Maybe Valentine’s Day to you means a special date with a special someone. Maybe it’s just a typical, busy Monday.
Or maybe it’s worse than the typical Monday, due to the constant reminder of your own seemingly eternal singleness, as happy couples holding hands prance in front of you and fill your feed with Valentine’s Day posts.
Maybe you picked up a Flat Hat trying to distract yourself from your failing love life, and upon reading this article about date spots, you find yourself annoyed anew. If so, my apologies.
But have no fear — the following date spots are perfect for a night on the town with either a romantic partner or a friend. And let’s be honest, because the lines between romance and friendship quite often are blurrier than we’d prefer, these date spots are also perfect for that friend you secretly have a crush on, who you think likes you back, but you’re not totally sure, so you both keep going out just as friends until one of you is inevitably brave, fed up, or foolhardy enough to hint about a friendzone crossover.
But I digress — the point is that wherever you fall on the spectrum, from “taken,” to “it’s complicated,” to “single,” this article is for you.
First, you could take an evening stroll down Duke of Gloucester Street all the way down to the Capitol Building, particularly on the weekend when the streets are lit up with torches — the torchlit street not only has romantic potential, but it’s also a nice change of scenery without having to go too far or bump into every single person you know. The beautiful, historic buildings and horse-drawn carriages make it all the more quaint, but make sure not to step in what the horses leave behind — nothing is a faster mood killer.
Walking along the street on a DoG Street date — especially at night when it’s harder to see — certainly has its risks, but if you stick to the sidewalks, you’ll avoid all danger. Be sure to check the weather beforehand and dress appropriately, although accidentally forgetting to dress warmly enough (something I have been guilty of) can test a friend or date’s chivalry — willingness to give up or take turns with their sweater or coat means they care about you, one way or another. The downside, of course, is you will probably feel guilty, and in any case, someone will be cold.
But before you complain too much about the cold, consider that it provides some advantages — for the romantics. cold lends itself to holding hands or walking arm in arm, the DoG Street equivalent of the “Do you know how we keep warm in Russia?” Austin Powers line. For friends with sexual tension, the cold invites an excuse to touch hands — I recently witnessed a student employ this trick through the classic “Ugh, my hands are freezing! Do you wanna feel how cold I am?” line.
For a daytime date, consider a trip to the Governor’s Palace Garden. You’ll need a Colonial Williamsburg pass (which all William & Mary students can get for free), so don’t forget to bring it with you. After all, there’s nothing romantic about getting turned away from the gate because you forgot your pass.
Once you reach the garden, you’ll find a lovely tunnel of trees that you can walk through, perfect for the nature lover, the Instagrammer, and the romantic. Behind the trees is the maze. While it’s not large or complicated enough to get lost in it, the maze is still rather enjoyable. The entire garden is absolutely beautiful, and the hidden gem is the lake (with turtles) and the mini Crim Dell-style bridge behind the flower gardens.
For a date night dinner, consider DoG Street Pub, Retro’s, The Hound’s Tale, King’s Arms Tavern, or Mellow Mushroom — or even a combination of two if you want dinner and dessert.
I personally love doing dinner at DoG Street Pub (the Shepherd’s pie is great) before heading over to The Hound’s Tale for an ice cream and brownie sundae or bread pudding to share. Gotta keep the dog theme running, right?
And for those with a sweet tooth looking for a sugar high, an afternoon or evening Retro’s milkshake date is never a bad idea.
King’s Arms Tavern is definitely on the fancier and more expensive side, but if it’s a special occasion with a special someone, and you’ve had the forethought to plan ahead and make a reservation (sometimes more than a month in advance), the colonial tavern experience is worth it.
Precarious is a fun option; it’s just loud enough that you don’t have to worry about being overheard but not too loud that you can’t hear. It’s usually pretty quick too if you’re in a rush. Order some tacos and chips and get creative with the hot sauces. Although be warned — if you get the chips, the green stuff that looks like guacamole is not, in fact, guacamole. If you’ve ever eaten a chocolate chip cookie only to discover it’s not chocolate chip but raisin, it’s a similarly traumatizing experience.
DoG Street Pub, Retro’s, The Hound’s Tale, Mellow Mushroom, and Precarious usually don’t have a long wait on weekdays, but when they’re crowded on the weekends, you can just hit up the next closest Merchants Square restaurant until you find someplace. It can even be an adventure. Will we ever find a restaurant that doesn’t have a 45-minute wait? Will we get run over crossing Confusion Corner? Who knows!
If you want to stay on campus, consider checking out the trails. Not only is there great hand-holding potential if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s good exercise and a great way to spend an afternoon with a romantic partner or friends. However, be wary of dead squirrels on the path … I speak from experience. Also, be sure to head out before it starts getting dark unless you want to have to worry about getting lost in the woods.
It’s a chaotic world out there. Even the best-planned date is bound to go awry, and that’s part of what makes it fun.
At the end of the day, remember that it’s the person that matters, not the date spot — if you’re with that special someone, platonic or otherwise, it doesn’t really matter if you’re at King’s Arms Tavern, Chick-fil-A, or even, Ewell Circle Parking Lot. If you’re with someone you care about who also cares about you and makes you laugh, you’ll have a great time (unless you get run over on Confusion Corner, lost in the woods, or ruin your shoes on DoG Street).
Be safe and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!