Top 12 Romantic Things To Do in Washington DC

As the nation’s capital, Washington DC makes for a memorable romantic getaway with its iconic landmarks, charming neighborhoods, inspired cuisine scene and wealth of couple-friendly activities.

Gardens & ParksQuiet walks and picnics in serene settings.
Monument Moonlight TourNight tours of iconic landmarks.
Potomac River CruiseScenic views and dinner options.
Historic Home ToursExploring historical architecture and stories.
Art MuseumsCultural experiences in art galleries.
Jazz NightsLive music in intimate settings.
Gourmet DiningExclusive meals at top restaurants.
Cooking ClassesCouples culinary lessons.
Spa DayRelaxing wellness treatments for two.
Wine TastingSampling fine wines in scenic vineyards.
Theatre PerformancesEnjoying plays and shows together.
Observatory ViewsStargazing and cityscapes from above.

From moonlit monuments to intimate concerts, scenic garden strolls to boat rides for two, DC offers endless date options and unique ways to enjoy quality time together.

Enjoy Sunset by the Lincoln Memorial

Name and Location: The Lincoln Memorial is located at the western end of the National Mall in West Potomac Park at 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle NW, Washington, D.C.

History and Significance: The iconic Lincoln Memorial dedicated in 1922 overlooks the Reflecting Pool facing east towards the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol. As one of the most renowned monuments, it attracts visitors internationally to admire Daniel Chester French’s imposing 19-foot marble statue of Abraham Lincoln seated within.

What to Expect: Majestic sunset views behind the illuminated neoclassical temple holding one of America’s largest sculptural works. Visitors gaze out over the glimmering Reflecting Pool towards prominent landmarks along the symmetrical green stretch of the National Mall at golden hour as the capital mellows for the evening.

Visitor Information: Free public access to monument exterior and steps 24 hours a day. Interpretive park rangers available during daytime hours. Best sunset photo opportunities occur late spring through summer.

Watching the sun sink behind the Lincoln Memorial provides a dramatically romantic backdrop reflecting off the Potomac River. Arrive in the early evening to secure an ideal spot on the steps overlooking the Reflecting Pool. Gaze at the sky’s color transformation as the sun dips behind the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

Stick around until dusk when the memorial lights illuminate to create a photo-worthy moment with your partner. Bring a blanket and snacks to further cozy up as daylight fades to a glimmering nightscape. End your evening strolling hand-in-hand along the tree-lined paths nearby.

Savor an Intimate Meal for Two

Name and Location: Renowned Washington D.C. fine dining restaurants like Minibar near DuPont Circle at 855 E Street NW offer exclusive tasting menus in an opulent yet intimate setting.

History and Significance: Chef José Andrés’ elegant Minibar opened in 2003 to showcase his modern Spanish-influenced avant-garde cooking using science and art through a multi-sensory dining concept spanning only 12 coveted seats in the substreet level urban oasis.

What to Expect: Expect to indulge together in a two-hour progressive dinner experience called “Creativity and Design” as you’re guided through 25+ artistic bite-size plate presentations paired with extraordinary wine amidst cozy, conversation-sparking luxe interiors.

Visitor Information: Minibar dinner seatings at 6pm and 8:30pm Tuesday through Saturday only with bookings available online up to 60 days out due to exceptionally high demand. Strict cancellations policy and business casual dress code enforced.

Washington DC’s cuisine scene shines with cozy bistros, chef-driven tasting menus and cuisine spanning flavors from around the globe. For romantic ambiance, reserve a table featuring dim lighting, fresh flowers and a tucked-away corner perfect for intimate conversation.

Indulge in the 10-course tasting menu at Michel Richard Citronelle specializing in French-American fare. Share Spanish tapas and sherries at sexy Barcelona Wine Bar with its cave-like interior and fireplace. Splurge on the multicourse Japanese omakase experience at the 10-seat counter of Daikaya.

Or sip Argentinian Malbec over tenderloin and risotto at rural yet refined Blue Duck Tavern. Wherever you dine, DC’s stellar culinary experiences coupled with quality time together promise a memorable evening.

See Iconic Monuments at Night

Name and Location: Many of Washington’s renowned monuments energetically illuminate along the National Mall and Tidal Basin area at nightfall located west of the United States Capitol building.

History and Significance: As enduring symbols of democracy, tributes to former leaders and architectural marvels, D.C.’s iconic structures and sculptures impress during daytime but become even more inspiring magically lit after dark including views of the Jefferson, Lincoln and F.D.R. Memorials, Washington Monument obelisk and Martin Luther King, Jr. statue.

