Want to do a date night but the sitter is booked? Just bring the kids along! No, really. A family date night can be a great way to do something fun together, whether it’s sporty or touristy. We have six options that cover chain fun zones and can’t-miss iconic area locales plus yummy places to eat where both parents and kiddos can find foods they love. Hit the links, play video games or take in some culture with these ideas.
Mini golf is so been there, done that. Head to this souped-up driving range (where soup is probably one of the few things not on the menu). Choose from nine game types such as hitting balls at any target, at specific targets or at the farthest targets. In between swings, feast on comfort foods such as wings and nachos or something with some oomph, like a 40-ounce burger. For the grown–ups, there’s beer, wine and seasonal cocktails, while the under-21 members of your party have the pick of a kids’ menu that has chicken bites, mini hot dogs and grilled cheese. Topgolf also has a KidZone, which offers half-day clinics for budding golfers ages 6-12, lessons and classes.
Cost: See website
Where: 6625 S. Van Dorn St. (Alexandria, VA); 20356 Commonwealth Center Dr. (Ashburn, VA)
Photo: marada via flickr
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 and virtual reality. Select locations have bowling and billiards. If all that activity works up an appetite, there’s a kids’ menu (with fun kid-friendly drinks like the Blue Raspberry Sno Glowb) and choices for bigger appetites like barbecue ribs. There’s little chance of hearing, “I’m bored,” – or “I’m hungry!” – from anyone here.
Cost: See website
Where: 6655 Springfield Mall Rd. (Springfield, VA); 8661 Colesville Rd. (Silver Spring, MD); 9811 Washington Blvd. (Gaithersburg, MD); 1851 Ritchie Station Ct. (Capitol Heights, MD); 7000 Arundel Mills Cir. (Hanover, MD)
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.
Cost: $12-$15/person/hour for bowling, $5-$10/person/hour for bocce
Where: 1064 Wisconsin Ave., NW, and 11920 Grand Park Ave. (North Bethesda, MD)
Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center
Every day of the year at 6 p.m. this iconic center for the performing arts offers a free show as part of its “Performing Arts for Everyone” initiative. No tickets are required; seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Upcoming performers include Country Current, the Navy’s country-bluegrass ensemble (Jan. 31); Lesole’s Dance Project, featuring African dances (Feb. 5); and the Guangdong Arts Troupe celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year (Feb. 8). Before the show on a Saturday or Sunday, reserve a spot for afternoon tea from 2-3:30 at another icon: the Watergate Hotel. Or grab a bite afterward at the nearby Founding Farmers location (1924 Pennsylvania Ave., NW).
Cost: shows are free, $50/adult for tea, $25/child, free/child 5 and younger
Where: 1064 Wisconsin Ave., NW, and 11920 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda
Half-Price Friday Nights at the National Aquarium
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 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. Go hands-on at the Living Seashore exhibit, which has two touch pools, where visitors can make nice to a stingray and other creatures. 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.
Cost: About $20/adult, $12.50/child ages 3-11, $17/seniors over 65
Where: 501 E. Pratt St. (Baltimore, MD)
There’s so much to do here. Take a ride on the Capital Wheel to get sweeping views of the Potomac River, Alexandria and D.C. from heights topping 180 feet. After that, get grounded again by sinking your toes in the sand by “The Awakening,” a massive sculpture open for climbing. If that gets tummies rumbling, have a bite at any of an international smorgasbord of restaurants offering tacos, bahn mi, barbecue, crab cakes and pizza. Top off at Peeps and Company, which sells candy in addition to the famous sugary marshmallows. During the summer, catch an outdoor movie or concert, too.
Cost: $15/adult, $13.50/senior, $11.25/child for the wheel
Where: 165 Waterfront St. (National Harbor)