There is something special about having a “date night” planned – it’s more than just the restaurant, drinks or an activity. A planned date night feels like a vibe. It feel more special and somehow more fun to have it be a whole “night” of fun.
However, planning the date night itinerary is where I typically get stuck. It’s 6:15pm on a Friday night, I have made zero plans or reservations, and I also have no idea what or where to go.
Looks like we’re headed to Ted’s again. 😂
So, to save you from this continual struggle, I’m sharing 4 complete downtown DC date night ideas that you can totally copy/steal from me! I have an idea for every season, so bookmark the ones you don’t need now and save ’em for later!
WINTER: ICE SKATING + COZY SPEAKEASY
Start off the date by heading to National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden, where you’ll find the cutest ice rink . A $12 pass will get you two 45-minute skating sessions (with a quick ice cleaning in between – perf for a short hot chocolate break!).
After skating, take a stroll down Pennsylvania Ave, past the White House to see the Christmas Tree , and finally, end at our favorite DC speakeasy bar, Off the Record , which is located in the basement of the Hay-Adams Hotel .
I recommend enjoying your first drink + a small bite at Off the Record and then ordering a full meal or proceeding to the tried-and-true classic, Old Ebbitt, for a full meal + second round!
SPRING: CHERRY BLOSSOM ROOFTOPS + TAPAS
Your first stop on this cherry blossom-themed date is Ciel Social Club, where you can enjoy a special Cherry Blossom cocktail menu . The menu includes a phenomenal selection of unusual cocktails and also yummy small bites. The decor & vibe at Ciel is absolutely perfect for #cherryblossomzn and will set the tone for the rest of the date!
After tapas + drinks, hop in an Uber or on the green line to the Wharf, where you’ll be able to enjoy the blooms across the Potomac (without the madness of being up-close and personal with alllll the tourists). Stop by Fat Fish for their cherry blossom soft serve first so you can stroll along the water with the sweetest treat!
One more important detail – I recommend enjoying this date on a weekday, just after work! You’ll avoid the weekend crowds for the cherry blossoms and also be able to take advantage of Ciel’s 5-7pm happy hour, which is on Mondays-Thursdays.
If you’re set on a weekend, a fun alternative option is reversing the order of this date and ending at Ciel for their late night weekend happy hour, which begins at 11pm. Dessert first, anyone? 🙋🏼♀️
SUMMER: JAZZ, BBQ & SANGRIA
One of my favorite seasonal events in DC is Jazz in the Garden – a Friday evening concert series in (once again!!!!) the Sculpture Garden at the NGA. That’s where your headed on this quintessential summer date night!
Start your evening by getting to the Sculpture Garden around 5:15pm to stake out an ideal spot and grab a drink from one of the pop-up bars (hello, pitcher of sangria!). Make sure to bring a comfy blanket to sit on – I recommend choosing a spot towards the edges but away from the entrance for the least crowd-heavy experience.
Get comfortable and relax to the sounds of the evening’s jazz performance, staying as long or as short as you’d like. I recommend leaving shortly before the end of the performance or planning to stay and hang for 15-20 minutes after it ends to avoid the crowd of people exiting.
After jazz, walk down 7th St to Hill Country BBQ , which will make you feel like you walked straight out of DC and into Central Texas. The restaurant has a spacious dining hall vibe, which is also fun for meeting up with friends or sitting and talking for a while.
Not feeling the BBQ? I recommend Oyamel for tacos + margs or Rasika for the best Indian food in the city (both across the street from Hill Country!). It’s smart to get a reservation at either of those in advance!
FALL: BREEZY COCKTAILS + A SHOW
Did you know that the Kennedy Center has a free show every Wednesday – Saturday on Millennium Stage ? Keep reading . . .
Your first stop on this fun and casually-epic-DC date night is to head over to The Reach – the Kennedy Center’s newest addition. There, you’ll find a spacious, picnic table-filled patio complete with string lights and a simple bar. While this isn’t the date with the crafty-est of cocktails, the vibe is well worth it! Arrive early to get a table and have time before the 6pm show starts. I recommend also packing charcuterie and a little picnic blanket to complete the mood.
After enjoying this super-relaxing setup, head over the Millennium Stage inside the Kennedy for a free show. You can check the schedule to see what’s on for that night (and I’d recommend planning the date around the show you’re most excited about!). Make sure to book your free ticket in advance!
If you’re still looking for fun after the show, stroll along the Potomac into Georgetown to The Sovereign, where you can get another round of drinks and Belgian cuisine.
There you have it! I hope you put at least one of these fun ideas on the calendar in the next month. I’d also love to hear how it goes for you – send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or share a photo of your date night idea on Instagram and tag @LVERphoto!
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La Vie En Rose is a wedding photography and videography studio for couples who want photos that live in the moment with them. They are based in Washington, DC and Naples, FL and are available for travel worldwide.