We all have the best of intentions when it comes to date nights. We swear we’re going to make them a regular thing. We line up sitters. We warn the kids that it’s “our” special night. And then life takes over. Sitters cancel, kids’ activities get in the way, or we just lose our momentum. But letting that time with your partner go, especially during busy times, can take its toll.
With the holidays just around the corner, things are about to get crazy. And when things get crazy, that’s probably when we need quality time with our significant others the most. Now is the time, before the schedules spiral out of control, to make the commitment to yourself and to your partner to keep your relationship at the forefront. With that in mind, we’ve put together some of our favorite date night ideas for Richmond.
To determine the best of the best when it comes to date spots, we considered the following factors:
- Ease of planning
- Quality of time
We found five sites and/or activities that will ensure that you and your partner have a chance to actually spend time with one another without breaking the bank or needing to plan a year in advance. Each of our “best of” spots offers an opportunity to do something a little different and provides an opportunity for conversation (about something other than the kids!). Best of all, they are all simple, fun and easy-to-plan.
So before you say, “I don’t have the time or the money,” take a look at these five date night ideas in Richmond – and remember that you – and your relationship – are worth it.
5. Experience Luxury with The Lemaire Restaurant at The Jefferson Hotel
Image source: Lemaire Restaurant / Facebook
A dinner date is not the most original idea in the world, but dinner at one of Richmond’s premier restaurants in one of its oldest and most iconic hotels? That’s taking “dinner” up a notch.
The Lemaire offers a little bit of everything – world-class cuisine prepared with locally grown Virginia ingredients; an intimate, romantic setting; and an expansive drinks menu including premium wines and innovative cocktails. Free valet parking and a wine list with more than 200 selections, with many bottles under $30, just make the experience that much better. Dinner entrées are not exactly cheap, but with nothing over $30 and family-style sides for $5 each, it’s a splurge that’s not too far over the top. And because reservations are available quickly and easily online at The Lemaire Restaurant, by phone or at Open Table, planning is a breeze.
The food is considered some of the best in Richmond, but the setting is what wins a spot for Lemaire on our list. The opulent luxury of this historic hotel will give you and your partner plenty to talk about. Stroll through the lobby. See the historic fountain where live alligators were kept until 1948. Have a pre-dinner drink in the elegant bar. Or just enjoy an excuse to dress up and feel like you’re in another world for the night.
WHY IT RANKS WHERE IT DOES: We love the setting and elegance of The Lemaire, but it’s not the least expensive or most unique option on our list. It is, however, a guaranteed romantic night out and one that will be easy to plan.
The Lemaire at the Jefferson Hotel
101 West Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23220
Dinner: 5pm – 10pm daily
Lounge: 4pm – 12pm daily
4. Take a Cooking Class at Sur La Table
Image source: Sur La Table / Facebook
We love this date night idea for so many reasons. First of all, if you’re the one that usually does the cooking, having a partner will be a treat in and of itself. Secondly, it doesn’t get much more interactive than this. You’ll work together under the instruction of professional chefs to create inspired dishes that you can easily re-create at home. And on that note, now is the perfect time to learn a few special tricks and menu boosters that you and your partner can make later (together, of course) to impress holiday guests.
Sur La Table offers a wide variety of classes, featuring ethnic flavors like Thai and Italian, as well as specially themed classes like Date Night: Passport to Paris, featuring frisée salad with bacon and poached egg, creamy tarragon chicken with green beans and caramel pear pot de crème for dessert.
With a location at Stony Point Fashion Park, Sur La Table is easy to access, but classes do fill up, so you will need to plan ahead – which is one of the only things keeping this date night idea from the top of our list. Most classes range anywhere from $49 – $79 per person, but many classes are offered at discounts as low as $33.96 – so again, planning helps. But overall? We think Sur La Table offers an ideal date night that will have benefits for you and your partner long after the night is over.
WHY IT RANKS WHERE IT DOES: Our favorite aspect of this date idea is the interactive nature of it. Working with your partner ensures that you get to reconnect in a special way. While it’s not a cheap night out, it does offer other benefits. And like we mentioned, planning is a bit more complicated than some of our other ideas, but it will be well worth the effort.
Sur La Table
9200 Stony Point Parkway, Suite 158-A
Richmond, VA 23235
Make reservations at (800) 243-0852 or visit the Cooking Class Calendar to reserve online.
3. Explore the City’s History and Cuisine with Walking Food Tours
Image source: Real Richmond: Food Tours & More / Facebook
This date idea wins our third spot for it’s versatility alone. Real Richmond Food Tours and River City Food Tours both offer a unique experience, combining Richmond’s growing and eclectic food scene with historical walks through some of the city’s favorites areas. With tours lasting anywhere from one and half to three hours, you’ll stroll through the streets of Richmond, visiting top dining spots, pubs, bakeries and more, all the while learning about the people and places that have made Richmond what it is today.
