Where to Go on a Date in Houston This Summer

Get back out there.

Hot. Sticky. Sweet. Def Leppard may not have been from Houston, but the English rock band sure knew how to describe summers in H-Town. This season is set to be another steamy one, and while that can make dating a little hard for anyone who doesn’t own a pool, there is a way to “pour some sugar” on the situation (alright, we’re all done with the Def Leppard references now). These summery date ideas are designed to either keep you cool, heat up the romance, or be so damn fun you’ll forget you’re sweating through your shorts.

Cozy up to live theatre under the stars

Museum District
After taking last year off, Miller Outdoor Theater is back with a lineup of completely free summertime performances. This year’s schedule includes Summer Symphony Nights with the Houston Symphony, a Broadway Musical Scrapbook, and “Theatrical Hip-Hop.” As always, seating on the hill is open (your picnic blankets and lawn chairs are welcome), and open-air covered seating tickets are available by reservation.

Show your competitive side at Blanket Bingo

Downtown
Placing bets on games that require absolutely no skill and trying not to lose your cool when you crash and burn is a great way to test if someone is relationship material. Bring your date for Blanket Bingo at Market Square Park to do just that. The downtown park hosts bingo nights throughout the summer (along with free movie nights, if you’re down for more cute ideas), and packets run just $10 a pop.

Take a staycation and float a Texas-shaped lazy river

Downtown
Sometimes, all you need is a little getaway to make your relationship thrive. Consider taking one without even leaving the city by booking a stay at the Marriott Marquis, located right downtown near Discovery Green. There’s plenty to do, like bar hopping on Main Street, grabbing a fancy meal at nearby hotspots including Brasserie du Parc, Guard and Grace, and Xochi (located on the bottom level of the hotel), and spending the day floating a giant, rooftop lazy river set in the shape of Texas. (Staying in and ordering room service is fair game, too.)

Chef it up at a cooking class 

Starting in July and running monthly through the fall, fine dining stalwart Brennan’s of Houston will be hosting Date Night Cooking Classes, with the uber talented Executive Chef Joey Chavez leading you and your boo through a Creole journey. Features vary by class and cost is $150 per couple, plus tax and gratuity.

Live that lake life

Conroe
Sitting just 50 miles north of the city, Lake Conroe is a local jewel that is way too often overlooked. Spend a day drifting on a pontoon out on the lake, trying out a kayak ride for two, or setting off a sunset cruise before finishing up with lakeside dinner and drinks at Walden’s. Before you go, just do yourselves a favor and take a look at the current weather conditions.

Escape the heat in a boozy arcade

East End (& EaDo)
Over in the East End, Cidercade is an adult playground that combines 275+ arcade games with sweet, sweet (and dry) hard cider. Score some points by letting your beloved beat you at Skeeball—loser buys the next round. EaDo retro gaming arena EightyTwo is another choice date night spot, featuring arcade games, nightly DJs, an indoor tree-lined patio, and craft cocktails.

Embark on an island-style food & drink crawl

Galveston
Sure you could spend the day in Galveston sweating it out on the beach, but you can also pass the time exploring the island’s vibrant bar and restaurant scene. Start with brunch or lunch at local institutions Mosquito Cafe, Porch Cafe, or Shrimp n’ Stuff; sweeten the deal by sharing a banana split at The Strand’s old-fashioned creamery, La King's Confectionery; conquer a mini pub crawl at the Island Famous bars or grab a classic cocktail at Daiquiri Time Out, and round things out with a proper meal of ceviche and plantain-crusted Gulf snapper at Latin-influenced seafood and steakhouse Rudy & Paco.

Set out on a weekend adventure

Texas
Don’t get us wrong, Houston is like, the coolest city ever, but getting out of town for a little bit can be pretty cool, too, especially in the summer. We’ve got your itinerary covered, whether you’re looking for the nearby hikes, excellent AirBnb experiences, the most beautiful places in all of Texas, or the perfect road trips. Can’t get away? Plan a hometown excursion into one of Houston’s best neighborhoods.

Catch some live music

Some of our favorite local venues are reopened (with safety measures, of course) after shutting down for the better part of a year, including Continental Club, Satellite Bar, Warehouse Live and sprawling indoor-outdoor venue White Oak Music Hall. You can hit one up, or try testing your date’s ability to rock at restaurants that offer live music like Armadillo Palace, Last Concert Cafe, and The Rustic.

