Great spots to take a date

You got your holiday gift a little early this year in the form of a significant other. You’ve been dating for a few weeks, but now that the Christmas bells are ringing throughout D.C., you’re wondering what to do for your next date.

Here are three great activities that assure a fun-filled, holiday-themed night out.

Gaylord National Resort’s ICE! exhibit

Your hearts will grow three sizes as you enter an insulated dome kept at a chilly nine degrees. Under a giant icy archway with swirling letters reads “ICE!” A sign to your right reads “North of Whoville.”

Follow the directions of the bundled-up ICE! employee to enter Whoville — you’ll enter a life-sized “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” diorama made by 40 artists from Harbin, China.

You’ll laugh with your loved one as you shiver through scenes depicting the Grinch sliding down Mount Crumpit on his sleigh with his dog Max, the Whos playing with their Christmas toys and the Grinch carving the roast beast. You can even slide down Mount Crumpit on ice slides, with a short and a tall version, for the braver ones among us.

Usually most museums don’t allow patrons to touch their exhibits, but Gaylord ICE is different — feel free to touch the icy scenes, though you will instantly want to put your warm mittens back on your bitterly cold fingers.

Be sure to bring your camera and take photos of each other in the bright blue oversized parkas the Gaylord issues out to keep you warm as you explore the exhibit. Before you leave Whoville, stop and gaze at the Nativity ice sculpture reminding you of the “true meaning of Christmas.”

You’ll exit into a Grinch-filled gift shop where you can buy each other plush toys or ornaments to commemorate your trip.

You can also try ice-skating in the rink outside the ICE exhibit, or get your picture taken with the green cartoon character himself. He’s really a big softie.

Dinner at The Melting Pot

For a romantic four-course meal shared over fondue plates, try The Melting Pot in Dupont Circle. 

“Our low lighting, great atmosphere and high-backed booths make everything private and allow you to really get to know who you’re with,” said Jessica Flax, assistant general manager of the D.C. location.

With holiday decorations up in full force, The Melting Pot is a great restaurant to visit to get into the spirit of the season.

Both of you will laugh over cheesy fondue, melting it down yourselves tableside and dipping apples, bread and vegetables into the gooey mixture.

After your cheese course, The Melting Pot serves a salad course, and then dinner comes out uncooked. “Servers explain how long the chicken, steak, duck, shrimp or lobster takes to cook and our guests do all the cooking themselves,” Flax added.

With more than 150 bottles of wine to choose from and the fondue process itself, you both will instantly feel at ease with each other.

End your meal with a chocolate course, choosing from milk, dark or white chocolate served with strawberries, pound cake, bananas and marshmallows. 

The last course alone should be enough to make you and your date look for the mistletoe that The Melting Pot puts up every year.

Drinks at the Tabard Inn

In one of the District’s oldest hotels lies one of the coziest fireplaces you’ll lay eyes upon. Throughout the fall and winter, the Tabard Inn has a lounge where couples can enjoy each other’s company sipping on the inn’s signature fall cocktails.

“With the sofas and fire, super low lighting and lots of candles, it’s a really cozy, friendly and homey atmosphere,” said Mugsy May, assistant restaurant manager for the Tabard Inn.

Holiday decorations make an appearance at the historic hotel, with garland adorning the multiple fireplaces, wreaths and a tree in the hotel lobby. “If we put the tree in the lounge it’d take up precious seating space,” May said of the lounge, which seats about 35 to 40 and is frequently full.

Many couples stop at the Tabard Inn after dinner or a show. Don’t be shy about coming for an early drink with your significant other, either — May said many show up right away when cocktails begin at 4 p.m.

If the lounge area with the fireplace is full, May recommends sitting upstairs or the actual bar itself. “You can never go wrong with our bar,” she said. “Our spiced rum or Tabard cocktail are great drinks to have if you want to warm up,” she said.