Cherry Blossoms outlining the National Monument

52 Romantic Things to Do in DC by a former Washingtonian (2024)

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Have you found yourself looking for date ideas and romantic things to do with your partner in Washington, DC? I totally get it… Dylan and I lived in DC for two years and were constantly looking for things to do as a couple. Luckily, DC always has something going on with plenty of fun date ideas for you and your partner!

52 Romantic Things To Do in DC: An Overview

DC may be known as a small city, but it is not lacking in romantic things to do. This city has many things for everyone, and the options are limitless. You’ll be able to choose from activities that range in budget (thank you, Smithsonian, from a broke college student), interest, and location. Before we dive into it, let’s look at some of the main ways you can find romantic things to do in DC.

In a hurry? Here are 5 unique date ideas:

Beautiful photo overlooking DC

52 Romantic Things To Do in DC

DC is a place everyone in the US should explore at least once in their lifetimes. I lived there for two years and still feel like there is more to see! It’s a great place to visit with your partner because there are never-ending dates to experience.

Some categories we’ve broken the date ideas in DC into are visiting popular attractions, exploring different parts of the city, finding entertainment, and dining out. This list contains 52 romantic things to do, and we’re about to go into those now.

One of the most romantic things you can do in DC is have a picnic by the reflecting pool

Go sightseeing at the National Mall

Let’s be real. When you think of DC, what do you think of? I guarantee it has to be one of these things: The Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the National Monument, or the Reflecting Pool. They’re the classic DC images you see all over movies and TV because they’re iconic!

Even if you’ve been to DC and have seen these things before, don’t check them off the list yet. There are plenty of ways you can experience the National Mall that are great date ideas. Let’s discuss how to experience the National Mall as a hopeless romantic.

  • See the Lincoln Memorial at night

First up, the Lincoln Memorial is epic, no matter what time of day, but during the daytime, the memorial can get crowded. The Lincoln Memorial might be a tourist attraction, but it becomes waaay less touristy at night when there are no crowds with the Memorial under the spotlight.

  • Have a picnic by the Reflecting Pool

Another unique way to experience the National Mall is to pack a picnic by the reflecting pool. Dylan surprised me with this one day, and we had a great time eating snacks while watching the sunset over the National Monument. Don’t forget a blanket to sit on!

  • Walk the park in front of the White House

It’s pretty cool to see the front of the White House, but if you’ve lived in DC, you know that the hype only lasts for a few minutes. Plus, protesters are usually near the fence, so it’s not where you would want to spend your entire date. However, strolling the paths in front of the White House is a relaxing way to pass some time as you meander around the city!

  • Take a trip up the National Monument

If you’re looking for a fantastic panoramic view overlooking the National Mall, consider taking a trip up the National Monument. It costs $1 to reserve your time online, or you can book it for free by walk-up the same day on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Beautiful photo of the Tidal Basin during Cherry Blossom season

Spend some time near the Tidal Basin

Next to the National Mall is the beautiful Tidal Basin. I wish I had spent more time around the Tidal Basin when I lived in DC because the park surrounding the basin is shaded and peaceful. There’s a ton to experience and see year-round at Tidal Basin, and it’s a great romantic thing to do in DC. Let’s get into it!

  • See the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

If you’re near the National Mall, the first stop you’ll want to make is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The memorial stands 30 feet high with Mr. King carved in the Stone of Hope. It’s a powerful memorial to see and experience as you enter the Tidal Basin through the two boulders of despair.

  • Walk to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Furthermore, to reach the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, continue walking around the Tidal Basin (or rent a bike). The memorial building is circular, open, and large, giving it an elegant feeling. Afterward, sit on the steps and enjoy lunch with a beautiful view of the Tidal Basin.

  • Rent Pedal Boats

Next, if you’re looking for a date idea anytime between the fall and spring, look into renting pedal boats on the Tidal Basin! You can rent them between 10 AM and 6 PM on the weekdays and between 9 AM and 6 PM on the weekends. During the cherry blossom season (typically in March), you can only make a reservation by walk-up.

  • Take in the Cherry Blossoms in the Spring

Finally, are you ready for the ultimate romantic thing to do in DC in the springtime? You guessed it – see the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin or visit the Cherry Blossom Festival! You only have a short window to experience them, but it’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience and one you won’t want to miss.

