Scrambling for a few great Valentine’s Day ideas? You’re not alone. What should be a carefree celebration of love is easily overtaken by the pressure to come up with the best and most memorable date night plans. Luckily, there are a plethora of things to do around the District to celebrate with the ones you love.
Ahead of the holiday, we’ve curated a list of the 16 best things to do in Washington, DC this Valentine’s Day.
The Pre-Dinner City Stroll
National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC, you’ll find no shortage of art museums. However, visiting the National Gallery of Art, especially in the winter, is a must. This Valentine’s Day, check out the powerful Exhibitions of Gordon Parks, Dawoud Bey, and Thurlow Tibbs and wander through the beauty of the Sculpture Garden. Lastly– and the reason why the National Gallery of Art is a must in the winter time– is the Ice Skating Rink! Located in the Sculpture Garden until mid-March, the Ice Rink is open late till 9:00pm on the weekdays and till 11:00pm on the weekend. Grab a hot cider from the museums Pavilion Cafe and spend a romantic night on ice.
The Capital Wheel
Get a view from the top on the Capital Wheel. The 180-foot tall observation deck is the perfect place for you to snuggle up and enjoy the sunset and city lights. Tickets are only $15 per person, but you can choose the Elevate Your Date package for $45. It includes two tickets, a love lock, a photo, and chocolate from the Capitol Candy Jar.
Explore the beauty of the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens. Nestled 5 miles from Downtown Washington, the mansion was home to Marjiorie Merriweather Post; a woman who dedicated much to the art, music, and conservation of DC. Her museum consists of collected art, jewelry, and historic clothing while the preserved rooms of her estate showcase a life of luxury in the early 20th century. Several formal gardens that surround her mansion are arguably the most romantic part of Hillwood.
Bundle up and stroll the National Mall. Yes, it might be cold out, but winter is one of the best times to go for a walk on the National Mall. When snow falls in DC, the monuments are a sight to see against the snow-covered grounds and night sky. With or without snow, grab a cup of hot chocolate and stroll the crowd-less National Mall with your significant other this Valentine’s Day.
What’s more romantic that dinner and a show? This year, the Kennedy Center is presenting music from Deacon Izzy & The Congregation’s “So N Luv Wit U”, the National Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “Romeo and Juliet”, the National Ballet of China’s “Raise the Red Lantern”, and more. Get your tickets now as this is often a popular date night event.
It goes without saying that it wouldn’t be Valentine’s without gourmet chocolate. This year head on over to the Arlington/Alexandria side of the river for some tasty chocolate treats that are almost too beautiful to eat. In Alexandria, you’ll find Fleurir Chocolates artisan chocolate shop. With all natural, no preservatives, fresh, high-quality ingredients, you won’t believe how good their chocolates are. And just a short drive away, try Arlington’s Artisan Confections’ signature bonbon collection.
As their website says, Quadrant Bar & Lounge is more than just a lounge. It’s an experience. Situated inside the Ritz Carlton of Washington, DC in Dupont Circle, the Quadrant Bar & Lounge is a great place for a date this coming Valentine’s Day. Not only is their space sleek and inviting, but their impressive cocktail menu is one you’ll be eager to try. Interestingly enough, the cocktail menu itself is explained through the DC train system, American presidents, and stories of the District. Quadrant Bar & Lounge is crafty, historic, and truly an experience you won’t want to miss.
Also located in Dupont Circle is the Martin Brudnizki-inspired Doyle Bar. The club like bar has a chic mid-century vibe with panoramic views of the surrounding area. Inspired by the culture of the 50’s and 60’s, their cocktail list holds a wide array of whiskey, gin, rum, and vodka ,while the wine list offers choices from old and new world wine selections. Sip on a Washington Sour while enjoying one of their small plates.
