Austin may be well known as a food destination where you can eat tons of finger-licking BBQ, but believe it or not, the capital of Texas offers plenty for romantics to enjoy, too. From upscale movie theaters to paddle boats shaped like giant swans, here are the best things to do in Austin for couples, honeymooners, and more.
The historic Paramount Theater is one of the few places in Austin where people feel obligated to dress well—the gloriously ornate decor just seems to demand it. The theater hosts everything from ballet to stand-up comedy and whatever the event, it’s an ideal site for a special date. Opt for a balcony seat to make the night extra special.
Have a Picnic on Mount Bonnell
One of the highest points in Austin, Mount Bonnell offers a stunning view of the entire city. Although you may not be entirely alone, the viewing area is large enough for the two of you to find a cozy little space together. You'll enjoy a gorgeous view of Lake Austin, the Pennybacker Bridge, and downtown Austin.
To add an extra spark, arrive just before sunset and enjoy the show over a romantic dinner and a bottle of wine (but don't bring glass). If you're not a great picnic maker, the Central Market on North Lamar offers picnic baskets to go. Plus, it's a great place to buy a bottle of wine.
Capital Cruises rents swan-shaped pedal boats at Lady Bird Lake by the hour. What could say “I love you” better than agreeing to be seen inside a massive waterfowl?
Mayfield Park in northwest Austin is home to a whole flock of peacocks strutting their stuff year-round. Walk through the lush grounds or enjoy a picnic amid all this courtship activity, and something’s bound to happen. The park is also home to 30 different gardens ideal for casually strolling with your loved one.
Go for a Swim and a Beer at Deep Eddy
Go for a relaxing swim at the historic, spring-fed Deep Eddy Pool, and then take a brief walk up the hill to Deep Eddy Cabaret. The tiny bar has one of the best jukeboxes in town and the friendliest regulars.
The Violet Crown Cinema approaches movie-going as a special event. The floors aren’t sticky, the seats are comfortable, and it’s never crowded. The theater features thought-provoking independent films that invite conversation and coffee afterward.
The glamorous old hotel oozes romance, from its marble staircases to its crystal chandeliers. It’s also home to an upscale restaurant and one of the best bars in Austin.
At the second-floor lounge, you can cozy up on one of the leather love seats and listen to the piano player. Or if you want to jump in on the fun, you can sit at one of the seats around the piano and participate in a sing-along. Other downtown fun spots are a short walk away on 6th Street.
Formerly known as Green Pastures, Mattie’s is the restaurant in the beautifully preserved house that was once home to author John Henry Faulk. Peacocks roam the grounds amid ancient oak trees. The menu is a mix of comfort food (Mattie’s fried chicken) and fancier fare such as the Akaushi ribeye.
Start the night off with a potent cocktail like a Summer Old Fashioned with rye whiskey and citrus oils. For dessert, don’t miss the cinnamon and sugar donut with blueberries and cream on top.
Take an Art Class Together
The Laguna Gloria Museum holds classes regularly on its lushly landscaped grounds in northwest Austin. You and your partner will be inspired by the pieces in the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria where the sculptures are beautifully integrated into the landscape.
In addition to the permanent sculptures, the museum has revolving outdoor and indoor sculpture and painting exhibits that are certain to spark your creativity. Classes range from Absolute Beginners and Watercolor to Portraiture and Jewelry Design.
Share a Cheese Plate
Perhaps it is the reminder of spending time in Paris, but a perfectly plated cheese plate makes a meal romantic. Put your faith in the experts at eateries like the Blue Dahlia Bistro, Emmer & Rye, or Cafe Josie to supply tasting platter, ripe grapes, and a glass of wine for an intimate bite out on the town.
Get a Couples Massage
Sometimes the best way to spend time together is while not speaking at all. Escape the world for a while as the two of you lay side-by-side as professional masseuses work out the kinks at places like Lake Austin, Hiatus Spa, Viva Day Spa, or Austin Ashiatsu.
Stroll the Garden
Get your Zen on within in the Austin city limits at the Zilker Botanical Garden. Across the 26 acres of greenery are plenty of private nooks to be alone with your love as you pass by streams, waterfalls, and ponds filled with Koi fish. There are multiple sections devoted to specific styles, like Rose, Herb, and Japanese, so the scenery never gets dull.
Take the Plunge
If you've already jumped into a relationship, what's one more leap? At the Hamilton Pool, a nature preserve located about 20 miles outside Austin, couples can jump into the natural grotto from a 50-foot waterfall. The stunning setting is about a 30-minute hike from the parking lot, and reservations are recommended.
Snuggle at a Drive-In Movie
Skip stressing about getting a good seat for a movie, and bring your own. The Blue Starlite Drive-In features two screens showing new and classic films like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Dazed and Confused," a full concession stand, and even radios for rent to tune in for the movie's audio track.
Learn the Two-Step
If you need an excuse to get close, learning to dance is a great justification—and knowing how to do the two-step is considered mandatory for anyone setting foot in Texas. Head over to the Austin mainstays like The Continental Club or Broken Spoken for fantastic live music, cold beer, and lessons for beginners.
Enjoy an Art Exhibit
Spark a conversation with your honey by exploring over 18,000 works in the Blanton Museum of Art's extensive collection. The halls feature exhibits from ancient Greek pottery to modern expressionism, ensuring something will catch your eye. Set within the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, the grounds make for a beautiful walk afterward.