sud. Start with bubbly at their Bar àVin by their wood burning fireplace before moving to the dining room. Nearby is the intimate Lutèce. As one of the city’s most romantic spots, this petite neo-bistro, and its robust natural wine list, is a welcome antidote to the large-scale restaurants that are ubiquitous in the district. Elsewhere, we love the hidden gem, The Greenhouse, a restaurant in the historic Jefferson Hotel with white tablecloth clad private dining nooks. Also, look to Gravitas, a luxe option housed in an industrial-chic building in hip Ivy City. Lastly, Petite Cerise is new to the scene with a curated and thoughtful menu of French classics designed to charm all the senses, and where you’ll want to start and end the meal with a glass of French (what else?!) bubbles.

February 5–18
Dupont Circle, Prices vary
One of the city’s most romantic restaurants, a reservation at Iron Gate is always a good idea. But this February, their romantic carriageway bar is transforming into a special cupid bar for lovers, would-be-lovers, and friend-romances. The pop-up will feature a food and cocktail menu designed for love—dishes like white stone oysters, bison carpaccio with caviar, Maine lobster tortellini, and beef striploin served with white truffles, and drinks like the Persephone Kiss (rye, pomegranate, cherry) and the OK Cupid, That Hurt (mezcal, blood orange kicker).

Valentine’s Day Afternoon Teas

February 718
Multiple Locations, $95 and up
Valentine’s Day afternoon teas are events to savor and remember. They’re also becoming increasingly popular experiences in the city, so the sooner you book your “tea time,” the better! The Fairmont Hotel’s Valentine’s Afternoon Tea will run February 10–14 and include a glass of G.H. Mumm Champagne. The St. Regis DC’s Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea will run from February 7–18, so you have some extra time to celebrate with loved ones.

Georgetown, Prices vary
The classic combination of champagne and caviar is an indulgence, yes, but isn’t this a good holiday for a little splurging? Apéro, located in a small row house on a quiet street in Georgetown is the perfect place to indulge. The intimate space is the ideal setting as there’s a different selection of champagnes on offer each night as well as an ever-changing menu of sustainably farmed caviar.

Local Brews and Spirits Tour

Ivy City, Prices vary
Formerly industrial, now decidedly trendy while still feeling off-the-beaten-path, Ivy City is a minefield of excellent local drinking options. The Northeast neighborhood that was largely wholesale and factory space up until a few years ago, is a microcosm of sleek breweries and distilleries to visit over the course of a languid evening. Start with Other Half Brewing for a wide beer selection and their casual atmosphere with a covered patio for hanging, board games, or order a pizza. For spirits, and something more intimate, sign up for a tasting of the Italian herbal liqueurs at Don Ciccio & Figli or the whiskies at District Made Spirits.

Vineyard Excursions

Multiple Locations, $45
There’s nothing like taking your love on the road and toasting to its future with a nice vintage. Lucky for us in the DMV, we’re surrounded by incredible vineyards. Take advantage of our proximity with a day trip to spots like Crimson Lane Vineyard, with one of the most beautiful tasting rooms around and is still fairly new. Perched high on a hill within a stone's-throw from the Skyline Drive, it offers breathtaking 360-degree views, an airy modern tasting room complete with blankets and a large fireplace, and, most importantly, top wines. Nearby is RdV, one of the most exclusive tasting rooms in the state where booking a spot can be something of an endurance sport. Take advantage of the quieter, colder months and book yourself a tasting experience ($120 per person) for 90-minutes, which includes a flute of sparkling, three RdV reds, and a cheese and charcuterie board.

Penn Quarter, Prices vary
Dining alone this Valentine’s Day? Celebrate what can be a total joy of solo dining at Cranes, which is marking the holiday by embracing the Japanese concept of ohitorisama, or the joy of doing things alone. Crane’s bar will be reserved for those partying for one and running their Spanish-Japanese hybrid menu with happy hour prices all night long. We’ll be sipping the Wagyu Old Fashioned (shiso, Japanese whisky) and the Sunayama Fizz (vodka, yuzu).

Cozy Speakeasies

Various Locations, Prices vary
Few settings are as cozy, romantic, and winter-appropriate than a speakeasy. Hidden from plain sight, the DMV is home to a number of these intimate joints which tend to be tucked between restaurants, revealed behind dark curtains, or even in spots requiring a secret password. Check out The Wells, a moody, gin-forward spot and their special holiday offering of a V-Day-themed cocktail flight (three for $65) that’s bound to pair well with their upscale snacks like caviar and chips. Allegory is an award-winning concept bar at the Eaton, and Captain Gregory’s in Old Town Alexandria offers an effortless combination of the town’s nautical flavor with some Great Gatsby-esque elegance.