The Wharf in DC at sunset

Explore different parts of the City

I always joked with Dylan that if you drove ten minutes in DC, it felt like you were in a different city. DC feels like a state in and of itself, so there are plenty of parts to it that are worth exploring. One part of DC is nothing like the rest, so here are a few places that we enjoyed exploring when we lived in the city: 

  • Go shopping in Georgetown

First off, Georgetown is a cute and dainty part of DC, known for its university, waterfront, and long strip of shopping stores. It’s one of the classy parts of DC with a ton of romantic things to do there, including shopping (of course), walking the waterfront, or dining out on a patio (psst… go to Farmers Fishers Bakers – I used to work there and you won’t be disappointed by the menu options!)

  • Find a speakeasy on U-Street

Secondly, U-Street is a great place to go for the nightlife when it comes to live music, DJ lounges, and rooftop bars. The streets also have fantastic colorful murals, and you can also find a cheap bite to eat during a late-night date night!

  • Explore DuPont Circle

Next, DuPont Circle was one of my favorite places in DC to hang out because of the fantastic dining options and nightlife scene. It’s a funky neighborhood with bookstores, cafes, restaurants, and clubs. This cosmopolitan area and residential neighborhood has plenty of fun things to do for couples in DC at night!

  • Take a walk through Logan Circle

Logan Circle is another fun place to hang out in DC, especially for the younger crowds. They have trendy restaurants, gay bars, and breweries that are great to check out for date night. There are also a few museums and historic sites in Logan Circle you can check out while you’re there!

S'mores stand in The Wharf
  • Watch the sunset over The Wharf

The Wharf is a fantastic place to take a date because the boardwalk along the river provides the perfect setting to watch the sunset. There are public spots to sit and enjoy the view, or you can find a classy restaurant or bar to enjoy the evening. The Wharf also has a fresh seafood market, a s’mores food truck, and an entertainment center for upcoming concerts!

  • Grab brunch at Union Market

Next, Union Market is a fantastic spot to spend the afternoon with a date because of the variety of ethnic restaurants to choose from! There is a ton of outdoor seating, or you can head to the rooftop to find seating up there (21+)! Stroll the Union Market district to stumble upon other cute breweries and bookstores worth checking out.

  • Enjoy the river views at Yard Park

I only went to Yard Park once in DC, though I wish I had spent more time there. Yard Park is a great waterfront destination within the city that is home to a waterfall, entertainment venue, a boardwalk, and open grassy areas great for picnicking. At certain times of the year, fun festivals and events are happening here, so be on the lookout!

The National harbor is one of the most romantic things to do in DC for a date night
  • Take a short drive to the National Harbor

Okay, hear me out. The National Harbor might be the best spot for a date near DC. It’s in Maryland, but it’s just across the river and has fantastic restaurants in the area. There’s also a Ferris wheel that operates at night overlooking the Potomac, and we all know that a Ferris wheel is the cliché trope of romance!

>> Book your Capital Ferris Wheel Entry Here! <<

Visit one of DC’s Museums

One of the fantastic things about visiting Washington DC is that there are so many different museums you can visit, and the best part? Most of them are free! Visiting a museum is ideal if you’re looking for free things to do in DC for couples.

  • National Portrait Gallery

Surprisingly, the National Portrait Gallery was one of my favorite museums in DC. This museum showcases the different faces of significant people in America. There are rotating exhibits, so even if you visit twice, you might see completely different portraits the second go-around!

the AMOR sculpture at the National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden in DC
  • National Gallery of Art & Sculpture Garden

Another great museum in DC is the National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden. Dylan and I stumbled upon this one day and had SO much fun at the sculpture garden. You can find the AMOR display along with other sculptures. You can head across the street to see the museum of artwork!

  • National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is a phenomenal Smithsonian museum in DC. It’s a three-facility building that showcases the experience and cultures of indigenous peoples in the US. It’s home to the world’s most expansive collections of Native media and objects and is definitely worth checking out.

  • International Spy Museum

The International Spy Museum DOES charge a fee to enter, but I promise you, it’s worth it. This impressive spy museum is fascinating to walk through, and I’d recommend dedicating the entire morning and afternoon to seeing it since it’s so big. It’s interactive and has a ton of espionage artifacts for you to check out.

Museum in DC full of beautiful colorful artwork along a circular wall
  • The Phillips Collection

Next up, the Phillips Collection is a modern art museum in DuPont Circle, with beautiful exhibits and events you can attend. They have rotating exhibits, different collections, and more. There is a fee to enter. There are student and military discounts available, though!

  • The Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

Unfortunately, I never got to experience the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, but the property is beautiful! It’s a decorated arts museum and the former residence of the philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather. You can visit the estate, museum, gardens, or all three!

