7 Sweetly Romantic Date Night Spots In Washington DC

My boyfriend Karl and I fell in love in Rome. We had met in DC only months before, friends of mutual friends, and when two of them got engaged, Karl chose me as his plus-one for the destination wedding. We stayed in a crumbling pensione not far from the Via Condotti and stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. But we didn’t amble through stores in between all the wedding festivities; we instead sat on the Spanish Steps, making out like teenagers and feeling happier than I ever thought possible.

What does Rome have to do with Washington, DC, you ask? Our own version of the Spanish Steps, hiding in plain sight (if you know where to look, of course) is in Kalorama, a quiet neighborhood of stately homes (many housing embassies and diplomats) in Northwest Washington. Inspired by Rome’s version, though on a much smaller scale, Kalorama’s Spanish Steps are ensconced by magnolia trees and lead to a fountain where water spouts from a lion’s head. On warm nights after we returned from our Roman holiday, Karl and I would pack a bottle of Italian red and head over to the steps. One night, Karl packed an engagement ring.

Washington DC is our nation’s capital, of course, but until that night, I had never really thought about our city as the capital of romance. Turns out, it is—especially after dark. In fact, there are backdrops just as dreamy as the Spanish Steps, sweet night spots and great date-night restaurants serving Insta-worthy food that rivals anything you’d find in Manhattan…or Italy. To find the perfect date nights in DC, you just have to know where to look.

1. Go shopping (and maybe get engaged) in historic Georgetown.

It may not be the Via Condotti, but Historic Georgetown has some pretty fantastic shopping, with stores like Anthropologie, All Saints and Madewell lining its quaint, cobblestone streets.

Following an afternoon of strolling stores hand in hand, head to Martin’s Tavern for Happy Hour. Ask to sit in the Proposal Booth, where, in 1953, John F. Kennedy popped the question to Jacqueline Bouvier. Champagne is in order.

Next, wander over to Chez Billy Sud, an intimate French restaurant with pale green walls and gilded mirrors (and a perfect backdrop for photo ops). Grab a nightcap at Bar a Vin, a sister wine bar across the patio with a cozy wood-burning fireplace.

Where to stay nearby: The Ritz Carlton Washington, D.C. ($485 per night, enjoy a complimentary night for every three-nights you stay, now through December 31, when you book the Treat You package)

2. Teleport to Morocco by way of Maydan DC

When I first moved to Washington, I could tell the stretch of 14th Street between U and P streets had loads of date-night potential. But then Cafe Saint Ex and Bar Pilar, a farm-to-table resto with its cozy, clandestine “make out coves” (what staff members call “nooks,” like the two-seater near Bar Pilar’s staircase) moved in.

The neighborhood’s date-night mecca in my opinion is Maydan. Seriously, what’s not to love about walking into a tucked-away restaurant, sitting near an open fire, and nibbling on small dishes that make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Morocco? Continue the journey over at Le Diplomat, for pastis and heart-warming creme brulee, or catch a late-night indie rock show at The Black Cat.

Where to stay nearby: Hamilton Hotel Washington, D.C. (Romance Package includes a complimentary bottle of Champagne and breakfast for two.)

3. Get lost in the labyrinth of Blagden Alley

Hidden inside an unsuspecting city block in DC’s Mount Vernon neighborhood is a labyrinth of bars and restaurants known as Blagden Alley (some say it’s also known as Engagement Alley—proposals are practically a daily occurrence here).

Start off in Columbia Room’s Spirits Library and warm up with an Old Grogham, a steamy brew made with gin and earl gray tea. Next, hit Calico, featuring Eastern-shore inspired bites like steak sandwiches, tomato pie and lobster mac and cheese. Or slip into The Dabney, a farmhouse-chic restaurant with an open kitchen and—yay—another cozy, wood-fired oven. Work off those chicken and dumplings with a stroll to the mall to see the monuments by moonlight.

Where to stay nearby: The Willard InterContinental Washington D.C (Hit the Round Robin Bar for a night cap. It’s been a hotspot for social and political movers-and-shakers since the days of Abe Lincoln and features a menu of presidential drinks from legendary bartender and cocktail historian Jim Hewes.)

