Let’s be blunt: Dating in Washington DC is a challenge these days. And despite the vast choice of singles throughout the Capital of the USA, it doesn't seem to get any easier. The problem hinges on the growing digitization of our culture and the ramifications of a post-pandemic world, shaking up how people interact and where singles actually hang out (hint hint, it’s not what you think).
Luckily, there’s some good news. With a plan and some effort on your part, finding a date in Washington DC will be a whole lot easier. The thing is that you might need to leave the comforts of your neighborhood and, explore the Washington DC dating scene. Heading out to an unfamiliar cafe or feeling comfortable in a new bar doesn't exactly sound like the start of a great romance, but you’ll be surprised at what’s possible!
In this in-depth guide, we'll provide some of the most proven suggestions on where to meet Washington DC singles, great Washington DC date ideas to help you find your bearings, and some of our favorite date spots around Washington DC that have been the setting of some pretty successful dates.
Table of Contents
What Dating in Washington DC Is Like Right Now
Here’s what the Washington DC dating scene is actually like:
Many young singles choose Washington DC for its proximity to its unique urban environment, the city’s cosmopolitan feel, and the closeness to governmental organizations. The city is also home to plenty of great employers, like Amtrak, Lockheed Martin, Capital One, and more, new people are constantly moving to Washington DC to get in on the action.
There is also quite a bit of diversity in the type of partners you can find here, especially when compared to similarly-sized cities in the USA. So if you’re hunting for a specific type (hey, we all got one…), finding exactly what you are looking for is that much more attainable.
If you look at the total number of singles out there right now in the Washington DC dating scene, you might be surprised to realize just how much opportunity is out there. Let’s look at the stats:
- Total population: 702,756
- Percentage single: 36.20%
- Total singles: 254,398
- Single men: 120,396
- Single women: 134,001
With 36% of the total population looking for a partner, there are a LOT of singles out there. You only need to be at the right place at the right time to find the right one to get the ball rolling.
The truth of the matter is that having tons of dating options doesn't mean that dating in Washington DC is going to be easy. Instead, having a realistic outlook is more encouraging, but it certainly helps to be looking in the right places.
Where to Meet Someone to Date in Washington DC
We believe in being as honest as possible to our readers - and honestly, it's pretty impossible to make a list of the best places to find someone to date in Washington DC! There’s simply so much to choose from on any given day.
Plus, depending on the type of person you're looking for (ie. artsy, academic, outdoorsy, etc.), your search will take you to different neighborhoods in Washington DC and venues that cater toward those specific types.
Instead, we’ll share some of the best places that make it much simpler to meet Washington DC singles that are looking for something more than a one-night hookup (we have a comprehensive list of suggestions on where to find Washington DC hookups if you’re into that sort of thing). These are places that tend to have the following criteria in common when searching for serious relationships:
- Plenty of available singles
- An atmosphere geared towards fun and excitement without being too chaotic
- Easy to mingle with new people
- Quiet enough to actually have a conversation
- Alcohol is certainly a plus
- Relatively cheap and inexpensive
In my honest opinion, those six (6) characteristics give you the best odds when trying to meet up with other Washington DC singles. Now, before we get into some specific recommendations, let's quickly turn our attention to apps:
Why you should be using at least one app
If you’re not on any dating apps right now, then you’re missing out on who’s out there in today’s DC dating scene. With social distancing guidelines still in effect for many people (or at least those taking precautions), more DC singles are relying on apps to screen out those who don’t meet their standards.
So, is using a dating app in Washington DC the only way to go? Of course not, but it can be a struggle if you’re a busy person and value your free time.
If you've struggled in the past with choosing which app works for what you’re after, check out our rankings of the best dating apps in Washington DC to give you a better sense of what apps best fit what you’re looking for. From young professionals, religious types, and those looking for a quick hookup, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you're pressed for time and don’t want to read the full article, these apps are the best options:
- eHarmony is the best choice for long-term relationships in Washington DC and features the best track record of all dating apps - try eHarmony today for a free trial. If you're looking for a real relationship it doesn't get any easier.
- AFF will be your best choice when it comes to finding casual fun in Washington DC and the surrounding metropolitan areas - comes with a free trial, too! After trying out over 100 different options it's where we've seen regular guys get the best casual results.
After trying out dozens of popular dating apps, we've got a good idea of what is actually working out for singles in the “real” world. Be sure to check out our rankings above for more info. Now, let's talk about our favorite spots around Denver.
The best singles bars in Washington DC
Using the previously-mentioned criteria, we've made a list of the best singles bars in Washington DC. These bars offer the best chances for singles to meet up, have a refreshing drink (or three), and enjoy a chill ambiance.
