Houston’s Coolest and Most Romantic Fall Date Ideas

Cuffing season is just around the corner.

Ahhhhhh fall—Houston’s most beloved season. The temps are dropping, the leaves are sort of, kind of, crisping up, and it’s the perfect time to get outside and extend that steamy summer romance… or totally end it in pursuit of something a little shinier. Either way, it’s an ideal time to go on a date, and we’ve got some truly awesome date ideas for you and your latest paramour to explore. Follow these leads and you may even fall in love this autumn (see what we did there?).

Rooftop Cinema Club
Photo courtesy of Rooftop Cinema Club

Sporting choice views and a low-key, breezy ambiance, the super cool Rooftop Cinema Club is back open after being shut down for the past year. In addition to its signature lineup of both current and nostalgic screenings, it’s dedicating the month of October to Halloween’s most popular flicks—think Exorcist, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, and 1978’s original Halloween. You’ll want to score tickets sooner rather than later, as shows are known to sell out rather quickly.

P-6 Farms
P-6 Farms

Hit the farm for some charmingly basic fall fun

Houston isn’t exactly known for its technicolor leaves and chilly fall weather, but we do have access to seasonal essentials like pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Check out the pickings and fall festivals at Blessington Farms over in Wallis, Brookshire’s Dewberry Farm, Froberg Farms in Alvin, the sprawling P-6 Farms in Montgomery, or Spring’s Old Time Christmas Tree Farm to see for yourself.

13th Floor Haunted House Houston
13th Floor Haunted House Houston

Nothing beats the adrenaline rush of a good scare, and if you can manage to get through one of Houston’s top haunted houses without making an embarrassingly high-pitched screech, the experience can even be quite sexy. Favorite frights include 13th Floor, Creepy Hallow, Phobia, Purgatory Scream Park, and the Terror Dome.

James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University
James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University

Rice University
Head to Rice University’s gorgeous campus to marvel at conversation-provoking light and sound installation James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, located right by the Shepherd School of Music. The acoustically engineered masterpiece rocks a trippy LED sequence that projects onto and through the structure’s open roof, culminating in transformative shows just before sunrise and at sunset. Even better? It’s totally free to attend.

Texas Renaissance Festival
Texas Renaissance Festival

Todd Mission
Every year, the Texas Renaissance Festival takes over the city of Todd Mission in a most glorious fashion, bringing along with it enchanting themed weekends, flowing mead and colossal turkey legs, festival rides and games, and new attractions like the "public humiliation torture show” (your guess is as good as ours). Even if you don’t want to don a viking helmet and fairy wings along with the crowd, the people-watching alone is reason enough to bring a date. This year’s fest runs every weekend from October 9 to November 28.

Miller Outdoor Theatre
Miller Outdoor Theatre

Usually just a summertime affair, the picturesque Miller Outdoor Theater has extended its free programming through fall this year. Bring a blanket and snuggle in for a top tier show, with genres ranging from Texas folk and New Orleans blues to live salsa and Asian dance. As always, seating on the hill is open (picnic blankets and lawn chairs are welcome), while tickets for the covered open-air seating section are available via reservation.

Historic Market Square Houston
Historic Market Square Houston

Show your competitive side at Bingo

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 see whether or not someone is relationship material. Enter Blanket Bingo at Market Square Park, where cards run $10 a pop and you can score beer, wine, and Greek eats from onsite favorite Niko Niko’s. And if you can’t swing one of the scheduled dates, head to the Heights for one of SPJST Lodge 88’s raucous Thursday night sessions.

Marriott Marquis Houston
Marriott Marquis Houston

Fun fact about Houston: It is, for the most part, still pretty hot throughout the fall, meaning pool season has a much longer shelf life in these parts. Consider taking your boo on a mini-getaway to the Marriott Marquis, located downtown near Discovery Green, and you can spend the day floating your troubles away on a giant, rooftop lazy river built in the shape of Texas. There’s plenty else to do, of course, 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), or simply throwing on some plush robes and ordering room service—because that’s pretty awesome, too.

Lake Conroe
Lake Conroe | Flickr/Katie Haugland Bowen

Live that lake life

Perched just 50 miles north of the city, Lake Conroe is a local gem and way too often overlooked. Spend a day drifting on a pontoon, 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 head up that way, definitely take a look at the current weather conditions to make sure they’re conducive to a romantic day on the water.

Cidercade Houston
Cidercade Houston

Show off your gaming skills at a boozy arcade

East End (& EaDo)
Over in the East End, Cidercade is an adult playground that combines more than 275arcade 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.

The Mosquito Cafe
The Mosquito Cafe

With smaller crowds and way less sweatiness, fall is one of the best times to visit Galveston. Sure you could spend time out on the sands, but you can also set out to explore 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.

Houston Hermann Park
Houston Hermann Park | lunamarina/Shutterstock

Don’t get us wrong, Houston is like, the coolest city ever, but getting out of town for a little bit can be pretty damn cool, too. 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 perfect road trips. Can’t get away? Plan a hometown excursion into one of Houston’s best neighborhoods.

Goode Company Armadillo Palace
Goode Company Armadillo Palace

Catch some live music

Live music is back! Some of our favorite local venues have reopened 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 with nightly live performances 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.

Backstreet Cafe
Backstreet Cafe

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; or head on over to Midtown’s newest doggy patio bar, Barkley’s.

Experience Vietnamese crawfish

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.

Discovery Green/Houston Graffiti
Discovery Green

Check out local graffiti and public art

Spend the day snapping 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.

Caracol oysters
Courtesy of Caracol

Slurp down Gulf oysters

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.

8th Wonder Brewery
8th Wonder Brewery

Fall weather is practically begging to be paired with craft beer, and 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 choices are endless. 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.

Down House
Courtesy of Down House

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

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). Before you go, be sure to check for closures due to flooding, because #HoustonProblems.

Spend a day on Menil campus

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.

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.

Some excellent comics make their way through Houston’s top Improv spot. Get your tickets online (shows start at just $7 for open mic night, but bigger acts will run you around $25 each) and show up early to pregame at the bar and ensure prime seating. You can also continue the laughing tour at local comedy and open-mic nights, with standouts including Rudyard’s, Warehouse Live, and The Secret Group.

Bowl & Barrel
Bowl & Barrel (797 Sorella Ct Ste 118, Houston)

Strike out (just not with your date)

While we love a good old-school bowling alley, there are also 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, while over in CityCentre, Bowl and Barrel has fancy cocktails, shareable pub grub, and sultry mood lighting. And, of course, trusty old Palace Bowling Lanes has reemerged as the shiny new Palace Social.

The city skyline makes a pretty sexy backdrop for a date night at the movies—and that’s exactly what’s 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, and walk-up concessions are available alongside food truck eats on Saturday nights.

River Oaks District
Courtesy of River Oaks District

(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.