Jack Frost has certainly started nipping at our noses, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors all winter long. We know, we know. As the temperatures drop it becomes increasingly more difficult to get off of the couch and brave the outside world—let alone navigate the potential awkwardness of a first date. But, no matter the weather, there are plenty of local spots to strike up a good conversation, grab a cocktail, or dance the night away—whether you’re platonically hanging out with a friend, trying something new, or planning a romantic date with your bae.
Here, we round up fun ideas (spoiler alert: speakeasies are having a moment) that will get you out and about during the colder months.
Give each other The Royal Blue treatment: Try this newly opened gem in Station North with your boo or your crew. They’ve got a disco lounge, full-service bar, dance floor with a second bar (DJs spin on weekends,) and a secret diner booth with a sparkly blue finish in the back. If you need a conversation starter, there are tons of paintings, signs, and fun kitschy pieces perfect for a quick game of I-Spy. The inclusive menu offers a stellar cheesesteak in carnivore and vegan form, as well as a vegan barbecue and veggie Buffalo chicken sandwich. There are also mocktails, plus beer, wine, and fancy drinks like Frizzy Frosé or an Oaxacan Coloda if you want to take your tastebuds on a trip to a warmer climate. 1733 Maryland Ave.
Grab an afternoon bite at Red Emma’s: Visit Red Emma’s—the worker cooperative bookstore-cafe and community events space that recently moved to Waverly—for lunch on a weekday. Take an extended midday break (we won’t say a word) and feed each other small bites of the spot’s famed falafel bowls, grilled “cheez,” or “Bunny Dog”—which, yes, is made from a carrot. 3128 Greenmount Avenue Baltimore, MD
Include the kids at a Schola cooking class in Charles Village: If you have kids, get them off of their tablets for a few hours with a charming set of cooking classes at Schola in Mt. Vernon. Schola’s parent-and-child series is designed to intrigue the beginner, as well as the veteran in the kitchen. The classes are hands-on experiences that usually last between two and three hours. Throw on an apron, get your hands dirty, and get to know each other while allowing the kiddos to burn energy while they are out of school on winter break. 916 N. Charles St.
Enjoy vino and vinyl at Bar 1801: This natural wine bar and record shop in Upper Fells Point draws you in with its uniquely shaped windows and fun, blue-green exterior paint job. But it keeps you with its pan-seared salmon burger and natural wine. Aside from the food and beverage offerings, it’s an obvious choice for a date night if you enjoy thumbing through good records or hearing quality live music. 1801 E Lombard St.
Indulge in tequila and Tex-Mex at Clandestino: Searching for a low-key, tranquil venue for a date night this winter? Clandestino, the now not-so-secret speakeasy inside of Zen West in Belvedere Square, could be the perfect spot. Its signature drink, “The Matador,” made with tequila, jalapeño-infused pineapple juice, and lime, has a sweet heat to warm you and your date up on even the chilliest of evenings. Or, if you’re a creature of habit, they’ve got the classic cocktails, too. Tell Charlie we sent ya. 5916 York Rd.
Go to Church (no, not that kind): Old Goucher is definitely a neighborhood to keep your eye on for dates, especially with spots like Church—a new bar on Maryland Avenue. You’ll always get a warm hello and an excellent beverage at this community-focused cocktail spot, where a bit of sanctuary awaits guests Wednesday through Sunday. After hanging for a few hours (with friends or your significant other) you’ll be filled with the spirit of good fellowship, as well as drinks like the “St. Vincent,” which is concocted with brandy, concord grapes, salted soda, and mint foam. 2219 Maryland Ave.
Get a room, you two, at Hotel Ulysses: Book a stay at the new Hotel Ulysses, where some of the rooms and suites feature a clawfoot tub just inches away from the luxurious beds. (Talk about an enchanted escape.) The 100-year-old Mt. Vernon building on Read Street has been converted into a hotel with 116 rooms, plus two food and drink concepts. The first, Ash Bar, is inspired by steam train cars and ocean liners from the 1920s and 1930s, while the second, Bloom’s, offers another taste of the old world with sexy speakeasy vibes. We highly recommend the Midori Sour or the Mezcal Margarita. 2 E Read St, Baltimore, MD
Tap into the Black Genius Art Show: This Black-owned storefront with rotating showcases featuring local artists is the perfect spot for a quick stroll together. At his gallery and shop in the Bromo Arts District, owner Brian Robinson encourages lovers to browse the art for purchase, wear the art with merch by local designers, or become the art with interactive experiences and events. 106 N Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD
Gather Round’ the Campfire: Baltimore’s Camp Entertainment team isn’t your ordinary group of arts organizers. Their themed brunches and dance parties—including the crowd-favorite Faded Fridays—feature resident DJs Daveology and Tendo. If you and your date are looking to turn up on your special night, follow @roundthe.campfire on Instagram to track the pop-up, speakeasy-style DIY events that reveal the venue and start times on the day of. Just keep your weekend calendar clear and your dancing shoes ready.
Harbor East Cinemas: This newly renovated theater in Harbor East is screening new releases, as well as independent, foreign, and avant-garde flicks perfect for cozy date nights. Book a reservation at any of the neighborhood’s surrounding restaurants to make a night of it. 645 S President St.
The Senator Theater: This historic art-deco institution on York Road in Govans is the oldest operating theater in central Maryland. What’s more? They even use their marquee for proposals. Hint, hint. 5904 York Rd.
The Charles Theater: Right in the heart of Station North Arts District, this Beaux-Arts building was originally designed as a streetcar barn in 1892 by Jackson C. Gott. You can’t go wrong pairing your tickets with a pre-show reservation at the neighboring Alma Cocina Latina, Foraged, or Tapas Teatro. 1711 N Charles St.