What to Expect: Stroll hand-in-hand past the legendary silhouettes and sculpted figures vividly glowing against the velvety night skies. Pause to admire how reflective pools mirror both the vivid hues of the ionic pillars and columns along with the shimmering constellations overhead in an unforgettable romantic scene.

Visitor Information: Free self-guided access to National Mall monuments at night without tickets or closing times with well-lit walkways. Seasonal guided moonlight tours of Tidal Basin offered for a fee via paddleboat or bike rides.

DC’s iconic monuments become even more striking when lit up at night. Wander hand-in-hand by moonlight to view the illuminated marble and granite landmarks after dark. Snap romantic photos in front of the glowing white dome of Jefferson Memorial or courthouse-style pillars of the Lincoln Memorial.

Stroll along the Tidal Basin to enjoy the soft lighting of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial’s water features. And don’t miss one of DC’s most iconic and romantic sights – gazing up at the obelisk of the 555-foot tall, glow-in-dark Washington Monument. End your evening overlooking the glittering Reflecting Pool with a kiss.

Relax at a Cozy Jazz Lounge

Name and Location: Mr. Henry’s lounge offers intimate live music nightly at 601 Pennsylvania Ave SE on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

History and Significance: This candles-and-piano supper club transporting guests back to the prohibition era jazz scene has hosted surprise celebs like Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin ever since opening in 1966 within the nondescript alley townhouse basement setting away from street noise but full of performers hitting sweet notes.

What to Expect: Sultry saxophone tunes drift softly as couples snuggle in the dark, low-ceilinged space warmed by flickering table candles andrich mahogany paneling made for stealing a few slow kisses in the shadows while first-rate jazz talents croon classic standards and silky instrumental improvisations.

Visitor Information: Free weekday shows, modest weekend cover charges. A la carte New Orleans-inspired menu and fanciful cocktails served at candlelit tables or more intimate couch booths for murmuring sweet nothings.

From hole-in-the-wall establishments to luxe hotels, DC jazz venues create an alluring soundtrack for a romantic night out. Savor innovative cocktails and share small plates like lobster flatbread while enjoying nightly live music at Mr. Henry’s. Hum along to standards and originals at Blues Alley, DC’s classy Georgetown jazz supper club hosting local and renowned talent.

Take in free Wednesday jazz nights at Columbia Station dining on Creole appetizers like shrimp po’ boys and crab beignets. Or don cocktail attire for an atmospheric night of jazz at The Mayflower Hotel’s glamorous Music Room. Wherever you go, jazz rhythm provides a fabulously romantic enhancement to the evening.

Attend an Intimate Performance

Name and Location: The intimate Kennedy Center Terrace Theater seats just over 500 people as a more compact show space overlooking the Potomac within the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center performing arts campus at 2700 F St NW, Washington, D.C.

History and Significance: Opened in 1971, the Kennedy Center hosts over 2,000 performances across multiple theaters each year. The renovated, oval-shaped Terrace Theater offers both affordable tickets and excellent sight lines to a wide variety of acclaimed dance, theatrical, choir and chamber music productions in a warm, wood-accented auditorium.

What to Expect: Patrons rave about the venue’s close-up music and theater experiences including engaging Q&As with talented casts from performances like emotionally stirring dramas or toe-tapping musical revues practically within arm’s reach.

Visitor Information: Terrace Theater shows calendar and direct ticket sales available online. Garage parking beneath Kennedy Center (fees apply) or take metro to Foggy Bottom station.

Skipping crowded stadium concerts, DC’s music scene shines with more personal concert experiences in uniquely atmospheric venues. Enjoy acoustic sessions up-close at Pearl Street Warehouse’s underground performance space with exposed brick walls and candlelit tables. Sway to indie and funk bands at Union Stage’s standing-room-only shows with a capacity of just 600 people.

Immerse in classical compositions at cozy venues like luminescent atrium theater Terrace Theater at The Kennedy Center and the Kreeger Museum’s wind-instrument focused stage. Or be front-row for solo and ensemble shows within the soaring, stained-glass sanctuary of National City Christian Church. DC offers endless concert experiences combining superb acoustics with a wonderfully intimate ambiance.

Stroll through Sculpture Gardens

Name and Location: The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden spans 7 acres centered on the National Mall between 7th and 9th streets NW, Washington D.C.

History and Significance: Opened in 1999, this public-private partnership transformed a dilapidated parking lot into an open urban oasis showcasing works by world-renowned sculptors like Louise Bourgeois amid native plantings, trickling fountains and thoughtfully designed promenades flanked by the National Archives and Smithsonian American Art buildings.

What to Expect: Changing installations across different mediums ring a central fountain area ideal for picnic lunches or after-work relaxation beside contemporary granite, bronze and rock compositions juxtaposed within contrasting outdoor “rooms” framed by gardens representing various regional landscapes.