Bubbly drinks and local chocolate? Eno Wine Bar has everything you need this Valentines Day. One of the many upscale bars and restaurants run by the Four Seasons Hotel, Eno Wine Bar can be found just down the street from the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. This vintage, two story bar has exposed brick walls, rustic wood details, and cozy furniture that make for a perfect date setting. Try their bubbly and receive a tasting of their locally sourced chocolates!
Fortunately for us, the Blue Duck Tavern doesn’t believe that outdoor patios are off-limits in the brisk winter weather. Their new outdoor space the Fire Garden just opened up in time for Valentine’s Day. A sunken garden with a fountain, couches, and fire pits also comes with blankets, cocktails, and fondue for guests to stay extra warm. Snuggle up by the fire pits and enjoy a Hot Ducky with fig-infused whiskey, black sesame honey and lemon juice.
The Romantic Dinner
The Iron Gate restaurant over in Dupont Circle is definitely one of the romantic places to dine this Valentine’s Day. With the place’s historic charm, gorgeous wooden and brick details, and the intimate Carriageway Bar, Iron Gate has quickly become a favorite date spot for couples. From February 1st through the 14th, Carriageway is bringing back their Tunnel of Love pop up bar to celebrate the holiday. The man with the drinks, Nick Farrell, has concocted a number of cocktails to get you in the mood. Whether your single, taken, or somewhere in between, the Tunnel of Love is here to serve.
The newly opened, 160-seat restaurant Olivia, located in the heart of Penn Quarter, is another romantic spot to celebrate. Drinks and cuisine inspired by Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and Morocco, guests enjoy signature cocktails and a diverse menu with Mediterranean inspired decor. Look forward to an assortment of spreads, flatbreads, small plates and entrées. Their ingredients are of exceptional quality, locally-sourced produce and proteins and take guests on a delicious adventure.
If you’re in the mood for authentic Italian food, Fiola over on K St. NW is the place for you. Voted as one of the best restaurants by Washingtonian readers in 2018, Fiola’s already delicious menu is cooking up something special for couples this year. They are celebrating the holiday with a Valentine’s Day menu that’s available to guests from the 14th to the 16th- for those of us who will take the weekend to celebrate. For $155 per person, Fiola is offering a four course meal with items like Risotto Al Castelmagno, Roasted Turbot Fillet, and Prosciutto-Wrapped Veal Tenderloin served alongside bubbly champagne. Yum!
An interesting twist of Korean and Southern food, Succotash is also offering a Valentine’s Day menu this year with dishes like Tuna Tatare, Roast Duck, and Hazelnut Praline Meringue. There are two Succotash restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area; one located on the corner of 9th and F St. (a converted old bank!) and the other over on the National Harbor. The Succotash restaurants include historic interiors with high ceilings, private places, a spectacular underground dining room with a fireplace, and outdoor seating options for when the weather is warmer.
Another one of our fave dinner spots that is perfect for a date night is Fig & Olive in Penn Quarter. Right by the National Mall, this place is great if you and your special someone want to explore the museums and the monuments before dinner. This year Fig & Olive is celebrating Valentine’ Day from the 14th to the 16th with a $75 prixe-fixe menu that includes a 4 course meal, $35 wine pairing for two, speciality cocktails, and live music. Their dessert menu is enough to get you drooling: White Chocolate Mousse, Honey Spice Bread S’more with Housemade Chocolate Bar & Marshmallow, Citrus Gelée.
Right next to the italian restaurant, Fiola (mentioned above), is the waterfront restaurant, Sequoia. Inside Sequoia, the floor to ceiling windows offer guests an incredible panoramic view of the Potomac River, Arne Quinze’s Sculpture Garden, the Kennedy Center, and the Roosevelt and Key Bridges. Throughout the main dining room guests can see the Hitoshi Kuriyama neon and glass vaccum tube lights and other contemporary art displayed throughout the restaurant. Their menu is delicious and their setting is incredibly romantic making it one of the top restaurants for you to spend Valentine’s Day.