Take a farmers market bike tour

Bayou City Outdoors hosts the occasional 15-mile farmers market bike tour, but if you don’t want to wait until the next one, you can also check out its farmers market guide and put together a fun, romantic ride of your own. You and your date will bond over locally made jams and fresh-picked produce as you hit two or three farmers markets over the course of a few hours.

Say "cheese!" 

Go ahead and order some cheese for pickup from local cheesemongers Houston Dairymaids; or head on over to Montrose Cheese & Wine, which highlights small producers and offers 125 wines. Once you have secured the goods, Buffalo Bayou park is your go-to locale for a picturesque picnic beneath the skyline.

Take your dogs for a drink 

Multiple locations
Because if your dogs can’t get along, there wasn’t a chance to begin with. Grab drinks, bites, and a four-legged hang at canine-friendly neighborhood spots like Backstreet Cafe, Christian’s Tailgate, Monkey’s Tail, and Onion Creek Cafe.

Experience Vietnamese crawfish

Asiatown
Who knew devouring crawfish heads and cracking king crab claws with butter-soaked hands could be so erotic? Us. We did. And we found out at Crawfish and Noodle.

Feges BBQ
Feges BBQ | Photo by Robert Jacob Lerma

Get to know each other better over smoked meat

Houston’s best BBQ spots provide the perfect setting for getting to know someone on a deeper level. Local faves (touted by Houston’s finest pitmasters, no less) include Blood Bros BBQ, Corkscrew BBQ, Feges BBQ, Fainmous BBQ, and Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue. Go forth and get messy.

Check out local graffiti and public art 

Spend the day snapping sweaty pics of each other in front of local art attractions like Market Square’s “Houston is...” mural, the We <3 Houston sign near 8th Wonder, the Synchronicity of Color at Discovery Green, the “Greetings from Houston” mural or Blue Line Bike Lab mural in the Heights, and the Biscuit Paint Wall on lower Westheimer. Peep Houston Murall Map for a comprehensive list of the most ‘gram-worthy walls around town.

Slurp down Gulf oysters

Houston
Caracol's raw oysters on-the-half-shell are a thing of beauty (and they’re natural aphrodisiacs, too), but its wood-roasted oysters with chipotle butter are the real winners here. Get them for half-off during happy hour. It’s also worth a short drive to slurp down oysters by the bay at the fresh-faced Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House, which is making waves over in San Leon. Or try hitting up a New Orleans favorite without having to actually step foot in New Orleans at Acme Oyster House, now slinging the good stuff at its shiny new location on the Westheimer Curve.

Make up a DIY taco crawl

Multiple locations
Perhaps start with breakfast tacos, then move onto regular tacos for date number two.

Bike along the bayou and into Downtown

Multiple locations
Pick up a B-Cycle at Spotts Park and make your way to Market Square, where you can refuel with gyros and beers at Niko Niko’s in Market Square, tacos and margs from La Calle, or a quick slice at Frank’s.

Cool off with beers from a local brewery

With powerhouses like Saint Arnold, Karbach, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, and 8th Wonder, plus younger but equally awesome spots like Ingenious Brewing Co. and Eureka Heights, the beer date choices are plenty. Breweries are once again able to serve on-site, but those who prefer to imbibe at home can always support the breweries directly by picking up brews to-go. Here are some of our favorites to get you started.

Sit down for a chef-driven meal

Bring a date to catch some hot chefing action from some of the city’s top talent at Bravery Chef Hall, where you’ll often find Ben McPherson crafting Roman style pizzas and freshmade pastas, Uchi vets Daniel Lee and Patrick Pham doing some serious sashimi work, and Masterchef winner Christine Ha cooking up Vietnamese excellence, among other star-studded sightings.

Check out one of our many boozy brunches

Multiple locations
And why not start with the best brunches in Houston?

Peruse local art at Sawyer Yards

On the second Saturday of every month, local artists open their studios to the public at the repurposed Sawyer Yards warehouses. Wander the grounds and ask your date to help you pick from a collection of paintings, sculptural works, photography, and more, and double the fun by grabbing a couple road sodas from Holler Brewing.

