Feeling overwhelmed by wedding planning? Need to take a break and unwind a bit? What better way to refresh than by enjoying some time with the person you’re going to marry! As a wife and husband who also work together, we know exactly how stressful wedding planning can be. And we know that the occasional reminder of why you’re marrying can help you weather the hard parts.

But what if you’ve been together for a while and feel like you’ve experienced everything the Washington DC metro area has to offer? Well, as longtime residents of the DMV, we can tell you that the region has tons of off-the-beaten-path options that you might not have considered… but that you’ll definitely love!

So in honor of Valentine’s Day – that most romantic of holidays – here are eight fun ideas for “date nights” (or days) that engaged couples in DC can enjoy!

8 “Date Night” Ideas for Engaged Couples in DC by Potok's World Photography

Take a Romantic Carriage Ride Through Georgetown

Nothing sets the mood for a date night quite like a leisurely ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Maybe it’s the quaint charm. Maybe it’s the rhythmic clip-clop of the hooves. Or maybe it’s the excuse to cuddle up close with your beloved when the weather is chilly. Whatever the reason, carriage rides are super romantic! Especially when they take you through one of Washington DC’s most historic and iconic neighborhoods.

Here are a few carriage operators who can take you around Georgetown:

Watch a Show at Historic Ford’s Theatre 

One of the best things about our city is the history. Obviously, it is THE place to go to learn about and celebrate our country’s existence. But Washington DC also has lots of its own history… and it’s fascinating!

In our opinion, one of the best ways to enjoy the best of the Nation’s Capital is to find the places where national and local history intersect. And that’s definitely the case with Ford’s Theatre! Though it’s best known outside of DC for, uh, unpleasant reasons, the landmark doesn’t run from its past. It offers a museum that delves into Lincoln’s presidency and the events that led up to his assassination.

Don’t worry, though! The somberness of the museum isn’t going to spoil your Valentine’s Day. Especially if you complete your visit by taking in a show! Every few months, Ford’s Theatre stages a different theatrical performance that can be a great way to enjoy a night on the town. And the best part? The theater is just blocks from Chinatown, meaning you can walk to grab a late dinner after the show!  

Enjoy a Picnic at the Tidal Basin

DC stands out as a tourist destination for a lot of reasons. But one of the most underrated is that so many of the attractions are free! So if you’re looking for a date idea that isn’t going to cost a lot, think about packing a picnic basket and heading down to the National Mall. After all, what’s a better way to enjoy Washington DC than by basking in the balmy spring weather in the shadows of the city’s beautiful landmarks?

There are no shortage of great places in and around the National Mall where you can lay down a blanket and have a romantic bite to eat. We’re big fans of the Tidal Basin, and not just because it’s beautiful. We also got engaged at the foot of the Jefferson Memorial. So we can personally attest to how romantic that area can be!

Though you can theoretically have a picnic anywhere around the Tidal Basin, our suggestion would be grab a spot in the Floral Garden. Located across the water from the Jefferson Memorial, that little park is absolutely gorgeous in the spring. You can sit and enjoy a meal alfresco surrounded by plots of tulips and enjoy the view of the monument and the sunlight sparkling off the waves in the Tidal Basin. (That area also attracts fewer geese than the grassy spots nearer to the monuments. Which means fewer run-ins with these surprisingly aggressive birds and the, uh, “presents” they often leave.)

Rent a Bike and Explore the Mount Vernon Trail

Do you and your future spouse like to do more athletic activities together? The DMV offers dozens of fun outdoor options for the sportier-minded. One of our favorites is a bike tour along the Mount Vernon Trail. Running from Teddy Roosevelt Island to the eponymous home of George Washington, the bike and running path is 18 miles from one end to the other. It takes you along the Potomac River and offers lovely views of the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and several other notable landmarks.

If you’re feeling extra fit (or have an e-bike), you can make a day of it, bike the entire trail and picnic at Mount Vernon. If you’re looking for a more leisurely ride, you can start in Georgetown, break for lunch in Crystal City or Old Town Alexandria and then turn back.

Don’t own bikes? Not a problem! There are several shops in Georgetown and Alexandria that rent them out! Here are a few of them:

Play “Tourist” at the Smithsonian

We’ve lived in a lot of countries during our lives. We’ve also visited a lot of cities around the world. And we’ve realized that we often haven’t always known the places we’ve called home very well. Sometimes residents just get so caught up in their daily lives that they never bother to “see the sights.” (One reason we love being wedding and engagement photographers is that it motivates us to explore parts of the region we’ve never been to before.)

So even if you’ve been living in DC for a long time, we’re betting there are a whole bunch of things you haven’t seen. All the Smithsonian museums, for example. Sure, you’ve probably visited the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. But what about the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, National Museum of the American Indian or National Museum of African Art?

“Discovering” together the city in which perhaps you met and fell in love can be an awesome way to spend Valentine’s Day with your future spouse. So make a day of it and stop by any or all of the Smithsonian museums:

Take a Cooking Class Together at Toscana Market

Nothing says romance quite like working with the one you love to create delicious dishes that you can enjoy together! But what to do if your cooking skills are less “fancy five-course meal” and more “box mac and cheese?” Luckily for you, there are some great classes in the Washington DC metro area during which skilled chefs will teach you to prepare mouth-watering food together!

One of the coolest is the class offered at Toscana Market, an Italian grocery store in DC’s Gallaudet neighborhood. Chef Daniele Catalani will spend about 90 minutes walking you through the making of a several-course, authentic Italian meal that you will, of course, get to enjoy at the end. Oh, and every class comes with a wine pairing! (By the way, make sure to book well ahead of time if you’re aiming to do this for Valentine’s Day. Toscana Market’s classes fill up quickly!) 

Go on a Potomac River Cruise

It’s sometimes easy to forget how vital a part of Washington DC the Potomac River is. The city grew up around its shores and relied on its waters to power its industries in the early days. It’s so ubiquitous, though, that it sometimes fades into the background, especially given how the monuments tend to catch the eye.

The Potomac also offers one of the most romantic date ideas in the entire DMV: a leisurely cruise along the part that runs near the District and past most of the city’s most historic landmarks. You’ll see the best that the Nation’s Capital, enjoy a delicious meal and – if you’re lucky – maybe even get a gorgeous sunset over the hills of Northern Virginia!

The different boat companies that operate in DC offer a wide range of options that are certain to fit your specific preferences. Some start in Georgetown; others dock at The Wharf. Certain companies have boats that are open-air and only run in the warmer months; others offer covered vessels that tour the whole year (including Valentine’s Day!). Some cruise only in the evenings; others also have brunch tours available. All of them give you the possibility of a romantic date night; others host more festive, “booze cruise” events as well.

Here are a few of the companies offering Potomac River cruises:

Tour Northern Virginia’s Wineries

Did you know that there are more than 300 vineyards in the Northern Virginia region? Before we started photographing weddings for a living, we had no idea either! They’ve become extremely popular venues for wedding celebrations, though, so we’ve gotten to know these gorgeous locations very well in the past few years.

We’ve also had the pleasure of visiting a lot of Northern Virginia’s wineries to enjoy what they are best known for – their wines! We’ve been to a few specifically to meet friends or to enjoy a romantic date night. But our favorite Northern Virginia vineyard experience was the tour of several that we took a few years ago. With those, you get to sample a bunch of different wines in a variety of settings. You also get someone driving you from one winery to the next – not an insignificant perk! And you get to share the fun with a bunch of other nice people. We’re still friends with some of the people we met on that tour!

Here are a few tours that take you to some of the region’s best wineries:



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