Things to Do

6 Valentine’s Day Date Ideas That Don’t Suck

Plus: Most are fairly cheap, or even free.

I can say with confidence that most traditional Valentine’s Day dates are bad. Rushed bouquets of thorny roses and an average pasta dinner deal do not a Jane Austen tale make. This Valentine’s slash Galentine’s slash Single Awareness day, do something around town worth remembering. There are plenty of ways to have a date that doesn’t suck. Here are some of my suggestions:

Valentine's Day dates DC
Image via iStock

Open Mic Night at the Big Hunt

1345 Connecticut Ave., NW
Dive bar Big Hunt lets pros and amateurs alike try their tight five stand-up routine. While you may be no Mrs. Maisel, nothing shows trust like extreme vulnerability in front of complete strangers and your loved one. If you totally crush, it’s a great way to show off. And if you bomb, hey, at least you can show you’re a great loser. Plus, you get to commentate on all the other brave and moderately funny souls. It’s a win-win-win.

Valentine's Day dates DC
Photograph via iStock.

Go Antiquing at Mom n Pop Antiques 

3534 Georgia Ave., NW
Pretend you’re on an episode of Antiques Roadshow and valuate old typewriters with your boo. I know this sounds boring, but have you ever heard of a couple who broke up while perusing an early National Cash Register? I didn’t think so.

Valentine's Day dates DC
Photograph by Scott Suchman

Karaoke at Hill Country BBQ

410 7th St., NW
It’s Wednesday night and the lights are low. You’re looking out for a place to go. Consider heading to Hill Country, where they play the right music—live karaoke music, that is. Karaoke at Hill Country is nothing new; but consider it an old reliable where you can count out the patrons and the live band to make you and your beau the dancing queen, young and sweet. They’re having their weekly event the day before Valentine’s so you can get the night off your calendar early.

Valentine's Day dates DC
Photograph by Pedro Szekely, via Flickr.

Planetgaze at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Independence Ave. at 6th St., SW
Y’know, I hear when the sun hits your eye like a big pizza pie it’s romantic. Take your date out for a memorable, scientific, and free afternoon at the Air and Space Museum (while it has funding, anyway). I bet you’ll get bonus love points if you mention how your love shines as bright at Mars’ moon Phobos. Or if you want to up the ante, hold off until the 17th and stare lovingly at the natural skylight we call the moon.

Valentine's Day dates DC

Reject Capitalism with Sharp Objects at Bad Axe

2419 Evarts St., NE 
Celebrate my favorite Jenny Holzer quote “ROMANTIC LOVE WAS INVENTED TO MANIPULATE WOMEN” by throwing sharp metal objects at a target with your friends. Maybe sneak a photo of your ex onto the target. Reject Valentine’s Day norms. Celebrate alternative relationships, like your connections with your friends, family, coworker, pets, favorite Netflix show, whatever.

Valentine's Day dates DC
Photograph by Rebecca Schley, via Flickr.

Hit Balls at Washington Landmarks at H Street Country Club

1335 H St., NE
I don’t care what you say, kitschy mini-golf is actually cool. H Street Country Club’s Washington themed mini-golf course and skee-ball are awesome ways to blow an hour or two. It’s not too expensive and considerably less “mainstream” than Top Golf. And you can ride the streetcar there, an extra perk for you new new urbanist transit-oriented teens out there.

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Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.