While the two tour companies are similar in principle, there are a few slight difference. Real Richmond Food Tours provides nine different tours, including options like Church Hill: From Pies to Spies, VCU: Alternative Eats and Shockoe Slip: Capital of Cuisine. Tours usually run on Saturdays, starting at 2pm and last about two and half hours with around one and half miles of leisurely walking. Prices per person are approximately $56 per person plus processing fees.
River City Food Tours also run most Saturdays at 2pm and include walks from just under a mile to just over a mile. With only three to four tour options available, you won’t get as many different experiences as with Real Richmond Food Tours, but you’ll still have the chance to discover new eateries, see parts of the city in a new light and, best of all, spend some quality time with your special someone. River City Tours also comes in with a slightly lower price tag, offering tours from $29.99 – $49.99 per person.
WHY IT RANKS WHERE IT DOES: What could be better than walking, talking and eating with your best friend? We love how this date idea gets you out and about and exposes you to new things. With two companies and a lot of tour options, you also have some great choices when it comes to planning. We also love the price range – again, not a super-cheap date, but well within reason for the time together.
2. Dinner in Carytown and a Movie at the Byrd Theatre
Image source: The Byrd Theatre and Foundation / Facebook
If casual is your idea of an ideal date night, then Carytown and the Byrd will be just your speed. Plenty of parking lots make Carytown easy-to-access. A wide range of restaurants give you all the dining options you could ask. And the Byrd offers a unique movie-going experience unlike any other in the city. Best of all, the Byrd is open 365 days a year – and while movies are limited (only one movie plays at a time and titles vary by showtimes), the Byrd is known for playing new releases, as well as classics.
Far from today’s fancy, stadium-style cinemas, the Byrd Theatre was built as one of the Nation’s Grand Movie Palaces in 1928 and since, has earned both State and National Landmark status. The palatial building features marbled walls, velvet curtains, elaborate paintings, gold leaf arches and an 18-foot, 2.5 ton Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier in the auditorium. But the real highlight is “The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ,” one of the Byrd’s most iconic features. If you can plan date night for a Saturday night, you can enjoy a live organ show at the start of both of two evening shows.
How much you choose to spend on dinner is up to you, but we can guarantee that you won’t have to dig deep for your movie – all shows at the Byrd are $1.99. History, beauty, ambiance and a bargain – the Byrd really does have it all.
WHY IT RANKS WHERE IT DOES: The best part about this date night idea is the cost. You can choose from pricey to not-so-pricey for dinner, or skip it all together and enjoy a night at the movies for under $5! The setting earns major points for us, as well. Stroll the streets of Carytown before or after the movie and take in the historic elegance of the Byrd – all in one night. You’ll enjoy time together, plenty to see and do, and most of all, a night without the kids.
Explore dining options in Carytown at www.carytownrva.com.
1. Enjoy a Night of Art and More at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Image source: VMFA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts / Facebook
Coming in at number one on our list of the best date spots in Richmond is one that you may not expect. But once you hear what we have to say, we think you’ll agree. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is one of Richmond’s greatest treasures, housing more than 33,000 works of art that cover more than 5,000 years of world history. In fact, their collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation, rivaling collections you might see in New York or San Francisco.
The beauty of VMFA, aside from the art, of course, is that you don’t actually have to be an art enthusiast to appreciate all that the museum offers. With a nearly 14-acre campus, you can stroll the grounds, which include outdoor exhibits, beautiful gardens and spacious patios. Or you can simply lose yourself in the indoor exhibits that include paintings, sculptures, glass work and photography.
With free admission 365 days a year, you won’t have to make an investment for this date, but you will enjoy a wealth of beauty that will engage you and your partner for hours. If you want to make dinner part of your night out, the museum offers fine dining at the Amuse Restaurant, or lighter fare at the Best Café. And last but not least, with special events throughout the year, you can customize your visit any time.
WHY IT RANKS WHERE IT DOES: There’s really nothing that we don’t love about this date – it’s free (with admission prices only for special exhibits), there are dining options, it’s open 7 days a week, there’s no shortage of things to start conversation, and you can actually feel like proper grown-up – no kids, just you and your partner strolling through some of the world’s finest art collections.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
200 N. Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
Daily 10am – 5pm
Thursday and Friday until 9pm
Thursday Dominion Jazz Café: 6pm – 9pm
Features live jazz at the Best Café; free of charge
Friday Art and Wine: every Friday from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Includes Happy Hour specials on drinks at the Best Café and free gallery tours
See the events calendar for other special event times
(entrance at Sheppard St and Stuart Ave)
“Date night” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For you, it might simply be a walk around the block without kids hanging on your leg. But if you’re looking to spice things up a little and truly reconnect with your spouse or partner, then we encourage you to try one of these great date spots. We would love to hear about your experience – or let us know if you have a favorite romantic go-to in Richmond that you would like to share!