  • Any other Smithsonian

There are many Smithsonian museums in DC – there’s no way I could cover them all in this post (maybe that’ll be another post!). Within two years of living in DC, I couldn’t even see all of them! Other popular ones include the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of African American History.

Looking for a guided museum tour? Check out Viator & GetYourGuide!

Picture of structures at the National Arboretum

See a popular attraction

If you’re not a museum person, don’t worry! There are tons of other popular attractions in DC you can visit! The nice thing about this city is that there is always something to explore for everyone.

  • Smell the flowers at the U.S. Botanic Gardens

The U.S. Botanic Gardens is truly a fantastic place to be. You’ll wander through rooms featuring different biomes and see the composition of plants that thrive in those landscapes. There is an outdoor section as well as an indoor section to see.

  • Walk the grounds at the U.S. National Arboretum

Another great outdoor space to see in DC is the U.S. National Arboretum. The arboretum is an outdoor space with beautiful gardens, paths, and trees. The grounds are open daily between 8 AM and 5 PM excluding Christmas.

  • Spend the afternoon at the National Zoo

Next, the National Zoo is one of DC’s most visited attractions that is free of charge! It’s one of the oldest zoos in the US and is outdoors. It’s on a whopping 163 acres in Rock Creek Park.

Gravelly Point in DC is one of the most romantic things to do with your partner as you watch the planes fly into the airport
  • Watch the planes at Gravelly Point Park

If you’re in the mood for a cheap, romantic thing to do in DC, look no further than Gravelly Point Park. This open field is a perfect place to picnic as you and your partner watch the planes fly right over you as they land at the DC airport. Gravelly Point Park is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and one of my favorite memories in DC.

Lastly, the Artechouse in DC is a fascinating take on an experimental museum because you feel like you’re experiencing the exhibits! You’ll wander through different rooms that bring each exhibit to life. It’s a great way to learn something new while being entertained!

>> Book your ticket to the Artechouse Immersive Experience Here! <<

Theodore Roosevelt Island during the fall

Spend some time outside

Despite being the city, DC has some great outdoor, green spaces for couples to utilize and enjoy. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle for a bit, look no further than Rock Creek Part, Meridian Park, the Potomac River, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and Great Falls. Here’s more on how you can experience these places:

  • Explore the trails at Rock Creek Park

First up, Rock Creek Park is a large urban park that covers 1,754 acres throughout the city. It follows along the Potomac River and offers picnic and grilling spots for visitors. There are 32 miles of hiking trails, 13 miles of horseback riding trails, a golf course and tennis court, and a paved path for bikers.

  • Picnic at Meridian Park

Further, Meridian Park is in the heart of DC and provides an open yet shaded space for visitors to enjoy the outdoors amid the city. Dylan and I packed a picnic here many times and thoroughly enjoyed our time. Many people gather in Meridian Park to play frisbee, walk their dogs, watch the sunset, and so much more.

Kayaking on the Potomac River near Georgetown
  • Kayak the Potomac River

Another unconventional date idea in DC is to rent a kayak to take out on the Potomac River! We did this for Dylan’s birthday and were pleased to experience DC in a different capacity from the water. We rented our kayaks off the Georgetown waterfront with Boating in DC at the Thompson Boat Center.

Additionally, for my 22nd birthday, we took a sunset boat tour on the Potomac and learned about some of the area’s attractions via boat. We did a one-hour Boomerang Sightseeing Cruise and would highly recommend it as a cheap romantic date idea.

>> Book your 1-hour sightseeing cruise on the Potomac River Here! <<

  • Take a walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island

Truthfully, I feel like Theodore Roosevelt Island is a bit slept on in DC. It’s a cute and quiet little island near the shores of Georgetown that you can access from Arlington, Virginia. It has plenty of walking trails, great photo ops, and a beautiful bridge to explore.

  • Explore the breathtaking Great Falls

Finally, saving the best for last, Dylan and I stumbled upon Great Falls on accident, but it quickly became one of our favorite places. It’s in Maryland, 30 minutes outside of the city, but I promise you Great Falls is beautiful and has the potential to be a great date spot. Please do yourself a favor and check it out while in DC.

Next Up: 17 Best Hiking Spots Near DC

Great Falls is by far one of the most romantic things to do and place to see in DC

Seek out entertainment

If you’re looking for romantic things to do in DC in the winter, hanging out outside at the National Mall or the Tidal Basin might not be super appealing. Instead, you might want to find some entertainment around the city! From plays, music, bookstores, and shows, once again, there’s something for everyone.

  • See a performance at the Shakespeare Theatre

For a romantic evening out, consider watching a play by the hopeless romantic himself – William Shakespeare! The Shakespeare Theatre features classical plays that call for an entertaining date night. Check out what’s playing on their website!

