When Austinites want to get all gussied up for a night on the town, they usually head for downtown where countless high end restaurants and other entertainment options abound. The well-dressed daters can find places where their fancy duds are the fashion standard despite Austin’s overall casual vibe.
Fine dining is not all there is to downtown Austin for a hot date. Coffee shops, cafes, museums and water sports are more options for lovebirds. Get out there and take advantage of Austin’s vibrant downtown.
Play an Escape Game
Have you heard of these “escape rooms” people are talking about lately? The Escape Game Austin, located just off 4th Street and Red River, is like a puzzle game that crawled out of your computer or gaming console and enveloped your senses, taking the form of a locked room filled with clues that will help you escape. Using your wits and detective skills, you and your partners must scour every inch of your enclosure and put the details together before time runs out. It sounds odd, but with a date, or better yet a double date, it becomes a hell of a lot of fun. This is one unconventional date night that you won’t soon forget!
Meander around the Bob Bullock Museum
Do you have Texas Pride rivaling that of the folks at Texas Humor? If you don’t, you will after spending an afternoon at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. From the first settlers brought by Stephen F. Austin to the latest technology NASA is using to explore the final frontier, this museum walks visitors through the expansive history, geography and icons that made Texas what it is today.
Grab a light bite at Zocalo Cafe
From the people who brought you Galaxy Cafe, Zocalo provides a lighter option for diners craving modern Mexican food. Situated in the quaint Clarksville neighborhood just west of downtown, they serve up right-sized portions of your favorite south-of-the-border dishes … and killer sangria, too.
Watch Master Pancake skewer a mock-worthy movie
You probably wouldn’t pay good money to see 2008’s teen vampire flick Twilight today. But when Alamo Drafthouse’s snarky comedians take aim at the cheesy, shimmering vampires, suddenly you have a sellout crowd. But that’s just one of many movies they’ve taken down to size.
Sit back and relax as these two and their funny friends break Alamo’s rule of talking during the movie. You won’t mind because their dialog will be much better than the original.
Catch a live performance at one of Austin’s theaters
Austin has its share of big venues for live performances by touring musicians, comedians and theater companies. Check the calendars at the Paramount, Bass Concert Hall and Long Center for something intriguing. Put a little culture in your life.
Drink coffee or eat lunch at Jo’s
The downtown location of Jo’s Coffee is an open, airy place in the Second Street district with food that matches the atmosphere. You can easily get full, but you won’t be miserable if you decide to walk around downtown afterward. If you’ve never been there, try the BLT. If you’re looking for the “I love you so much” mural, it’s at their South Congress location.
Try the hipster hangouts on Rainey Street
If you want to see guys in skinny jeans and flannel shirts twirling their mustaches with one hand and holding a Pabst in the other, Rainey Street is the place to go. The trendy bars are not quite to the point of popularity where their hipster customers have turned on them, so enjoy the area while the hipsters are still there. They’ll be over it any day now.
Pick your produce at a farmer’s market
Sure, you can get fresh veggies at the grocery store, but there is something different about farmer’s market vegetables. Maybe it’s the people or the presentation. Whatever it is, snagging some fresh vegetables from produce stands is something special. And there are often other locally sourced products like honey, meats and soaps. Sustainable Food Center runs several farmer’s markets around town. The downtown one is on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Republic Square Park. We’ve also got a list of 15 perfect places you can go to hug a farmer and buy their produce in Austin.
Admire downtown from the surface of Lady Bird Lake
Driving on a sunny day on MoPac or I-35, you can look down on Lady Bird Lake and see a myriad of people on canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Many of them rent their modes of transportation from Rowing Dock which is located on the southern bank of the lake just west of MoPac. Paddle upstream toward Lake Austin for green scenery and downstream for cityscapes.
Tour the Capitol and its grounds
Do you know the color of the Texas Capitol? Many people say beige, brown or gray, but it is actually pink. You’d know that if you’ve ever toured the Capitol and its grounds. The Texas State Preservation Board offers free tours every half hour or so, and the grounds are open for wandering about and gazing at all the monuments. Take a picnic lunch and find a shady spot to enjoy the historic setting.
Feature photo: Flickr user David, creative commons licensed.