4. Canoodle during a movie at Uptown Cinema

The day after Karl and I got engaged, we took the Metro to Cleveland Park and saw what Karl considers to be the greatest love story of all time: “King Kong.” It was playing at DC’s famed Uptown Cinema. Whatever you decide to see (hopefully, it won’t feature a gorilla as leading man), sit in the balcony for canoodling when the lights go down.

After the show, slip into Bindaas, an intimate little gem run by Vikram Sunderam, recipient of a James Beard Award for sister restaurant Rasika. Here, small plates of Indian street-style food are served in a jewel box space set off with spice jars and saffron-colored banquets.

Where to stay nearby: Marriott Wardman Park (celebrate the historic hotel’s 100 years and stay for a third night for just $100)

5. Visit the urban paradise that is CityCenterDC

By day, CityCenterDC, a 10-acre urban paradise of plazas and parks and pedestrian walkways, is a shopping mecca, with stores like Hermes and Dior lining Palmer Alley. By night, it’s pure romance, aglow with twinkling lights and couples strolling hand in hand.

Steal a kiss under The Gateway, a three-plane digital art display that spans 25-feet high and 50-feet wide. My pick for sweet spot dining is Centrolina for their handmade pastas and wines from Umbria. Its floor to ceiling glass windows and central marble bar are stylish beyond words. Finish the night with gelato and espresso from Dolcezza—the perfect pairing for a perfect pair.

Where to stay nearby: Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel (choose from packages spanning food, museum and sightseeing themes starting at $169/night)

6. Dive into Union Market for oysters and books 

DC’s most delicious destination is Union Market, a revitalized food hall built where the original market once stood decades ago.

After enjoying an aphrodisiac snack at Rappahannock Oyster Bar or bulgogi beef tacos at TaKorean, catch a reading at Politics & Prose, an offshoot of DC’s famed independent bookstore. Then head to St. Anslem, an industrial-meets-modern (think exposed brick and stacks of vintage books) tavern that took over the soaring space of an old Army Navy store. Reserve a spot in the Beef Steak room for an all-you-can-eat finger food experience that requires guests wear aprons. The market is open every day of the week except Mondays.

Where to stay nearby: Kimpton George Hotel (book 3 nights and get the third night free)

7. Stroll the courtyard before cuddling up at Iron Gate

If you want to shift your date into romantic overdrive, Dupont Circle’s Iron Gate has it all: Wisteria branches covering a secluded courtyard (with heaters and blankets, should you want to cuddle up and dine alfresco) and plates meant for sharing. Book the table for two by the fireplace and ask your server to recommend something off the restaurant’s nearly 400-bottle wine list.

Continue the gastronomic indulgence the next morning by enjoying Sunday brunch at Siren by RW, tucked in The Darcy hotel, starring adventurous dishes like grilled Spanish octopus and eggs along with mainstays like pancakes and omelets.

Where to stay nearby: The Darcy, Curio Collection by Hilton (book the champagne and caviar package starting at $199)


The Beauty Of Beginning Again On The Shortest Day Of The Year

According to the beliefs of our ancestors, the sun will stand still before embarking on a new journey on December 21st. This day will be the shortest in the year and it will mark the celebrations of Yule or what is more commonly known as Winter Solstice. In keeping with the pagan faith this day should not be overlooked because its rituals and symbols are capable of making our passage into the New Year an easier one.

Across the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is celebrated with feasts and symbols of fire and light in order to welcome the sun back into our lives. Therefore, candles and bonfires are the most natural ways to mark the festivities. On the shortest day of the year take a few moments to pause and reflect on life and the beauty of beginning a new journey. During this time it is only fitting that candles are lit at dusk or at dawn. It is the time of day when darkness and light meet and the candles would reach their purpose of serving as a bridge.

Modern Pagans and Wiccans make good use of spices and so it is fairly common to sprinkle candles with cinnamon, star anise, apple, and orange peels. The smoke created cleanses the space in which rituals and moments of observance take place. While lighting the candles, you should take a moment to enjoy the silence in which only the spark of the match can be heard. Acknowledge your gratitude for the chance to witness yet another changing of the seasons, and make a small promise to yourself to fully embrace what will happen in the coming months. This is simple to do yet so powerful and deeply significant for your evolution in the New Year.

