14 Ideas for Crafting the Perfect Valentine’s Day in DC

As a wedding photographer based in the DMV area, I make it my job to think about great ideas to celebrate love. Whether you’re into culinary delights, artistic endeavors, or thrilling adventures, D.C. has something for every couple. Here are 14 lovely ideas for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day in the city.

The Lafayette at the Hay Adams, Downtown. By Natasha Lamalle Photography.

A romantic date at a restaurant

Ok, this one is obvious and easy. But who doesn’t like to treat themselves and in the process, the person we love? Most of these restaurants offer a special Valentine’s Day menu (usually fixed) that you can check on their website. Here are 6 romantic restaurants to try for February 14.

  1. In Adams Morgan, Tail Up Goat offers cozy vibes, with a Mediterranean-inspired menu.

  2. In the Downtown area, you can’t go wrong with The Lafayette at the Hay Adams – think luxurious dining with an incredible view of the White House. Planning a proposal there is also a great idea.

  3. Like Dupont Circle better? Iron Gate is the spot for craft cocktails and delicious bites in a garden setting that’s all kinds of charming.

  4. Logan Circle’s Le Diplomate takes you straight to Paris with its French-inspired menu and laid-back ambiance. As a French person, I think it does a decent job of bringing the bistro vibe to DC.

  5. Over in Shaw, The Dabney keeps it real with regional American cuisine and locally sourced ingredients. It’s one of my favorite and go-to with my husband!

  6. And if you’re all about that waterfront scene, Fiola Mare at Georgetown Waterfront has your back with amazing seafood and a killer view.

Wedding at the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. By Natasha Lamalle Photography.

Go get some fancy cocktails

Washington DC boasts a vibrant cocktail scene with plenty of establishments that craft creative and fancy cocktails. Here are some top spots to indulge in fancy cocktails in the capital for a date:

  1. Service Bar is a trendy spot on U Street offering a diverse cocktail menu. From classics to inventive concoctions, the expert mixologists here ensure a high-quality and memorable drinking experience.

  2. Dram & Grain, in Adams Morgan, is hidden beneath Jack Rose Dining Saloon. The bar is a reservation-only cocktail bar so make sure you reserve well in advance!

  3. On H Street, Copycat Co. surprises patrons with a creative menu of Asian-inspired cocktails. The cozy atmosphere and unique flavors make it a favorite for cocktail enthusiasts.

  4. Last but not least, Barmini by José Andrés in Penn Quarter, offers a molecular gastronomy-inspired cocktail bar. Expect avant-garde presentations and a menu that pushes the boundaries of mixology. The most expensive and incredible cocktail bar on this list!

Wedding at the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. By Natasha Lamalle Photography.

A night in a historic hotel

There are plenty of fabulous hotels in Washington DC but here are my personal top 5 that I experienced myself or while shooting a wedding or a proposal there.

  1. The Hay-Adams provides stunning views of some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Housed in a historic building that dates back to the 1920s, this hotel exudes old-world charm and sophistication. Some rooms offer breathtaking views of the White House or St. John’s Church.

  2. On Pennsylvania Avenue, just a stone’s throw away from the White House, The Willard InterContinental has been an integral part of D.C.’s history since 1818, and I love its historic elegance which is clearly inspired by Parisian architecture (look at the roof).

  3. In the heart of downtown D.C., close to the National Mall, The Jefferson pays homage to Thomas Jefferson, and its decor reflects the elegance of the Founding Father’s era. With a boutique feel, The Jefferson provides an intimate and romantic atmosphere for couples who love black and white (their décor themed in the lobby). We did our babymoon there and it was a fantastic experience. They get a bonus point for the bar and the small library next to it, it has the best cozy vibe.

  4. Dating back to 1925, The Mayflower is known for its grandeur and has hosted numerous historical events, adding to its allure. The hotel offers elegant rooms and suites, providing a perfect blend of comfort and sophistication.

  5. Located just a short walk from the White House, The St. Regis is synonymous with luxury and refinement.

Art activity: artehouse

If you want to mix a nice cocktail with art, Artehouse DC is the place to be. Every few months, they change the theme of the exhibit. There are different rooms and interactions where you can immerse yourself in the art. Once you’re done exploring, head to the bar and enjoy a cocktail or two while discussing what you liked best during your exploration. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in DC for a date!

Go ice-skating

February can be pretty cold so winter activities are still in the air. Washington, D.C., has a few places where you can plan your date, such as Georgetown Waterfront or the Wharf. But my personal favorite is the Ice Rink at the Sculpture Garden. After your twirls on the ice, you can go warm up with a cup of hot cocoa from the nearby Pavilion Café.

croissants at a french bakery

As a French photographer in DC, I have my list of the best croissants and pastries. So here’s my ultimate list for each. If you’re looking for the best croissant you’ve ever had, definitely check out Boulangerie Christophe. Their Georgetown location has a charming little patio that is especially nice during spring. For the best pastries, head to Un je ne sais quoi by Dupont Circle. It’s a tiny place so it might be hard to find a place to sit down, but the food is simply the best and takes me back to France every time I take a bite.

