The 10 Most Romantic Spots in Washington, DC

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Between hordes of tourists and bewigged Ben Franklin lookalikes running around, Washington, DC, might not be the first place you think of when trying to get in touch with your inner romantic. But spots for clandestine candlelit dinners and midnight strolls abound — you just have to know where to go. After all, Ben Franklin was known as quite the ladies’ man in his day. So take a cue from ol’ Ben and sweep your sweetie off his or her feet with a visit to one of these utterly romantic spots in and around DC.

10. Bishop’s Garden, National Cathedral

“A space of peace set apart forever from the rush of the everyday world.” That’s how Florence Bratenahl, wife of the Dean of the Cathedral during the early 1900s, described the Bishop’s Garden at DC’s magnificent National Cathedral. Filled with lush florals, brick-lined paths, and medieval sculptures, the gardens here are the perfect place to stroll the day away hand-in-hand with your date. The garden’s visual delights are matched by its olfactory ones; stop by the Hortulus, or “little garden,” to take a sniff of fragrant 19th-century herbs and flowers. Saunter into the Olmsted Woods, a five-acre old growth forest on the Cathedral grounds, to steal a kiss among the privacy offered by towering oak and beech trees.

Bishop's Garden, Washington

9. Rock Creek Park

Did you know a national park runs through much of the western half of DC? With over 32 miles of hiking trails, the lush and scenic Rock Creek Park is the perfect place for you and your partner to reconnect with nature — and each other. Put on some boots, pack a picnic, and explore the picturesque trails that crisscross under old stone bridges, over tinkling Rock Creek, and through thick green forests. During the summer months, the park hosts outdoor concerts at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre. So switch out of your boots and into your dancing shoes so you can boogie with your sweetie all night long! The amphitheater is located in the southern half of the park, with parking nearby. If you’re trying to do romantic DC on a budget, then we have good news for you: entrance to the park and to the amphitheater shows are totally free.

Rock Creek Park, Washington

8. Eastern Market

Looking to get lost in a crowd with your loved one? Then head to Eastern Market in the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood to stroll among rows and rows of farm fresh produce and handmade crafts and trinkets. The market is open from Tuesday through Sunday, but try to visit on the weekend, when the market stalls are abuzz with the sound of live music and even more merchants selling their impressive artisan wares outdoors. Pick up the supplies for a romantic picnic inside the South Hall Market — we’re thinking fresh fruit, warm bread, and creamy cheese — and head to one of DC’s many green squares or parks for the perfect way to while away the afternoon. Don’t forget the strawberries; they’re known to be an aphrodisiac…

7. The Jefferson Memorial

Neo-classical marble columns, a dreamy waterfront location, and — come springtime — the fragrance of thousands of just-opened cherry blossoms? Hands down, the Jefferson Memorial is the most romantic monument in DC. In fact, it’s an especially popular place to pop the question! The memorial isn’t located along the bustling National Mall, so its seclusion makes it a prime spot for lovers seeking a little more privacy. Oh, and we can’t forget about the views — the sweeping views of the Washington Monument and the White House that visitors can spy from the Tidal Basin are sure to sweep your sweetie off his or her feet. For an extra dose of romance, try to visit the Jefferson Memorial during late March or early April, when the bright pink cherry blossom trees that line the Tidal Basin are in bloom.

Jefferson Memorial, Washington

6. King Street Stroll in Alexandria

Venture out to Old Town Alexandria, just over the bridge from DC, for a long walk along the cobblestone-lined King Street. Voted the “Best Place for a First Date” by Washingtonian Magazine, Old Town Alexandria offers a bustling atmosphere full of historical delights and romantic views of the Potomac, and King Street is the town’s main historic thoroughfare. After you and your date get tuckered out from street strolling and shopping at quaint boutiques (or perhaps even a leisurely bike ride down one of the paths by the river), get cozy over candlelight at Restaurant Eve, a 100-seat restaurant just around the corner from King Street that’s renowned for its fresh take on new American cuisine. From the decadent décor to the flavorful food, everything about this restaurant says “special occasion.”

5. U.S. Botanic Garden

Housed in a soaring structure of glittering glass and aluminum, the United States Botanic Garden is a must-see for couples visiting the nation’s capital. Wind your way through a plethora of plant exhibits in the conservatory, from tropical jungles and orchid gardens to arid deserts growing spiky cacti and succulents. Plus, all that lush foliage is the perfect cover for quick kisses stolen away from the crowds. Unsurprisingly, the conservatory and surrounding exhibits are a delight for the senses; with over 65,000 plants for exhibition and study, the Botanic Garden keeps things interesting with its overwhelming number of sights and smells. Your date may even walk away gushing over her new favorite flower — just hope it’s not too exotic, so you can track it down back home.

4. POV Rooftop Bar

End your day on a high note with your S.O. at the POV Rooftop Bar. And we do mean high — the bar sits on the 11th floor of the posh W Hotel, with views of downtown DC that simply can’t be beat. Impress your date with a seat up here that overlooks the White House, National Mall, and towering monuments. Try to get here early in the evening, before the hip crowds crush in for those glittering views. As amazing as the views are, they just won’t be as romantic when you and your date are squeezed into a packed communal table of late-night revelers. Order the charcuterie and cheese plate along with an expertly crafted cocktail and let the warm DC breeze sweep you up in the romance of the night.

3. Dumbarton Oaks

Between the fountains, finials, and artfully arranged beds of flowers, you’ll think you and your date were transported to a lush garden in Italy. Really, though, Dumbarton Oaks is one of the top romantic spots right here in DC. Located in historic Georgetown, the garden and adjoining manor were first built by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in 1920. And blissful it is; Mildred worked with the top landscape architects of her time to bring her stunning garden vision to life. Today, the garden is the perfect way to spend an afternoon among the fragrant herbs, borders of bright blooms, and scenic terraces. If your feet start to get tired from all that garden wandering, find one of the carved stone benches to cozy up on next to your date — they’re built perfectly for two. During the high season, entrance to Dumbarton Oaks is $10, while admission during winter is free.

2. Key Bridge

Named after Star-Spangled Banner lyricist Francis Scott Key, the Key Bridge connects Georgetown to Arlington, VA, via elegant concrete arches over the wide Potomac River. From the bridge you and your partner will be privy to breathtaking views of the Washington Monument, the Rosslyn, VA, skyline, and the numerous rowers gliding through the river below. And with a wide pedestrian path for walkers and bikers, it’s one of the best places in the city to watch the sunset over the Potomac. For a heart-pumping date idea, rent bikes to cycle over the bridge and then along the C&O Canal in Georgetown.

Key Bridge, Washington

1. Paddling the Potomac

What’s more romantic than an afternoon spent strolling above the water? An afternoon spent paddling in the water. Think out of the box and get into some nautical fun by renting a boat to explore the Potomac or Tidal Basin area in front of the Jefferson Memorial. No, we’re not suggesting you go all out with a rented yacht — rather, cute and cozy (and affordable) two-person paddle boats are the ultimate way to spend quality time with your sweetie and see many of the stunning sites that DC has to offer. Check out Tidal Basin Paddle Boats for decent rates. Plus, paddle boating through DC’s waterways offers up a romantic challenge: can you and your date sneak a kiss while still keeping your boat afloat?

Tidal Basin Area

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