Austin’s 27 Coolest and Most Romantic Summer Date Ideas

Trust us, you’ll be sweating because of the weather.

Summer loving, by the song’s definition, should be all about having a blast. And, with cuffing season barely perceptible on the horizon, this time of the year is perfect for some flirty fun—not to mention, the ideal excuse to post a variety of swimsuit-related thirst traps. However, with the weather in Texas consistently hitting 100-degrees every damn day, you need some new and unique date ideas that will allow you to keep your cool, both literally and metaphorically, in front of your latest Bumble match. Have no fear, romance-seeking friends. We are here to provide the greatest summer date night options in Austin—whether you're ready to dive into a new relationship by physically diving into a natural pool, or turn up the temperature with an old flame through handling hot glass, our hand-picked activities have got you covered.

Flickr/Ryan Oles
Flickr/Ryan Oles

Barton Springs
Night swimming is such a common romantic troupe in movies—even the first scene in Jaws starts with a couple going for a flirty dip. You and your date can dive into this amorous activity, without the threat of a great white sneaking up on you, by taking a late night plunge into the natural pool of Barton Springs. While everyone knows the Zilker Park-based water wonder is an ideal location to cool off during the day from the summer heat, only hardcore swimmers and long-time locals seem to know how great it continues to be when the sun goes down. In fact, it is open every day till 10 PM, which makes it a much more interesting option than the standard night of dinner and drinks. Plus, nothing gets the heart racing faster than showing a little skin beneath the moonlight—just don’t forget to bring your crush a towel to wrap up in after plunging into 68 degree water.

Sow the seeds of romance by hitting a plant nursery

Various locations
By planning a date which takes you two to Austin’s various garden emporiums, you can test your sweethearts' ability to keep your love—and a snake plant—alive. Even those who lack a green thumb will enjoy walking the flora-laden aisles of the city’s various nurseries, each packed with a knowledgeable staff, ready to provide helpful tips should your plant-adverse crush decide to have another go at raising a burro’s tail. Start off at East Austin Succulents, where you can find individual cactuses and a variety of quirky pots to plant them in, as well as arrangements thoughtfully labeled with the amount of care they need. Right next door is Tillery St. Plant Company, where you can consider the landscape of your relationship’s future while strolling amongst the trees and flowers. Finally, hit up the urban oasis that is The Great Outdoors. Its on-site waterfall, plentiful oak trees, and tropical greenhouse is an ideal setting to watch your feelings grow.

Ghost Pepper Glass
Ghost Pepper Glass

Ghost Pepper Glass
Bring a new meaning to the term “hot date” by taking that Tinder cutie to a glass-blowing class at East Austin studio, Ghost Pepper Glass. There, you can fuel the flames of attraction, while getting up close and personal with some actual flames, AS the studio’s instructors help you create your very own paperweight, dish, or other small object. You two have the option of either taking one of their popular Taste of Glassblowing workshops, which occur regularly on Fridays and Saturdays, or springing for a private, and more in-depth, two-hour long lesson. Either way, after playing with the molten glass, you can end the night with a refreshing beer at Friends and Allie Brewing, located right next door—a perfect way to cool down your body temperature, but keep your affections burning.

Zilker Hillside Theater
Quickly determine if your constant playing of the Hamiliton soundtrack could be a deal breaker for your potential partner by inviting them to check out the annual Zilker summer musical at the park’s Hillside Theatre. The 2022 production, which will run every Thursday through Sunday night from July 8th to August 13th, is the musical version of the 1992 Disney film classic, Newsies. Should you successfully convince your date to attend, the real-life story of young newsboys taking action against an unfair publishing industry around the turn of the 20th century will be sure to draw them in before the first act even ends. Not to mention, the romantic scenery of a starry night spent in the park will, perhaps, leave them enamored enough for you to bring your obsession with Lin Manuel Miranda into casual conversation.