  • Listen to live jazz music at Blues Alley

Secondly, if you like jazz music, I’ve got the best place for you to check out – Blues Alley in Georgetown. It was founded in 1965 and is the longest continual jazz club in the nation. Enjoy headline acts while you eat food during an evening out on the town!

  • Play some indoor mini-golf at Swingers

Next, if you want something fun to do indoors, check out Swingers for some crazy mini-golf in DuPont Circle! Swingers take mini-golf to a new level, featuring a restaurant and bar, cocktails and beverages to order while playing, and different courses to choose from!

Beautiful photo of Kennedy Center at dusk
  • See a show at the Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosts over 2,000 art shows and events annually. It’s a fantastic theatre, music, and artistic space, so if you’re out of ideas in the romance department, check their website for upcoming events.

  • Grab a coffee while you browse books at Politics and Prose

I know what you’re probably thinking… looking at books isn’t exactly the kind of date you were hoping for. Hear me out, Politics and Prose is more than just a dusty old bookstore. There are cool gifts and trinkets to browse with a coffee shop to quench your thirst! It was one of my favorite places in DC.

  • See a show at the 9:30 Club

Lastly, a concert is always a great way to spend time with your partner, but sometimes they can get spendy. However, the 9:30 Club in DC is an affordable concert and nightclub venue and has been named one of the top ten best live music venues by Rolling Stone. They always have great artists there, and this is where Dylan and I discovered the talented Lewis Del Mar!

The Eisenhower Building during a ghost tour in Washington DC

When my mom came into town, she booked us a ghost tour immediately – It did not disappoint. We went on the DC Ghosts Tour by US Ghost Adventures and were fascinated to hear some of the spooky stories in the nation’s capital. I think this is a great date idea to learn about the creepy side of DC!

>> Book Your Ghost Tour Here! <<

Top of the Gate appetizers

Go on a dinner date

I wanted to include this option last because going out to eat is a typical and somewhat overrated date night idea. However, I tried to choose some fantastic restaurants in DC that are historically significant in great atmospheres! Let’s dive in.

  • 1789 Restaurant

The 1789 Restaurant in Georgetown is a luxurious place to dine in a renovated Federal house that serves American cuisine. The restaurant’s dining room is filled with antiques and is a historical and tasty place to take your loved one for dinner.

  • Top of the Gate

Moreover, if you’re fascinated by the story of the Watergate Scandal, you’d be happy to find out that there is a rooftop bar at the Watergate Hotel where the public can order drinks and appetizers. It overlooks Georgetown and the Potomac River and is a bougie and vibey place to eat. I’d budget for this rooftop bar because it’s pretty expensive.

  • Le Diplomate

Furthermore, Le Diplomate is a DC classic, and while I can’t say I’ve ever been, I will say that it caught my eye every time I drove by. It’s an old-fashioned, french cafe-style restaurant with an outdoor patio, becoming a gathering place for many residents in the area. The restaurant is an experience in and of itself and is a great option to think about for an evening out.

Cherry Blossoms outlining the National Monument

FAQs: Romantic Things To Do in DC

Now that we’ve gone over 52 romantic things to do in DC for couples, we can discuss some frequently asked questions.

Is Washington, DC good for couples?

From firsthand experience, Washington, DC is a fantastic city to be in as a couple. There are tons of attractions to visit, different parts of the city to explore, and fancy restaurants to try. There are also outdoor recreation opportunities for those looking to get outside!

How do you make a romantic date night?

There are many ways to make a date night romantic. Start with choosing to do something you both enjoy. Then, be intentional with your time together. Stay present, listen to your loved one, and try your best to meet their love language.

Where can I hang out at night in Washington DC?

There are many fun places to hang out at night in Washington, DC. Some cool places include the National Mall, DuPont Circle, Logan Circle, U-Street, Georgetown, and H-Street for the nightlife.

How can I have a romantic night with my boyfriend at home?

Pick an activity you will enjoy and then aim to be present when you’re together. If you can, limit your screen time so you can engage with one another and listen to what you each have to say. Being romantic is as easy as making your partner feel seen, appreciated, and loved.

Capital Building with the lit up Christmas tree in DC

Wrapping Up: Romantic Things To Do in DC

There you have it! Fifty-two romantic things to do in DC with your partner. Hopefully, out of this list, you’ve taken away a few ideas for future date nights that you can keep in your back pocket for later. DC is a fantastic place to be as a couple because there’s always something new to do or explore.

Happy date night!