Best Date Ideas in Washington DC
Sculpture Garden Ice Rink, National Gallery of Art, Washington | Photo courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington

Arts and Culture Date Ideas in DC

After Hours at Museums

Ongoing,until 8 pm
Various locations, Prices vary
There’s something very romantic about strolling the halls of a museum after hours. It’s one of those dates that works as well for a time-tested couple as it does for a first date. DC is obviously no stranger to museums (there are 17 Smithsonian Institutions in the city and countless other small gems). Plan a visit after dark to The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle, which is open late until 8 pm on the third Thursday of every month. The recently reopened National Museum of Women in the Arts is also open late until 8 pm on the third Wednesday of every month. And every Thursday, the Library of Congress stays open until 8 pm with live music performances, poetry readings and book talks. The National Gallery’s popular Gallery Nights will return in the late winter (stay tuned for exact dates).

February 9, 8 pm
Cardozo, $20
After a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and tours across the US including New York, Seattle, Chicago, and Nashville, Awkward Sex… and the City is returning to the district. A few days ahead of Cupid’s big day, make your way to Black Cat on 14th Street to listen to comedians deliver tales (all, unfortunately, true) of intimate and often hilarious sexcapades, from IBS flare ups to ropes gone wrong. This is a night for those who can laugh at themselves and the ridiculousness our more intimate encounters can entail. While this might not be an evening to bring your new date too, it’s definitely one to enjoy with friends.

February 1314
Georgetown, $34
Beat your heart out at Rumble’s singles-only boxing classes on February 13 and 14. The special Valentine’s Day evening workouts (which begin promptly at 7:30 pm) are high-octane, adrenaline-upping, sweat-filled workouts. Cool off afterward with a mingle social hour for all participants. Bring your best wingperson or just solo. The cost includes the use of boxing gloves and refreshments following the sweat-sesh.

Classic Romantic Movie Screenings

February 14, 7pm
Capitol Hill and Union Market, $8$13
This V-Day, two local theaters will be screening some of cinema’s most beloved classics. Plan for An Affair to Remember playing at The Miracle Theater in Capitol Hill. Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, the story involves two strangers who meet-cute on a ship bound for Manhattan. Unlike a dinner out, this date won’t burn a hole through your wallet as tickets are just $8. (Tickets for children 12 and under, and adults 65 and over are $6.) Your other (very excellent) option is the Casablanca at The Angelika Pop-Up in Union Market. Starring cinema legends Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, it launched many famous lines—“Here’s looking at you, kid” and “We’ll always have Paris” to name just two. It doesn’t get better or more (tragically) romantic than this, and see it on the big-screen, with a selection of beer and (surprisingly top quality) wine for purchase.

Luxe Staycations

Various locations, Prices vary
DC has some of the most luxurious urban hotels in the country for a couple’s staycation. Look to the Riggs in Penn Quarter, which was formerly an opulent bank and is now a stylish boutique hotel with teller windows still intact and home to the beautiful and elegant restaurant, Café Riggs. Another favorite, and classically DC option, is the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown overlooking the Potomac River. The upmarket hotel, which is housed in an historic and formerly industrial building from the 1930s, is known for its rich interiors and who’s who of guests. Begin your stay at their renowned spa which has a dedicated couples’ room, and end with a cocktail by their wood-burning fireplace. And for an ultimate personalized experience, book the Viceroy, where the hotel’s collaboration with Songfinch allows you to create a one-of-a-kind song for your sweetie.

Self-Care Pampering

Various Locations, Prices vary
There’s no love like self-love. Make sure you carve out some time this month to pamper the most important person in your life: yourself. Whether you book a relaxing facial at Silver Mirror Facial Bar (their 30-minute facials are $99), shop for a custom lipstick shade at Lip Lab (custom colors from $45 and up), or sweat it out in the infrared saunas at Pure Sweat + Float Studio (into packs of three visits start at $119), treat yourself like the great love that you are.

The National Mall, $12 and up
A sweet V-Day outing might just be ice skating followed by a cup of hot chocolate at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art. Open during the coldest months, skating with the classic museum in the background is already the ultimate DC experience. Skate during the day or make an evening of it with a post-dinner skate (the rink is open until 9 pm on Sundays–Thursdays and 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays). Warm up afterwards with a cup of hot chocolate at the rink’s Pavilion Café (the café is open until 5 pm Thursday–Sunday and 6 pm Fridays and Saturdays).

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Madeline writes about all things Washington DC for Thrillist. Originally from New York City, she’s called DC home since the start of the pandemic. When she’s not at home in the district, you can find her chasing stories all over the world. Her bylines include The Washington PostCondé Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure. Follow her on IG.