Want to do a date night but the sitter is booked? Just bring the kids along! From challenging each other over a life-sized version of Hungry, Hungry Hippo to touring the monuments like a tourist, a family date night can be a great way to spend quality time together. And what you save on a sitter you can invest in family fun! Scroll down for 7 inspiring ways to fill your summer nights with date the whole family will enjoy.
Editor’s Note: Due to rising COVID cases, DC has once again mandated the use of masks indoors, regardless of vaccine status, and on Federal grounds, including the National Mall.
Monuments by Moonlight
When the sun goes down and the lights go up, DC is simply magical. With over 100 monuments and memorials being up-lit, the city's most famous landmarks become (arguably) even more impressive at night. There are a number of ways to get a quick lay of the land. For kids 14 & up, Calleva offers a full moon kayaking tour ($125/person). Those with younger kids can enjoy the monuments from the water with a sighting tour aboard The Wharf's water taxi (starting at $20/rt). Landlubbers will enjoy the classic Monuments by Moonlight tour on DC's trolley ($45/person) or the kid-favorite night tour in an open-sided electric car ($69/person). There are also bus tours, foot tours and, of course, self-guided tours.
Insider tip: All summer long catch a free, hour-long performance at sunset by The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps in front of the The Marine Corps War Memorial.
The Capital Wheel
The Capital Wheel is fun stop on any family date night, but if you have little kids in tow, it is the perfect (but quick) date night destination. Bundle the kids up in their PJs and get ready to take in the city from 180 feet up in the air. From the comfort of your cabin, play I Spy with the DC skyline; you can easily spot the Washington Monument at the Ferris wheel's peak!
Insider tip: Take a 30 minute roundtrip ride aboard the water taxi and enjoy a narrated tour along the way.
141 American Way
National Harbor, MD
VR Zone DC
Do you and your kids work well as a team? Put it to the test in a virtual escape room challenge at VR Zone. These escape rooms provide the ultimate quest where you can jump, run and even fly through your challenge. Choose from themes like a jungle quest (pictured above) an Egyptian Pyramid, an alien space ship and more. Kids must be 8 & up to play.
2300 Wisconsin Ave NW
Millennium Stage at the REACH
Every Thurs. and Fri. at 5:30 p.m. this iconic center for the performing arts offers a free show as part of its “Performing Arts for Everyone” initiative. There is also a 10 a.m. show every Sat. for those that prefer a brunch date. No tickets are required; seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Upcoming performances include the Indian festival Raga (Aug. 5-7, Step Afrika! (Aug. 12-14), the Go-Go inspired Don't Mute D.C. show (Aug. 19-21) and Women Shredding through the Boundaries, a look at the intersection of women and sports (Aug. 26-28).
Insider tip: Grab a bite afterward at the nearby Founding Farmers location (1924 Pennsylvania Ave., NW).
2700 F St. NW
Dave and Busters
Think of this as a grown-up Chuck E. Cheese’s, where adults can partake of hand-crafted cocktails, beer, wine and spirits, but kids can still race around playing video games. There are the classics such as Pac-Man and more modern ones like Dance Dance Revolution, virtual reality and a life-size version of Hungry, Hungry Hippo (seriously!). If all that activity works up an appetite, there’s a kids’ menu and choices for bigger appetites like barbecue ribs. There’s little chance of hearing, “I’m bored,” – or “I’m hungry!” – from anyone here.
Insider tip: Date on the cheap by going on a Wed. when tickets are half-price.
6655 Springfield Mall Rd.
8661 Colesville Rd.
Silver Spring, MD
9811 Washington Blvd.
1851 Ritchie Station Ct.
Capitol Heights, MD
7000 Arundel Mills Cir.
Take a night off from picking up after the kids by going to a place where the point is to knock things down. This alley has bowling, bocce and a – wait for it – bistro. We’ll come back to that. First, bocce is similar to bowling, but is traditionally a lawn sport so it’s played on carpeted courts. Reservations to play are recommended, and bowling lanes accommodate up to eight players, while bocce can handle up to 10. Now back to the bistro. It serves Italian-American fare, all made in-house. Entrees include gnocchi and ahi tuna and filet mignon, and the kids’ menu has pizzas made with hand-stretched dough cooked in a wood-burning oven.
1064 Wisconsin Ave. NW
This place is awesome, but expensive. Take advantage of a family date night and a deal – access to the aquarium for half off. The tickets ($19.95/person() are available online or onsite on Fridays at 5 p.m. Inside, expect to see sharks, jellyfish, dolphins, an octopus and about 20,000 other animals.
Insider tip: When the aquarium closes at 8, head out to the Inner Harbor to stroll along the water. There are lots of restaurants and places to get a quick snack within walking distance.
501 E. Pratt St.
—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Stephanie Kanowitz
featured photo: iStock