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Best Dates: Summer Loving

Break out of the dinner-and-movie rut and go on a romantic outdoor adventure.

Washingtonian > Packages > Best of Washington

Toast your relationship with a glass of Champagne after a sunset hot-air balloon ride. You’ll be amazed at the stillness while soaring above mountains and countryside. Then descend to skim above the treetops. A word of advice: Move to the basket’s upwind side when landing. It often tips, and you want to be on top of the pileup.

Blue Ridge Balloon (Charlottesville, 434-589-6213; blueridgeballoon.com) costs $210 per passenger or $795 to $845 for a couple’s package with picnic. Friendship Hot Air Balloon Company (West Friendship, 410-442-5566; ballooningusa.com) carries up to four passengers for $250 each. A flight for two is available for $640 a couple.

Rock Creek Park Horse Center (202-362-0117; rockcreekhorsecenter.com) offers one-hour guided trail rides—no experience necessary. The trail leaves the barn and heads into the woods and along a long, shaded path next to Rock Creek. Relax and take in the sounds of birds and flowing water as you sway with the motion of the horses. Rides are limited to four people and go out Tuesday through Thursday evenings and twice each day on Saturday and Sunday; $35.

Enjoy a romantic walk that will also get your heart pumping—the White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run Loop in the Shenandoahs. The scenic eight-mile circuit hike of the canyon lasts four to six hours and takes you past more than half a dozen spring-fed waterfalls. Bring a swimsuit and take a dip in one of the catch pools.

You can climb up the canyon or start at the top via Skyline Drive. For a trail map, contact Shenandoah National Park (540-999-3500; nps.gov/shen) or click here.

Aramark (888-896-3833; visitshenandoah.com) runs full-day guided hikes; $74 and up.

Another way to cool off is by tackling the whitewater at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. One of two guided rafting trips starts at Millville and ends at the gorge where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia come together. A guide steers from the back of each raft and takes you through small to medium-size rapids.

River Riders, 800-326-7238; riverriders.com; $55 to $65. River and Trail Outfitters, 301-695-5177; rivertrail.com; $55 to $68.

What are some of your best summer date ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Related:
Restaurants for Romance
Great Lakes: Swimming Spots Near Washington
Our Favorite Margaritas
Free DC: Music, Movies, Art, Trivia, and More That Doesn’t Cost a Penny

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