Urban Axes (Austin)
Urban Axes (Austin)

Feel the rush with extreme activities

Various locations
Get your date’s heart to skip a beat—literally—by taking them on an out-of-the-ordinary adventure. While we don’t normally recommend mixing romance with sharp weapons, the one exception would be hitting up Urban Axes, where you and your S.O. can take out some of that aggression about whose turn it was to do the dishes in a markedly healthy way. Even those who are skittish about their ability to chuck an axe will find comfort from the onsite Axeperts, there to guide you along your throwing journey. Challenge your date to see who can hit closest to the bullseye—afterward, loser buys drinks at nearby bar Kinda Tropical. Those looking for something equally daring should head to Uprise Circus, where they can fly through the sky in a personal trapeze class. This option won’t just leave you and your love on a physical high however, but an emotional one as well—tickets benefit Uprise Circus’ mission to provide outreach programming to disadvantaged and underserved children in Austin.

Retro Boat Rentals ATX
Retro Boat Rentals ATX

Lady Bird Lake
Want to impress your date with a cool ride, even if you’re picking them up in your grandad’s old beater Buick? Rent one of the vintage Cadillac-inspired boats from Retro Boats to jet around Lady Bird Lake, and you’re both guaranteed to feel like Sandy and Danny cruising off into the sunset at the end of Grease. The best part about these boats is they don’t just look old-school, they actually are—all of the vehicles have been repurposed and fitted with eco-friendly motors (which is something Grease Lightning was certainly lacking). While you can’t go wrong with any of these beauties, the millennial pink-hued Gidget, or the dog-friendly June, might be the ideal way to pull into the running for a second date.

Aviary Wine + Kitchen
Aviary Wine + Kitchen

Wine and dine (and wine some more) your beloved

Various locations
It’s a well known fact: If you don’t know whether or not you want to meet your Hinge match for a second date by the time you two finish a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, you probably never will. So, take all the guesswork out of that follow-up text by clinking a couple of glasses at one of Austin’s many current sommelier-approved wine bars. To impress the trendy, fingers-on-the-pulse type, head to the New York Times name-checked Birdie’s, where you can sip some Grüner Veltliner patio-side while getting to know each other over their crowd-pleasing panisse. For a date who's already mentioned they’re vegan upwards of five times, opt for LoLo Wine Bar, where every selection from the red to the rosé is all natural. And you can never go wrong with the intimate and dreamy Aviary Wine & Kitchen, where the voices of their knowledgeable and friendly staff provide a backdrop to your very own budding rom-com.

Little Trouble
Little Trouble | Photo courtesy of Little Trouble

Lockhart, TX
Escape Austin’s bachelor and bachelorette party crowds by making the 30-minute drive out to Lockhart. This small Texas town has long been known as a barbecue mecca—you and your date can strive for the triple crown by feasting at legendary spots Black’s, Smitty’s Market, and Kreuz Market all in the same day. If you aren’t into getting a serious case of the brisket sweats, check out Little Trouble instead. You can still get your meat fix via the mouth-watering grilled ribeye and be sure to sip on the Dolly, a quirky cocktail served in a mammary-themed glass worthy of the Queen of Country herself. Later, walk it all off by browsing the amazing antique stores just off the town square, as well as local favorite Bluebonnet Records, where the knowledgeable staff will help get your musical stylings in tip-top shape.

Bull & Bowl
Bull & Bowl

Bull & Bowl
There’s a lot of downsides to traditional bowling: Lanes that reek of old cigarette smoke, the impossibility of getting a clean strike without bumpers, and, chief among them, nasty old bowling shoes (because, gross). Luckily, restaurant and gameapalooza, Bull & Bowl, is here to change all your perceptions of Lebowski’s favorite game. Bull & Bowl offers Austin’s first duckpin bowling alley, which is like the traditional game but with a smaller ball, shorter lanes, and, if we haven’t already mentioned it enough, no shoe rental. Plus, with big screen TVs stationed above each lane, you can convince your date to roll one out even when the big game is on. When you get tired of bowling, there’s also a mechanical bull, pool tables, and a variety of arcade games to keep the competition pumping—not to mention a full food and drink menu puts the stereotypical mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders routine to shame.

