A young couple at the Lincoln Memorial


Most Romantic Things to Do in D.C.

By Anne Kim-Dannibale on 01/21/16, updated 01/25/17

They say politics is all about relationship-building, and nowhere is that more true than in Washington, D.C. But the capital is also an ideal destination for forging more amorous connections.

With picturesque backdrops that include famous monuments, picturesque river views and elegant buildings, there are plenty of places to indulge in romance with someone you love, or even spark something new.

Whether you’re booking your first date or your 51st, D.C.’s lauded restaurants offer a variety of romantic options. The city’s world-class art scene also provides plenty of inspiration for public displays of affection. Or, spend some quality time along the river, whether strolling hand-in-hand through cherry tree-lined paths or on a river cruise, perfect for smooching.

In one of the most powerful cities in the world, feel the power of love at stops all around town.

Jefferson Memorial (©ehpien/Flickr Creative Commons)

(©ehpien/Flickr Creative Commons)


Jefferson Memorial

The monuments illuminated at night set a dramatic scene in which to declare one’s feelings. With its elegant rotunda and expansive view of the Tidal Basin, John Russell Pope’s neoclassical rotunda makes for a particularly romantic spot. Cozy up on the steps and gaze out onto the sparkling city lights.

Inside Iron Gate, by the brick fireplace

(Courtesy Neighborhood Restaurant Group)


Iron Gate

The historical setting at this Dupont Circle restaurant conjures a more chivalrous time. Ask for fireside seats inside, or during mild weather, a spot in the intimate, trellised courtyard.

The lounge inside Nusta

(Courtesy Nusta)



This eco-friendly spa located in the heart of the city offers a Duo Massage, an hour to an hour-and-a-half of kneading with aromatic jasmine and pink grapefruit oils.

Plume's elegant dining room with marble fireplace and chandelier

(Courtey Plume)



This restaurant located inside the elegant Jefferson Hotel provides an ideal backdrop for celebratory date nights. Reserve a cozy corner table and whisper sweet nothings to each other over a glass or two of champagne.

The second-level dining room at Fig & Olive

(©Anne Kim-Dannibale)


Fig & Olive

If you can’t whisk her away to the South of France, bring the region’s cuisine to her at this glamorous outpost. Nibble on a shared platter of assorted crostini, then treat her to a tableside serving of grass-fed Chateaubriand with all the flourishes.

The bar and lounge inside Co Co. Sala

(Courtesy Co Co. Sala)


Co Co. Sala

Toast your love with cocktails like the signature “MMM” Malted Milk Martini made with Baileys Irish Cream and malted chocolate, or the Co Cojito, which mixes chocolate-infused vodka with mint, lime and dark chocolate flakes. Don’t forget to pick up a box of artisanal treats for later.

Georgetown's main shopping street

Georgetown's main shopping zone

Areas to Explore


Head to this historic zone for shopping along M St. and Wisconsin Ave. NW, and stroll along tree-lined cobblestone streets north of M St., where beautiful town homes add to the romantic atmosphere.

Asparagus poached egg

(Courtesy Restaurant Eve)


Restaurant Eve

You can’t go wrong with a date night at Cathal Armstrong’s Old Town, Alexandria, Va. restaurant. After all, President Obama famously took the first lady here for a date night of their own. Opt for one of the two tasting menus for a truly special experience.

One of many fountains at Dumbarton Oaks

(©Carol Highsmith)


Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Gardens

National Geographic designated the gardens at this historic mansion one of the top 10 in the world. When in season, it’s the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll and even a picnic. Throughout the year, the mansion holds a wealth of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian treasures.

Three happy golden retrievers riding on a Potomac Riverboat Company vessel

(Courtesy Potomac Riverboat Company)


Potomac Riverboat Company

For romantic outings, you can’t beat a riverboat cruise. This company has several vessels (even a re-creation of a 19th-century Victorian riverboat) and several departure points, including Georgetown, Mount Vernon and Old Town in Alexandria, Va.

Lovers have been known to pop the question while gazing at Philippe-Auguste Renoir’s dreamy “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” Time the big moment with the first Thursday of the month, and toast your new status at Phillips After 5, the museum’s monthly cocktail party with food and live music (reservations recommended).

Tiny Jewel Box's corner shop

(©Mose Zusman/Tiny Jewel Box)


Tiny Jewel Box

Declare your love for one another with baubles purchased from this multilevel jeweler. The expanded bridal boutique may even inspire a long-term commitment.

A corner table by the window at Chez Billy Sud

(©Sam Vasfi/Chez Billy Sud)


Chez Billy Sud

With its gilt-framed mirrors, cafe chairs and white tablecloths, this little jewel box of a restaurant practically shouts romance. Any seat in the house is ideal for enjoying Chef Brendan L’Etoile’s beautiful plates.

National Gallery of Art/West Building

Edgar Degas' "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen" (Courtesy National Gallery of Art)


National Gallery of Art/West Building

Passionate art lovers could spend an entire day here, sighing over works like Auguste Rodin’s “The Kiss” or cuddling on a bench under the soaring rotunda. The cafe even offers a genteel setting for spending quality time with your better half.

Liljenquist & Beckstead's Fairfax Square store

Liljenquist & Beckstead’s Fairfax Square store (Courtesy the company)


Liljenquist & Beckstead

Sometimes what you find in the jewelry store doesn’t quite capture how you really feel about someone. When that happens, head to this locally owned shop, whose expert designers can create a one-of-a-kind piece that shows how deep those emotions actually go.

Inside the Folger Theatre, constructed to resemble the Globe Theater in England

(Courtesy Folger Shakespeare Library)


Folger Theatre

Shakespeare and romance go hand in hand. Celebrate or cry along with one of the Bard’s beloved characters inside this intimate Elizabethan-style space.

Tudor Place

(Courtesy Tudor Place)


Tudor Place

Reserve a spot for the historic home’s Valentine’s Day tour, which includes tea. Throughout the year, join a guided garden tour and get up close to the flora that graces this lovely period mansion.

The cascading fountain at Meridian Hill Park

(©NCinDC/Flickr, Creative Commons)


Meridian Hill Park

Find a spot along the cascading fountain’s edge for a picnic at this romantic National Park in the heart of the city.

Map of Most Romantic Things to Do in D.C.