Romantics in the Washington, D.C., area don’t have to look far for inspiration — sleek memorials, storied monuments, and tranquil urban parks create a backdrop so picturesque that even the biggest skeptics can’t help but feel a bit starry-eyed.
So whether Valentine’s Day has motivated you to step up your courting game — or you’re looking for date ideas to use year-round — we’ve gathered a list of enchanting activities and swoon-worthy destinations in and around the nation’s capital. Plus we have some special offers to sweeten the deal.
Heating it up With Your Honey
Cooking together makes for a pretty hot date, and this Valentine’s Day citywide classes put romance on the front burner. Inside state-of-the-art kitchens at downtown’s CulinAerie, things get steamy thanks to hands-on lessons together like “Romantic Winter Supper,” “Valentine’s Food & Wine Pairing,” or any of their other delectable and international cooking classes throughout February.
Urbana Dining & Drinks spices things up on Saturday, Feb. 14, when Executive Chef Ethan McKee hosts a pasta-palooza in the restaurant’s recently refreshed space, tucked inside Dupont Circle’s Hotel Palomar. Chef McKee shares his pasta passion with demos, and participants take turns rolling heart-shaped pieces, then packaging up a ready-to-prepare Valentine’s meal for the road. The class is $45 per person including snacks, complimentary beverages, take-home samples, and recipe cards.
Magic on the Mall
Star in your own personal romcom while meandering hand-in-hand among the alluring masterpieces of the National Gallery of Art. Wander permanent exhibitions that display works from Byzantine altarpieces to Pop Art gems, or take in visiting exhibits like the current Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence. Afterward, enjoy some fresh air while gliding across the Sculpture Garden ice rink (open through March 16). Cozy up with your love in the Pavilion Café, where hot cocoa or wine proves the perfect post-skate reward. Bonus: Consider capping off the day by soaking in the sunset from atop the Lincoln Memorial stairs.
Enchantment in Georgetown
It’s easy to fall under the charming spell of Georgtown’s cobbled streets and quaint cafes. Indulge in a romantic meal at spots like Filomena, Chez Billy Sud, Farmers Fishers Bakers (at Washington Harbour on the waterfront) or, for a worthwhile splurge, 1789. Spending an evening at the theater is another D.C. “must,” and the Kennedy Center in nearby Foggy Bottom boasts a dreamy terrace with riverside views — not to mention a killer lineup featuring productions like NSO Pops: Valentine’s Day with Seth MacFarlane.
Find less traditional (but equally memorable) options in the vibrant zone of 14th and U streets, where hip music venues provide perfect date-night ideas any time of year. On Valentine’s Day, enjoy an early evening, seated production of “SpeakeasyDC’s Sucker for Love” at D.C. institution 9:30 Club, or boogie the night away at Black Cat’s (free) “Valentine’s Day Rock & Roll Dance Party.” Nearby hot spots for tasty dishes and cocktails range from Cork Restaurant & Wine Bar and Ghibellina to Doi Moi and, of course, Komi, where a multicourse Mediterranean tasting dinner creates memories you won’t soon forget.
A Nest for Lovebirds
If you’re swooping into D.C. this February, consider taking advantage of Kimpton deals that make a romantic weekend in D.C. that much sweeter. Although we know the glamour of the city awaits, there’s also something to be said for a night of pampering and luxury right in your own hotel room (think chocolates and bubbly). And a special rate and perks make quiet nights in all the more enticing: Guests at any of Kimpton’s 12 locations in D.C., Virginia or Maryland can get up to 20 percent off weekend stays through March 9. Cheers, lovebirds!
9:30 Club photo: John Athayde/Creative Commons