Get a couple massage

Indulging in a couple’s massage is a nice escape (if you like massages), and there is an array of exquisite spas in Washington DC to choose from. Here are the Top 4 spas for the best experience.

  • At Bluebell Spa, the serene ambiance and skilled therapists create an oasis of relaxation in Columbia Heights, in the Northwest part of the city. They have different types of massages, from their signature one to Swedish or CBD which you can book for two people at a time.

  • Aura Spa has 3 locations in DC (The Yard, U Street, and Logan Circle) and offers a tranquil haven where couples can unwind together.

  • For those seeking an elevated experience, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental excels in delivering personalized and rejuvenating treatments, and a whole luxurious experience with tea and snacks along your treatment.

  • Capital Blossom Day Spa offers a unique blend of holistic therapies in the neighborhood of Adams Morgan. They have a dedicated couple massage in their different options.

Book tickets for a concert

I know DC is not known for its music scene but it still offers great otpions with various venues catering to different musical tastes.

  • I would say that one of the best places to see a concert in the city is the 9:30 Club. Renowned for its intimate atmosphere and excellent acoustics, they book some of the best artists in the US and beyond.

  • Another notable venue is The Anthem, a state-of-the-art space located at The Wharf. With its spacious setting and cutting-edge sound system, The Anthem hosts a diverse range of concerts and events from bluegrass musicians to French DJs.

  • For those interested in classical music and orchestral performances, the Kennedy Center is a prestigious venue with iconic architecture overlooking the Potomac River.

  • As one of the oldest jazz supper clubs in the country, Blues Alley offers an intimate and cozy setting where you can enjoy live jazz performances up close.

Escape Room Adventure

Not everybody wants to do the traditional dinner & movie date. Escape rooms can be fun for some people (I’m including myself here) so why not do it for a date? There are so many options in the city as well as Silver Spring and Arlington. Find the right theme for you and book it! If you like puzzles, check out The Depths in Georgetown or Penn Quarter.

Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise

Just like me, you probably have never taken a cruise on the Potomac River so Valentine’s Day seems like a good excuse to book a dinner on one of the boats you can find at the Wharf or Georgetown Waterfront.

Get a good glass of wine

There are many places to get some good wine in the city. My favorite is Saint Vincent Bar on Georgia Avenue (Columbia Heights/Petworth area). Their patio is very nice but the bar indoor is even better with a cozy feel. I warmly recommend it for any date for that matter.

Moonlit Monuments Tour

Why not? It’s nice to be a tourist in the city where you live, work and sleep. Washington DC is so beautiful at night and a tour of the monuments after the sunset is definitely unique!

Go see a play

Do you want to laugh, cry, or do both? Booking to see a play is a great way to do something a bit different for Valentine’s Day. DC has a great theater scene and many venues you might not know. Ford’s Theatre holds historical significance as the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Today, it continues to be a premier venue for stage productions, including plays that explore themes of history and social justice. The Shakespeare Theatre Company is renowned for its dedication to the works of William Shakespeare. Studio Theatre is celebrated for its contemporary and provocative productions. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is known for its commitment to innovative and thought-provoking works. Downtown, National Theatre has a long-standing tradition of presenting Broadway shows and touring productions. Last but not least, The Atlas is a cultural anchor in the H Street neighborhood by supporting local artists and community engagement.

Hot Chocolate Tasting

I’m finishing this list with hot chocolate because that’s probably the best idea for a relaxed date. Known for its Rwandan coffee, Bourbon Coffee also serves a rich and creamy hot chocolate. Harper Macaw, a chocolate factory and cafe in Georgetown, offers a decadent hot chocolate made from their own bean-to-bar chocolate. The quality and flavor are exceptional. Un Je Ne Sais Quoi (yes, them again) in Dupont Circle not only offers delectable pastries but also serves a divine hot chocolate. Pluma, in Georgetown, is an extension of Bluebird Bakery and is known for its artisanal hot chocolate. The cozy atmosphere and quality ingredients make it a standout. Famous for its cupcakes, The Sweet Lobby on Capitol Hill also serves a delightful cup of hot chocolate. For close the list, I have to add one more French bakery-owned. Originally from New York, Maman has recently opened 4 locations in DC (Georgetown, Union Market, the Wharf, and Penn Quarter) and serves the best everything, including hot chocolate.

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