Guide to Valentine's Day in Washington, DC: Ideas, Events, Things to Do

Red heart held over Capitol Building in D.C.
SerrNovik / Getty Images

Once you step away from the school groups on field trips, the crowds of tourists around national monuments, and the disarray of government, Washington, D.C., has a rich culture and blossoming culinary scene that make it an ideal place for lovers to visit any time of the year, but especially so on Valentine's Day. The city's natural beauty shines along the banks of the Potomac or in one of its many gardens, and you don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the majesty of iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial or Washington Monument.

Special Valentine events start around February 14, some of them geared toward ultimate romance while others are much lighter and open to all, whether you're single or taken.

Many attractions and events are scaled back or canceled for Valentine's Day 2021. Be sure to confirm the most up-to-date details with individual organizers.

01 of 10

Dine Out in a Romantic DC Restaurant

Dining room at Rasika West End with a geometric ceiling design

Rasika West End 

The Washington, D.C., area has many romantic restaurants and one-of-a-kind places to enjoy a great meal. Many restaurants in the area offer special Valentine's Day fixed menus, and these are usually the first to fill up, so make your reservations as early as possible. In 2021, many of these meals are even available for pick up or delivery.

Rasika West End serves modern Indian cuisine in a stylish and Cubist-designed restaurant. On Valentine's Day, enjoy a special four-course dinner prepared by star chef Vikram Sunderam. For Valentine's Day 2021, the special holiday menu is also available to pre-order and pick up for romantic dinner at home.

Located near Dupont Circle, Iron Gate is an intimate restaurant with cozy patio seating and a dimly lit, rustic interior. The three-course menu planned for February 14, 2021, takes inspiration from the ingredients and dishes of the Mediterranean countryside.

02 of 10

Cupid's Undie Run


BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Stringer / Getty Images

Strip down for a good cause at this national event that originated right in Washington, D.C. Participants usually start off at the bar Penn Social downtown to warm up with some drinks before disrobing, and then head out for a brief 1-mile fun run clad in underwear before heading back to the bar for more drinks and dancing. Valentine's underwear is encouraged, but if that's not your style, dress up in a tutu, costume, or wear whatever is most comfortable. All proceeds from the event are donated to the Children's Tumor Foundation.

The event looks different in 2021, and participants are encouraged to run, bike, swim, walk, or whatever for 1 mile in their underwear or costume. Submit a video of your activity for a chance to win a contest, all while supporting a good cause.

03 of 10

Spend the Night in One of DC's Hottest Hotels

King sized hotel room of Liaison Washington Capitol Hill Hotel with night views of the city

Liaison Washington Capitol Hill Hotel

Whether you live in Washington or you're visiting, spending the night in a luxury hotel is a surefire way to up the intimacy for your Valentine's Day plans. Because it's a popular time, make sure to reserve your room well in advance if you want accommodations for the weekend nearest February 14. Thankfully, Washington is full of luxury hotels and romantic boutique inns, so if one is fully booked, there should be plenty of others.

The Yotel Capitol Hill Hotel is considered one of the most romantic spots in the city, located a stone's throw away from the Capitol Building. Conveniently located within walking distance from the majority of landmarks, you can explore during the day and then head back for romantic room service. The guestrooms are sleek, modern, and cozy, so you can fully enjoy your romantic night together.

04 of 10

Relax in a Day Spa

Warmly-lit hallway at Aura spa

Aura Spa

Maybe you want to spend an intimate afternoon with your partner getting a couple's massage, or maybe you're single and just feel like treating yourself to a day at the spa. Either way, February 14 is as good a time as any for a relaxing day in one of Washington's premier wellness centers.

Spend the day at Aura Spa and indulge in a massage, a body treatment, or one of their custom spa packages. Aura has several locations in D.C., but only the Ballston, U Street, and Yards locations offer couple's massages. If you want a co-ed steam room and sauna as well, that is only available at U Street.

Nusta Spa, located near Dupont Circle, offers various services geared toward individuals or couples. Couples packages include a duo massage or a duo massage plus sauna time. One unique option is a guided therapy package, where you and your partner can learn professional and healing techniques to massage each other at home. Apart from massages, try one of the customized facials, head-to-toe body treatments, or acupuncture for a full wellness experience. As of January 2021, couples massages at Nusta Spa were unavailable until further notice.