Lastly, most pagan traditions include the use of sacred plants as decorations throughout the home. Plants like holly, mistletoe, yew, and ivy have become indicators of the approaching of Winter Solstice. These plants bring luck, good fortune, and they have been used as messages of peace for many years. Ultimately, they all relate to the acceptance of change and the never-ending cycle of life. And, as every pagan celebration revolves around a feast, these sacred plants are often found to be gracing the table with their presence.

Another year is reaching its end, while a new year is waiting patiently around the corner. And, a time for celebration is fast approaching. In order to ensure a prosperous new beginning we need to make sure our transition is done as smoothly and as respectfully as possible. Modern life has always tried to leave behind our dark pagan roots, but the protective walls of the past seem to always be within reach. Thus, we should take solace in the thought that our ancestors might still be illuminating and guiding our path to this very day.

This Is What ‘Soulmate’ Really Means, Because It’s Not Just Cute Instagrams And Constant Heart Eyes

Soulmate is a friend in your darkest hour. They are the friend who stays when everyone else leaves. They are the friend you call when you are in deep shit. They are the friend who makes the world beautiful and kind. They are the friend who tells you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. They are the friend you see in your life forever.

Soulmate is a parent who loves you the way you need to be loved. They are the parent who expresses their love for you with words and physical touch. They are the parent who builds-up your self-esteem, self-worth and self-love. They are the parent who believes in your dreams like you believe in them. They are the parent who is your biggest fan and they are always proud of you. They are the parent who gives you freedom to live your life and make your own choices. They are the parent everyone else is secretly wishes they have.

A soulmate is a guardian angel saving you from yourself.

Soulmate is a family member who gets you. They are the person who doesn’t have a fixed idea of who you are or who you should be. They are the person who wishes you well and doesn’t get jealous of your accomplishments. They are the person who wants to see you happy and living your best life. They are the person who isn’t just related to you by blood, their soul is connected to yours.

Soulmate is an almost love story that went south. It’s the person you lost before you had. They are the person you were closest to, but fate never brought you together. They are the person who woke your demons up and drove you crazy. They are the person who you wanted to keep in your life, but some things are just not meant to be. They are the person you run into at a friend’s gathering and everything feels the same although you haven’t talked for ages. They are the person who made you a better you after all.

Soulmate is a person you recognize yourself in. They are the person you’ve always known existed. They are the person who feels like home. They are the person who resembles many of your good qualities. They are the person you are proud to have by your side. They are the person who understands you more than you understand yourself. They are the person who makes love your reality not just a dream.

The truth is, soulmate is the person who makes you feel physically and emotionally safe in this unsafe world.

They are the person you can be your real self with where people are labeled, categorized, bullied and rejected. They are the person who treats you exactly the way you deserve where being unkind this modern world is cool. They are the person who you do the simplest things with, like staying home cooking a meal or going out and about. They are the person you spend time with because you want to not because you have to. They are the person you talk with about everything and nothing. They are the person who your connection with keeps going and going, it has no end.

An Open Letter To My Future Husband

To my darling future husband,

First off – if you are reading this, you need to know how special you are to me. How important you are to me. How loved you are by me. For a woman that is closed off from romantic feelings and doesn’t like to delve into emotions, this is the most intimate part of me, and I’m glad I can share it with you.

When I think about my future with you, my stomach fills with all the good types of butterflies. I can’t wait to start an amazing family when I graduate from college. Above all, I can’t wait to share my life with the person I love and cherish the most – you. Every day, I hope that you are the smart, kind, strong man that I see in my dreams. I pray that everyone close to me loves you as much as I do. Everyone knows that I’m not the easiest to be around, but the love I have for you will be worth it in the end.

Why am I taking the time to write this letter to you? I think you need to know what exactly you are getting into and how to love someone like myself – an adventurous, impulsive, spontaneous woman.

The concept of love? I think I’m a little in love with it. That being said, I’m never opposed to a good romantic gesture. I’m a simple person – you don’t need to do much to please me. Those dozen red roses (although I usually prefer orange)? I truly only need one – just like I only need one of you. Call me beautiful. Hold my hand when we walk down the street. Fulfill my dream of kissing in the rain, a la Noah and Allie in The Notebook. Those small things will continuously keep a smile on my face.