Visitor Information: As part of the National Gallery, no admission fees are ever required to leisurely explore the park’s modern masterpieces during museum hours between 10am-5pm daily. Accessible walkways make touring convenient.

From sprawling parks and museums to tucked-away estates, DC’s sculpture gardens promise inspiring backdrops for romantic meandering. Tour the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s enchanting Renwick Gallery showcasing craft and decorative art installations amid flowers and fountains in its Grand Salon.

Admire contemporary masterpieces dotting the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden such as spiders by Louise Bourgeois contrasted against verdant landscaping. Visit the serene Pope John Paul II Shrine to slowly walk its pathway featuring inspiring quotes and sculptures ideal for reflective conversation.

Wherever you go, DC’s sculpture gardens let you enjoy artistic beauty while spending quality time with your special someone.

Wander through European-Style Gardens

Name and Location: The Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens sprawling 25 acres at 4155 Linnean Ave NW in the Forest Hills neighborhood contain meticulously cultivated landscapes framed by grand architecture just minutes north of downtown D.C.

History and Significance: Petroleum heiress and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post collected art and antiques over her world travels displayed inside her lavish 1920s manor home, which she later sought to integrate with equally impressive formal outdoor garden environments evoking French and Russian influences she absorbed overseas.

What to Expect: Meandering walkways reveal stunning garden ‘rooms’ like a traditional Japanese garden, classic Rose Garden fountain, floral parterres and reflective lily pond transporting lovebirds through intimate Old World grandeur. The estate’s gracious architecture provides a scenic backdrop for couples’ photos.

Visitor Information: Timed entry tickets to tour the manor interiors available online in advance. Public access to the gardens only is open Tues-Sundays during visitor hours between 10am and 5pm.

Transporting you to faraway locales, DC’s recreated European gardens make for blissfully romantic escapes. Stroll through Hillwood Estate’s lush French parterre garden adorned with manicured hedges, marble statues and over 50 varieties of tulips during peak spring blossoms.

Meander down sculpted garden rooms at Dumbarton Oaks like the famous cherry tree-filled Orangery emulating 18th century French style. Snap photos amid Rosedale Conservancy’s meticulously tended English-style landscape modeled after the gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

And at the U.S. Botanic Garden, traverse through a jungle-like conservatory oasis to the orchid collection with its vibrant colors and delicate blooms. For Old-World charm and beauty, DC’s European gardens set an idyllic romantic mood.

Pedal through Riverside Parks

Name and Location: A nearly 5-mile paved urban trail connects a succession of riverfront parks including Anacostia Park and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail spanning from the Navy Yard to Benning Road NE in Washington D.C.

History and Significance: Linking a string of redeveloped waterfront parks and recreation sites dotting the Anacostia River’s north shore, this multi-use riverside greenway trail provides a refreshing natural escape for cyclists, joggers and sightseers uncover D.C. treasures east of the city center away from congested streets. Interpretive signage conveys the important history.

What to Expect: Leafy vistas and cooling breezes soothe couples pedaling side-by-side along this mostly paved urban escape adjacent to the river’s edge taking in public art sculptures, restored wetlands, Nationals Park and cultural sites like the Frederick Douglass home. Spurs connect to the expansive Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the dazzling Yards Park with its iconic illuminated fountain boardwalk at night.

Visitor Information: Lighted trail open 24 hours for easy access by bike, scooter or foot. Some sections may close periodically for river events. Parking available at access points like Anacostia Metro Station or 11th St. Bridge.

From the bustling harborfront to verdant woodlands, DC provides plenty of scenic spots for a romantic bike ride for two. Cruise along the Capital Crescent Trail stretching through Georgetown’s historic neighborhood and Canal Road’s lush scenery dotted with gardens and scenic outlooks.

Feel miles away from the city pedaling along Anacostia Riverwalk’s wooded trails to view wildlife and emerging natural sanctuaries. Pack a picnic to further enjoy riverfront respites at places like Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens with its regal water lilies and tranquil ponds.

Wherever you cycle, DC makes urban sightseeing active, eco-friendly and romantic escapade.

Sail through Historic Georgetown

Name and Location: Relaxing narrated boat tours of Georgetown along the Potomac River and C&O Canal offer easy boarding from the Washington Harbour Dock located at 3000 K St NW, alongside the picturesque Georgetown Waterfront Park.

History and Significance: Georgetown’s storied past as an important Revolutionary era port town and thriving 19th century industrial hub lays the backdrop for leisurely 45-minute roundtrip sightseeing cruises describing over two centuries of commerce and culture along DC’s most famous waterway from a relaxing onboard perch taking in iconic landmarks like Key Bridge connecting Georgetown to Arlington, Virginia.

