Coming up with plans for Valentine’s Day can be a vexing dilemma. Especially in a city loaded with enticing options. For everyone still frantically brainstorming date ideas, here a few ways to spend the holiday.
A Chocolatey Celebration
Chocoholics in the capital have ample opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a tribute to the holiday’s most celebrated confection. Cocoa-inclined historians can head to Anderson House for an Eighteenth Century Chocolate Tasting, hosted by the Society of the Cincinnati (February 13, 6-8 pm; $15 per person). The evening includes a chocolate-making demonstration performed by Mount Vernon historical interpreter Samuel Murphy, a discussion of the history of the cacao bean in America, and of course, a tasting. Or, forget the boxed bonbons this year, and instead learn to create your own chocolate truffles in time for Valentine’s Day. The Watergate Hotel is offering two-hour Chocolate Truffle Making Classes every Saturday and Sunday in February in partnership with chocolatier SPANnVOLA (11-1 pm; $60 per person). Using fine Caribbean cocoa sourced from the Dominican Republic, then roasted and refined locally in Maryland, students craft their own handmade truffles to take home, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
For the traditionalists, there are plenty of palate-pleasing Valentine’s Day deals. Balkan- inspired BABA is offering a Valentine’s Day Special which includes a trio of BABA’s dishes, sparkling wine, any cocktail on the menu, and holiday-themed dessert to share ($45 per person). In Penn Quarter, seasonally-inspired restaurant Lincoln is offering a three-course dinner from a special Valentine’s menu, which includes selections like baked Maryland crab, Kobe beef, and lamb chops served with pistachio mint butter ($65 per person). French-accented Central Michel Richard is also offering a three-course Valentine’s Day Menu with highlights like filet mignon with black truffle sauces and half-tail lobster.
Not a fan of the holiday? Roofer’s Union is Adams Morgan is marking Valentine’s Day with a special dish – roasted beef heart.
Be a Culture Vulture
When you dropped a casual hint about patronizing the arts, were you hoping for something besides $5 comedy night for Valentine’s Day? There are plenty of intellectually-enriching ways to spend the holiday. The Kennedy Center is marking the occasion with a nod to star-crossed romance, presenting NSO Pops: West Side Story in Concert (February 14-17, 8 pm; $24-125). The symphonic performance is also studded with Broadway luminaries, including Corey Cott and Solea Pfeiffer providing the vocals for Tony and Maria. Switching gears from Broadway classics to emerging local talent, the Hill Center is featuring vocalist Imani-Grace Cooper as part of a new concert series – Street Scenes – showcasing new music from local jazz artists (February 14, 7-9pm; $20/$18 advance tickets). On Valentine’s eve, wanderlust-filled shutterbugs can head to the National Geographic Museum for Day to Night: An Evening with Stephen Wilkes (7:30-9pm; $25). The globetrotting photographer will provide a glimpse into his experiences capturing dramatic landscapes in locations around the world, including Kenya, Scotland, and the Falkland Islands.
A Unique Getaway
Sure, the capital area is loaded with world-class hotels, but why not think outside the box. The non-profit Canal Trust rents six historic lockhouses scattered along the C & O canal. The stunning stone quarters are fully furnished and decorated with period accents, and provide easy access to the towpath for hikes, bike rides, or runs. Maryland-based options near the city include Lockhouse 6 in Bethesda, Lockhouse 10 in Cabin John, and Lockhouse 22 in Potomac ($110-160/night). About an hour from the capital, Tolkien fans can spend the night in Middle Earth at Maple Tree Campground’s new Hobbit House. Crowned with a natural, wildflower-sprouting roof, the subterranean cottage also includes an outdoor grill and fire circle ($140/night, up to four guests). The Appalachian Trail adjacent campground also offers rustically cozy Tree Cottages. Craving a cabin getaway for Valentine’s Day – but can’t really leave the city? Spread along the Potomac River in Sterling, about 45 minutes from downtown DC, 838-acre Algonkian Regional Park rents waterside cottages (from $185/night), providing access to the park’s extensive network of hiking and biking trails. Plus, the park is offering a special on cottages through the month of February (20% off stays lasting 2-6 nights).
An Adrenaline-Charged Holiday
Looking for something besides the standard dinner and a movie this Valentine’s Day? For a more adrenaline-charged Valentine’s Day, both regional SportRock Climbing Centers (located in Alexandria and Sterling) are offering a two-for-one deal on Basic Skills rock climbing classes on February 14 and 16 (7pm to 9pm; $30 per couple). Snowbirds after a mid-week escape can take advantage of the Valentine’s Day Getaway Package at Liberty Mountain Resort, about 90 minutes from Washington, DC. The deal ($330 per couple) is available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights (February 13-15), and features a double-occupancy room, two All Mountain packages (including equipment rentals, lift tickets, and lessons), a couples massage, and treats like strawberries and champagne. Slightly further afield, the Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, Maryland is offering also offering a cozy Valentine’s Special (available February 11-15) which includes sparkling wine, house-made truffles, and chocolate-dipped strawberries upon arrival, plus a three-course dinner with specially selected wines ($400 per couple, in double-occupancy cabin or yurt). Plus, the lodge maintains 14 miles of trails in the Savage River State Forest, rents cross-country skiing and snowshoeing equipment, and offers cross-country ski lessons for newbies still mastering the kick and glide.
A Walk in the Woods (without leaving the City)
Washington, DC regularly tops the national list of major cities with the most publically accessible parkland – ranked fourth last year by The Trust for Public Land. While the options are plentiful, on Valentine’s Day, the average neighborhood playground just won’t suffice. Instead, roam the trails lacing Cleveland Park’s Tregaron Conservancy, an early 20th century estate turned patch of urban wilderness. Once the home of James Parmelee and wife Alice Maury, generous patrons of the National Cathedral, the leafy, 20-acre property features a residence designed by architect Charles Adams Platt and grounds developed by landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman, complete with ornamental ponds and wildflower meadows. Or, head to Georgetown’s historic, 27-acre Dumbarton Oaks Park. Once part of the Dumbarton Oaks Estate, nearly a century ago owners Mildred and Robert Farrand commissioned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand to create a slice of the country side in the midst of the city. Today, Farrand’s vision is manifest in the park’s airy meadows, swaths of forest, manmade waterfalls and photogenic stone features. The pedestrian-only entrance to Dumbarton Oaks, located off R Street, is even called ‘Lovers Lane.’
Best of all, if your date for Valentine’s Day has four legs and a tail (and is currently gnawing a tennis ball), both locations are dog-friendly.