Our favorite local date spots for the outdoor romantic

Woo your valentine with a unique outdoor date you won't soon forget

Photo by Doug Sonders

Photo by Doug Sonders


Romance is in the air once again! Whether you already have plans or still need to make some for the big day, we’ve got you covered with a list of the best outdoor dates on and around the Potomac. 

Log out of Netflix, skip the crowded restaurants and overpriced food, and get outside to make some memories with your special someone. You might even spot some cute animals


16. Rock Creek Park

Photo by erin lassahn, erinlassahn.com/

Photo by erin lassahn, erinlassahn.com/

Where: Washington, DC

What to do: Grab your partner and head into the great outdoors to enjoy one of our favorite local creeks! Rock Creek is a 125-year-old national park and one of the District’s natural treasures. Enjoy 32 miles of trails for hiking or biking, a tennis center, golf course, trails for horseback riding, and more! You can even star gaze at the planetarium, make picnic reservations, or satisfy your inner child at the playground.


15. Key Bridge

Photo by @Boatingindc on instagram

Photo by @Boatingindc on instagram


Where: Between Rosslyn, VA, and Georgetown, Washington, DC

What to do: Named for the composer of the "Star Spangled Banner," the Francis Scott Key Bridge connects Georgetown to Arlington, Virginia, and is the oldest existing bridge on the Potomac River. A walk along the bridge with your sweetie is ideal for a gorgeous sunset view of the Potomac and DC skyline! Plus there's great food and shopping on either end.


14. Luray caverns

Photo by King Photography, ckingphotography.com

Photo by King Photography, ckingphotography.com


Where: Luray, VA

What to do: Escape to the headwaters of the Potomac in the Shenandoah Valley this Valentine’s Day. Going from city to scenic will surely make for a unique and memorable date. And with numerous attractions including museums, a garden maze, a rope adventure park, you can’t go wrong! Proposing (or thinking about it)? Luray Caverns also offers engagement packages and even holds weddings at several of their venues.


13. Old Town Alexandria

Photo by JC Findly, fineartamerica.com/profiles/jc-findley.html

Photo by JC Findly, fineartamerica.com/profiles/jc-findley.html


Where: Alexandria, VA

What to do: Like the bustle of the city but not the crowds? Old Town Alexandria, one of the best-preserved historic districts on the Potomac River, has tons of historical attractions and all of the shops, restaurants, and breweries you could ask for. Plus, Old Town offers breathtaking views of the Potomac River from any of its waterfront parks. Want more? Here’s a top 10 list of things to do during your visit!


12. Dumbarton Oaks

Photo by mokazi photography, mokaziphotography.com

Photo by mokazi photography, mokaziphotography.com


Where:  Washington, DC

What to do: Just a few minutes away from Georgetown, the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks are a peaceful alternative to the busy shopping district. Take a historical tour of the gardens or museum, both open year-round, or just enjoy each other’s company amongst the beautiful scenery!


11. Washington Harbour

washington harbour potomac river

Where: Georgetown, Washington DC

What to do: Located in the heart of Georgetown and bordering the Potomac River, the harbor has much to offer, from retail spaces to restaurants and bars, as well as a boardwalk overlooking our favorite river. In the colder months, lace up your skates for some frozen fun at the Washington Harbour Ice Rink


10. Brookside Gardens

Photo by Thien and Tami photography, thienandtami.com

Photo by Thien and Tami photography, thienandtami.com


Where: Wheaton, MD

What to do: Escape the city at a local, award-winning, 50-acre public garden! A hidden gem inside Wheaton Regional Park, Brookside Gardens has a lot "growing" for it, including a rose garden, rain garden, terrace garden, and butterfly pavilion. In the winter months enjoy a quiet stroll among the trees. 


9. Canal Quarters (C&O Canal)

Photo of lockhouse 22 from the C&O Canal Trust

Photo of lockhouse 22 from the C&O Canal Trust


Where: C&O Canal National Historical Park, DC and MD

What to do: Dating back to 1831, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is rich with history and opportunities like the Canal Quarters program, which rents out refurbished lockhouses along the canal. Plan a romantic getaway in either a fully furnished or rustic lockhouse, and experience what life was like 60, 90, or 150 years ago! The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park spans a whopping 184.5 miles from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland, offering hiking, biking, and even skiing in the winter season!


