Finding Romance in the Capital City
Washington’s tree-lined streets and marble monuments make a romantic backdrop for visitors, no matter their budget. Families visit the city in droves, but it’s not difficult to find a few hours for a kid-free evening. If your hotel of choice doesn’t list babysitting as a service, call and ask for help from the concierge who may keep a list of trusted babysitters on hand.
The Monuments at Night
White spotlights illuminate the facades of the monuments and memorials of the National Mall at night. Once the sun sets in the summer, you may find yourself alone at some of them as tourist crowds dwindle. Climb the steps toward the chamber at the Lincoln Memorial (2 Lincoln Memorial Circle, Washington, D.C.) and then make your way to the back. This is a prime location spot for watching the sunset overlooking the Potomac River. Broad steps lead to the edge of the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson Memorial (W Potomac Park, Washington, D.C.). Take a seat for a view of the Washington Monument and the White House behind it shining in the distance.
For a breathtaking view of the city at night, head to the rooftop POV (515 15th St., NW, Washington, D.C.) at the W hotel lounge. Order a specialty cocktail or a bottle of wine and share a charcuterie plate. POV also has a full menu of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Keep in mind that POV has a dress code after 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Blooming wisteria frame the outdoor garden at Iron Gate (1734 N St., NW, Washington, D.C.). Inside, a fire crackles in a brick fireplace in a cozy dining room with a beamed ceiling. Guests are invited to share mezze, small plates of food, or to partake of the chef’s tasting menu.
Ask for a table in the quiet loft area at Rasika (633 D St., NW, Washington, D.C.) for contemporary Indian cuisine prepared by James Beard-award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam. Or, sit in the open kitchen and watch chefs cooking on the tawa, a flat griddle, or on the sigri, a barbecue.
For a night of luxury, reserve an executive king room at the chic Kimpton Rouge (1315 16th St., NW, Washington, D.C.) and book an in-room couples massage. As the name of the hotel suggests, the color red plays a big part in the hotel’s decor. Head down to Bar Rouge for the breakfast buffet in the morning or a specialty cocktail at night.
It doesn’t get ritzier than the Ritz-Carlton (1150 22nd St., Washington, D.C.). If the 24-karat gold facial at the on-site spa isn’t your style, you can have the esthetician substitute chocolate or caviar. The spa also offers couple’s massage. Rooms at the Ritz have oversized soaking tubs, Bang and Olufson sound systems and 24-hour room service.
Go for a Stroll
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (1057 Thomas Jefferson St., NW, Washington, D.C.) stretches 184 miles from Georgetown in Washington to Cumberland, MD. After dinner in Georgetown—a historic village incorporated into D.C. in 1871—walk down to the canal towpath for a stroll between historic buildings. Or rent a tandem bike at Big Wheels (1034 33rd St., NW, Washington, D.C.) in Georgetown for a sunset pedal.
If you’re staying in Georgetown or Foggy Bottom, walk or bike along the Rock Creek Park bike path to the steps that march down from the Kennedy Center (511 10th St., NW, Washington, D.C.) to the Potomac River. It’s a spot rarely used to watch the sun set behind Theodore Roosevelt Island and Rosslyn’s high-rises across the river. If you’re taking in an evening performance at the Kennedy Center, be sure to step out onto the terrace for the same view.
Budget and Weather Considerations
Touring the monuments on foot or by bike costs nothing. Washington’s monuments and memorials are free and open 24/7, year-round, though there may not be a ranger on duty at all times. But, Washington’s upscale hotels and restaurants are expensive. A night at the Ritz-Carlton, without any add-ons, can cost as much as $2,000. The price for dinner for two with drinks and dessert can rise into the stratosphere. Consider limiting yourself to a drink at a rooftop bar rather than ordering a meal and staying in one of the city’s suburbs for lower rates.
The city is hot and humid in the summer, though temperatures do drop after the sun sets. Winter is rarely cold, so a jacket and scarf or hat should suffice for outdoor activities. Spring and fall are the best times to visit. There are fewer crowds, and the weather is pleasant.
- W Washington, D.C.: POV
- TripAdvisor: POV Lounge
- Iron Gate
- TripAdvisor: Iron Gate
- Rasika Penn Quarter
- TripAdvisor: Rasika
- Kimpton Rouge
- Kimpton Rouge: In-Room Spa
- TripAdvisor: Kimpton Rouge Hotel
- Ritz-Carlton: The Spa
- TripAdvisor: The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
- NPS.gov: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
- Washington, D.C. Genealogy Research, Resources and Records: Early Georgetown
- Big Wheel Bikes: Rentals
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.