This isn't a complete list of all top-rated singles bars in Washington DC, but it is a list of the ones that are likely to bring you closer to success:
- Bukom Cafe in Adams Morgan - 2442 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
- Red Derby in Crestwood - 3718 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
- The Crown & Crow in Logan’s Circle - 1317 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
- Jake’s Tavern in Shaw - 1606 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
- The Fox and Hounds Lounge in Dupont Circle - 1533 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036
- Visit Mari Vanna if you want to meet a Washington DC cougar - 1141 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
It’s our sincere goal to give you plenty of options from different neighborhoods throughout Washington DC’s metro area, but there are plenty of DC singles bars that are also the choice depending on the time of day (ie. happy hour), during live events, or just the place where most people hang out. If you have any suggestions about the best singles bars in DC, drop a comment below.
A few other great places to find a date in Washington DC
It should be said that not everyone loves getting drunk at the local watering hole (hangovers are a thing, y’all). Bars can be a great place to meet other Denver singles, but there are other options that don’t rely on boozing as much. While Denver has a reputation for scrumptious mimosa brunches and drinking until closing time, you can still get great results outside of a traditional bar setting - even during the humid summers and the chillier winter months.
Take a look at a few more options that have helped hopeful singles in Denver. It’s best to keep an open mind and don't take things too seriously, and just focus on having a good time. You just might find someone that you might not run into elsewhere in Denver:
- Bluestone Lane West End Cafe in West End - 1100 23rd St NW, Washington, DC 20037
- Crumbs & Whiskers | Kitten & Cat Cafe in Georgetown - 3109 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Patisserie Poupon in Georgetown - 1645 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Tryst in Adams Morgan - 2459 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
- Try hanging around Whole Foods, FRESHFARM, or Trader Joe’s - Trust us, attractive people shop upscale and organic!
- Meetup groups - There are tons of groups in Washington DC for singles looking to share their interests, including music groups, technology enthusiasts, sports, and plenty of singles mixers (especially for professionals)
- Again, apps and sites are a good option for just about anyone (check out the best dating sites in Washington DC here)
What about speed dating in Washington DC
Wanna try a radical approach to dating in DC? Give speed dating a shot!
Most speed dating events follow the same pattern. First, you show up and go on a bunch of "mini-dates" where you talk to another single participant for about 5 minutes. Once five minutes are up, the men usually get up and move to the next table where a woman is seated. The idea is that first impressions tend to be a good indicator of whether you have any chemistry. As the night progresses, you make a list of the people you want to see again. If both people want to see each other again, the speed dating organizer gives you the other match’s contact info.
Pretty simple, no? If this sounds like a fun and efficient way to meet new singles, the following are the best Washington DC speed dating groups worth checking out:
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let's jump into how to have a great date in Washington DC!
Our Best Date Ideas in Washington DC - and Why They’re Great
Once you've met someone that you really like, it’s time to plan a date to know whether the two of you are a good match or not. Many people default to the “classic dinner and a movie” and that's a big mistake for modern dating in Washington DC! Here’s why:
- A dinner date between two strangers often turns into a pseudo-interview (unless you’re REALLY skilled at conversation).
- A movie doesn’t involve any conversation, making it pretty bad if you’re stuck next to someone you don’t actually like that much.
Instead, we have a few rules that all of our date ideas in Washington DC generally follow. You can use these to come up with your own ideas - or at least avoid going on boring dates. A great date idea in Washington DC tends to be one that:
- Doesn’t require traveling far
- Focuses on fun and new experiences
- Things are happening around you that you can talk about
- Doesn't involve you sitting face-to-face for a long time
- Requires at least some physical activity or moving
- Isn't too expensive or requires expensive equipment to participate
- Doesn't last for hours (you can bail if you’re not feeling it)
- Allows both of you to feel comfortable
- Has a little friendly competition
It helps to know what your date prefers to do before the date. For example, if your date likes a certain style of painting, you can have a shared fun experience at an art exhibit. Or, if you know that your date enjoys physical activity, take her axe throwing, that will surely make for a memorable date.
To get you started, here are a few dating ideas in Washington DC for you to explore:
- Ice skating
- Take a beginner’s dance class together
- Hit some targets at an archery range
- Practice your swing at a driving range
- Hit up a wildlife refuge
- Check out a street fair (Washington DC has tons)
- Going to a farmer’s market
- Axe throwing
- Escape rooms
- Take a walk with your dog somewhere fun (if you have one)
- Painting class (preferably with some adult beverages)
- Botanical garden
This list should give you a decent idea of where to start in Washington DC. Each of the aforementioned activities is active, fun, and doesn't require any athletic skill to enjoy, so there’s little to no pressure to be good at any of them. Set your expectations ahead of time that the goal is just to have a fun time together. Who doesn’t love a good time!?
