14 Ideas for a Perfect Date Night in DC

From fancy dinners and spa days to low-key bars for a first date.

The most seasonally appropriate fall activity in DC? Falling in love, of course. With beguiling pumpkin patches made for frolicking, charming orchards made for apple picking, and delectable restaurants made for enjoying with your dearly beloved, our fair city has more than its fair share of romantic settings.

While finding your other half can be a bit of a chore, there are many things to do in our city that can make dating in DC fun regardless of your company—though a great partner can certainly enhance all these things. From spa days to spice things up with a long-time love to athletic pursuits and epicurean adventures, there are a myriad of opportunities to impress your date this season. So whether it’s date number one or date too-many-to-count, check out our list of the best date ideas in DC this fall that guarantee you both have a good time.

La Jambe
La Jambe

Hop from wine bar to wine bar

Various locations
While bar hopping may not be the most romantic idea for a date (at least, not in the early stages), checking out several wine bars all in one evening could be an elegant way to get to know someone just a little bit better. Some of our local favorites include Flight, Maxwell Park, and La Jambe, and many of these spots offer flights to make the tasting experience easier.

Mexican Geniuses: A Frida and Diego Immersive Experience
Mexican Geniuses: A Frida and Diego Immersive Experience

Immerse yourself in the moment

Various locations
If you’re looking to escape reality with your date, there are a wealth of VR-based experiences in the city for you to enjoy. From ever-changing shows at ARTECHOUSE to the Mexican Geniuses exhibit featuring the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and the immersive Van Gogh exhibit, you can find something for everyone.

See the monuments at night

National Mall
Sometimes, being a tourist in your own city can be the most romantic activity of all. And in the crisp fall air with the light of the moon as your guide, the National Mall and its surrounding monuments make the perfect backdrop for an evening stroll. Bonus points for packing a sunset picnic.

SPIN
SPIN

Get competitive

Downtown
While the word “spin” may initially elicit images of sweaty stationary bikes, DC’s Spin is one the greatest date night concepts of all time—one which combines ping pong with cocktails. Head on over to this subterranean locale for some friendly competition with your date, or have a great time sipping on signature cocktails while watching others battle for victory.

Flickr/Nicolas Raymond

Various locations
Hiking in the summer in DC can be a bit of a punishing exercise, but the fall is the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and get active. If you and your date are up for a quick scramble, head out to Billy Goat just 30 minutes outside of the city. Closer still (and much less challenging) are the many trails on Theodore Roosevelt Island or even in Rock Creek Park. If you’re willing to go a bit further, head on out to Old Rag in Shenandoah for a challenge and some breathtaking views.

Hyatt
Hyatt

Have an afternoon of ultimate relaxation

If the onset of colder weather has your joints and muscles feeling just a bit achy, treat yourself (and your date) to a romantic spa day. DC has a number of shiny new spas that promise plenty of relaxation. The Thompson Hotel in Navy Yard has already been celebrated for its killer restaurant and rooftop bar, but it also has one of the best spas in the city. The swanky new Pendry Hotel is another excellent option, and at the Balian Springs health spa just a short drive away in Alexandria, you can enjoy several pools, saunas, and steam rooms.

 roosterandowl
roosterandowl

Go all out for an ultra-fancy date night

Various locations
For a truly spectacular date night, you need a stunning meal. From swanky steakhouses to hard-to-score reservations at the best restaurants in town, allow us to help you impress your date. The only thing left for you to do is map out a nearby bar for a nightcap.

The Ivy Hotel
The Ivy Hotel

Visit our neighboring city to the north

Baltimore
For another great day trip or weekend getaway location, head to Baltimore. No matter what your and your date’s interests, you’ll be able to find something fun. Start at the National Aquarium, then check out Sagamore Spirit’s distillery, make a trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art, or check out the city’s best bars and restaurants. And if you plan on spending the night, stay at the Sagamore Pendry or The Ivy Hotel, some of the most romantic hotels in the country.

Carriage House Wineworks
Carriage House Wineworks

Explore the wine country in your backyard

Various locations
There’s no need to take out the passport or jump on a cross country flight to spend the afternoon at a vineyard. In Loudoun County’s historic Leesburg, there’s a whole host of vineyards in the area. Walsh Family Wine and Carriage House Wineworks both offer tastings and tours, and just after the fall harvest is a delightful time to visit. Alternatively, go a little further to Charlottesville, where the wine and the scenery is frequently lauded as some of the best in the area. Be sure to check out Barboursville Vineyards, Gabriele Rausse Winery, and Eastwood.

Muse Paintbar
Muse Paintbar

Muse Paintbar
You don’t need to be an artist or even have a single artistic skill to have a great time at Muse Paintbar. After all, with drinks, snacks, and the opportunity to either appreciate your partner’s talent or giggle at their best attempts, a date spent making art is certainly time well spent. Pick the painting that you’d most like to recreate (the options vary daily), and you’ll leave with a memento that will last much longer than your date.

Explore a museum together

Various locations
The couple that learns together, stays together. And given the multitude of museums in DC, you and your date have plenty of opportunities to make your relationship go the distance. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a history buff, or just interested in learning a bit more about how the world works, there’s no shortage of options for you and your date to explore together. So grab your date and check out this handy guide of all the must-see museum exhibits in town.

The Anthem
The Anthem

Go see a show

Various locations
With the arts community back on its feet, schedules at venues across the city are packed with great options for the fall. Check out the latest from The Kennedy Center, or head down to The Wharf and see a national act put on a show at The Anthem. And if you’re looking to check out a local performer in a brand-new space, consider Capital Turnaround, a venue that only recently opened its doors.

Root, root, root for the home team

Various locations
It’s the fall, which means that just about every sports team in DC is up to something. Whether you’re a hockey, basketball, football, or soccer fan, you can cheer on the Capitals, Wizards, Commanders, and DC United at their home stadiums. Before Capitals and Wizards games, three are plenty of options in the area.

Riggs Washington DC
Riggs Washington DC

Have yourself a little staycation

Various locations
DC is home to many spectacular hotels, which can play host not only to visitors but to locals as well. Whether you’re testing the waters to move in together or just need to get out of the same space you’ve been sharing for months (or years), a staycation is the perfect thing to spice things up—and there are plenty of options. One of the most hotly anticipated is the Pendry DC on The Wharf, which is just a stone’s throw away from the newly rebranded Salamander (previously the Mandarin Oriental).

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Lulu Chang is a native Texan with high aspirations of eating her way through the northeast (and beyond). When she's not exploring the culinary scene in DC, you can find her adjusting the height of her standing desk or otherwise searching for a new project. Follow her on Instagram.