Ah, young love. Or old love. Any love really! I’ve got to admit, I can be a hopeless romantic. If you follow me on socials, you’d know I can’t resist a good adventure. That’s why for me, it’s important to have someone who loves to escape the confines of the living room to travel or try something new.
I’m always getting messages from you all about where that super-cool thing on my Instagram story is located. That’s why I decided to round up 6 fun dates in the D.C. area! These outings aren’t just for couples – they’re for families and friends too. Some of them are even… dare I say it… FREE! Let’s get started.
$ – low price; $$ – moderate price; $$$ – pricey
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Artechouse (Art + Tech + House) combines technology, science, and creativity to engage all your senses in an interactive exhibit! Throw your arms in the air and watch plants wiggle and shake. Flail your hands from side to side and watch the installations react to your gestures and movements in real-time.
I love this “museum” because it has rotating installations, meaning there’s always a new experience to be had. One of my favorite memories was using the Artechouse app on a drink during their Nutcracker exhibit, and watching sugarplum fairies dance over my cocktail. From the New Nature Exhibit, to the Nutcracker Exhibit, to the Cherry Blossom Exhibit, each one is created by different artists who immerse you in their world using Augmented Reality and motion sensors.
If you’re 21+, I recommend going “after hours” for a more mature crowd. The tickets are purchased online in specific time slots, and are reasonably priced. The cocktails, however, are a bit expensive.
45 minutes – 1 Hour of fun; Tickets range from $10 – $15. – $$
Have you ever seen American Ninja Warrior? This is Northern Virginia’s very own version of that show! ZavaZone is perfect for couples who are athletic and love a little friendly competition. My boyfriend surprised me with a date here, and we had loads of fun dodging obstacles and talking trash to each other (with a little encouragement from time to time!).
ZavaZone has trampolines, “warped walls,” several obstacle courses, rock climbing, and a sky-high ropes course that overlooks the entire center! There’s a lot of children here, so I recommend going during the evening for a little less traffic. They also have adult nights. If you’re ready to have your own American Ninja Warrior showdown with friends, family, or your significant other, this is a great place to go. Tickets can be purchased online or on site.
1-3 hours of fun; $20.00/person for 1 hour – $
3. The Renwick Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum, or National Portrait Gallery
One of the best perks of living near our Nation’s Capital is free access to museums, zoos, and festivals. Anyone who loves art can live their best life here! Let’s begin with the Renwick. The Renwick Gallery mostly focuses on art from the 19th century to now, and a lot of it can be classified as modern or contemporary (my fave!). Enough of the boring details though, how about some photos taken by yours truly?
These photos are from the Renwick’s “Burning Man” exhibit, which details a festival by the same name that takes place in the playa (desert) in Nevada. The exhibit has costumes, funky vehicles, and a larger-than-life statue of a naked woman made out of metal. I actually went on this trip solo, and I enjoyed being able to take it all in on my own. The Renwick periodically changes their exhibits, so Burning Man is on its way out in mid-January. I can’t wait to see what else they have in store!
The Hirshhorn is another gallery that features a variety of contemporary and modern pieces, and also has rotating exhibits. I recommend visiting this several times throughout the year, especially during summer months. There’s a sculpture garden outdoors that sometimes hosts free events and live jazz when it’s warm outside.
Pictured above is one of the BEST exhibits I’ve ever visited in my entire life. It’s by Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist whose disability helps her create some of the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen in person. The dark room pictured uses mirrors and lights to make it look like infinity. The small lights and darkness represents the souls of people who’ve passed on. It was nearly impossible to get tickets to this exhibit! We stood in line for over an hour, they sold out, and we had to beg passersby for extra tickets. It worked! That’s a rare occasion here, though. Typically, you can just walk straight in. Make sure to check the website for what installations are being shown!
The National Portrait Gallery mostly features portraiture of famous Americans who’ve shaped our culture and entertainment. Not too exciting, but it’s definitely worth an honorable mention – mostly because it has beautiful architecture and a nice atrium with trees and water fountains.
Hours of entertainment; all Smithsonian galleries are free!
Do you and bae have a “need for speed?” If so, tear up the track at this 40,000-square-feet indoor raceway located in Manassas Mall. Accelerate to speeds up to 50 MPH for adult racers and 25 MPH for junior racers under 13. I’ve been on a date here, but I’ve also taken my dad. Both times were a blast!
This is yet another fun date for the competitive types! Not only are you competing against whoever you’re with, you’re also competing to beat your own times. It’s a thrill for sure. Just remember to wear closed toed shoes and a hairdo that fits underneath their mandatory face mask and helmets. Ladies… make sure those eyebrows won’t wipe off!
Time depends on how many races you choose; $20/per for the first race – $$$
Paniq Room isn’t your typical escape room. Located in the heart of Georgetown, it’s a hidden gem that’s so much fun! I went here on a double date for their Insane Asylum room, which only 15% of groups make it out of. We did it, but it certainly was insane! It was the perfect date to go on around Halloween season – especially because the famous Exorcist Stairwell from the movie is just a short walk away.
Tickets should be purchased online – the bigger the group, the cheaper the price. Since it’s in Georgetown, there’s plenty of places to eat a meal or get dessert nearby. If you’re taking a family, don’t do the Insane Asylum room – do the Tribal Quest (there’s a Groupon!).
60 minutes (arrive 15 minutes early); Tickets depend on group size; $$
The National Zoo is another free date idea that’s wonderful for people of all ages! The baby elephants and the pandas are to-die-for! It’s open all year round, except for December 25 (Christmas). Every year, they decorate the park in tons of beautiful lights during the Holiday season for an event called Zoolights. Admission is free, but there are small paid activities such as a mini train ride and the Reindeer Games Zone for kids.
My best friend and I had a blast listening to carolers, viewing lights, and drinking our Starbucks – as there’s one located conveniently down the street! No matter what time of year it is, I recommend taking a trip here.
I hope my roundup of dates led to some great ideas for you and your loved ones! What are some awesome dates you’ve been on?