The first date idea that we always recommend
The ideas above can be great first dates but we have a better idea. When people ask our team what the best first date in Washington DC is we always tell them the same thing, meet up at a laid-back lounge or coffee shop and get to know each other a bit.
A full-blown date is a lot of pressure and isn't cheap. It takes time to plan and might involve you taking a bus around town to get there. Before you make that kind of investment you want to know that you and your interest have at least some level of compatibility. The last thing you want is to get stuck for hours on a date that you knew 10 minutes in wasn't going anywhere.
Instead, tell them that you're really busy but would love to meet up for a drink to get to know each other a bit. If things go well you can always extend the date to one of the activities above. If it doesn't, you haven't lost much. This also takes a lot of pressure off both of you so you can both relax and be yourselves.
Best Date Bars in Washington DC (Especially for Fun First Dates)
Washington DC is renowned for its excellent nightlife and plenty of bars to have fun. With a generally neutral atmosphere, bars can serve as the backdrop to some fun dates in Washington DC and help you find exciting new singles you may not find anywhere else.
That being said, finding a great date bar in the Washington DC metro area is pretty simple when you consider the many choices you have. Whether you’re looking for a dive bar that’s been around for decades, an adult-friendly arcade bar, or an elegant cocktail lounge where you might spot some local celebrity, Washington DC has no shortage of great places for your next date.
To help you find these bars, we’ll feature a mix of bars that have great drink specials, feature a vibrant crowd, and won’t make you go bankrupt. After all, no one wants to spend hard-earned cash on drinks when you’re not even sure if you like your date yet!
Here are a handful of the best date bars around Washington DC:
- Players Club in Logan Circle - 1400 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
- Gezuza Lounge in Dupont Circle - 1629 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
- Quadrant Bar and Lounge in West End - 1150 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20037
- L’Annexe in Georgetown - 2917 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Truxton Inn in Truxton Circle - 251 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
- Lift Lounge in Mt Vernon Square - 1318 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
- Perch SW Rooftop Lounge in Buzzard Point - 69 Q St SW, Washington, DC 20024
- 12 Stories in Southwest Waterfront - 75 District Square SW 12th floor, Washington, DC 20024
Remember that Washington DC has plenty of hidden gems in each neighborhood that only the locals know about. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to barhop if the vibe isn’t right (call a Lyft or an Uber!) or be ready to change bars to keep the energy of the date going.
Best Date Night Restaurants in Washington DC that Should Be Your First Choice
Here’s a little-known secret for dating in Washington DC: Skip the traditional dinner date.
Why? Dinner dates tend to be pretty dull and formulaic, even among all of Washington DC’s great places to eat. You’ll also have a tough time trying to make a connection with someone who is still a relative stranger over drinks and dessert.
Plus, being locked in a face-to-face conversation for around two hours in a typically loud setting means that there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong! And if you experience bad service, it can really cast a shadow on the rest of the date. Even if you're an expert conversationalist, dinner dates can get a bit stale (pun intended).
However, if you’ve become acquainted with your date or just want a date night restaurant in Washington DC to eat at before doing something more fun, we've got some solid choices for you that won't cost you an arm and a leg:
- Clyde's of Georgetown in Georgetown - 3236 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Kafe Leopold in Georgetown - 3315 Cady's Alley NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Alero Restaurant in Dupont Circle - 1724 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
- The Girl from Ipanema in Adams Morgan - 1858 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009
- Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan - 2471 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
- Busboys and Poets in Cardoza - 2471 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
- Royal Thai Cuisine & Bar in Chinatown - 507 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001
- Das Ethiopian Cuisine in Georgetown - 1201 28th St NW, Washington, DC 20007
More Date Spots in Washington DC We Love
The quality of your date comes down to more than just eating and drinking. With all that Washington DC has to offer, there’s no shortage of activities to create memories and have fun with your date. Plenty of singles have great dates at the following date spots in Washingon DC and we're confident you can do the same:
- Go ice skating at Herbert Wells Ice Rink
- Watch the Capitols play at the Capitol One Arena
- The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery offer great exhibits
- Check out some fascinating wildlife at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park
- Try a group dance lesson together at DanceSport Dupont Circle
- Shoot some targets together at Adelphi Manor Archery Range
- Stroll through vendor booths at the many art fairs throughout Washington DC
- Shop for fresh groceries and taste homemade food at Washington DC’s numerous Farmers Markets
- Solve a puzzle at Escape the Room DC (Penn Quarter)
- Catch live music at the 9:30 Club
It’s important to note that the time of year will make a difference with some of these Washington DC recommendations (being outside for hours in the chilly winter nights and balmy summer months doesn't always make for a great date setting), so you've been warned!