The nation’s capital may be synonymous with buttoned-up bureaucracy, but with so many intimate dining rooms, laid-back watering holes, and postcard-worthy vistas, there are plenty of opportunities for romance. Whether you’re looking to play it cool or celebrate an anniversary, here are itineraries to turn a full day (or night) into a great date.
A Casual First Date
Stroll through the National Zoo’s 163 acres, look for nearly 400 animal species, and dip into the steamy Amazonia exhibit. Afterward, warm up at the Hillwood Museum and Café before venturing outside to explore the estate’s 13 acres of gardens. Cap off the date with some table tennis, pizza, and—most weekend nights—live music at Comet Ping Pong.
A Rainy Night
Stay dry with live jazz and nibbles at the Phillips Collection’s Art After 5 monthly soiree. The museum’s collection of Cézanne, van Gogh, O’Keeffe, and other famous artists offers more than enough distractions to pass a storm. A block away, grab coffee and thumb through Theroux at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. Then nuzzle together under an umbrella, cross Dupont Circle, and loosen your belt in the intimate dining room at Firefly. Finally, look for the unmarked door at the stylish Eighteenth Street Lounge, where you can dry off by one of three working fireplaces. Or enjoy a nightcap by the wood-burning hearth at the Tabard Inn.
Spice Things Up
Whisk your partner through the Spanish Ballroom at one of Glen Echo Park’s many salsa, swing, and other dance lessons. A short drive away, scoot in close and feed each other Spanish tapas at Jaleo. Wrap up a few steps away at Black’s Bar and Kitchen with late-night martini specials on Thursday starting at 10 and Friday and Saturday starting at 11.
A Special Occasion
Renew your skin, restore balance, and rekindle the spark with the Romantic Revival package at Serenity Day Spa. After pampering your pores, indulge with dinner and a show by booking two seats facing the kitchen at “the pass” in Westend Bistro. Finally, take in one of the best views of the city at the W Hotel’s rooftop bar, POV (515 15th St., NW; 202-661-2400; ), and cozy up under heaters and blankets.
The Great Outdoors
Tiptoe through narrow paths, scramble around boulders, and admire the cascading Great Falls rapids along the Billy Goat Trail. Or take a leisurely ramble through gazebos, past ornamental plant displays, and into an indoor tropical garden at Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park. After dining on seafood at PassionFish and sipping a winter brew at Clyde’s, head outside to glide the night away at the Reston Town Center Skating Pavilion.