Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Where to Go on a Third Date in D.C.

We write about first dates a lot in this blog. And it makes sense, I suppose: If you've spent any length of time being single in D.C., you'll go on more first dates than there are politicians in this town. And, despite the pressure of forcing small talk, remembering not to get too drunk and generally making a good first impression, first dates are relatively easy to plan for -- just pick a centrally located, Metro-accessible location and hit up happy hour.

But what happens when that goes completely according to plan? That first date has you smooth sailing on the Love Boat, with your happy hour companion as First Mate. How do you make sure you don't lose the wind in your sails?

That's where a perfect third date is key. A good third date simultaneously lowers the pressure while raising the stakes. It throws a couple of curve balls to see if your potential match can roll with the punches and helps drop all pretenses that were held up on Dates 1 and 2. And lucky for you, I've got some suggestions for where to go for an excellent third date:


I love hiking for third dates. It gets you doing something physical together, and it forces you to get a little dirty and wear less makeup. And the Billy Goat Trail at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is perfect for that -- there are three sections (A, B and C) offering three different levels of difficulty, so you can pick an appropriate compromise for you and your date. Additionally, you can do just one section or a combination thereof, making the day as long or as short as you like.

Me climbing up the Billy Goat Trail section C

SNOW TUBING, Ski Liberty, Carroll Valley, Pa. (Winter)

Snow tubing is high octane sledding, guaranteed to make you giggle and feel like a kid again. This is another activity where you let your hair down and skip the makeup, making it perfect for you to appear to each other exactly as you are. Moreover, it's about an hour and a half drive to get to Ski Liberty from the District, and if you've got someone willing to consent to that, you've got someone who clearly knows how to commit.

Ski Liberty's tubing runs

JAZZ IN THE GARDEN, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden (Summer)

The summertime jazz program is awesome because it provides you a plethora of things to discuss -- the music, the sculptures, the other people, etc. For me, it's also a date barometer: Does it come out that you both think jazz is stupid and the people there are pretentious? GREAT -- it's a hilarious story for later and you can bail in favor of half smokes at Ben's Chili Bowl. Loving every saxophone honk you hear? That's great, too. And if one of you is feeling it and the other isn't, well, that tells you about all you need to know.

Again, since Washington summers tend to be so brutally hot, it's another occasion where you can let down your hair (since it's probably going frizzy anyway).

THE CAPITAL FRINGE FESTIVAL (or other avant-garde theater)

Weird theater pieces give you the same opportunities as jazz in the sculpture garden, save in a temperature-controlled setting. Are you both into it? Find a nearby bar afterward and discuss. The official Capital Fringe Festival takes place over the summer, but the organization has shows and other events yearlong, and they're generally not terribly expensive, which is another advantage to this as opposed to other D.C. theater venues.

BARS WITH GAMES, all over D.C.

What better way to see how your date handles pressure than to challenge him/her to a duel? And D.C. is a manchild's playground, so there are plenty of place to accomplish this. Here are a few of my favorites:

Atlas Arcade, 1236 H St. NE

Arcade games from the '80s and '90s.

H Street Country Club, 1335 H St. NE

Mini golf course upstairs; pool tables, skeeball and XBox Kinect downstairs.

RocketBar, 714 7th St. NW

Pool tables, dart boards, shuffleboard, Big Buck Hunter and a variety of board games for rental.

Iron Horse Taproom, 507 7th St. NW

Downstairs features skeeball, pinball and shuffleboard.

The Board Room, 1737 Connecticut Ave. NW

A whole BOATLOAD of board games, including "extra special vintage games" that you have to specifically request from the bar.

Now, plan those dates and see if you two have the stuff to make it to Date 4.


  1. Great post, love the game night idea. I'm thinking about checking out the Happy Hour at Penn Social tomorrow, which apparently has life-sized Connect 4, as well as Skee Ball and other games. I'm going with my boyfriend so it's a little past a third date, but I will report back.

  2. Penn Social's board games aren't as varied as Board Room's but they're free to play with and the space is larger. I'd recommend both spots, though it can be hard to find a place to sit at Board Room sometimes, especially with a large group.

    I have never seen the Kinect at Country Club. I think this is a myth.

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