Make Every Day Feel Like Valentine’s Day with These Romantic Austin Date Ideas

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie—ahem, from DeSano’s Pizzeria—that’s amore.

upstairs circus arts and crafts
Attachment style: super glue and craft tape. | Photo courtesy of Upstairs Circus
Attachment style: super glue and craft tape. | Photo courtesy of Upstairs Circus

There’s no doubt that Austin can bring the romantic vibes. We’re talking about a city that has murals that declare both “I love you so much” and “You’re my butter half,” after all. Not to mention that the king of the early 2000s rom-com, Matthew McConaughey, calls the city home. So, while we enter cupid’s favorite month, there’s no better time to grab your long-term sweetie or that first-time Hinge date to take in some of these romantic date ideas in Austin. And, if all else fails, you can suggest splitting a breakfast taco and eating it Lady and the Tramp style. Read on for a dozen date ideas for your next romantic escapade in Austin.

Arts and Crafts Date Ideas in Austin

Various locations
What’s a better way to get close to your date than recreating that infamous scene from Ghost? You can get as near to movie magic as possible by taking one of the classes offered by Brave Ceramics. They offer one-time wheel throwing classes, as well as special one-off sessions at some of our favorite breweries and cafes for those looking to connect with their inner Swayze. No need to worry if your only experience with clay goes back to the Play-Doh days of preschool, as all of their classes and events are beginner-friendly.

Market District
The dating scene in Austin may feel like it's full of clowns, but at least a date at Upstairs Circus guarantees a great time (even if your Hinge match turns out to be a real bozo). This combination DIY project space and bar will let you and your cutie craft while consuming cocktails. While there, you can each choose from a list of over 30 different kinds of projects, which includes activities in the realms of jewelry making, leather working, and woodworking. So, even if the date turns out to be a bust, you’ll still leave with the experience with a set of cool concrete coasters or customized leather luggage tags.

Show off how cultured you are, and take advantage of the pleasant weather, by taking your sweetie to Austin’s premier outdoor art museum. The contemporary pieces at Laguna Gloria are pleasantly scattered around the grounds of a villa which dates back to 1916 and sits on the shore of Lake Austin. Museum highlights, such as Tom Sachs’ Miffy Fountain and Tom Friedman’s Looking Up, would make perfect backdrops for taking the shot that makes your love Instagram official. After you take in the exhibits, you can grab a cheese board from on-site eatery, Spread & Co., for a post-walk picnic.

couple at sofar sounds
A couple canoodles at Sofar Sounds NYC. | Photo by Griffin Shapiro, courtesy of Sofar Sounds

Live Music Date Ideas in Austin

South Congress
Nothing says romance in Texas quite like a night of two-stepping. And the best place to express your love language the Lone Star way would have to be at South Austin live music venue, Sagebrush. After toasting with a shot of whiskey from this honky-tonk’s bar, you can then twirl your partner to the sounds of local artists across the city’s oldest oak dance floor. While the dance floor may be dated, rest assured Sagebrush’s modern and hip atmosphere won’t give your crush any retirement community vibes. However, should you want to up the cool factor even further, just drop the knowledge that the space was recently used as a filming location for a music video by country music sensation, Zach Bryan.

Various locations
While great live music sets are a dime-a-dozen in Austin, grabbing tickets to a show by Sofar Sounds allows you and your main squeeze to experience the scene here with fresh eyes. That is because both the location and the artists playing at every concert aren't revealed to ticket buyers until the day of the show. This all sets the tone for an evening of very intimate performances, in settings that are outside of the typical Red River venue box. And, since the events are BYOB friendly, the two of you can share not just the surprise songs, but a cooler packed with hard seltzers and snacks as well.

steak shot
Koji-cured Texas wagyu porterhouse. | Courtesy Zoe Tong

Food and Drink Date Ideas in Austin

Blackshear-Prospect Hill
Evoking an old-school, New York vibe, Murray’s Tavern is the perfect place to spark a connection over an extra dirty martini or a brandy alexander. Under the moody lighting and stamped-tin ceilings, you and your crush can cozy up at their classically-crafted wooden bar and pretend you’re in your own version of Casablanca. Except, in this scenario, it doesn't end with a plane ride to Paris but, with sharing a plate of decadent oysters rockefeller — and, hopefully, a smooch as well.

Considering the restaurant is helmed by real-life couple, Simone Tong and Matt Hyland, it’s no exaggeration to say that love is the cornerstone of every dish at South Austin Chinese restaurant, Zoé Tong. Since nothing says romance like carbohydrates, you’ll want to start off your meal with the must-try flaky scallion swirls, which are like a dreamy combination of croissants and scallion pancakes. The adorable table settings and vibrant presentation will add an aesthetic touch to your special night, and help evoke cracking conversation over a cracked milk tea creme brûlée.

World-renowned Japanese restaurant Uchi is where you bring your visiting parents when they’re treating you to dinner. Meanwhile its sister restaurant, Uchiba, is where you bring a hot date you want to impress. From the modern curved windows to the hamachi sashimi, the vibes here are sexy and sleek. You can get a taste for your future together while ordering off their menu of small plate, yakitori-style tastings, which include dumplings, boa buns, and various raw fish delicacies.

North Shoal Creek
As the saying goes, love is when “the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie.” Take that lyric into real life with a class at DeSano’s Pizza School. The popular destination for Neapolitan pizza now offers the opportunity for you and your honey to get your hands into the dough yourselves. They provide all the tools and ingredients you two will need to craft your own pepperoni-covered masterpieces, plus extra grub, like salad and meatballs, to dine on while you do so. Plus, there’s no better indication of compatibility than liking the same pizza toppings.

other raquet
Other Raquet | Courtesy of Henry Selis Photo

Sports and Gaming Date Ideas in Austin

Kings Village
There’s no better test of a relationship than dealing with a high-pressure situation. That said, taking your potential partner to an escape room is a much easier (and cheaper) way to assess your ability to overcome obstacles than, say, a two-week trip around Europe. With its focus on providing a full immersive experience, Escape Hour is the top choice for some Sherlock and Watson role-playing. Housing seven different themed adventures, you can evaluate your long-term love possibilities in settings such as a pirate ship, a haunted house, or a hijacked train.

Convert the back-and-forth of flirty texts into a physical volley with a date at restaurant and table tennis destination, Smash ATX. Enjoy some friendly competition, and size up their backhand, by reserving one of the numerous ping pong tables at this spot. You could even invite your favorite couple friends to join in on the action for your very own winner-takes-all doubles tournament. Set the stakes by suggesting that the loser buys a round of Smash’s tasty frozen rum swizzles, whose sweetness will tamper the burn of defeat.

More likely than not, you’ve been bit by the paddle sport sensation that is pickleball. And you can kick off your courtship on the court at recently opened pickler nirvana, Other Racquet Social Club. Don your best matching tennis whites, and ace date night by renting one of their three championship-grade courts. When you're all rallied out, grab one of their refreshing, specialty cocktails and grub from one of the three food trucks parked there. Should you really hit it off, you can both spring for a social club membership, which includes such perks as a private clubhouse and a cold plunge.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Molly Moltzen is a writer living in Austin, TX. You can find her on Instagram at @molsquared.