8. District Wharf

Photo by Adam Mason, adammason.com

Photo by Adam Mason, adammason.com

Where: Washington, DC

What to do: Take a stroll through DC's newest riverside neighborhood. In the winter, cozy up next to the outdoor fireplaces, go ice skating, and grab a hot chocolate. When it warms up, rent a kayak and paddle along the Potomac for monument views. As cool as the new neighborhood is, our favorite part isn't the restaurants, bars, or pier (though that's pretty cool, too), it's all the river friendly features that went into this redevelopment. 


7. Carderock



Where: Carderock, MD

What to do: For a daring date, give rock climbing a try. Carderock and Great Falls along the Potomac are great climbing spots. Sign up for an Intro to Climbing course, so you and your special someone can experience the challenges and rewards of scaling a wall. If climbing isn’t your thing, take a hike along the Billy Goat Trail Section C and look for the Victory Island Overlook. After a long day of hiking and climbing, have a picnic at the Carderock Picnic Grounds.


6. Sugarloaf Mountain

Photo by Britney clause photography, britneyclause.com

Photo by Britney clause photography, britneyclause.com


Where: Dickerson, MD

What to do: Lace up your boots and take your love to new heights when you hike the trails of Sugarloaf Mountain! Take in sweeping views of the Monocacy Valley and the beautiful countryside of Montgomery County. The flexibility of each of the trails makes Sugarloaf ideal for both amateur and well-seasoned hikers. Bring a lunch and enjoy any of the designated picnicking areas and take in the “best sunset in Maryland,” according to one Yelp reviewer, with your special someone.

Bonus: After a day of hiking, grab a drink at the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, located at the base of the mountain!


5. Mount Vernon

mount vernon potomac river

Where: Mount Vernon, VA

What to do: Take your date to a place fit for a president — George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Take a guided tour of Washington’s historic twenty-one-room mansion or explore the grounds on your own. Be sure to visit the wharf, which offers a stunning view of our Nation’s River. George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate also hosts monthly, seasonal events, like the chocolate dinner on February 9!


4. National Harbor

national harbor potomac river

Where: National Harbor, MD

What to do: Just 15 minutes away from our nation’s capital, the National Harbor in Maryland is full of riverfront shops, restaurants, and bars. Book a room in any of the six waterfront hotels in the area, including the well-known Gaylord National Resort, and stay for the day. You can even enjoy a sunset walk along the boardwalk area on the Potomac. Or hop on the Capital Wheel and spot the Washington Monument and US Capitol from 180 feet up.

Bonus: Take a water taxi to Old Town Alexandria for a “double date,” Potomac style!


3. Shepherdstown, West Virginia

shepherdstown west virginia potomac river

Where: Shepherdstown, WV

What do do: Not a fan of the big resorts? Maybe a bed and breakfast is more your scene. Shepherdstown, West Virginia, has that small town feel. Plus enjoy all the arts and culture you could ask for, from shops, theaters, and restaurants on German Street to the historical sites of Antietam Battlefield or Harpers Ferry. Also nearby are the Appalachian Trail, C&O Canal, and of course, the Potomac River, so there’s no excuse to stay inside!


2. Accokeek Foundation National Colonial Farm

Photo by Melbee Photography, melbeephotography.com

Photo by Melbee Photography, melbeephotography.com


Where: Accokeek, MD

What to do: Get outside and have a picnic with your other half on Accokeek Foundation's historic 1770s era farm! Tour an 18th century tobacco barn, outdoor kitchen, and garden. Walk down the Saylor Grove Fishing Pier to see the Potomac River and get a glimpse of Mount Vernon as well.


1. The Potomac River!

Photo from Odyssey cruises Facebook page, facebook.com/OdysseyCruisesDC

Photo from Odyssey cruises Facebook page, facebook.com/OdysseyCruisesDC


Where: The Potomac River in Washington DC

What to do: If you haven't been out on the water, now's your chance. Companies like Odyssey Cruises and Spirit of Washington offer Valentine’s Day dinner cruises on the Potomac. Surprise your special someone with a romantic night of monument views, great food, and instagram-worthy riverscapes! Not a fan of boats? Take a stroll down by the Georgetown waterfront, Lincoln Memorial, or Tidal Basin for a memorable night along the Potomac. For a unique date, sign up for a river cleanup to show the river some love with your special someone. 


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