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19 Adventurous Date Ideas in Washington, DC
Throw in a dash of excitement and spontaneity for your perfect DC date.
Whether you've journeyed by car, Amtrak train or American Airlines, the nation’s capital is quite the place to for an adventurous date or romantic getaway. From its national parks and outdoor adventures to exciting culinary journeys and more, Washington, DC has everything that a couple could want in an excursion. Read on for date suggestions that go beyond the standard fare and add a unique element to your outing.
Some of the hippest musical acts around come to Echostage, an immense dancehall that is widely considered one of the best clubs in the country. The venue plays host to rap, hip-hop, dance, electronica and other genres, with nearly every performance featuring an energetic crowd, plenty of grooves and lots of moving and shaking.
Watch your love grow like a tree no matter the season with a trip to the National Arboretum, a 446-acre living museum brimming with gardens and cherry blossom trees. The arboretum is also home to the original columns of the U.S. Capitol building, featured in their own dedicated space and instantly Instagrammable (make sure to use #MyDCcool). One of the most romantic ways to see the Arboretum is during a full moon hike.
One of the most romantic spots in DC, the Tidal Basin offers a serene setting unlike any other in the city. Across the water, you can view the beautiful Jefferson Memorial in all its glory, then take a stroll into the famous domed structure. The entire scene is even more romantic once the sun goes down.
A dramatic tiered fountain, statues of historic figures like Dante and Joan of Arc and aggregate concrete walls make this early 20th-century park feel like a slice of Europe in the middle of DC, meaning its date credentials are through the roof. On weekends, the park grounds hop with yoga-doing millennials, frisbee-throwing families and, every Sunday afternoon, an African-style drum circle that you can watch, dance to, or join.
Lions, tigers, giraffes and the beloved giant pandas are just some of the 2,000 animals that call the 163-acre Smithsonian National Zoo home. The zoo’s habitats feature animals from 400 different species, certainly enough to fill an afternoon with your sweetie.
DC by Foot offers pay-what-you-like walking tours of DC’s most fascinating sites, including the National Mall, Georgetown, the U Street corridor, Capitol Hill and many more. Although the tours are technically free, donations are highly recommended. For more walking tour options in the District, make sure to check out DC Design Tours, Washington Walks and Fiat Luxe Tours.
Even during the winter, Rock Creek Park serves as a scenic recluse from the city. Put on your winter coat and stroll through the 2,100-acre park, which includes historical attractions like Peirce Mill, as well as a nature center (step in for warmth, if you need to), picnic areas and playing fields. Inside the nature center, there’s also a planetarium, so you and your sweetie can stargaze.
The Wharf features two new pristine music venues that add to DC’s already robust roster. The Anthem is an acoustically optimized, 6,000-seat concert hall that brings pure bliss to music lovers. Pearl Street Warehouse is more intimate, letting you and your date enjoy the artist up close while savoring all-American dinner fare, craft brews and cocktails.
Hold hands (or bike side-by-side) as you trek down the C&O Canal, which runs alongside the Potomac River from gorgeous Georgetown all the way to Cumberland, Md. You’ll be provided with scenic views of one of DC’s most historic neighborhoods. Visit the trail on a sunny afternoon, and we’re sure you’ll come away with some Instagram-worthy shots of you and your date.
Relish in the mash-up skills of renowned chef José Andrés at this Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand honoree, an award given to restaurants serving high quality cuisine at affordable prices. China Chilcano is located in Penn Quarter, serving up a delightful rendition on Peruvian food, with accompanying flavors from China and Japan – all without completely emptying your wallet.
One of the most visited museums in the country resides on the scenic National Mall. Bring your boo on a journey through space and aviation history at the National Air and Space Museum, which includes awe-inspiring artifacts such as the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia and Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, along with the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.
Canvases are everywhere you look in the District, which teems with vibrant street art in all quadrants. Spot everything from renditions of silver screen stars Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor to abstract, museum-commissioned works, restaurant-themed facades and lots more. Don’t miss Lisa Marie Thalhammer's aptly-named LOVE mural in Shaw and the newest mural at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which features the Obamas, Prince and Harriet Tubman, among others.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Richard Sandoval’s Latin-Asian fusion restaurant goes all out with an unlimited prix fixe brunch from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. You can sip on Mimosas and Bloody Marys to your heart’s content while dining on a wide selection of brunch plates. After you and your significant other are done indulging, navigate 14th Street and U Street, one of the most buzzworthy areas of DC.
Discover the enthralling world of espionage at one of DC’s most popular museums. The International Spy Museum is not just for kids: Adults will also love embarking on an Operation Spy mission and learning all about James Bond’s foils in Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains. Of course, there’s also the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts, from a lipstick pistol to an Enigma cipher machine. Afterwards, we recommend recapping your espionage adventure while sipping one of the 40 beers and wines on tap at nearby Penn Commons.
You’ve never had a Mexican food experience like the one at Oyamel, and culinary superstar José Andrés wouldn't have it any other way. Its crispy, crunchy grasshopper tacos (yep, you read that right), renowned guacamole and creative margarita concoctions mean your taste buds are in for some surprises (don’t worry, there are plenty of other taco options). The colorful decor makes for a lively vibe that suits an adventurous date night perfectly.
Walking around the District is a joy, but adding a little speed to your sightseeing means more adventure. Book a bicycle or Segway tour of the city with Bike and Roll, with a professional guide dishing out info on DC landmarks along the way. You can also rent a couple of bikes from the extremely convenient Capital Bikeshare, which offers 24-hour membership at its litany of DC stations. Last but certainly not least, the DC Circulator can bring you to the scenic National Mall for just $1.
The wonders of Indian street food are highlighted at Bindaas, where delectable delights from James Beard Award-winner Vikram Sunderam can be enjoyed at locations in Upper Northwest and Foggy Bottom. Unlike its higher-end siblings Rasika and Rasika West End, Bindaas focuses on an affordable menu broken down into savory snacks, wraps, buns and kebabs – nothing on the menu is priced higher than $15. Diners rave about the avocado golgappa, a fried pastry stuffed with a delectable combination of avocado, tamarind chutney and sweet yogurt.
Most of the year, Washington Harbour in Georgetown greets visitors with a dancing fountain surrounded by restaurants. But when the cool temps settle in, the fountain transforms into prime ice skating real estate. After dark is when it’s most magical, with dozens of twinkling white snowflakes lighting up the rink. Admission is only $10 for adults, and you can grab dinner at Farmers Fishers Bakers afterwards.
Situated in the heart of the Penn Quarter and Chinatown neighborhoods, Acadiana serves up delectable takes on Cajun and Creole specialties that suggest the French Quarter. Its signature dish: New Orleans-style barbeque shrimp, served in a down-home style with head-on shrimp, garlic butter, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. You’ll also have no problem finding a delicious cocktail to go with your affordable meal.