This blog post is dedicated to Angela Cramer. I first met Angela because we are both LANK moms. LANK is the oldest preschool in Reston (over 50 years old!). Angela is authentic and fun loving and I must admit I thought she was pretty straight laced until I saw her break it down on stage at a Bain dance recital a few years back. Angela asked for date night ideas. Just call me “Romeo…”
Date nights can be the best. But if we’re being honest, I think we can say that we’ve all crashed and burned a time or two. We’ve buckled under the pressure of lining up a babysitter, we’ve attempted to get overly creative, and we’ve wound up too tipsy too early in the evening or suddenly giving each other the cold shoulder over an ill-advised car ride conversation on the way out. It happens. It’s fine.
It’s easy to tell yourself, especially if you’re married with kids, that date night needs to be fabulously inventive, free spirited, and, well, perfect. I often find myself self-talking absurd dialogues such as: “Do not discuss Maggie’s shoes, whatever you do. And by no means should you bring up how much toilet paper you all seem to be going through lately. Don’t do it, Meg.” This is what’s going through my head as I try to make myself look like Jennifer Aniston. Because it’s date night. And even though my husband of almost 10 years knows exactly what I look like, I feel the need to up the game, date night-style. That’s right, now where’s that awesome lipstick I bought at CVS 5 years ago?
Silly introductions aside, date nights succeed when you embrace the fun and loosen up with each other. And I like to think Jason and I have improved our date night fun level as the years have passed. We tried to compile a list of our favorites. These are mostly local ideas with a few out of town excursions that prove dressed down spontaneity is sometimes the secret to success. Some of these we’ve never done but seem like fun options:
• Share Banana’s Foster and a cocktail at the bar at Mon Ami Gabi (Reston Town Center)
• Dinner at True Food (Mosaic District) followed by a movie and some artisan popcorn at the Angelika Film Center
• A bar crawl for two in the town center or walkable area of your choosing
• Dinner at Shoes Cup and Cork (Leesburg) followed by a live show at the Tally Ho Theater
• Dinner at Le Diplomate followed by very late-night drinks at the Jefferson Hotel (Neil Patrick Harris sightings!)
• Grab a coffee and a pastry and head to Great Falls Park for a cozy fall morning walk
• Holiday date night at Jacques Brasserie (downstairs more casual dining area at L’Auberge Chez Francois)
• Live music, drinks and dinner at Old Brogue (Great Falls)
• A hotel room and room service (anywhere)
• Lyon Hall (Clarendon) and a live show at Whitlows on Wilson
• Dinner at Matchbox (One Loudoun) and then a movie at the Alamo Theater
• Top Golf (One Loudoun)
• Be a tourist in your own city. Day date at a museum?
• Stone Tower Winery (adult section) Leesburg
• Salamander Resort and Spa (day date) Middleburg
• Oysters and a cocktail at King Street Oyster Bar (Leesburg)
• Day trip to Charlottesville complete with a picnic at Beaver Creek
• C&O Restaurant in Charlottesville followed by getting your nosed pierced (true story)
• Get gussied up and head to POV Rooftop at the W Hotel for the best views of DC
• An early evening of 9 holes of golf and then drinks or dinner. You don’t even have to be good or even enjoy playing golf. Pick a pretty evening and enjoy a golf cart ride! We had a great date night at 1757 (Ashburn).
• Put on a Saturday morning movie for the kids and sit outback with a cup of coffee and just snuggle
• Wolftrap, 3 seasons a year
• Hit the W&OD for a bike ride, walk, or run together
• Gravelly Point Park, along the GW Parkway – play frisbee and watch the airplanes take off
• Los Tios (Del Ray) for margaritas and merriment
• Coco Sala (DC) for a chocolate infused dinner
• Get brunch and hit up open houses and just dream together
• Hit up a Hoyas Basketball game and then get brunch at Clydes (Chinatown)
In conclusion, we like to eat and drink. I had some friends chime in with ideas for cooking classes, drive-in movies, and other local wineries. Some of our most enjoyable date nights have been a casual meal and just running errands together. And if that sounds like a snooze fest, we love live music and sporting events too. Our best date nights are when we get into daydream mode and can both talk about the possibilities that lie ahead – for us, for our girls, for our careers. Sometimes we are tired and it can be hard to relax. I try to remember this is the person I used to make out with on the sofa long before kids and hectic schedules and home improvement projects. We try to return to that place as much as possible and show our kids what it’s like to be married to a friend. Our lives get so busy that it may just be one of the few friendships they watch us, as their parents, nurture. Go forth and date!