Desert Door
Desert Door

Desert Door
Forgo the typical (i.e. boring) happy hour meet-up and treat your date to a different kind of drinking experience at Desert Door distillery, located just a 30-minute drive outside of Austin in Driftwood. Sotol, the agave-based spirit produced onsite, boasts a brighter, grassier flavor profile than its cousins, tequila and mezcal, and Desert Door is the perfect place to wet your whistle. The experts in their tasting room (which is dog-friendly!) will introduce you and your Hinge hookup to the two varieties they make and how to pair them. Add a food truck with heightened farm-to-table grub (think: spinach and chard dip) served amid the distillery’s gorgeous wildflower-strewn expanse, and you and your date are bound to feel the buzz.

Sushi | Bar
Sushi | Bar | Photo by Liam Brown

Sushi | Bar
Pamper your honey with a decadent 17-course tasting menu at stunning Austin restaurant Sushi | Bar. The intimate space, which only hosts three seatings each night, puts you right there in front of the chefs while they prepare a lineup of expertly constructed and incredibly delicious bites, omakase-style. From Japanese Yellowtail with sweet corn pudding and sourdough breadcrumbs to a buttery, citrus-spiked bluefin tuna, you’ll want to jump for joy with each new plate—not to mention each new sake pairing courtesy of an onsite sake sommelier.

Doc's Drive In Theatre
Doc's Drive In Theatre

Catch a drive-in movie

Various locations
Get into the spooky season the right way (just a tad prematurely) with a scary movie at the drive-in. With trucks of every shape and size barraging the roads of Texas, you may as well put those spacious flatbeds to use. Pile lots of pillows and blankets in the back and park that big mac truck right in Doc’s Drive In Theatre or The Blue Starlite Drive-In. Check out fan favorites like The Shining or Beetlejuice, playing virtually every night of the week, all from the comfort of your private open-air lounge.

The Exotic Resort Zoo
The Exotic Resort Zoo

Johnson City
Show your date you’re the next Steve Irwin by taking them on a drive-through zoo visit at The Exotic Resort in Johnson City. There, you can roll through the zoo in the socially distanced comfort of your car while feeding animals, like antelopes, ostriches, and buffalos, that come right up to your vehicle’s window. We recommend you buy tickets, as well as pre-buy bags of feed, ahead of time on The Exotic Resort’s website—especially if you are planning on visiting during the weekend when the park is busiest.

Hops and Grain
Hops and Grain

Various locations
Take “let’s grab drinks” one-step further by going straight to the source of the libations themselves—one of Austin’s local breweries. Favorites Central Machine Works, Celis Brewery, and Hops & Grain not only have delicious drinks, but also spacious outdoor space so you can get to know each other in the (fingers crossed) cooler autumn weather. If you’re organized enough to plan ahead, you can even make a reservation to take your date to Jester King in Hill Country, which specializes in sour beers—with seating available in such scenic locations as a vineyard and a pasture, you can guarantee both beauty and brews.

Zilker Botanical Garden
Zilker Botanical Garden

South Austin
You know what they say—if it ain’t broke, don't fix it. The same can be said of this classic date idea and, considering Austin is plentiful in both fantastic takeout and greenspace, there’s no better wingman than a picnic blanket. With all the diverse to-go options available in South Austin and a beautiful view of the city skyline, Zilker Park is the ideal location to get your picnic on. Grab some burgers and milkshakes at Sandy’s Hamburgers before walking over or, if you’re more of a gourmand, you can pick up Loro’s brisket and cocktails in just a quick five-minute drive from the park.

Barton Springs Bike Rental
Barton Springs Bike Rental

Ride the bike trails

Various locations
Roll off into the sunset together at one of Austin’s many gorgeous bike trails—like the Southern Walnut Creek Trail in the East or the Ann and Roy Butler Trail which hugs the banks of Lady Bird Lake. If you don’t own your own bike, you can rent one through Barton Springs Bike Rental. They even have tandems for those who want to be as close as possible at all times. If you’re less nature-inclined, rent one of the city’s Metrobikes and tour the landmark locations of Downtown, such as the Capital or the Willie Nelson statue.