Laughing and loving are two of my many philosophies in life. I’m initially an introvert, but once you crack my shell, I’m outgoing and silly – meaning you need to be able to keep up with my silliness and love for things out of the ordinary. My dream relationship? Laughter, inside jokes… and a lot of kisses. I love to smile, and don’t get me started on my laugh – I find myself snorting and squeaking when I laugh so hard. What I need from you is to keep me laughing and be my rock when I feel like the world is falling apart.

Despite my happy exterior, I can be sensitive. My heart is huge and I’m there whenever someone needs me. Even when they don’t deserve my love or compassion. They can kick me down over and over, but believe me – I will try to be there and catch the person when he or she falls. Please don’t take advantage of my generosity. When these people push me down, I need you to pick up the pieces. I can’t afford to have you break me down more.

Another thing to take note of: I CAN BE CRAZY. Post this everywhere that you look. Make it a reminder on your phone. Highlight it. Put it on a Post-It note. Whatever helps you remember this, do it. I can get angry and go from zero to one hundred in the split of a second. I can be stubborn. I will be blunt and completely honest with you, even when you don’t want to hear it. One minute I’ll want to make love to you and then the next minute you’ll be sleeping on the couch. I am warning you now: I can be a bit (okay – a lot) over-dramatic. If I wake you up in the middle of the night from crying or sheer worry, just be gentle with me. Play with the hair on the back of my neck. Give me a good massage. Kiss me until I calm down. If none of that works – you’re just going to have to suck it up. Just a heads up, and I apologize in advance. ?

Also: once we are married, you’re stuck with me. Divorce is something that I don’t believe in, because when I married you, I saw my entire future. There will be times when things get tough and we will thing that our marriage is beyond repair. That’s not true. If my parents were able to survive almost divorcing twice, we will be able to work things out and grow from every argument. And let’s be real – every argument that we make up from leads to make up sex… just remember that and we will be great.

Last but never the least: I trust myself to know that I am marrying you because my love for you runs deep. You bring out the best in me, and I can’t wait for all the adventures together. The person you are, the person you bring out in me – I love all of you. Flaws and all. I am marrying you and no matter what happens, my love for you will never stop growing. You are my lobster, as Phoebe said in Friends. You are my soulmate. You are my one.

In the song “God Gave Me You,” Blake Shelton says, “God gave me you for the ups and downs,” and I believe in that one hundred percent. I don’t know where you are or whether you are thinking of me right now, but I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait to make the memories that last a lifetime. I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together. Life is going to be a rollercoaster, but it will be the best ride of our lives.

See you soon, my darling.

With all my love,

Your future wife

The Pain Will End, You Don’t Have To

When people talk about mental illness, they always say people who are struggling need to reach out, but when you are struggling, reaching out can feel impossible. Reaching out can be the last thing you want to do.

There is an expectation that when someone is struggling with self-harm, suicidal thoughts, etc., it is their responsibility to reach out and tell someone.

But what happens when you’ve reached out time and time again, only to be met with criticism? What happens when you’ve reached out time and time again, only to be met with fear? Only to be met with anger or misunderstanding? What happens when reaching out isn’t helpful?

Telling someone about your struggles is difficult. You never know what reaction someone is going to have, and when you’ve had a negative reaction before, reaching out again seems even more difficult than before. It feels like a risk.

When you reach out to someone and don’t receive the help you need, remember these things:

You are important.

You are worth it.

No one is perfect.

Sometimes, people do not understand what you are going through. You will not always be met with perfect responses. People may make you feel broken or like a burden, but you are not. People might make you feel guilty for feeling what you feel, but you are only a human being.

Someone else’s inability to be there for you in a healthy way does not mean you are not worth it or cared for.

Needing to be reminded of your worth is okay. Needing to have someone hold your hand on the hard nights is okay. Needing people is okay.

Having needs is okay.

You are in a fight that feels like it’s never going to end, but it will.

Rain stops.

Snow melts.

Mountains crumble.

Walls can be broken down.

The pain will end, but you will not.The Pain Will End, You Don’t Have To is cataloged in 

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The Creator Backpack From Thought Catalog ?

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