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05 of 10

Take a Leap of Faith With Your Sweetheart

woman standing on an tightrope at a ropes course in Terrapin Adventure Park

 Rachel Cooper

Terrapin Adventure Park is open to the public, but the romantic adventure packages were not available in February 2021.

A 30-minute drive from Washington, D.C., is the Terrapin Adventure Park, located in Savage, Maryland. For thrill-seeking partners who prefer an adrenaline rush over an elegant restaurant, look no further than the ziplines and high ropes course of Terrapin. You can book a special "romantic adventure" package, including three hours of aerial adventures plus snacks and hot chocolate upon finishing. You can have a romantic meal any day of the year, but a Valentine's Day that includes a 40-foot free fall is one for the books.

06 of 10

Embark on Romantic Getaway

Omni Homestead

Omni Homestead

The hot springs at Omni Homestead Resort and the Tides Inn were both closed as of January 2021 until further notice. Confirm what's open at your D.C. getaway before finalizing any plans.

Maybe the best way for you and your special someone to spend Valentine's Day in Washington is to get out of Washington. Luckily, you don't have to travel too far to escape the ruckus of the city and lose yourselves in the serenity of the Mid-Atlantic region.

One of the most intimate options is the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. About a four-hour drive outside of D.C., these natural hot springs located in the tranquil Allegheny Mountains have drawn visitors since colonial times. Relax in thermal cabins, the adult-only serenity garden, or by enjoying one of the various spa treatments.

Three hours south of Washington jutting out into the Chesapeake Bay is the Tides Inn, located in Irvington, Virginia. Take in the picturesque views of the nearby bay while playing a game of golf, taking a sailing lesson, or dining in the delicious farm-to-table restaurant at the hotel. You can even book a boating expedition to fish and shuck your own oysters, also known as nature's aphrodisiac.

07 of 10

Make Your Own Valentine Truffles

As of January 2021, the chocolate-making classes hosted by SPAGnVOLA were suspended until further notice.

The elegant Watergate Hotel and world-class chocolatier SPAGnVOLA have put together an event so you can learn to create the romance of decadent truffles in your own home. Chocolate makers from SPAGnVOLA guide participants through the whole process of truffle making, using cacao handpicked in the Dominican Republic and refined locally in Maryland. Take part in this unique workshop with your partner or go alone and later surprise your sweetheart with your delicious concoction.

08 of 10

Set Sail on a Romantic Dinner Cruise

Yacht apart of the Spirit Cruises fleet on the Potomac river at sunset with DC in the background

Spirit Cruises

As of January 2021, most cruises around Washington, D.C., were canceled until further notice. Confirm with individual companies about availability.

Few places are as romantic as being on the water. Fortunately, several local companies offer special Valentine's Day cruises along the Potomac, so you and your partner can dine, dance, and sip on champagne with the breathtaking Washington skyline in the background. Hornblower is the most popular cruise line that typically offers romantic dinner cruises with multiple courses and a champagne toast.

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09 of 10

Chocolate, Wine, & Whiskey Festival

The Chocolate, Wine, & Whiskey Festival was canceled in 2021.

Nothing says passion like chocolate, wine, and whiskey, and this annual festival combines all three into one romantic event at Union Market. Artisan chocolate makers from the D.C. area bring their best confections for you to sample, including dark chocolates, macarons, fondue, cupcakes, and more. Pair your desserts with red wines, white wines, prosecco, whiskey, and other boozy drinks. Your admission includes unlimited samples and pours, so there's no need to hold back.

10 of 10

Cupid's Bar Crawl

Cupid's Bar Crawl was canceled in 2021.

Celebrate the season of love with a Dupont Circle bar crawl, whether you're single, taken, or just hoping to get shot by Cupid’s never-failing arrow. Your admission ticket includes a souvenir mug, cover-free access to Dupont's best bars, exclusive specials on food and drinks, and entry into a special raffle to win prizes. Dressing up is also highly encouraged, whether you simply don a red shirt or wear a full cherub costume.

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