Cidercade Austin
Cidercade Austin

Play your heart out at the arcade

Various locations
There’s nothing like the nostalgia of playing Pac-Man, mixed with the adult ability to have a beer while doing so. A tried-and-true Austin staple, The Original Pinballz Arcade, allows you to do just that—enjoy their huge selection of games, including their room of vintage pinball machines, in a space that is BYOB-friendly. A newer edition to the scene in South Austin, Cidercade, boasts unlimited play, pizza, and, as the name suggests, a plentiful offering of cider on tap.

UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum
UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum

Explore outdoor art

Various locations
Show off how cultured you are by taking your date to one of Austin’s outdoor art museums. At the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, you can take in the work of renowned American sculptor Charles Umlaut while walking through the lush greenery that blankets every step of the space. In West Austin, there’s Laguna Gloria which features pieces by contemporary artists on the grounds of a 1916 villa that sits on the shore of Lake Austin.

Juan in a Million
Juan in a Million

Rate the city’s breakfast tacos

Various locations
Challenge your date to help you settle the ultimate question. Which place in Austin has the best migas? Start your journey at Radio Coffee & Beer where you can pair a drink with the selection from the Veracruz taco truck. Save room though for the massive portions at your next stop—Juan in A Million on Austin’s East side. Finally, figure out if you're meant to be together by going to both local chain rivals Torchy’s and Taco Deli. Be warned though, disagreement over which one is best might be a huge red flag for a future relationship. Looking for other great places to grab some date night grub? Check out our list of Austin’s most romantic restaurants.

Various locations
Test their Tinder profile’s claim that they “love the outdoors” by suggesting a hike through one of greater Austin’s lesser known, yet incredibly beautiful, trails. About an hour north in Belton is the Chalk Ridge Trail at Chalk Ridge Falls Park, where you'll get to both see a waterfall and cross a suspension bridge—all in the space of three miles. For those looking for a longer adventure, check out Crockett Garden Falls in Georgetown’s Cedar Breaks Park. Pack a lunch and bring your bathing suit for a six-mile trail that will lead you to the most gorgeous grotto you've ever seen for a well-deserved dip.

Peter Pan Mini-Golf
Peter Pan Mini-Golf

Bouldin Creek
To arrive at Peter Pan Mini-Golf, and see the giant neon green T.Rex that adorns the front of the course, is to know this place goes way beyond the standard windmill hole-in-ones. Add to this the further collection of wacky acid-trip animals that decorate the green and a BYOB atmosphere, and you have a great outdoor date on your hands. And beer isn’t the only thing you can bring. While they offer sanitized golf equipment, for those who would like to show off their clubs, that is also allowed.

Barton Creek Farmers Market
Barton Creek Farmers Market

Peruse a farmers market

Various locations
Kill two birds by turning grocery shopping into a breezy summer date at any one of Austin’s fantastic weekend farmers markets. On Saturday, from 9 am to 1 pm, head to the Barton Creek Farmers Market at the Barton Creek Square mall, where you and your prized partner can grab fresh tomatoes and bell peppers from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. The Texas Farmer’s Market at Mueller, which runs from 10 am to 2 pm, is the Sunday favorite—be sure to grab a fresh sourdough loaf from Texas French Bread while you’re there.

The Buzz Mill
The Buzz Mill

West Austin
We all know what’s really important in any potential relationship. What does your furry BFF think of them? Put your date to the test right away by bringing your little buddy along with you, especially if said date has a dog of their own to join the party. Red Bud Isle, which sits on the right in the middle of the west side of Lady Bird Lake, is the perfect off-leash location for your meet-cute. Afterwards, the two of you and your pups can grab food and drinks at one of Austin’s many dog-friendly spots.

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Molly Moltzen is a Thrillist contributor.