Brazos Bend State Park
Brazos Bend State Park | David ODell/Shutterstock

Hike and stargaze at Brazos Bend State Park

It’s just a short trip to nearby Brazos Bend State Park, where you can take a secluded hike and finish it off with a dope stargazing sesh at the newly madeover George Observatory (now open on Saturday nights). Just make online rezzies before you go and be sure to check for closures due to flooding, too, because #HoustonProblems.

Spend a day on Menil campus

Montrose
The Menil Collection is hands down one of the most prized artscapes in Houston, so go there to stare at some pretty cool walls, discover art in its green spaces, check out the grounds near the Rothko Chapel, then hop on over to Bistro Menil to take turns sniffing wine and discussing existentialism.
 

Explore the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Downtown
This awesome 87,500-square foot, 25-foot tall underground cistern was built in 1927, but it only opened to the public a few years back. Public and private tours are now available with reservations so you can experience its cathedral-like magnificence in person. It’s a quick date, so you may want to also pack a bayou-side picnic.
 

Laugh yourselves clean at Improv Houston

Spring Branch
Some pretty excellent comics make their way through Houston’s Improv, which is open and asking everyone to wear a mask when they are not eating or drinking. Get your tickets online (shows start at just $7 for open mic night, but bigger acts will run you around $25-35) and show up early to get a head start at the bar and ensure prime seating.

Strike out (just not with your date)

While we love a good old-school bowling alley, there are some young guns on the block that add a bit more sex appeal to date night. The Kirby Collection’s Pinstripes combines bowling and bocce with a sophisticated bistro experience; over in CityCentre, Bowl and Barrel has fancy cocktails, shareable pub grub, and sultry mood lighting; and the faithful old Palace Bowling Lanes has undergone an extreme makeover during lockdown, reemerging inside the Palace Social entertainment venue set to open this summer.

Share popcorn at an drive-in movie 

East End
The city skyline makes a pretty sexy backdrop for a date night at the movies—and that’s exactly the situation going down at Moonstruck Drive-In, plus a 60-foot wide scope ratio screen and audio broadcast delivered straight to your car. The vintage experience marries a bit of nostalgia with modern flicks, with upcoming screenings ranging from In The Heights to The Fast Saga. Grab walk-up concessions whenever the hunger pangs set in or score food truck eats on Saturday nights.

(Window) shop for each other in the River Oaks District

River Oaks District
Live out your Pretty Woman fantasies, minus that whole prostitution part (or maybe not), with a window shopping spree in the open-air River Oaks District, Houston’s version of Rodeo Drive. After drooling over everything Cartier and Hermès; hit the raw bar and share a bottle at Loch Bar; then finish with Italian gelato roses at Amorino Gelato.

Go museum hopping

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (which recently opened a fantastic fine dining restaurant plus a more casual Italian-style cafe), the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Houston Zoo are just some of the cultural gems to explore within our fair city’s world-class Museum District. Some of them are even totally free! (Make sure to check reservation policies before you go.)

Chill out over CBD coffee

University Place (& The Heights)
Meeting up at a regular coffee shop is so last decade. Meeting up at a coffee shop that infuses its joe with CBD oil, however, is where we’re at right now. Try part CBD apothecary, part coffeehouse Grinder’s Coffee Bar off Kirby or “the original cannabis coffee company” Amsterdam Co. in the Heights to be of-the-now.

Technicolored Immersive Art Museum
Technicolored Immersive Art Museum | Photo by Christopher Brielmaier

Snap an “usie” at an technicolored immersive art museum

West Houston
You’ll find the works of over two dozen emerging and established artists at Seismique, the new 40,000-square-foot art-fueled experiential museum over on the west side. It’s all lit up with over 9 million LEDs, with color, sound, holograms, and about a billion photo opportunities.
 

Splurge on a romantic meal 

It’s pretty damn hard to beat Houston’s dining scene. Our Best Places to Eat in Houston Right Now covers what’s hot in the moment, including but not limited to sexy new tasting menu restaurants March and Hidden Omakase; Bludorn, a true eyebrow-raiser guaranteed to provide one of the best meals you’ve had in a while; and Tonight & Tomorrow, a luxe day-to-night spot inside newly reimagined boutique hotel, La Colombe d’Or.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who just realized she’ll be planning all date nights going forward, and she’s fully OK with that. Find her being all romantic on IG @brookiefafa or on Twitter @brookeviggiano.