What to Expect: Pass centuries-old structures like locks keeping the historic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal functioning since the 1820s that helped Georgetown prosper early on. Marvel at modern Kennedy Center complex while learning about the famous politicians, writers, artists and academics residing in prestigious Georgetown amid genteel tree-lined streets lined with timeless Federalist architecture.

Visitor Information: Daily public tour schedules posted online for purchasing tickets at discounted rates in advance. Boarding with wheelchair accommodation available 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure times into the early evening hours during peak season.

DC’s iconic Potomac River becomes the perfect backdrop for a romantic sailing excursion. Book a private cherry blossom cruise or sunset sail taking in views of the Kennedy Center, Arlington Memorial Bridge and other famous landmarks. Up the ante with champagne, flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries enhancing the on-board experience.

For a specialized tour, take a moonlight ride on the tall ship American Spirit with cannon salutes and sailing shanties setting the scene. Or sail on the riverboat Odyssey dressed in Victorian-era costumes feeling transported back in time. However you chart your nautical adventure, DC’s historic waterfront shines under sails.

Sleep at an Intimate B&B

Name and Location: The Chester Arthur House B&B situated at 1339 Vermont Ave NW near Logan Circle mixes Victorian grace with contemporary sophistication as an award-winning, adults-only DC inn.

History and Significance: Meticulously refurbished in the 1980s using historically accurate decor and period styling, this red brick 1899 Queen Anne-style townhome with a Presidential name provides the utmost refined elegance across just four guest rooms and abundant common spaces for true escapist relaxation.

What to Expect: After a day exploring DC museums and sites, refresh in attractively modern quarters with amenities like plush bedding, spa baths, ships’ wood floors and designer toiletries before unwinding with a nightcap off the glassed-in back garden patio under the stars before sensational locally-sourced breakfasts daily.

Visitor Information: Given its cherished caliber amongst travelers, reservations for special occasions are often booked many months ahead via phone or online for $400+ average nightly rates that reflect exceptional quality and warm hospitality.

Skip crowded hotels and opt instead for a romantic bed and breakfast promising cozy rooms, top-notch amenities and exemplary service. Kimpton’s Dupont Circle Hotel exudes over-the-top opulence with its plush robes, rain showers and evening wine hour adding luxury touches.

Soak in the deep jetted tub overlooking a fireplace and Flat Screen TV at The Jefferson’s sumptuous accommodations, complete with 24-hour butler service. The River Inn’s rooms feature scenic views of the Potomac River accented by the hotel’s seasonal flowers gracing the patio.

Or experience Gone with the Wind fabulousness at The Willard InterContinental’s ornate, history-steeped environs minutes from the White House. For accommodation emphasizing romance and intimacy, DC’s B&Bs deliver.

People Watch from Sidewalk Cafés

Name and Location: European-style cafes with outdoor patios span downtown DC neighborhoods like Logan Circle and Dupont Circle focused along 14th Street NW and Connecticut Avenue NW.

History and Significance: Thanks to D.C.’s thriving culinary scene, visitors now find front row seats to some of the city’s best people watching with coffee, cocktails or cuisines in hand from the al fresco tables lining bustling blocks just beyond the sidewalks.

What to Expect: Clustered cafes create dynamic streetside energy for catching glimpses of impeccably dressed politicos rushing towards the Capitol or flamboyantly costumed characters heading towards U Street. Visitors can soak up the urban vibe over European-style apéritifs served alongside plates of house-made pasta under shade umbrellas.

Visitor Information: Hours and menus vary amongst establishments but most feature happy hours and neighborhood vibes at night when patios become even livelier scenes into the evenings during warmer months. Walk-ins typically accommodated.

DC’s bounty of sidewalk patios create idyllic spots to soak up lively city energy while focusing on each other’s company. Sit streetside while enjoying French pastries at Paul Bakery Dupont Circle location, with flower boxes and fountains adding quaint charm.

Sip cocktails at modern Latin eatery Seven Reasons watching 14th street traffic and the bustle of Logan Circle. Feast on housemade pasta with crab and scallops between boutique store window views at sophisticated Via Umbria.

Wherever you go, DC’s al fresco dining options keep urban exploring lively yet intimate at the same time.

With free museums, verdant gardens, delectable dining and sunset monuments, Washington DC sets an ultra-romantic mood. Use this list to curate an unforgettable itinerary celebrating love against an iconic backdrop. From kayaking adventures to champagne evenings, jazz lounges to garden strolls, DC offers endless amorous activities for every preference and budget. Simply hold hands and delight in DC’s romantic allure – it makes saying “I love you” easy.

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